Buttigieg would accept Bloomberg’s money for campaign

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a campaign event in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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UPDATED 1:32 PM PT — Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has said he would accept money from campaign rival Michael Bloomberg. During a town hall event on Tuesday, the former South Bend mayor was asked whether he believes Bloomberg is trying to buy the Democrat nomination.

Buttigieg answered ‘yes’ and added Bloomberg’s refusal to campaign in early primary states is a sign he is unable to humble himself to voters.

However, he confirmed he is still open to accepting campaign contributions from the billionaire if he were to win the Democrat nomination.

“I’m not gonna reject that help because it came from a very wealthy person. This is the moment to bring everybody that we can into this effort. I promise exactly one thing in return for any contribution, which is, we’re gonna take that contribution and use it to go beat Donald Trump.” – Pete Buttigieg, (D) Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

Buttigieg went on to criticize Bloomberg’s approach by claiming the billionaire’s ability to use his own funds to circumvent the campaign process, “shows you what’s wrong with our system.”

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Original Article

Rep. Schiff refuses to say if Intel Committee would subpoena Bolton over claims of Ukraine pressure

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead Democratic manager, leaves the Senate chamber during a break as the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stretches into the night, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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UPDATED 10:13 AM PT — Monday, February 3, 2020

House Intelligence Committee chairman and lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff has continued to stir speculation of John Bolton’s possible testimony in Congress.

In an interview Sunday, he refused to say if his committee would subpoena the former national security adviser to testify on his book after the impeachment trial ends. The California Democrat also suggested the truth of the alleged pressure on Ukraine would eventually come out.

The Senate voted to block additional witnesses in the trial last week, which has further paved the way to the president’s acquittal. Nonetheless, Rep. Schiff said getting Bolton to testify may turn into a lengthy process.

“If we continue with litigation, as we are doing at this moment with Don McGahn, and we subpoenaed him nine months ago and we’re still nowhere near a final resolution, it would probably be one to two years before we would have had a decision on John Bolton,” he explained.

Rep. Schiff also accused Senate Republicans of denying a fair impeachment trial and vowed to continue attacks on President Trump.

FILE – In this May 1, 2019 file photo, National security adviser John Bolton talks to reporters outside the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

RELATED: Rep. Meadows says impeachment acquittal timing uncertain

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Sen. Cruz: Hunter Biden would be most important witness

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, with Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., right, speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, during a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

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UPDATED 10:05 AM PT — Tuesday, January 28, 2020

According to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Hunter Biden would be the most important witness in the impeachment trial. While speaking with reporters Monday, Cruz said House Democrats haven’t provided compelling evidence for the president’s impeachment.

The Texas lawmaker also said he thinks calling witnesses isn’t necessary, but if they are called then Hunter Biden would provide the most important testimony. He made the following comments regarding the topic:

“In my view, additional witnesses are not necessary. The House managers have presented their case. They haven’t come remotely close to meeting their burden of proof. Now that being said, if the Senate later this week when we vote on witnesses decides to go down to the road of additional witnesses, I think at a minimum the most important witness for the Senate to hear from is now Hunter Biden.”

Democrats would need at least four Republicans to vote in favor of calling witnesses in order for the motion to pass. That vote could come as early as Friday or Saturday.

RELATED: GOP senators consider calling Hunter Biden as witness

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AOC, campaigning for Bernie Sanders, says it would ‘be an honor’ to be VP

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Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 24

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., said it would "be an honor to be vice president” in a recent Spanish-language interview Sunday before headlining a Las Vegas campaign event for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The 30-year-old freshman congresswoman quickly pointed out that she falls five years short of the constitutional age limit to be vice president. The vice president – and president – must be at least 35 years old.

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“It’d be an honor to be vice president,” Ocasio-Cortez told "Noticias Telemundo" correspondent Guadalupe Venegas in Las Vegas. “I can’t because I’m not old enough.”

Ocasio-Cortez gave a keynote address at Sanders’ Spanish-language town hall in Las Vegas on Sunday. She endorsed him for the White House in October and could play a key role for the Vermont independent in seeking Nevada’s large Latino vote, differentiating himself from fellow progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“I was a community organizer in the Bronx for Sen. Sanders during the last presidential campaign,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “That was my first experience, organizing right there in the street for an election.”

“Before that, I did community work in education, with the Latino community and with the National Hispanic Institute, but that was my first time organizing for an election. It was an experience that I will never forget,” she continued. “It was an important part of my experience when I decided to run for Congress. I learned that there was another way of doing politics here in the U.S.”

Also in her interview with “Noticias Telemundo,” Ocasio-Cortez, whose mother is Puerto Rican, reiterated how important it was for her to continue to practice her Spanish.

“If we are first- or second-generation, it is important that we cultivate our language. I must speak and practice more to improve my own Spanish. Our language is the link with our families and our communities,” Ocasio-Cortez said. She had tweeted that she was "nervous" to host the town hall in Spanish because she doesn't speak the language often.

She also spoke about how far she’s come over the past year and a half, since ousting a powerful incumbent Democrat in New York's 14th Congressional District in a June 2018 primary and then defeating a Republican in the general election that November.

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“Last year I worked in a taqueria, as a waitress and as a bartender, and now I am a congresswoman,” she said. “That is a huge change. But my values are the same. And we are saying the same thing we were saying last year: that we must fight for working families, for health insurance, for education for all children and a fair salary.”

Original Article

Bloomberg warns ‘Medicare-for-all’ would reelect Trump, pitches plan to build on ObamaCare

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Michael Bloomberg, Joe Biden warn Democrats over UK election results

Moderate Democratic presidential candidates sound the alarm over Conservative Party's landslide victory in U.K.'s general election.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed his Democratic presidential primary rivals on Thursday for their “Medicare-for-all” proposals, claiming their plans are “more likely to reelect Donald Trump” than they are to bring health insurance to more Americans.

Bloomberg, who was speaking at a library in Memphis, Tenn., was announcing his own health care proposal when he tore into the “Medicare-for-all” plans being pushed by fellow candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“We don’t need Medicare-for-all proposals that are more likely to reelect Donald Trump than expand coverage,” Bloomberg said.

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Bloomberg instead proposed a “Medicare-like public option” that would be administered by the federal government but paid for by customer premiums. The plan would first target uninsured, low-income residents in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The billionaire businessman also wants Medicare to include an optional policy covering dental, hearing and vision care, and to require all states to cover oral health services for adults in Medicaid, along with capping out-of-network charges at 200 percent of Medicare rates.

“My proposal will build on what works, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act [ACA],” Bloomberg said. “We'll make sure that people who like their private insurance can keep private insurance, while also providing coverage to the uninsured.”

Bloomberg on 2020 Democrats: Trump would eat them upVideo

Additionally, Bloomberg’s own proposal calls for lengthening the sign-up period for buying health insurance through the ACA, which has been shortened under President Trump from 90 days to 45 days. If elected president, he would defend ObamaCare as it faces a lawsuit brought by Texas and other states threatening to overturn the health care law, the candidate added.

“During his first two years in office, the number of uninsured people in America increased by two million,” Bloomberg said of President Trump. “Today thanks to Donald Trump, more Americans do not have insurance, more Americans have to decide between going to the doctors or putting food on the table.”

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He added: “The president has never proposed a plan to cover the 20 million people who would lose coverage” by scrapping ObamaCare.

The former New York City mayor’s health care plan also would require all insurance plans to meet the standards set under the ACA such as covering maternal care and preexisting conditions.

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To pay for the plan, Bloomberg said that the proposal would cost approximately $1.5 trillion over 10 years and would be offset by policies that lower costs, including capping provider payments, ending surprise medical bills, negotiating drug prices and reforming Part D. He said some of the funding would also come from the existing federal budget.

His campaign said that more details on how he plans to pay for the plan will be released in the coming weeks.

Bloomberg’s plan is similar to ones proposed by some of the more moderate Democratic presidential hopefuls such as former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Biden’s plan calls for expanding the ACA — the signature health care law created during then-President Barack Obama’s administration in which Biden served as vice president — along with pushing to add a “public option” that would allow people to select a government health insurance plan, while others could continue using their private insurance.

Majority of voters now support option to buy into MedicareVideo

“I understand the appeal to Medicare-for-All. But folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare. And I’m not for that,” Biden said over the summer. “I was very proud the day I stood there with Barack Obama and he signed that legislation.”

Buttigieg's health plan would offer a public option that includes automatic and retroactive enrollment for anyone without a private plan.

Original Article

Pentagon budget would hit Syria, Iran, Russia with tough sanctions

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Images show Iran building tunnel in Syria to store missiles

New images show Iran has nearly completed a tunnel in Syria to store missiles and weapons; Trey Yingst has the details.

The $738 billion Pentagon budget passed by Senate lawmakers Tuesday includes tough new sanctions on Syria, Iran and Russia for their alleged war crimes committed during Syria’s nearly decadelong civil war.

The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2019, passed by the GOP-majority Senate with an 86-6 vote, authorizes sanctions within six months on the Syrian government and anyone else who is “responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses committed against citizens of Syria or their family members.”

FILE: The Pentagon is seen from air from Air Force One. 

FILE: The Pentagon is seen from air from Air Force One. (AP)

The bill applies sanctions to supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military efforts in the country’s civil war, which includes Russia and Iran.

Muna Jondy, a Syrian-American immigration lawyer, told NPR she hopes the sanctions will help curb airstrikes on hospitals and civilian targets.

“Fifty hospitals have been bombed since April 2019,” she said. “There will be financial consequences.”

The bill is named after the code name of a Syrian police officer who documented torture victims in Syria from the outbreak of the war in early 2011 to his defection from the country in 2013.

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The bill was immediately proposed after the officer’s testimony before Congress but failed to gather momentum in several previous attempts led, in part, by Rep. Eliot Engel of New York.

“We’ve never had something this strongly passed into law by the Congress,” said Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., one of the original co-sponsors of the Caesar Bill who met with the Syrian defector earlier this year. “[T]here’s no doubt that can have an impact.”

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The bill now goes to President Trump for final authorization.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Reporter’s Notebook: House votes on impeachment articles would be monumental decisions

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Pelosi requests House Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment against Trump

Democrats in House Judiciary Committee work through the weekend ahead of impeachment hearing; David Spunt reports.

CAPITOL HILL – There are important roll call votes on Capitol Hill — but votes on articles of impeachment against President Trump would be monumental.

Think about votes cast in 2009 and and 2010 for or against ObamaCare. A failed effort to undo ObamaCare in 2017. Votes in 2008 to salvage the economy with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Votes last Congress on tax reform. Various votes to fund the government and hike the debt ceiling. And, in the Senate, votes to confirm Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

News organizations and political firms have traved major votes on the floors of the House and Senate each year. Some of those votes may define a career. Look at the nay vote cast by the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to end Republican efforts to unwind ObamaCare. Separately, voters in Maine and Colorado respectively took note of the votes by Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Cory Gardner to confirm Kavanaugh last fall. That vote is sure to resonate in the reelection bids for Collins and Gardner next year.

All of those votes have been major, reverberating throughout a given Congress – and even for decades to come. Despite multiple efforts to gut ObamaCare, it has remained the law of the land. Still, “aye” ballots for ObamaCare proved to help end the congressional careers of many House and Senate Democrats. Republicans weaponized that vote against those Democrats. Some paid with their political lives in 2010 and beyond. Lots of House Republicans lost the House for the same reason last year because of their votes for the tax bill and for trying to repeal ObamaCare.

We won’t know if the votes by Collins and Gardner for Kavanaugh will sway the outcomes of their Senate contests next year. But, barring illness, the 54-year-old Kavanaugh could serve on the high court for decades. The decisions by Collins and Gardner to confirm Kavanaugh are likely to echo in American jurisprudence for years.

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These are all high-profile roll call votes, as weighty as can be. But, there is yet one more, hyper-elite classification of House and Senate votes, more consequential than the rest. These are votes to go to war and to impeach a president.

These momentous votes have filtered through the decades. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., is still known as the only House member to oppose the war resolution following Sept. 11, 2001. The late Rep. Jeannette Rankin, R-Mont., was the first woman ever elected to Congress, but in addition to her trailblazing for women, historians have recalled her votes opposing U.S. involvement in World War I and World War II.

“I cannot vote for war,” said Rankin when she opposed the U.S. declaring war against Germany in World War I. Rankin’s words about war were emblazoned on the base of her statue in the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center. It’s one of two statues from Montana in the official congressional collection.

Other lawmakers voted against the U.S. entering World War I. But, Rankin was the only member of either body to vote “nay” after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Many prominent members, including future Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., then a congressman, tried to persuade Rankin to vote “aye” so the tally would be unanimous. But, Rankin resisted. Her position was so unpopular that she abstained from voting on future war declarations against Germany and Italy. Her political career ended soon afterwards.

This brings us to present day.

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The House Judiciary Committee is likely to entertain three to five articles of impeachment for Trump. The House would not simply throw a broad resolution on the floor with members voting up or down to impeach. These articles would be honed and massaged, narrow and concrete. Members would focus on what they accused the president of doing, such as an indictment. It’s then up to the Judiciary Committee to actually approve the articles and send them to the House floor. The House must then vote to adopt or reject those articles.

Without question, these votes on articles of impeachment would be the most critical ballots cast in the 116th Congress. They could be the cardinal votes many lawmakers would make during their congressional tenures. That said, 55 House members who voted on the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton in 1998 have remained in the House.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment and approved three for then-President Richard Nixon. Nixon resigned before the articles went to the House floor. In 1998, the Judiciary Committee prepared four articles of impeachment but the full House okayed only two of them.

Details of the articles would paramount, so members of Congress from both parties would want to evaluate the articles — study them, ponder them, and then, with a deep sigh, decide how to vote.

We always hear an array of TV commercials from upstarts and political neophytes just before each congressional election, boasting about how if you elect them, they’ll head to Washington and have the courage “to take the tough votes.”

Well, congratulations, members of the 116th Congress. You won the lottery.

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Americans are likely to remember how all current 431 members of the House voted, yea or nay, on each article of impeachment.

Think of the vulnerable, freshmen Democrats who helped propel their party to the majority in 2018, representing districts Trump won in 2016. There are 31 such Democrats. Look closely at how freshmen Democrats like Reps. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Anthony Brindisi of New York and Joe Cunningham of South Carolina vote.

Republicans wouldn’t be out of the woods yet, either. Consider the challenges of an impeachment vote for swing-district Republicans including Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, John Katko of New York and Don Bacon of Nebraska.

Potential articles of impeachment have centered on “bribery” — specifically mentioned in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution — abuse of power, contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice. All such potential articles would be fissionable enough to incinerate many a political career if a lawmaker were to vote the wrong way.

But, one potential article of impeachment would be practically thermonuclear: treason.

Again, Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution mentions “treason” as a defined transgression worthy of impeachment. One could see how House Democrats might try to make a case for treason with President Trump.

The House essentially accused Sen. William Blount of Tennessee of treason in the republic’s first impeachment in 1797. The House argued Blount covertly worked with Britain to acquire territory in the south. The House impeached Federal Judge West Hughes Humphreys in 1862 for supporting the Confederacy. No other House impeachments have ever wandered into treason as possible grounds for impeachment.

This speaks to why the House may impeach President Trump on some articles and not others. That’s why members are so curious to learn what the articles may be and decide how to vote on each individual.

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It’s just a simple question, right? Binary. Yea or nay? Members do this all day long.

But, votes on the impeachment of Trump are likely to be the most momentous of a lawmaker’s career. And, the decisions lawmakers make will pulsate through the American experience like no other ballot they cast before.

Original Article