President Trump approves disaster declarations for Pa., R.I. as states struggle to stop spread of COVID-19

A federal medical station is set up at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Monday, March 30, 2020, to accommodate an influx in hospital patients due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 6:46 AM PT — Tuesday, March 31, 2020

President Trump has approved major disaster declarations for Pennsylvania and Rhode Island as the states struggle to stop the spread of coronavirus. He approved the declarations Monday, which makes federal funding available at the state, county and local levels to help residents during the outbreak.

Officials have said the funding will go to local governments and non-profit organizations for emergency protective measures. This includes disaster unemployment assistance, crisis counseling, community disaster loans and much more.

Members of the Rhode Island National Guard look for passengers getting off a train from New York as it arrives Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Westerly, R.I. States are pulling back the welcome mat for travelers from the New York area, which is the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, and some say at least one state’s measures are unconstitutional. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Meanwhile, New Jersey is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases as the White House works to boost testing nationwide.

During a recent press conference, state Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said more than 3,300 infections were reported Monday. The new data brought the total number to 16,000. More than three dozen new deaths were also confirmed, which brought that total to nearly 200.

Gov. Murphy urged people to obey social distancing guideline to prevent the virus from spreading. A model constructed by state health officials has predicted the number of COVID-19 cases will double in the next week if people ignore warnings from experts.

RELATED: Seattle, Wash. sees slowdown in COVID-19 cases

Original Article

Vice President Pence addresses the National Association of Manufacturers

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Association of Manufacturers’ Winter 2020 Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 . (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:29 PM PT — Friday, February 14, 2020

The vice president delivered remarks to the National Association of Manufacturers, where commended the president for unleashing America’s energy. On Friday, Mike Pence spoke about the Trump administration’s efforts to put American workers first.

“Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, more than 90 percent of the regulations that the National Association of Manufacturers identified as hurting American manufacturing have already been cut or simplified,” he said. “Our administration is working for American manufacturers and workers across the country!”

He also touted the president’s signing of the USMCA, which is expected to create thousands of superior jobs for American factory workers. Pence said the administration will continue to educate workers and ensure Americans have the necessary skills for the jobs these new trade deals will create.

“American manufacturing has never had a greater champion in the oval office than President Donald Trump,” stated the vice president. “We’re going to keep working every day not just earn your confidence, but to give you confidence to invest, to know that this is a president that believes in growth.”

Pence reported 3.5 million Americans have rejoined the workforce under the Trump administration. He ended by thanking the companies for their continued support of the president.

Original Article

O’Brien: Vindmans were rotated out of positions as National Security Council faces budget cuts

FILE – In this Jan. 8, 2020, file photo, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, listens as President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the White House in Washington. As the White House presses allies to ban Huawei equipment, O’Brien says the Chinese company has the ability to secretly retrieve sensitive information from that equipment. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 11:50 AM PT — Wednesday, February 12, 2020

According to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was not ousted from his post in the White House for to political reasons.

At a think tank event in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, O’Brien refuted claims that Vindman and his brother were removed from the White House last week in retaliation for Vindman’s testimony in the House impeachment trial.

O’Brien said it was clear Vindman’s services were no longer needed in the National Security Council as the department is undergoing a downsizing due to budget constraints. He also stressed that Vindman had been merely just rotated out of his post before his already scheduled departure.

FILE – In this Nov. 19, 2019, file photo then National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, left, walks with his twin brother, Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump. The Army confirms that both Lt. Cols. Vindman have been reassigned to the Department of the Army. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

O’Brien went on to say that the decision to rotate Vindman out of the White House was one he made by himself. He added that the U.S. is not a “banana republic,” where lieutenant colonels can call the shots about policy.

RELATED: Sen. Graham supports removal of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman

Original Article

Rep. McCarthy leads opening prayer at National Prayer Breakfast

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is picuted. (AP Photo)

OAN NEWSROOM
UPDATED 11:38 AM PT — Thursday, February 6, 2020

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called for unity in Congress, while leading the opening prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast. He also mentioned the divisiveness of Congress during Thursday’s prayer.

The event came after the president’s acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday. Rep. McCarthy said the Lord could not have picked a better day to bring everyone together in prayer. The congressman went on to ask God to watch over Democrat and GOP leaders as well as the entire Congress.

“Lord, we pray for the leaders in Congress; Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer,” stated the House minority leader. “Please guide us out of tearing division and into unity in doing the people’s business.”

The National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly tradition, which aims to be a platform to discuss the role of faith in politics.

Meanwhile, President Trump was also in attendance at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he was seen celebrating the end of the Democrat-led impeachment trial.

The president showed off the the “USA Today” newspaper with the one-word headline “Acquitted” splashed on the front page. He waved the publication to the audience with House Speaker Pelosi just steps away on the same stage.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens as President Donald Trump speaks at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast, at the Washington Hilton, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” said President Trump. “They have done everything possible to destroy us and by doing so, very badly hurt our nation.”

The Senate voted on Wednesday to acquit the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, bringing the weeks-long trial to an end.

RELATED: Senate Votes ‘Not Guilty’ In Final Impeachment Vote

Original Article

Robert O’Brien ‘very confident’ Bolton’s book was not leaked by National Security Council

Robert C. O’Brien, left, United States National Security Advisor, and Richard Grenell, right, United States Ambassador to Germany, address the media during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 prior to the signing of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, establishing air service between the two capitals. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 12:40 PM PT — Sunday, February 2, 2020

White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien is saying the transcript of John Bolton’s book was not leaked by the National Security Council (NSC). On Sunday, O’Brien said he’s discussed Bolton’s book and its recent leak to the press with members of the council. He assured the public he’s very confident the leak did not come from the NSC.

Last month, leaked excerpts from the book alleged President Trump could have had an intent to pressure Ukraine, which fueled Democrats’ calls for impeachment. O’Brien said the NSC believes Bolton’s book includes classified materials and cannot be published as is.

“I think that’s something that’s going to be investigated, what kind of notes Ambassador Bolton has, had or didn’t have. With respect to the allegation that Ambassador Bolton made, that he told (President Trump) him to call Zelensky, the president has said that did not happen. I believe that Bill Barr and Mike Pompeo have said that that did not happen.” – Robert O’Brien, United States National Security Adviser

The adviser said the NSC will continue discussions with Bolton to make sure the upcoming release of his book does not compromise any national security secrets.

RELATED: President Trump Denies NYT Report Stating He Directed Bolton To Work With Giuliani

Original Article

Congress raises national tobacco age to 21 as part of spending package

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Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 19

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 19 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

Congress on Thursday voted to raise the national minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21, ushering in the sweeping new policy as part of a must-pass government funding package.

The Senate approved the policy within an eight-bill package in the run-up to the holiday recess. The package, which previously won House approval, is part of a series of measures meant to avert a looming government shutdown.

But amid a bitter impeachment fight and other Capitol Hill drama, the bills contained major policy changes, including the minimum age increase for cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

The raise in the tobacco age had support from unlikely sources: Altria, the nation's largest tobacco company, and Juul Labs, known for its e-cigarette vaping devices. Tobacco critics contend the companies’ support is calculated to head off even harder-hitting government action: a ban on all flavored tobacco products, including fruit and dessert e-cigarettes.

SPENDING PACKAGE HIGHLIGHTS DIVISION BETWEEN 'SQUAD,' HOUSE PROGRESSIVES AND DEM LEADERSHIP

“Altria and Juul clearly support this in order to argue that no other action is necessary,” said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The measure, known commonly as Tobacco 21, was included as part of a $1.4 trillion spending package that covered other notable policy changes, such as an expensive repeal of Obama-era taxes on high-cost health plans, help for retired coal miners, and $1.4 billion for President Trump's border wall, down from the $8 billion he requested but the same that was appropriated for it last year.

Democrats secured $425 million for states to upgrade their election systems, as well as increases for the U.S. Census budget, the Environmental Protection Agency, renewable energy programs and affordable housing.

The package passed with a 71-23 vote. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, opposed the spending measures, calling the bills "a fiscal dumpster fire."

President Trump is expected to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk.

"The president is poised to sign it and to keep the government open," said top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway.

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An additional four-bill "minibus" is up for a procedural vote later in the day. The passage of the spending bills comes a day before the Dec. 20 deadline, after which the government would have shut down. The bills provide government funding through the remainder of the fiscal year, which goes until Sept. 30, 2020.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Flynn judge crushes hopes for tossing guilty plea, says ex-national security adviser waived constitutional rights

closeFBI accused of manipulating Flynn records from 2017 interviewVideo

FBI accused of manipulating Flynn records from 2017 interview

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's legal team accuses the FBI of misconduct. Author of 'The Plot Against the President' Lee Smith reacts.

A federal judge on Monday rejected Michael Flynn's comprehensive requests for exculpatory information that may have been withheld by the FBI, saying that the former national security adviser had waived his fundamental constitutional rights by pleading guilty to making false statements.

The order from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington also set a Jan. 28 sentencing date in the case, and essentially crushed any remaining hopes that Flynn might see his guilty plea tossed. The ruling came just days after Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz identified a slew of misconduct by FBI agents investigating former Trump aide Carter Page — including by a little-known agent who interviewed Flynn at the White House in January 2017.

In his order, Flynn cited prosecutor Brandon Van Grack, formerly a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, as saying, "[B]y pleading guilty in this case [Mr. Flynn] agrees to waive certain rights afforded by the Constitution of the United States," including the right "to challenge the admissibility of evidence offered against [him.]"

Flynn's guilty pleas, Sullivan wrote, "effectively bar him from raising claims based on any evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment." Even if Flynn had not waived his Fourth Amendment rights, Sullivan argued that Flynn still needed to "establish that the requested information is favorable" to his defense in order to obtain it — something he has "failed" to do, the judge said.

WHO IS JOE PIENTKA, THE UNNAMED "SSA 1" IN HOROWITZ'S EXPLOSIVE REPORT, AND WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO DO WITH FLYNN?

The order pushed the case closer to a resolution following months of challenges and arguments from Flynn's attorneys, who had leveled a series of accusations against the FBI and the Justice Department. Although the government has previously sought only probation for Flynn, that could change.

Sullivan, who received appointments from Presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, asserted in his 92-page opinion that Flynn's defense had neglected "to explain how most of the requested information that the government has not already provided to him is relevant and material to his underlying offense."

"Mr. Flynn cites no controlling precedent holding that an uncharged individual is entitled to Brady evidence during an ongoing criminal investigation," Sullivan wrote, referring to exculpatory information possessed by the government. Sullivan added: "Under Brady … 'the Government has no duty to disclose evidence that is neutral, speculative, or inculpatory, or evidence that is available to the defense from other sources.'"

KT McFarland speaks for first time on Michael Flynn: 'It's time to investigate the investigators'

KT McFarland speaks for first time on Michael Flynn: 'It's time to investigate the investigators'

Former Trump Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland says the government's investigative power was used for political purposes against her former boss Michael Flynn on 'America's Newsroom.'

Flynn had argued that FBI agents manipulated official records of his White House interview. His attorney also referenced a purported conversation between former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Washington Post reporter David Ignatius, claiming Clapper told the reporter "words to the effect of 'take the kill shot on Flynn,'" after he reportedly obtained the transcript of Flynn's phone calls. A spokesperson for Clapper strongly denied the claim, calling it "absurd."

Flynn additionally demanded the FBI search its secretive "Sentinel" system for initial drafts of notes of the White House conversation.

But, in his opinion, Sullivan rejected allegations that FBI agents who interviewed Flynn at the White House trapped him into making false statements or that the Justice Department had pressured him into entering a guilty plea. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations during the presidential transition period with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Flynn had said earlier in court that nobody had forced him to plead guilty, something the judge noted in his opinion. Flynn was ousted from the White House weeks after the interview. Officials said he had misled them about his interactions with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

"The plagiarism accusation makes no sense."

— Sidney Powell, attorney for Michael Flynn

"It is undisputed that Mr. Flynn not only made those false statements to the FBI agents, but he also made the same false statements to the vice president and senior White House officials, who, in turn, repeated Mr. Flynn’s false statements to the American people on national television," Sullivan wrote.

ALL EYES ON DURHAM, AFTER HE REBUKES HOROWITZ'S CONCLUSIONS

In the opinion, Sullivan also said one of Flynn’s legal briefs "lifted verbatim portions from a source without attribution" and cited rules of professional conduct barring deceit and dishonesty.

Flynn's lead lawyer, Sidney Powell, said Sullivan's "decision is as wrong as it is disappointing." She added that "the plagiarism accusation makes no sense" and that she relied on one of her own cases as well as a brief primarily written by a friend whom she said she cited.

Flynn was supposed to have been sentenced a year ago after he admitted lying to the FBI about having discussed sanctions with Kislyak. As the sentencing hearing was already underway, he requested that it be postponed so he could continue cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of securing a lighter punishment.

Since then, he has changed attorneys, who have challenged the basis for the prosecution and accused prosecutors of holding onto relevant information that they argued could point to his innocence.

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Sullivan rejected those arguments, as well as defense efforts to connect Flynn's case to the prosecution of the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Sullivan also presided over that case and ultimately threw it out amid allegations that prosecutors withheld evidence favorable to the senator.

“This case is not United States v. Theodore F. Stevens," Sullivan wrote.

Fox News' Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Esper: Delay of Ukraine aid did not have ‘any impact on U.S. national security’

closeDefense Secretary Mark Esper on challenges to US national securityVideo

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on challenges to US national security

'Fox News Sunday' exclusive: Defense Secretary Mark Esper joins Chris Wallace for a wide-ranging interview at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was reluctant to discuss details behind the withholding and release of military aid to Ukraine, but he did reject the notion that the delay had any negative effect on national security.

Over the course of the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Democrats have been accusing the president of using the aid and a White House visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as leverage to get them to investigate his political opponents. Democrats claim that by putting political interests ahead of national interest, Trump put national security at risk. Esper was quick to deny such a claim.

MIKE PENCE: NOT A 'FOREGONE CONCLUSION' DEMS WILL SECURE IMPEACHMENT VOTES

"At the end of the day, the bottom line is most of that aid got out on time and at no time did it have any impact on United States national security," Esper said.

Esper said there were three factors that were considered regarding the aid.

"When I came onto the scene, the three things we were looking at were this: one, was the aid necessary and vital to the Ukrainians in terms of defending against Russia; No. 2, had the Ukrainians addressed corruption, and that was a congressional concern; and No. 3, were other countries in the region, other allies and partners assisting them. And given those three things we decided to support the provision of Ukrainian aid."

Esper would not address whether there were any political factors involved in the delay of the aid's delivery, citing the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

"I'll leave that process unto itself," he said.

Esper also discussed a number of other issues related to national security. He addressed the shooting at the naval air station in Pensacola, Fla., where Americans were killed before the suspect, a Saudi Air Force officer, was shot and killed. The defense secretary would not definitively state whether the incident should be classified as terrorism.

"I don't know yet. I think that's why it's important to allow the investigation to proceed, to understand exactly what he was doing and why."

MISSING SAUDI SERVICEMEN LINKED TO NAS PENSACOLA SHOOTING SOUGHT; GUNMAN MADE PRIOR REPORTED TRIP TO NYC

Esper did say he called on officials to "begin review of what our screening procedures are with regard to foreign nationals coming into the United States." At the same time, he emphasized the need to maintain programs where foreign individuals come to train with U.S. forces.

"The ability to bring foreign students here to train with us, to understand American culture, is very important to us in building those long-term relationships that keep us safer."

Esper also addressed how the U.S. was prepared to respond to potential "bad behavior" on the part of Iran.

"We've reached a point, I think, that we've deterred Iranian bad behavior," Esper said, pointing to an end in recent Iranian aggression that included attacks against ships in the Strait of Hormuz and shooting down of a U.S. drone.

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But when asked about Iran's latest military efforts, including shipping missiles to other countries in the region and the testing of a ballistic missile that has the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon, Esper said that the U.S. is ready to act, if need be.

"We are prepared to respond, depending on what Iran does," he said. "And they need to understand that our restraint should not be interpreted as weakness."

Original Article