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Trump Mounts Fresh Attack on Mueller Probe

Outside the White House Friday, a media frenzy.

And at the center of it all, President Donald Trump.

“Can we do one question at a time? Wait! One question at a time,” the president scolded reporters.

Trump launched a new attack on the Russia probe in the wake of a critical report on the Hillary Clinton email investigation by the inspector general of the Department of Justice.

“I did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction,” he said. “The IG (inspector general) report yesterday went a long way to show that, and I think that the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited.”

But the report in question only dealt with how the FBI handled the Clinton email controversy.

It was critical of the man Trump fired as FBI director, James Comey, but rejected the notion of a politically-directed effort aimed at Trump.

“This report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review,” announced current FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Democrats also took note of the report.

“Anyone who is hoping to use this report to undermine the Mueller probe or prove the existence of a ‘deep state’ conspiracy against President Trump will be sorely disappointed,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said.

During his lengthy encounter with reporters Friday, Trump also defended his recent summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“They are doing so much for us, and now we are well on our way to get denuclearization,” he said. “And the agreement says there will be total denuclearization. Nobody wants to report that. I got along with him great. We have a great chemistry together. That is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Trump also lashed out at opposition Democrats and tried to blame them for recent administration actions to separate family members caught trying to come across the U.S. border.

“The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children,” Trump said.

A host of Democrats on Capitol Hill blasted the president’s comments, including Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico.

“There are no substantive defenses, no policy defenses, to their current actions separating families and taking children away from their mothers and fathers at the border. It just is another indication that they cannot govern,” she said.

Trump’s relatively lengthy encounter with the media Friday was unusual for a president who tends to favor appearances on Fox News Channel and who generally takes only a few questions at news conferences.

 

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Judge Jails Ex-Trump Campaign Chair Manafort

A federal judge on Friday sent President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to prison for tampering with witnesses while out on bail.

Manafort was free on $10 million unsecured bail since he was first indicted last October by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign.

He is one of 20 people charged by special counsel Robert Mueller and the first former Trump associate to go to prison in connection with the investigation.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, President Trump said: “Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”

Manafort appeared in court to plead not guilty to new charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with his efforts to influence the testimony of two potential witnesses in his case.

Federal district judge Amy Berman Jackson, citing the new charges, granted a motion filed last week by Mueller, to revoke his bail and send him to prison while he awaits trial in September.

Manafort was escorted out of the court room by deputies as he waved to his wife.

The latest indictment against him, issued by a grand jury last week, accused Manafort, 69, and a business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, 48, of “repeatedly” contacting two unidentified people in an effort to sway their testimony.   The contacts took place between February and April of this year.

WATCH: Trump on Manafort’s legal woes

According to prosecutors, the two potential witnesses worked with Manafort in enlisting a group of former European officials to lobby both European officials and members of Congress on Ukraine’s behalf.

Defense lawyers, saying Manafort was unaware  the two people were cooperating with the special counsel, painted the contacts as innocuous.  They asked that prosecutors provide a list of people Manafort should not be contacting while on bail.

“A clear no-contact role will solve the problem,” one of Manafort’s lawyers said.  “He can be put in a position where conditions can be met.”

But prosecutors argued that given Manafort’s track record of flouting his bail conditions, no new terms would ensure compliance.

“We’re in a very different situation,” said Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller’s prosecutors.  “Today, we’re talking about obstruction while on bail.  Mr. Manafort has absolutely violated the terms of his release by committing a crime while on bail.”

Judge Jackson said she had to “wrestle” with whether to revoke Manafort’s bail, but in the end she said she could not keep him free.

 “You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” she said.

 

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IG Faults Comey’s Judgment, But Sees No Bias

The U.S. Justice Department’s watchdog on Thursday criticized former FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but said it found no evidence that Comey had been motivated by “political bias.”

In a long-awaited review of the investigation, the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, did not question Comey’s decision to close the investigation without bringing charges against Clinton, but said the former FBI director made a “serious error of judgment” when he went public with the bureau’s findings in the run-up to the vote. 

“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice,” the report said. 

“Although we acknowledge that Comey faced a difficult situation with unattractive choices, in proceeding as he did, we concluded that Comey made a serious error of judgment,” the report said.​

​Focused on decisions

The inspector general’s probe focused on decisions made by Comey, at key moments during the campaign, to publicly disclose the FBI’s findings in the Clinton email probe, without coordinating with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

On July 5, 2016, Comey publicly announced that he was not bringing criminal charges against Clinton for her handling of classified information in her emails. 

Then, on Oct. 28, less than two weeks before the election, Comey informed members of Congress that he was reopening the investigation after discovering a new cache of emails, before closing it a second time just two days before the election. 

The inspector general said those announcements deviated from long-standing Justice Department protocols that require the FBI director to coordinate statements with the attorney general and let Justice Department officials report on major investigations.

Later Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau accepted the findings in the report but noted that it in no way “impugns the integrity” of the agency. 

“As I said earlier, fair and independent scrutiny is welcome and appropriate accountability is crucial. We’re going to learn from this report, and we’re going to be better and stronger as a result,” Wray said.

Speaking hours after the release of the report, he said the most important point he took away from it was that it found no evidence of political bias or improper consideration “actually impacting the investigations under review.” He said the FBI would continue to drill “home the importance of objectivity — and of avoiding even the appearance of personal conflicts or political bias in our work.”

Wray said the bureau had taken some steps, such as reassigning people and referring some cases to be reviewed by the FBI’s internal personnel department, although he would not comment on who might have been referred.

“We’ve already referred conduct highlighted in the IG report to OPR, the FBI’s independent Office of Professional Responsibility. We need to hold ourselves accountable for the work we do and the choices we make,” Wray said. “And we’re doing that, fairly but without delay.”

He also said there was a new policy regarding contacts with reporters and news leaks. He said bureau staff would receive “intensive training” and it would be made “painfully” clear what the department’s new rules were.

Comey came under harsh criticism for his actions during the election. 

While Republicans blasted his initial decision to publicly exonerate Clinton, Democrats blamed him for costing them the election by reopening the investigation so close to the vote. 

Trump, who had praised the relaunch of the probe on the eve of the election, last year cited Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation when he abruptly fired him as FBI director. The president later said that he had the “Russia thing” in mind when he fired Comey. 

​Comey responds

Comey has long defended his actions during the election, writing in a recently released book that he did “something I could never imagine” in order to protect the bureau’s independence after concluding that Lynch “appeared politically compromised.”

In a tweet after the report’s release, Comey wrote that the “conclusions are reasonable, even though I disagree with some.”

“People of good faith can see an unprecedented situation,” he wrote.

The inspector general expanded his investigation last year after discovering a series of anti-Trump and pro-Clinton text messages exchanged during the campaign by two senior FBI officials on the investigative team. The report said investigators for the inspector general found text and instant messages exchanged by five FBI employees assigned to the Clinton email investigation team. 

The report said that while the messages “cast a cloud” over the FBI’s handling of “the investigation and the investigation’s credibility,” investigators found no evidence that their political bias “directly affected” the email probe. 

The report singled out two FBI officials — Peter Strzok, a senior counterintelligence agent, and Lisa Page, a lawyer — for exchanging text messages that “potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations.”

Strzok and Page were romantically involved at the time. In one exchange uncovered during the investigation, Strzok wrote to Page, “No. No, he won’t. We’ll stop it,” in response to Page’s question “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

The inspector general wrote that Strzok’s response “is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.”

Both Strzok and Page briefly worked for special counsel Robert Mueller, investigating Russian interference in the election. Mueller removed Strzok from his team after the disclosure of his text messages. Page later left the special counsel’s office. 

Trump and his Republican allies have seized on the text exchanges to allege that the FBI was systematically biased against the president.

Other reactions

The report elicited mixed reactions.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the report reaffirmed Trump’s “suspicions about Director Comey,” adding that the text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page showed “the political bias the president has been talking about.” 

Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House oversight and government reform committee, said he was “alarmed, angered and deeply disappointed” by the findings.

The report confirms that the FBI decisions during the election “deviated from traditional investigative procedures in favor of a much more permissive and voluntary approach,” Gowdy said in a statement. 

But Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the inspector general “found no evidence” that Comey and other FBI and Justice Department officials “acted on the basis of political bias or other improper considerations. Instead, their decisions were made on the basis of the facts and the law.”

Moreover, Schiff said in a statement, “Nothing in the IG’s report calls into question the legitimacy or conduct of the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation, or the importance of allowing the Special Counsel to complete his work without political interference.”

Nick Schwellenbach, director of investigations at the Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog, said the FBI’s actions during the investigation “damaged the credibility of the Justice Department and the FBI in an investigation that desperately needed to be beyond reproach.”

“Justice Department and FBI leadership need to take a deep look inward and sort out how they should collaborate in high-profile, politically sensitive investigations,” he said. 

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US Supreme Court Eases Rules for Voter Attire

The U.S. Supreme Court eased the rules Thursday for what Americans can wear when they go to vote, striking down restrictions in one state that banned voters from wearing clothes with the name of a candidate or political party when they enter the polling place.

In a victory for free speech, the high court in a 7-2 ruling overturned a law in the Midwestern state of Minnesota that barred clothing representing recognizable political views. The state had said the law was aimed at keeping order at polling places and preventing voter intimidation among partisans.

In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said that while the state’s intentions were “generally worthy of our respect, Minnesota has not supported its good intentions with a law capable of reasoned application.”

Nine other states have laws similar to Minnesota’s. The Supreme Court returned the case to a lower court for consideration of what restrictions might be reasonable.

The Minnesota case stemmed from a 2010 incident in which a voter showed up at a polling place wearing a T-shirt supporting the conservative Tea Party movement with the words “Don’t Tread on Me,” as well as a button stating, “Please I.D. Me.”

The man was allowed to vote, but sued to overturn the law.

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Immigrant Candidates ‘Running Everywhere’ in Upcoming US Elections

When Colombia-born Catalina Cruz stepped toward the podium in Jackson Heights, Queens, officially launching her campaign for New York State Legislature, a few dozen supporters stood nearby with fluorescent blue, green and red signs — #VoteCatalina, #ElectADreamer.

Like other first-generation American candidates for local, state and nationwide office, Cruz had overcome a series of obstacles to get to that morning in June. Many can relate in her diverse community — including her opponent, a daughter of Dominican immigrants.

“We have many people who understand the struggle of the immigrant, who understand that we do not come here to steal opportunities or take advantage of the system, but to work, to fight,” Cruz told VOA.

“My mom had to take any job — handing out leaflets, making empanadas (meat pies), selling food, babysitting,” she said of her childhood era, a near 13-year-span during which she and her family lived under the radar, undocumented.

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Years later, after Cruz completed college, married her high school beau (a U.S. citizen), gained citizenship, and attended law school, she set out to defy the odds again by entering American politics — an arena that has never reflected the diversity of the general population, particularly outside progressive urban centers.

But 2018 may be a tipping point; immigrants are running “everywhere,” says Sayu Bhojwani, founder and president of New American Leaders (NAL), a national non-partisan organization which prepares first and second-generation Americans for political office.

“You’re seeing people run [for office] wherever they are, without the burden of, ‘Oh, well, I’m not in a district that necessarily quote-unquote looks like me,’” Bhojwani said in an interview with VOA.

Barriers

On the one hand, Bhojwani predicts immigrant candidates will face “subtle and not-so-subtle references to (their) backgrounds and affiliations,” like Abdul El-Sayed, who is hoping to become the country’s first Muslim governor in Michigan, and has faced the kind of anti-immigrant rhetoric that is pervasive nationwide.

Yet, despite increasing partisan polarization, Bhojwani says immigrant candidates are beginning to “claim their space” across a range of offices and not just in progressive bubbles like Queens.

Ahead of the 2018 elections in November, NAL has tracked at least 100 foreign-born candidates running for U.S. Congress, where a smaller share of immigrants currently holds seats than during either of the country’s 19th and early 20th century waves of European immigration.

And immigrant candidates have been quietly making headway in both local and state elections, where fewer than two percent of 500,000 seats were held in 2015 by either Asian-Americans or Latinos — the two most populous groups of first and second-generation Americans — according to a report by NAL.

Positions like school board and local city council member “are often stepping stones” to higher office for women, candidates of color and immigrant candidates, says Paru Shah, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, whose research examines the characteristics of first and second-generation Americans running for political office.

Would-be candidates all face the difficulties of financing a campaign and finding the time to run. But additionally, immigrant candidates often have their own psychological barriers, according to Shaw.

“Historically it’s a little bit of a chicken and egg situation, where people don’t see themselves in those positions,” Shah told VOA by phone, a situation of “that’s not for me.”

Changing the equation

According to a report by Shah and UCLA PhD candidate Tyler Reny, published in Social Science Quarterly (SSQ), race or foreignness was the most frequently cited barrier among immigrant leader respondents.

“I will have to overcome those who challenge how American I am because I was not born here,” read one recorded statement from the SSQ report.

“I imagine that my ability to lead and my loyalty to the nation would be questioned by the electorate,” read another.

According to Pew Research Center, the share of Asian-American and Hispanic Americans who think of themselves as “typical Americans” approximately doubles from the first-generation (Americans born outside the U.S. or U.S. territories) to 61 percent among the second (US-born with at least one immigrant parent).

For support, Asian-American and Latino candidates for state legislature often rely more heavily on labor unions and community-based groups than their white counterparts, according to NAL data. In return, the groups benefit from better representation.

“There is a lot that you can do to create an environment that is supportive and welcoming,” Bhojwani said. “People are stepping up and saying, ‘Look, I can represent my community and ensure that our schools feel safe and that our cities are welcoming.”

“We are not going to forget how we have lived up this point,” said candidate Catalina Cruz. “Many people might think, ‘Oh, she managed to get her papers and forgot.’ No, this is something you carry with you in your heart and in your blood.”

Laura Sepúlveda, of VOA’s Spanish Service, contributed to this report.

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DACA May Finally Get a Vote in the House

Leaders of the Republican-led House of Representatives are promising to hold votes on two immigration measures next week, putting the heated issue back on center stage during a tough election year. The move ends a plan by moderate Republicans to force a vote, with the fate of thousands of young undocumented immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, at stake. VOA’s Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson has more.

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Republicans Look to Trump to Help Pass Immigration Bill

House Republicans are looking to President Donald Trump to help them pass an immigration bill that does not have the support of right-wing lawmakers. 

A day after Speaker Paul Ryan announced that the House would vote next week on two competing immigration measures, the details are still being worked out on a Republican-approved bill that would grant young undocumented immigrants a way to citizenship.

WATCH: DACA May Finally Get a Vote in the House

The bill would grant “Dreamers,” people who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children, a respite from the threat of deportation and a chance to gain U.S. citizenship. As a compromise to conservatives, the bill would also finance Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico, curb family migration and end the visa lottery program.

“We’ve been working hand in glove with the administration on this to make sure that we’re bringing a bill that represents the president’s ‘four pillars’ so that we can come together,” Ryan told reporters Wednesday. “It’s a product of good compromise.”

At a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, Ryan said Trump “seemed very supportive” of the compromise,” lawmakers told reporters. 

But despite Ryan’s assurance of the president’s support, some conservatives might be looking for a more vocal endorsement from Trump. 

Moderate Republicans and Democrats had threatened use a discharge petition to force a vote on four immigration bills. 

A discharge petition is a procedural move that forces a bill out of committee and to the House floor for a vote. In order to succeed, it needs 218 signatures. But the coalition fell short by two Republican signatures. 

The Republican leadership had feared that a discharge petition could have led to a coalition of Democrats and a few Republicans passing bills helping Dreamers without strong enough enforcement provisions. 

House Republicans have been struggling over immigration legislation since Trump last year ended the Obama administration-era program that protected the Dreamers.

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Lawyers to Challenge Sessions’ Ruling In Asylum Case

Lawyers for a Salvadoran woman at the center of a controversial ruling on asylum by Attorney General Jeff Sessions say they are looking to challenge the decision that could prevent tens of thousands of immigrants from being granted asylum.

In a sweeping opinion that has touched off an outcry among immigration rights advocates, Sessions on Monday reversed a 2016 grant of asylum to the woman who had been abused by her husband, ruling that victims of domestic violence are not generally eligible for asylum under U.S. immigration law.

While the decision applies to all seeking asylum on grounds of domestic and gang violence, applicants from Mexico and the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, could be hit especially hard, advocates say. The four countries accounted for 35 percent of asylum claims filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in March. 

Though Sessions directed his ruling at immigration judges, its effect could be felt beyond the court system, said Blaine Bookey, a co-legal director at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, which is representing the Salvadoran woman. 

“The attorney general’s decision applies to all adjudicators, including the appellate body, the immigration courts, as well as the Asylum Office, even down to the border officers who are doing the initial threshold screenings of individuals,” Bookey said. 

A recent uptick in the rejection rate of asylum cases could accelerate, she said. “This decision only provides further support to officers who would not want to recognize certain claims.”

But she said the attorney general’s decision in the case is not necessarily the final word. 

Appeal for A.B.

The Salvadoran woman, known by her initials A.B., can still pursue one of three forms of fear-based relief in the U.S., including asylum, withholding from deportation and seeking protection under the Convention Against Torture, she said. 

The center is also examining other options to challenge Sessions’ ruling, including through the litigation of other individual asylum claims that may be negatively impacted by the decision, Bookey said.

“It is possible Ms. A.B.’s case cannot be directly appealed to (the Court of Appeals for) the Fourth Circuit now and could be challenged through other cases impacted by the (Attorney General’s) decision,” she said.

Omar Jadwat, director of the immigration rights project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ACLU “stands ready” to support Bookey’s group and others taking issue with the attorney general’s decision.

Jadwat said the organizations are considering “various routes” to a legal challenge.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

Key issue

The Salvadoran woman first applied for asylum in 2014, claiming that she had been beaten and raped by her husband for nearly 15 years.

An immigration judge rejected her claim, prompting her lawyers to take it to the Board of Immigration Appeals. 

The board ruled in her favor in 2016, citing a precedent set in an earlier case recognizing domestic violence as a basis for asylum. 

In his decision, Sessions said the immigration board had been wrong to recognize victims of domestic violence as members of a “particular social group,” a requirement for asylum. 

“The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim,” Sessions wrote. 

“When, as here, the alleged persecutor is someone unaffiliated with the government, the applicant must show that flight from her country is necessary because her home government is unwilling or unable to protect her,” Sessions wrote.

In reversing the A.B. decision, the attorney general said that he was restoring “sound principles of asylum and long-standing principles of immigration law.” 

No national fix

The case back was sent back to the same North Carolina immigration judge who had originally rejected A.B.’s initial asylum claim.

The judge, V. Stuart Couch, is widely expected to dismiss her case again, which could lead her lawyers to appeal to the immigration board and possibly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.

Lindsay Harris, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia and vice chair of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association’s National Asylum and Refugee Liaison Committee, said she expects the appeals court to reverse the decision, given its “friendly” attitude toward similar cases. 

However, a favorable ruling by the court would apply only in its jurisdiction and leave the precedent set by Sessions in force in other parts of the country, she said. 

“We’ll need to overturn it one by one throughout the country in other jurisdictions,” Harris said.

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US Lawmakers Dismiss Trump Assertion that North Korea’s Nuclear Threat Is Over

Several U.S. lawmakers are dismissing President Donald Trump’s assertion on Twitter that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat. They also rejected any swift lifting of U.S. sanctions amid claims by Pyongyang that Trump agreed to sanctions relief during his meeting with Kim Jong Un.

Democrats are heaping scorn on Trump’s tweet that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

Replying on Twitter, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said “North Korea is a real and present threat. So is a dangerously naive president.”

Providing a more gentle response was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Bob Corker.

“That is a great example of hyperbole [by Trump],” Corker said. “I do not think that is what has happened.”

Much has to occur before the world can breathe easier with regard to North Korea, says Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

“The nuclear threat will not be over until they have dismantled their entire nuclear establishment and removed both their enrichment capacity and their weapons,” Shaheen said.

Lawmakers are also responding icily to reports by North Korea’s state-run media that, during the Singapore summit, Trump agreed to lift sanctions against Pyongyang as a trust-building measure. A joint statement issued at the end of the summit made no mention of sanctions relief.

“I think that is wishful thinking on their part,” said John Cornyn, the Senate’s number-two Republican. 

Cornyn told VOA the Singapore summit did not, by itself, alter the Trump administration’s policy of “maximum pressure” against Pyongyang.

“The way I interpret this first [Trump-Kim] meeting, which was surprising to everybody, is that it is like two boxers touching gloves,”  Cornyn added, “The real negotiations have yet to unfold.”

Trump could, but should not, relax sanctions against Pyongyang at any time, according to Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

“The president has quite a bit of authority [to provide sanctions relief],” Cardin said. “He could do things. It would be a major mistake to make concessions. You have to have a game plan in place. You have to have a declaration of their [North Korea’s] entire [nuclear] program, you have to have inspectors on the ground.”

What, exactly, did Trump and Kim discuss during their historic closed-door encounter? Corker says he hopes to find out.

“Let us have the people around the president come in and talk with us,” Corker said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as early as next week.  

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GOP Congressman Asks Trump to Attend Annual Baseball Game

The coach of the Republican baseball team says he personally asked President Donald Trump to attend the annual game Thursday, the anniversary of the shooting rampage that wounded the third-ranking GOP leader and others.

“I asked him to come, I guess it was last week, I was over at the Oval Office,” said Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas. “He said, ‘I’ll be there.”‘

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

The annual game between Republicans and Democrats, which dates to 1909, carries great emotional weight this year in the wake of the shooting of  House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and other lawmakers. Scalise sustained life-threatening injuries but returned to work last fall.

Williams said Scalise was expected to start at second base Thursday at Nationals Park.

Also planning to be at the game, Williams said, were members of Trump’s Cabinet and other special guests.

Thursday also is Trump’s 72nd birthday.

The president has been publicly supportive of Scalise, the Capitol Police officers who were wounded and other first responders. At the State of the Union speech in January, Trump cited Scalise, who was shot in the hip and faced a grueling recovery.

Trump called him “one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House, a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three-and-a-half months later, the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise.”

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