White House gives FBI freer rein in Kavanaugh investigation WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has given the FBI clearance to interview anyone it wants to by Friday in its investigation of sexual misconduct allegations…
White House gives FBI freer rein in Kavanaugh investigation
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has given the FBI clearance to interview anyone it wants to by Friday in its investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The new guidance, described to The Associated Press by a person familiar with it, was issued to the FBI over the weekend in response to Democratic and news media pushback that the scope of the probe was too narrow.
It comes as the FBI presses ahead with its investigation, questioning in recent days at least four people about accusations of misconduct against Kavanaugh dating to when he was in high school and college. Among the witnesses interviewed were men who California college professor Christine Blasey Ford says were present at a party of teenagers in the early 1980s at which she says was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh.
President Donald Trump, addressing concerns about the probe’s expansiveness at a news conference Monday, said he wants the FBI to do a “comprehensive” investigation and “it wouldn’t bother me at all” if agents pursued accusations made by three women who have come forward. But he also said Senate Republicans are determining the parameters of the investigation and “ultimately, they’re making the judgment.”
“My White House will do whatever the senators want,” Trump said. “The one thing I want is speed.”
Democrats’ new tack: Go hard after Kavanaugh’s credibility
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are raising new questions about the truthfulness of Brett Kavanaugh’s sworn testimony to the Senate, shifting tactics against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee as they await the results of the FBI’s background investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democrats’ leader from New York, accused Kavanaugh of delivering a “partisan screed” during the Judiciary Committee hearing last week. He said Kavanaugh seemed willing to “mislead senators about everything from the momentous to the mundane” to ensure his ascension to the high court.
“The harsh fact of the matter is that we have mounting evidence that Judge Kavanaugh is just not credible,” Schumer said Monday.
Not so, argued Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, contending the Democrats are simply looking to “move the goalposts” to prevent Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He pledged that the full Senate would begin voting on Kavanaugh’s nomination this week.
“The time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close,” he said.
In Tennessee, Trump accuses Dems of trying to sink Kavanaugh
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) — As the fate of his Supreme Court pick hangs in the balance, President Donald Trump barnstormed Monday for a Republican Senate candidate in Tennessee, warning that Democrats will unleash havoc if they gain control of Congress and accusing them of trying to sink his nominee.
“A Democratic takeover of Congress will plunge our country into gridlock and chaos and take away all of the wealth that you’ve earned over the last 20 months,” Trump warned, claiming without evidence that the stock market would plummet, 401(k)s disappear, taxes rise beyond “your wildest imagination,” and crime go through the roof.
It was a dire picture painted by a president eager to convince his raucous supporters of what’s at stake in November as he headlined a high-dollar, closed-door fundraiser and appeared at a packed rally in Johnson City to boost U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in her tight Senate race against the state’s Democratic ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker.
Trump praised Blackburn as a “true fighter” for the state, telling the crowd, “She’s all about Tennessee values.”
“A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me,” he said.
Trump hails NAFTA revamp, Trudeau calls it ‘win-win-win’
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump hailed his revamped North American trade agreement with Canada and Mexico as a breakthrough for U.S. workers on Monday, vowing to sign it by late November. But it still faces a lengthy path to congressional approval after serving for two decades as a political football for American manufacturing woes.
Embracing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which the Canadians joined just before a Sunday midnight deadline, Trump branded it the “USMCA,” a moniker he said would replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. With a satisfied smile, the president said the new name had a “good ring to it,” repeating U-S-M-C-A several times.
But he noted that the agreement would need to be ratified by Congress, a step that could be affected by the outcome of the fall elections as Democrats seek to regain majorities in the House and Senate. When a reporter suggested he seemed confident of approval after his announcement, he said he was “not at all confident” — but not because of the deal’s merits or defects.
“Anything you submit to Congress is trouble, no matter what,” Trump said, predicting that Democrats would say, “Trump likes it so we’re not going to approve it.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that his country was in a more stable place now that it had completed the negotiations. He said the deal needed to be fair since one trading partner was 10 times larger. He said Canada did not simply accept “any deal.”
AP Explains: How NAFTA 2.0 will shake up business as usual
WASHINGTON (AP) — American dairy farmers get more access to the Canadian market. U.S. drug companies can fend off generic competition for a few more years. Automakers are under pressure to build more cars where workers earn decent wages.
The North American trade agreement hammered out late Sunday between the United States and Canada, following an earlier U.S.-Mexico deal, shakes up — but likely won’t revolutionize — the way businesses operate within the three-country trade bloc.
The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement replaces the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which tore down trade barriers between the three countries. But NAFTA encouraged factories to move to Mexico to take advantage of low-wage labor in what President Donald Trump called a job-killing “disaster” for the United States.
Sunday’s agreement is meant to bring manufacturing back to the United States. The president, never known for understatement, said the new deal would “transform North America back into a manufacturing powerhouse.”
But America had to make some concessions, too. For example, it agreed to retain a NAFTA dispute-resolution process that it wanted to jettison but Canada insisted on keeping.
AP FACT CHECK: Trump on new trade deal with Canada, Mexico
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump inaccurately described his new trade deal with Canada and Mexico as the biggest ever — it’s not even close — and glossed over some possible consequences of the agreement, such as higher car prices.
Here’s a sampling of his expansive statements on the deal Monday and the complexities behind them:
TRUMP: “The agreement will govern nearly $1.2 trillion in trade, which makes it the biggest trade deal in the United States’ history.”
THE FACTS: That’s wrong, simply by virtue of the number of trade partners involved.
The proposed new agreement, replacing the North American Free Trade agreement, covers the same three countries. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiated by the Obama administration, included the three NAFTA partners — United States, Canada and Mexico — plus Japan and eight other Pacific Rim countries. Trump withdrew the United States from the pact on his third day in office.
North Korea says peace declaration not a bargaining chip
TOKYO (AP) — North Korea warned Washington through its state media Tuesday that a declaration ending the Korean War shouldn’t be seen as a bargaining chip in denuclearization talks — but suggested lifting sanctions might be.
The North’s official news agency issued a commentary claiming Pyongyang has taken significant measures to end hostile relations between the two countries but said the U.S. is “trying to subdue” it through sanctions, a not-so-subtle call for Washington to lift sanctions if it wants further progress in their stalled nuclear negotiations.
The commentary said a declaration replacing a 65-year-old armistice to formally end the war “is not just a gift from a man to another,” and added, “it can never be a bargaining chip for getting the DPRK denuclearized.”
The DPRK is short for the North’s official name — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The commentary was directed at supporters of the U.S. policy to maintain maximum pressure and sanctions on North Korea until it has made clear and significant moves to denuclearize.
Vegas memorial: ‘Pain that never really goes away’
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A year after Jann Blake and two friends survived the gunfire at a country music festival in Las Vegas, the trio returned to the city Monday to mark the 12 months that have passed since the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s modern history.
“We need to have this. It’s not a closure ceremony, it’s more a remembrance,” Blake said at an evangelical prayer vigil. “There was a lot of good. There were people in there that helped us get out.”
Blake, of Menifee, California, along with Linda Hazelwood of Anaheim and Michelle Hamel of Yorba Linda — held hands and bowed heads at the ceremony at City Hall, one of many somber tributes marking the anniversary of the night that a gunman opened fire from a high-rise casino-resort suite on a crowd of 22,000 country music fans.
As dawn broke over the city Monday, a flock of doves were released at a ceremony, with each bird bearing a leg band with the name of one of the 58 people slain.
“Today we remember the unforgettable. Today, we comfort the inconsolable,” Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval gathered told several hundred survivors , families of victims, first-responders and elected officials who gathered at the dawn ceremony at an outdoor amphitheater.
Desperation everywhere, aid slow to reach Indonesia victims
PALU, Indonesia (AP) — Desperation was visible everywhere Tuesday among victims receiving little aid in areas heavily damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami, four days after the disaster devastated parts of Indonesia’s central Sulawesi island. Signs propped along roads read “We Need Food” and “We Need Support,” while children begged for cash in the streets and long lines of cars snarled traffic as people waited for fuel.
Teams were searching for trapped survivors under destroyed homes and buildings, including a collapsed eight-story hotel in the hard-hit city of Palu, but they needed more heavy equipment to clear the rubble.
Desperation was evident across Palu, a city of more than 380,000 people that was hard-hit by both the quake and the tsunami, its force apparently magnified in the surrounding inlet.
Many people were believed trapped under shattered houses in Palu’s Balaroa neighborhood, where the earthquake caused the ground to heave up and down violently, said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
“I and about 50 other people in Balaroa were able to save ourselves by riding on a mound of soil which was getting higher and higher,” resident Siti Hajat told MetroTV, adding her house was destroyed.
Trump dominated UN, but US nationalism at odds with world
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump dominated this year’s gathering of global leaders that ended Monday, but his rejection of “the ideology of globalism” left America almost singlehandedly holding a nationalist banner against urgent calls from an overwhelming number countries for the world to work together.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres opened the week-long meeting last Tuesday declaring that global cooperation is the world’s best hope and warning that “multilateralism is under fire precisely when we need it most.” And General Assembly President Maria Espinosa Garces wrapped up the meeting, during which all 193 U.N. member nations spoke, saying that one of its major achievements was strong global backing for the U.N. and multilateralism.
The high turnout of leaders — 121 presidents, prime ministers and monarchs — “is because the world cares about the United Nations and the world cares about multilateralism, and the need to strengthen the multilateral agenda,” Espinosa Garces said in a news conference. And the General Assembly is the body “for international coexistence.”
But Trump’s speech, not long after Guterres’, poured scorn on multilateralism and touted his “America First” policy, saying his administration has achieved more “than almost any administration in the history of our country,” which sparked chuckles and outright laughter from some leaders.
“We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy,” the U.S. president said. “America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.”