Citing Free Speech, Trump Seeks Dismissal of Stormy Daniels Defamation Case

Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump have asked a federal judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by adult film actress Stormy Daniels, calling it an attempt to suppress the president’s free speech.

In a motion filed Monday in Los Angeles federal court, Trump’s lawyers also said that Daniels, who has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 and was threatened to keep quiet about it, had actually benefited from the attention brought by her dispute with the president.

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, called the motion “baseless and desperate.”

Daniels’ lawsuit, filed on April 30, centers on her account of being accosted by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot soon after she had agreed in May 2011 to talk about her alleged encounter with Trump to In Touch magazine.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said the man told her to “leave Trump alone” and, after looking at her infant daughter, said: “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

On April 17, Avenatti released a composite sketch purporting to depict the man.

Trump, who has denied having an affair with Daniels, responded the next day on Twitter: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

Daniels said the tweet was defamatory.

In Monday’s motion, Trump’s lawyers said the lawsuit was “designed to chill the president’s free speech rights on matters of public concern.” They cited a law in Daniels’ home state of Texas requiring that such a lawsuit be dismissed unless Daniels could provide “clear and specific evidence” for her claims, which they said she had failed to do.

They also said that Daniels had not been harmed, and had instead “capitalized” on the dispute with a nationwide tour of strip clubs “for which she admittedly is being paid at least four times her normal appearance fee.”

Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty last week to violating federal election law by paying Daniels $130,000 not to disclose information that would be harmful to Trump.

The White House denied any wrongdoing by the president after the plea, and Trump said on Twitter that Cohen made up “stories” to get a deal with prosecutors.

Trump’s Former Campaign Chief Seeks to Move 2nd Trial Out of Washington

Lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Tuesday said they would seek to move his second trial, scheduled to start next month, out of Washington, D.C., due to the highly politicized environment in the nation’s capital.

The motion for change of venue will be the second by Manafort after a failed attempt to move his first trial, which concluded last week in Alexandria, Virginia, with a string of convictions, to farther away from the Washington area on similar grounds.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the second criminal case against Manafort in a federal court in Washington, said she would entertain the motion but said she believed a jury could be found in the capital to give him a fair trial.

“This jurisdiction has had very high profile cases before,” Jackson said at a hearing on Tuesday. “I’d like to believe that is still possible.”

Manafort, a longtime Washington lobbyist and consultant, faces seven criminal counts in the upcoming trial, including allegations of money laundering, obstruction of justice and failing to register as a foreign agent for his work on behalf of pro-Russian politicians from Ukraine.

The Virginia jury last week found him guilty on eight criminal counts of tax and bank fraud and failing to declare his foreign bank accounts. That trial was the first resulting from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Manafort worked for Republican Donald Trump’s successful campaign for several months, including serving as chairman.

Jury selection set for Sept. 17

Berman said jury selection for the second trial would start on Sept. 17 and set opening statements for September 24 — a scheduling tweak she said was aimed in part at appeasing Manafort’s lawyers, who had requested a week delay in the trial’s start date of September 17.

The move came after an earlier bench conference in which Kevin Downing, one of Manafort’s lawyers, could be heard complaining to the judge about the time pressure they were under. The conference was supposed to be inaudible to attendees in the courtroom thanks to a white-noise machine.

“We don’t have the resources,” Downing said. “We just finished a trial last week.”

Also on Tuesday, Jackson approved the prosecution’s request to allow evidence about Justice Department inspections in the 1980’s that found Manafort’s had failed to disclose lobbying activities for foreign governments — one way the government planned to show that Manafort knowingly broke the law. But she said she would limit the scope of what it can show.

Jackson said she was concerned the evidence was dated and noted that Manafort was not charged with a crime in those instances. She said some communications would be admissible but asked both sides to come up with a stipulation on how Manafort was notified about lobbying disclosure regulations in the past in a way that would not prejudice the jury.

Mueller’s investigation, which Trump denounces as a witch hunt, has resulted in several indictments, guilty pleas and immunity deals. When Manafort was convicted last week, Trump said he felt badly for him and said he had “respect for a brave man!”

Poll: Women, Suburban Republicans Key to US Midterms

Women and well-off suburban Republicans will play decisive roles in countering President Donald Trump’s loyalists in November’s midterm elections, according to Ipsos pollsters who are armed with new tools to face their first big test after the billionaire’s shock 2016 victory.

Trump’s capture of the White House took the entire polling industry by surprise, as election forecasters blew it by predicting a Hillary Clinton win.

This year, in order to obtain a more comprehensive view of a complex electorate, Ipsos is using an amalgam of three sources of information – traditional polls, expert analysis from the University of Virginia, and social media trends – in a new tool, available for free online and presented Tuesday in Washington.

“It’s really come out of our experience with the 2016 elections…. The market writ large got the elections wrong,” Cliff Young, president of Ipsos Public Affairs, told AFP in an interview.

There has been extensive debate over why so many polling organizations missed the mark two years ago, but in Ipsos’s view it was because “the market, in general, depended on one single input and that was polls,” Young said.

“We overstated Hillary slightly” in crucial swing states and tended to “underestimate rural, white, under-educated individuals,” he added.

Ipsos will be tracking more than 400 races scheduled for November 6, using its new tool to poll 10,000 likely voters per week, analyze the assessments of a dozen political science professors, and screen up to 5.5 million social media mentions per day.

At stake in November are the 435 House of Representatives seats and about one-third (35 seats) of the 100-member Senate, both of which are currently controlled by Republicans. The governorships in 36 states, as well as numerous state and local seats, are up for grabs.

‘Strong blue year’

Most signs point towards Democrats taking back the House, although it will be an uphill climb for them to do the same in the Senate, where the electoral map is tougher.

“All three of the methods suggest it will be a strong blue year (favoring Democrats),” Young said. “The question is how big will the wave be?”

Another question is what to make of the president’s prediction of a “red wave” instead.

“That’s fantastical,” Young said, emphasizing that the party in power in the White House typically sheds seats in Congress in the midterms.

Three demographic groups are likely to play pivotal roles, according to Young.

Women, who might be put off by the scandal-plagued Trump, “will be very important” in determining 2018 election outcomes, he said. “There is a huge differential in terms of support for women between Trump and the Democrats.”

Middle-class and upper middle-class voters living in America’s residential suburbs will require close scrutiny, too.

“These tend to be Republican strongholds” where voters favor lower taxes and pro-business policies, but who have become “very turned off by the conduct of the president” and might sit out the November election, Young said.

Finally, Trump’s core supporters: ignoring them would be a mistake. The president enjoys a high rate of popularity, some 80 percent, among Republicans.

Minority voters, who lean Democratic, tend to mobilize less during midterm elections. “But who knows this year?” Young said, noting that traditional political patterns have been jolted since Trump’s White House win.

On the social media front, Ipsos – through the use of complex algorithms – is analyzing trends in online conversations that provide “very good insight” into understanding the key issues for voters in 2018, Young says.

Three topics, apart from the overarching figure of Trump himself, are at the fore: health care, immigration and jobs.

Keenly aware of the Russian interference in the last U.S. presidential election, including the spread of fake or inflammatory news reports on social media, Ipsos is taking care to detect and dismiss the “bots,” or automated accounts, some from overseas, that have proliferated in the political realm.

“What we really want to understand is what is the true human conversation going on,” Young said.



US Court: N. Carolina Gerrymander Illegal, Seeks New Congressional Map

A federal court ruled on Monday that North Carolina Republicans illegally drew up U.S. congressional districts in the state to benefit their party, suggesting that new lines be crafted before November’s election.

The three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina said in a 321-page opinion that Republican legislators responsible for the map conducted unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering to dilute the impact of Democratic votes.

“That is precisely what the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly sought to do here,” the opinion said.

The panel gave parties until Thursday to file their recommendations to fix the problem.

The decision could have national implications in this November’s battle for control of Congress. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that could thwart Republican President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.

Among the suggestions from the judges were holding state nominating primaries in November with new district lines that remove illegal partisan bias and then holding a general election before the new U.S. Congress is seated in January 2019.

The North Carolina dispute centered on a congressional redistricting plan adopted by the Republican-led legislature in 2016 after a court found that Republican lawmakers improperly used race as a factor when redrawing certain U.S. House districts after the 2010 census.

The Republican lawmaker in charge of the plan said it was crafted to maintain Republican dominance because “electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats.”

Party officials were not immediately available for comment on the court’s decision.

Republicans in 2016 won 10 of the 13 House districts – 77 percent of them – despite getting just 53 percent of the statewide vote, nearly the same result as in 2014.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling that Republicans drew the boundaries to ensure electoral victories for their party.

But the justices sent the case back to the federal three-judge panel to reconsider whether the plaintiffs, including a group of Democratic voters, had the necessary legal standing to sue in the case.

“If this opinion stands … the court may well order new districts be drawn in time for the 2018 elections,” Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote on his election law blog.

“North Carolina’s gerrymandering was one of the most brazen in the nation, where state legislative leaders proudly pronounced it a partisan gerrymander,” he wrote.

Five Key Takeaways From Trump’s US-Mexico Trade Deal

The United States and Mexico agreed on Monday to a sweeping trade deal that pressures Canada to accept new terms on autos trade, dispute settlement and agriculture to keep the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the White House was ready to notify the U.S. Congress by Friday of President Donald Trump’s intent to sign the bilateral document, but that it was open to Canada joining the pact.

The 24-year-old NAFTA is a trilateral deal between the United States, Canada and Mexico that underpins $1.2 trillion in North American Trade.

Here are some of the main issues at the heart of the negotiations:

Autos Dominate

The new deal requires 75 percent of the value of a vehicle to be produced in the United States or Mexico, up from the NAFTA threshold of 62.5 percent.

The higher threshold is aimed at keeping more parts from Asia out, boosting North American automotive manufacturing and jobs. Even if more plants are built in Mexico, jobs will grow in the United States due to high levels of integration, with studies showing that U.S. parts make up 40 percent of the value of every Mexican-built car exported to the United States.

The pact also requires greater use of U.S. and Mexican steel, aluminum, glass and plastics.

The provision started out as a U.S. demand for 85 percent regional content, with 50 percent coming from U.S. factories.

That plan was vehemently opposed by Mexico, Canada and the auto industry. It later morphed into the U.S.-Mexico deal’s requirement of 40 to 45 percent of a vehicle’s value to be made in high wage areas paying at least $16 an hour, requiring significant automotive production in the United States.

Although full automotive details have not yet been released, auto industry officials say it will allow Trump the ability to impose higher national security tariffs on vehicles that do not comply with the new thresholds.

Most Mexican auto exports are in a position to comply with the new limits, the country’s economy minister said.

No Sunset

Trump backed off from an initial U.S. demand for a “sunset” clause that would kill the pact unless it was renegotiated every five years and which businesses said would stymie long term investment in the region.

Canada and Mexico were strictly opposed to the clause.

Instead, the United States and Mexico agreed to a 16-year lifespan for NAFTA, with a review every six years that can extend the pact for 16 years more, providing more business certainty.

Dispute Settlement

Mexico agreed to eliminate a settlement system for anti-dumping disputes, NAFTA’s Chapter 19.

The move, sought by the United States, puts Canada in a difficult position because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had insisted on maintaining Chapter 19 as a way to fight U.S. duties on softwood lumber, paper and other products that it views as unfair. Ottawa now has less than a week to decide to accept a deal without that provision.

A settlement system for disputes between investors and states was scaled back, now only for expropriation, favoritism for local firms and state-dominated sectors such as oil, power and infrastructure.

Agriculture, Labor

The new deal will keep tariffs on agricultural products traded between the United States and Mexico at zero and seeks to support biotech and other innovations in agriculture. It lacks a previous U.S. demand to erect trade barriers to protect seasonal U.S. fruit and vegetable growers from Mexican competition.

It contains enforceable labor provisions that require Mexico to adhere to International Labor Organization labor rights standards in an effort to drive Mexican wages higher.

Now Canada

The U.S.-Mexico NAFTA deal opens the door for Canada to immediately rejoin the talks and is a major step forward in updating the accord.

Canada, which sat out the last leg of discussions while the United States and Mexico ironed out their bilateral differences, is now pressured to agree to the new terms on auto trade and other issues to remain part of the three-nation pact.

Trump has presented this as a bilateral deal and threatened Canada with car tariffs. Some lawmakers have said that a bilateral deal would face a higher vote threshold in Congress because the NAFTA fast-track negotiating authority law calls for a trilateral agreement.

Trump Backer Inhofe in Line to Chair Powerful Senate Armed Services Panel

U.S. Senator John McCain’s death will likely shift leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee from one of President Donald Trump’s most vocal Republican critics to one of his biggest supporters, which observers say could mean fewer checks on the Pentagon.

No decision has been announced since McCain’s death on Saturday, but the committee’s number two Republican, Senator James Inhofe, who chaired meetings and hearings in McCain’s absence, is expected to be made chairman in the coming weeks.

Inhofe, 83, represents Oklahoma, where Trump won more than 65 percent of the vote in 2016. He is seen as a more traditional Senate conservative less likely to confront a Republican president than McCain, who could be a harsh critic of his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

The change could have major implications for the panel, which sets policy for more than $700 billion in annual Pentagon spending, reviews nominees for a wide range of military positions and, under McCain, acted as a watchdog that sought to rein in what McCain saw as wasteful Defense Department spending.

Like McCain, Inhofe is a believer in a large, strong military. While McCain underwent cancer treatment at home in Arizona this year, the two worked together to shepherd through a bill authorizing $716 billion in military spending, billions more than Trump requested.

Inhofe, first elected to the Senate in 1994, served in the Army from 1957 to 1958.

War Hero

McCain, the son and grandson of Navy admirals, a war hero and former Republican presidential nominee, spent decades as one of his party’s most influential voices on national security. He used his status to forge ties to – and question – both U.S. and world leaders.

Last year, McCain held up Trump’s pick for secretary of the Army and other Defense Department positions to press the administration for answers about the deaths of U.S. troops in an ambush in Niger.

Tortured himself while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, McCain strongly opposed torture, and urged fellow senators not to confirm Trump’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel, because of her past ties to the CIA’s “harsh interrogation” program.

Inhofe, with other Republicans, voted to narrowly confirm Haspel.

“McCain consistently through his chairmanship pushed the military to live up to the best of its values, even when it meant bringing harsh critiques to get them to do so,” said Mieke Eoyang, vice president for the national security program at the Third Way think tank in Washington.

“Inhofe is less likely to critique the military. … Inhofe will not endorse the same kind of stringent budget oversight that McCain provided,” Eoyang said.

An Inhofe spokeswoman and Republican Senate leadership aides did not respond to requests for comment on the committee leadership or its membership. McCain’s death leaves the Armed Services panel with 26 members: 13 Republicans and 13 Democrats.

Besides appointing a chairman to succeed McCain, the Senate’s Republican leaders will need to name a new Republican committee member to restore the party’s 14-13 majority.

McCain Honored in US, Vietnam

Makeshift memorials are building in Arizona, Washington D.C. and Vietnam, in honor of Arizona Senator John McCain, who lost his battle with brain cancer on Saturday, August 25. He was 81.

Vietnam Pays Respects to John McCain with Tributes, Flowers

People in Vietnam are paying their respects to U.S. Sen. John McCain who was held as prisoner of war in Vietnam and later was instrumental in bringing the wartime foes together.

McCain died of brain cancer Saturday in his home state of Arizona, which he had served over six terms in the U.S. Senate. 

People paid tribute to McCain at the U.S Embassy in Hanoi on Monday and also at the monument built where he parachuted from his Navy Skyhawk dive bomber in October 1967 and was taken prisoner of war. He was held more than five years at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison.

McCain and former Sen. John Kerry played an important role in the bilateral normalization of relations in 1995.

McCain to be Honored in Arizona, Washington

Senator John McCain, who died Saturday after a yearlong battle with brain cancer, will be honored at ceremonies in Arizona and Washington.

McCain will first lie in state at the Arizona State Capitol, where a private ceremony will be held on Wednesday, which would have been McCain’s 82nd birthday. Members of the public will be able to pay their respects at the State Capitol. 

On Thursday, a private memorial service will take place at the North Phoenix Baptist Church. 

In Washington, D.C., McCain will lie in state at the United States Capitol on Friday. The public will be invited to pay their respects. 

McCain will become the 13th senator to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, an honor reserved for the nation’s “most eminent citizens,” according to the Architect of the Capitol.

A memorial service in Washington will be held at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush are expected to speak at the service.

McCain’s office said a livestream will be available for the services at the National Phoenix Baptist Church and the National Cathedral.

McCain will be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. His grave site will overlook the Severn River, and will be next his best friend from his Naval Academy days, Admiral Chuck Larson.

Remembrances, condolences pour in

The Vietnam War hero, Senator, and 2008 Republican presidential candidate was remembered for his courage, patriotism and service by fellow Americans and foreign dignitaries.

President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

His campaign later issued a statement offering condolences and “urging all Americans to take the opportunity to remember Senator McCain and his family in their prayers on this sad occasion.” The White House lowered the flag to half-staff in honor of McCain.

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama issued a statement sending their “heartfelt condolences” to McCain’s wife, Cindy and their family.

Obama, who ran against the Republican senator from the western state of Arizona in the 2008 presidential election and defeated him, noted how despite their different generations, backgrounds and politics, “we saw this country as a place where anything is possible.”

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who served with McCain in the U.S. Senate, said in a statement that he “frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do.”

Former President George W. Bush called McCain a friend, he will “deeply miss.”

“Some lives are so vivid, it’s difficult to imagine them ended,” Bush said in a statement. “Some voices are so vibrant, it’s hard to think of them stilled.”

Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, called McCain “a patriot of the highest order, a public servant of rarest courage.”

“Few sacrificed more for, or contributed more to, the welfare of his fellow citizens – and indeed freedom-loving peoples around the world,” the elder Bush said in a statement.

Former President Jimmy Carter called McCain “a man of honor, a true patriot in the best sense of the word.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Vietnam POW “showed us that boundless patriotism and self-sacrifice are not outdated concepts or clichés, but the building blocks of an extraordinary life.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the McCain’s death marks a “sad day for the United States,” which has lost a “decorated war hero and statesman.”

“John put principle before politics. He put country before self,” Ryan said.  “He was one of the most courageous men of the century.”

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the “nation is in tears” and noted McCain’s “deep patriotism, outstanding bravery and undaunted spirit.”

“He never forgot the great duty he felt to care for our nation’s heroes, dedicating his spirit and energy to ensuring that no man or woman in uniform was left behind on the battlefield or once they returned home,” Pelosi said in a statement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called McCain “a tireless fighter for a strong trans-Atlantic alliance; his significance went well beyond his own country.” French President Emmanuel Macron called McCain “a true American hero.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called the U.S. lawmaker a great friend of the South Asian country.

“We will remember his dedication and support towards rebuilding AFG,” Ghani tweeted.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered condolences.

“People of India join me in sincerely condoling the loss of a steadfast friend,” Modi tweeted. “His statesmanship, courage, conviction and understanding of global affairs will be missed.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called McCain “an American patriot and hero whose sacrifices for his country, and lifetime of public service, were an inspiration to millions.”





Captivity, Candor and Hard Votes: 9 Moments That Made McCain

John McCain lived most of his life in the public eye, surviving war, torture, scandal, political stardom and failure, the enmity of some colleagues and the election of President Donald Trump.

Even brain cancer didn’t seem to scare McCain so much as it sobered and saddened him.

“The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it,” McCain wrote in his memoir, referencing a line from his favorite book, the Ernest Hemingway war novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. ″I hate to leave.”

A look at public moments that made McCain:

Prisoner of war, celebrity

McCain, became a public figure at age 31 when his bed-bound image was broadcast from North Vietnam in 1967. The North Vietnamese had figured out that he was the son and grandson of famous American military men — a “crown prince,” they called him. He was offered an early release, but refused. McCain’s captors beat him until he confessed, an episode that first led to shame — and then discovery. McCain has written that that’s when he learned to trust not just his legacy but his own judgment — and his resilience.

Less than a decade after his March 1973 release, McCain was elected to the House as a Republican from Arizona. In 1986, voters there sent him to the Senate.

The Keating Five

He called it “my asterisk” and the worst mistake of his life.

At issue was a pair of 1987 meetings between McCain, four other senators and regulators to get the government to back off a key campaign donor. Charles Keating Jr. wanted McCain and Democratic Sens. Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, Alan Cranston of California, John Glenn of Ohio and Don Riegle of Michigan to get government auditors to stop pressing Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. All five denied improper conduct. McCain was cleared of all charges but found to have exercised “poor judgment.”

“His honor was being questioned and that’s nothing that he takes lightly,” said Mark Salter, McCain’s biographer and co-author of his new memoir, The Restless Wave.

The Senate

McCain became his party’s leading voice on matters of war, national security and veterans, and eventually became chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He worked with a Democrat to rewrite the nation’s campaign finance laws. He voted for the Iraq War and supported the 2007 surge of forces there even as his own sons served or prepared to serve. But there was one thing that wasn’t as widely known about him: McCain, owner of a ranch in Arizona that is in the flight path of 500 species of migratory birds, became concerned about the environment.

“People associate John with defense and national security, as well they should. But he also had a great concern for and love of the environment,” said Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who traveled to the ends of the earth with McCain — to the Arctic Circle in 2004 and Antarctica two years later — on fact-finding missions related to climate change. Back on McCain’s Arizona ranch, the senator gave Collins an extensive nature tour of the property. “I particularly remember his love for the birds,” Collins said. “He loved the birds.”

Town halls, Straight Talk

McCain in the 2000 election did something new: He toured New Hampshire on a bus laden with doughnuts and reporters that stopped at “town hall” meetings where voters were invited to exchange views with the candidate. The bus was called the “Straight Talk Express,” and that’s what he promised to deliver at the town halls. The whole thing was messy, unscripted and often hilarious. And ultimately the events re-introduced McCain to voters as a candid and authentic, just a year after President Bill Clinton was acquitted of lying to Congress and obstruction.

In New Hampshire that year, McCain defeated George W. Bush in an 18-point blowout, only to be pushed out of the race in South Carolina. But the town halls remained a fond McCain memory.

“The town halls were festivals of politics,” Salter said. “They were so authentic and open and honest.”

‘No ma’am’

McCain, in 2008 making his second run for president, quickly intervened when a woman in Lakeville, Minnesota, stood at a town hall event and began to make disparaging remarks about Democratic presidential nominee and then-Sen. Barack Obama. “He’s an Arab,” she said, implying he was not an American.

“No ma’am,” McCain said, taking the microphone from her. “He’s a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about. He’s not.”

It was a defining moment for McCain as a leader, a reflection of his thinking that partisans should disagree without demonizing each other. But it reflected McCain’s reckoning with the fear pervading his party of Obama, who would go on to become the nation’s first black president.


McCain last year was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the same aggressive cancer that had felled his friend, Sen. Edward Kennedy, on Aug. 25, 2009.

Friends and family say he understood the gravity of the diagnosis, but quickly turned to the speech he wanted to give on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to shed the partisanship that had produced gridlock. Face scarred and bruised from surgery, he pounded the lectern. Some of the sternest members of the Senate hugged him, tears in their eyes.

“Of all of the things that have happened in this man’s life, of all of the times that his life could have ended in the ways it could have ended, this (cancer) is by far one of the least threats to him and that’s kind of how he views it,” his son, Jack McCain, told the Arizona Republic in January.

Health care vote

Republicans, driven by Trump, were one vote away from advancing a repeal of Obama’s health care law. Then McCain, scarred from brain surgery, swooped into the Senate chamber and, facing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, dramatically held up his hand.

The thumb flicked down. Gasps could be heard throughout the staid chamber. McConnell stood motionless, arms crossed.

Trump’s campaign promise — and the premiere item on his agenda — was dead.


McCain tangled with Trump, who never served in the military, for years.

As a candidate, Trump in 2016 claimed the decorated McCain is only considered a war hero because he had been captured. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said at an event in Iowa. “I like people who weren’t captured.” Shortly before Election Day in 2016, McCain said he’s rather cast his vote for another Republican, someone who’s “qualified to be president.” Trump fumed, without using McCain’s name, that the senator is the only reason the Affordable Care Act stands.

McCain responded: “I have faced tougher adversaries.”

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