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Pompeo: US Would Win Trade War with China

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vows the United States will be victorious in any trade war with China, a day before the Trump administration’s latest tariffs on Chinese imports go into effect.

Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday. “We are going to get an outcome which forces China to behave in a way that if you want to be a power, a global power… you do not steal intellectual property.”

The Trump administration has argued tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cyber theft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Last week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect on September 24 (Monday). China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The Untied States already has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump threatened more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.

 

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Kavanaugh Accuser to Testify Thursday

Lawyers for the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both high school teenagers say she is “committed” to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Lawyers Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael Bromwich issued the statement Sunday on behalf of Christine Blasey Ford after making what they called “important progress” on a call with Senate Judiciary Committee members.

“Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for Senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her,” the statement said. It noted that she has agreed to move forward despite the committee refusing to invite other witnesses “who are essential for a fair hearing.”

Kavanaugh has denied any sexual impropriety and is also expected to testify before the Republican-led committee votes on his nomination.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News that Ford “will be treated fairly but we’re not going to turn the hearing over to her lawyers.”

 

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Democratic Senator Patty Murray warned of a “tremendous backlash” if Senate Republicans rush to confirm Kavanaugh without fully probing the accusation against him.

 

“What a horrible message to young girls today, what a horrible message to young men today that they can get away with this [sexual misconduct]. Let’s get this right,” Murray said.

 

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump questioned Ford’s account, posting on Twitter that “if the attack … was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” with police.

The tweet has prompted an outpouring of testimonials by self-described sexual assault survivors under the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, and a rebuke from a key Republican.

 

“We know that allegations of sexual assault are one of the most unreported crimes that exist,” Maine Senator Susan Collins said. “So, I thought that the president’s tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong.”

Trump’s U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, asked about the president’s tweet, said “Every accuser deserves the right to be heard. But at the same time, I think the accused deserves the right to be heard.”

 

The White House continues to stand by Kavanaugh, a federal appellate judge and Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee.

 

“Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a man of integrity with impeccable credentials and a proven judicial philosophy,” Vice President Mike Pence told an annual gathering of social conservatives. “And I believe that Judge Brett Kavanaugh will soon be Justice Brett Kavanaugh and take his seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.”

 

Democrats praised Ford’s courage and echoed her demand that the FBI investigate the accusation.

 

“What in the hell did she [Ford] have to gain by doing this? At this point she’s faced death threats, her family has been moved out of their home,” Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said on ABC’s This Week. “Dr. Ford has said from the start: let’s have the investigation. Let’s find all the people who might have some knowledge of it. You know, she’s open to the investigation. It’s Judge Kavanaugh, the Department of Justice, and the president who have said no, there will be no investigation.”

 

Ford alleges that, at a 1982 house party, Kavanaugh, then 17 and “stumbling drunk,” pinned her to a bed and groped her, causing her to fear for her life before she escaped. Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the accusation.

 

Several people Ford said attended the party have indicated they have no memory of the alleged assault.

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Hundreds Mark Hurricane Anniversary Near Trump Resort

Dozens of vehicles slowly approached President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday afternoon, blasting reggaeton and salsa as they drove by. They honked their horns and waved Puerto Rican flags draped from their car windows and trunks. They were on their way to a rally a few miles away to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

Despite the scorching hot sun, hundreds of activists showed up at the Meyer Amphitheater in West Palm Beach. Buses full of protesters came from as far as Miami and Orlando. The crowd was lively. People spread out on the grass and walked around carrying posters that read “Respeta Mi Gente” (Respect My People) and “Justice for Puerto Rico.” To one side of the stage, a giant blowup balloon of Trump depicted as a baby had been inflated. Crowds waited in line to take photographs in which they gave the orange balloon the middle finger.

Message: vote

Event organizers encouraged those in attendance to vote in the midterm elections in November. Anyone with a microphone was constantly telling people to vote, to register to vote, and to spread awareness about voting.

“We’re honoring the lives that were lost,” said Marcos Vilar, the president and executive director of Alianza for Progress, one of the event organizers. “We are recognizing all the people that were displaced and are living here in South Florida, central Florida and throughout the state.”

Vilar believes that although Puerto Ricans are citizens, the current administration’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has proved that Puerto Ricans are not treated equally.

Nearly 3,000 people have died as a result of Hurricane Maria, according to a study conducted by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. The president has repeatedly rebuked the death toll. Last week he tweeted that researchers had inflated the numbers “like magic” saying the amount was “FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER -NO WAY!”

Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago during the event.

​Florida politics

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who was in attendance, called the current situation in Puerto Rico “inexcusable” and characterized Trump’s comments as offensive. “How much more insults do (Puerto Ricans) have to take after being treated like they have?” he asked.

He also criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s relief efforts, saying that their treatment of Puerto Ricans has been “cold-hearted” and that the agency must do more to provide displaced people with temporary housing assistance.

Nelson is locked in a tight re-election race with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who must leave office because of term limits. The large Puerto Rican vote in Florida is seen as a crucial bloc in the state. Scott has visited Puerto Rico numerous times since the hurricane.

​Devastating storm

Dayavet Velez, 17, said that her home in Adjuntas, a small municipality tucked away in the mountains of central Puerto Rico, had been destroyed by Hurricane Maria. She and her family have been living in central Florida for nearly a year.

“We came here because we lost everything there,” she said.

Velez said that when Trump visited Puerto Rico, he didn’t see the full devastation that Maria had caused, he saw only a distorted reality. He didn’t visit the areas that were most affected by the storm.

Despite the hardships she and her family have faced, the high school senior remains hopeful.

“We’re not going to be torn down,” she said. “We’re going to stand up for ourselves … we’re going to be strong … we’re going to progress here.”

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Arizona Congressman Blasts Siblings Who Endorsed Opponent

Six siblings of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar have urged voters to cast their ballots against the Arizona Republican in November in an unusual political ad sponsored by the rival candidate.

The television ad from Democrat David Brill combines video interviews with Gosar-family siblings who ask voters to usher Paul Gosar out of office because he has broken with the family’s values. They do not elaborate.

They previously condemned the congressman’s false accusation in 2017 that wealthy Democratic donor George Soros was a Nazi collaborator in World War II.

“It’s intervention time,” Tim Gosar says in the ad, endorsing Brill. “And intervention time means that you go to vote, and you go to vote Paul out.”

Gosar is a fourth-term congressman for a sprawling district in northwestern and central Arizona. 

Congressman: ‘Stalin would be proud’

He fired back at his brothers and sisters in a series of twitter posts, calling them disgruntled supporters of Hillary Clinton from out of state who put ideology before family.

“My siblings who chose to film ads against me are all liberal Democrats who hate President Trump,” Gosar said. “Stalin would be proud.”

In a separate video segment, the siblings urge voters to hold the congressman accountable on health care, employment and environmental issues.

 

Paul Gosar’s comments about Soros came in a television interview with Vice News in which he also suggested a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, might have been a liberal conspiracy.

Why siblings are speaking out

In the new ad, the congressman’s siblings describe their decision to speak out as saddening, horrible and ultimately a matter of pride for the family from Wyoming.

 

“I think my brother has traded a lot of the values we had at our kitchen table,” says Joan Gosar, an engineer.

 

Pete Gosar, another sibling who ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for governor of Wyoming in 2014, doesn’t appear in the ad, though he has publicly criticized his brother’s views in the past.

Wisconsin feud

The rift in the Gosar clan is not the only sibling feud to wend its way into campaigning this year for Congress, as Democrats seek to retake majority control of the House and Senate from Republicans.

In the race to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Democratic congressional candidate Randy Bryce is confronting an ad in which his brother endorses the Republican candidate.

That upset Nancy Bryce, their mother, who has denounced the campaign ad in a letter recently made public.

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Senate Panel Adviser, Facing Harassment Allegations, Steps Aside

A communications adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee’s response to allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down over allegations of his own sexual misconduct.

A spokesman for the committee said Saturday that Garrett Ventry, 29, had resigned as an aide to committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

Ventry was “one of several temporary staff brought on to assist in the committee’s consideration of the Supreme Court nomination,” the spokesman said. “While he strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.” 

NBC reported that Ventry also resigned Saturday from the public relations company where he was employed, having taken a temporary leave of absence to work with the Judiciary Committee. The report quoted a company spokesman for CC Public Relations confirming Ventry’s resignation.

NBC also reported that Ventry was fired from a previous position in the office of North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell because a female employee of the North Carolina General Assembly accused him of sexual harassment. Bell confirmed to NBC that Ventry worked in his office but he did not confirm the reason for his departure.

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PayPal Dumps Alex Jones, Infowars

PayPal, the digital payments company, says it has cut business ties with far-right media personality Alex Jones and his Infowars website.

A PayPal spokesman said Friday, “We undertook an extensive review of the Infowars sites, and found instances that promoted hate or discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religions, which run counter to our core value of inclusion.”

Infowars said the move is a ploy aimed at sabotaging Jones’ online influence just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

In recent months, several other companies, including  Apple, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have either dumped or limited their connection with Jones.

Jones is one of the country’s most controversial media figures, known for saying the President George W. Bush White House was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He also called the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting a fake. Some of the parents of the murdered children are suing Jones.

 

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Senator Gives Kavanaugh Accuser More Time to Decide About Testimony 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley has given the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault until 2:30 p.m. Saturday to decide if she will testify next week, according to a report in The New York Times.

The newspaper reported that Grassley sent an email to Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers that said the Senate panel “absolutely must hear by 2:30 p.m.” about Ford’s decision.

The Senate committee had given Ford until 10 p.m. Friday to make a decision, but her lawyer asked for a one-day extension minutes before the Friday deadline.

Grassley announced the extension on Twitter in a post with an apologetic tone that was addressed to Kavanaugh.

Lawyers for Ford have said she wants to testify before a Senate panel next week, but only if her safety is ensured. According to U.S. media reports, attorney Debra Katz said in an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ford wishes to testify “provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”

Katz said her client has gotten death threats, and Ford and her family have been forced from their California home.

Grassley, a Republican, has scheduled a hearing for Monday for both Ford and Kavanaugh to appear to tell their stories.

But Katz wrote that “Monday’s date is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.”

Katz said Ford’s “strong preference” is that “a full investigation” be completed before she testifies. She had earlier called for the FBI to look into the charges against Kavanaugh.

Trump tweets

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the integrity of Ford, posting on Twitter that “if the attack … was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” with police.

Trump also accused “radical left wing politicians” of attacking Kavanaugh, who Ford said sexually assaulted her at a house party 36 years ago.

Late Thursday, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley in which he said he wants to tell his side in a Monday hearing.

“I will be there. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name,” he wrote.

Media reports say Kavanaugh has also received what law enforcement officials say are credible death threats.

Confirmation seemed certain

Trump chose Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

His approval by the Judiciary Committee and the Republican-majority Senate appeared to be an almost certainty until The Washington Post published its interview with Ford, who is now a California psychology professor.

She alleged a “stumbling drunk” 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a Maryland house party in 1982 when both were in high school. She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her, putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream, before she managed to escape.

Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the charges, saying he has never done any such thing to Ford or any other woman.

​Supporters for both sides

Women who say they have known and worked with Kavanaugh throughout his legal career say he has been respectful and fair in dealing with them. Dozens of women who support Kavanaugh held a Washington news conference Friday.

Sara Fagen, who described herself as a friend and former colleague of Kavanaugh, said she and the other women at the news conference believe the allegation is untrue.

“The reason that we know that this allegation is false is because we know Brett Kavanaugh,” Fagen said.

Women who attended Holton-Arms High School in Bethesda, Maryland, with Ford signed a letter in support of her that was personally delivered Thursday to Republican Senator and Holton-Arms alumna Shelley Moore Capito. Organizers said it was signed by more than 1,000 former students.

“We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” the letter said. “Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on Oct. 1, or if not by then, ahead of the Nov. 6 nationwide congressional elections, to show Republican voters they have made good on campaign promises to place conservative judges like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

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US Agency Endorses Plan to Block New Mining Near Yellowstone

U.S. officials recommended approval on Friday of a plan to block new mining claims for 20 years on the forested public lands that make up Yellowstone National Park’s mountainous northern boundary.

Regional Forester Leanne Marten submitted a letter to the Bureau of Land Management endorsing the plan to withdraw 30,000 acres (12,140 hectares) in Montana’s Paradise Valley and the Gardiner Basin from new claims for gold, silver, platinum and other minerals, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Marna Daley said.

A final decision is up to the office of U.S. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, who favors the withdrawal. Zinke said in a statement that it could be finalized in coming weeks.

The Trump administration’s support is notable given the president’s outspoken advocacy for the mining industry and his criticism of government regulations said to stifle economic development. The proposal has received bipartisan backing in Montana, with Democrats and Republicans alike eager to cast themselves as protectors of the natural beauty of the Yellowstone region.

The rocky peaks and forested stream valleys covered by the withdrawal attract skiers, hikers and other recreational users. It’s an area where grizzly bears, wolves and other wildlife roam back and forth across the Yellowstone border — and where the scars of historical mining still are visible on some hillsides.

The Forest Service recommendation follows concerns among business owners, residents and local officials that two proposed mining projects north of Yellowstone could damage waterways and hurt tourism, a mainstay of the local economy. 

Those two projects would not be directly affected because the companies behind them have already made their mining claims, the companies have said. But others have said the new move could discourage investment into those project.

About 1.7 million people drove through the area last year, and withdrawing the land from new mining development would help protect the areas for wildlife and recreation, according to U.S. Forest Service officials.

The withdrawal includes only public lands, not existing mining claims or exploration on private lands. It’s been in the works since 2016 under Zinke’s predecessor, former Interior Sec. Sally Jewell.

“I’ve always said there are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it isn’t. The Paradise Valley is one of those unique places,” Zinke said.

Montana Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines said the areas covered by the withdrawal were “truly special places that deserve protection.” 

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, called on Daines to support legislation sponsored by Tester that would make the withdrawal permanent. Tester’s bill was introduced last year and is currently before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Daines is a member.

An identical bill sponsored by Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte is pending in the House.

The mining industry opposes putting the public land off limits. Backers of the withdrawal want it made permanent. 

Under the proposal, government officials have estimated that 81 acres (33 hectares) would still be disturbed by mining and 4.5 miles (7 kilometers) of new roads would be built, according to a Forest Service analysis completed in March. That compares to an estimated 130 acres (53 hectares) of land disturbed by mining and 7 miles (11 kilometers) of roads over 20 years if the withdrawal were not enacted.

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Trump Hits Pause on Controversial Release of Classified Russia Probe Material

Just days after ordering the controversial declassification of materials related to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, President Donald Trump in a sweeping and quick reversal of an order has put the release of the documents on hold. 

In a pair of Friday morning tweets, Trump said he had met with the Justice Department concerning declassification of unredacted documents from the Russia investigation. 

Federal law enforcement officials were reluctant to release material from an ongoing investigation, including part of a secret court order to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

Also of deep concern to officials is the declassification of the interviews conducted for the application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. 

“The odds that a high-level resignation threat (Wray, Rosenstein?) wasn’t behind this are slim to none,” tweeted Ned Price, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, who was a spokesman for the National Security Council in the preceding administration of Barack Obama. 

There has been no comment from either Christopher Wray, who is the director of the FBI, or Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who oversees the investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. 

“The president continues to project a rudimentary understanding of his authority and how government bureaucracy actually works,” according to Bradley Moss, an attorney specializing in national security matters and the deputy executive director of the James Madison Project. “He effectively ordered the declassification of materials and then retracted it mere days later, deferring to the inspector general to handle the tasks, something the IG never does.” 

The president also has ordered the public release of text messages exchanged among several former high-level Justice Department and FBI officials. 

In the end, if the inspector general — already looking into how the special counsel’s investigation has been handled — does not reach a conclusion Trump desires, the president in his Friday tweets indicated he will override the review process and again move to declassify the materials. 

“This isn’t declassification in the interest of transparency or national security,” Moss told VOA. “This is declassification by personal whim.” 

The top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Adam Schiff, says Trump has acknowledged strenuous objections by the Justice Department and U.S. allies, and that the president already had known “the release of these documents would cross a ‘red line,’ potentially compromising sources and methods and hindering the investigation.”

Schiff added that Trump, the White House Counsel and his personal lawyers are still seeking access to the material “for the corrupt purpose of discrediting the Special Counsel — we cannot allow that.”

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Rosenstein Denies He Proposed Secretly Taping Trump

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein denied a New York Times report Friday that he floated the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump as unfit for office and suggested secretly recording the president to expose the chaos in the administration.

 

The Times cited several people, who were not named, who described the episodes that came in the spring of 2017 after FBI Director James Comey was fired. The newspaper’s sources also included people who were briefed on memos written by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

“The New York Times’ story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

The 25th Amendment to the Constitution spells out that a president can be declared “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” upon a majority vote of the vice president and the Cabinet.

A person who was in the room at the time, and provided a statement through the Justice Department, said Rosenstein’s comment was “sarcastic” and that he “never discussed any intention of recording a conversation with the president.”

The newspaper reported that Rosenstein, frustrated with the hiring process for a new FBI director after Comey’s firing, offered to wear a “wire” and secretly record the president when he visited the White House. He also suggested that McCabe could also perhaps record Trump, the newspaper said.

McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, said in a statement that his client had drafted memos to “memorialize significant discussions he had with high level officials and preserved them so he would have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions.”

 

McCabe’s memos, which were later turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, had remained at the FBI until McCabe was ousted in January and McCabe doesn’t know how any reporters could’ve obtained those memos, Bromwich said.

Rosenstein has been a target of Trump’s ire since appointing Robert Mueller as a Justice Department special counsel to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

He chose Mueller for the job one week after he laid the groundwork for the firing of Comey by writing a memo that criticized Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. The White House initially held up that memo as justification for Comey’s firing, though Trump himself has said he was thinking about “this Russia thing” when he made the move.

 

As deputy attorney general, Rosenstein oversees Mueller’s work and has made two public announcements of indictments brought by the special counsel — one against Russians accused of hacking into Democratic email accounts, the other against Russians accused of running a social media troll farm to sway public opinion.

 

On Friday, Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted the Times’ story and said: “Shocked!!! Absolutely Shocked!!! Ohhh, who are we kidding at this point? No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realdonaldtrump.”

 

The story elicited an immediate response from members of Congress.

 

Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus, said in a tweet that “if this story is true, it underscores a gravely troubling culture at FBI/DOJ and the need for FULL transparency.”

 

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the Times story “must not be used as a pretext for the corrupt purpose of firing Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein in order install an official who will allow the president to interfere with the special counsel’s investigation.”

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