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National News

    Elizabeth Warren was paid nearly $2 million for legal work stretching back three decades, her campaign disclosed Sunday night, amid calls from a top Democratic presidential rival that the Massachusetts senator should be more forthcoming about what she earned from past corporate clients. In May, Warren released a list of close to 60 cases she worked on as an attorney going back to the 1980s. Fifteen pages of new data now shows what she was paid in nearly 40 of those — about $1.9 million. The list includes “all the income she earned from each case that we have been able to determine from public records, Elizabeth’s personal records, and other sources,” Warren spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said. “If Democrats are going to defeat Donald Trump, or whoever the Republican Party might replace him with, we must nominate a candidate who can create the most robust possible contrast against Republicans on conflicts of interest and corruption issues,” Orthman said in a statement. “Elizabeth does not sell access to her time — no closed door big dollar fundraisers, no bundling program, no perks or promises to any wealthy donor.” The new information comes against the backdrop of an escalating feud between Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. Last week, Warren decried the mayor’s attending of closed-door fundraisers, saying, “I think that Mayor Pete should open up the doors so that anyone can come in and report on what’s being said.” She added, “No one should be left to wonder what kind of promises are being made to the people that then pony up big bucks to be in the room.” Buttigieg and his campaign shot back that Warren should release more of her past tax returns, shedding additional light on what she earned as an attorney for rich and powerful firms — setting the stage for Sunday’s disclosure. Warren had previously released 11 years of tax returns. The pair have also clashed over Buttigieg’s past work for powerful consulting firm McKinsey & Co. from 2007 to 2010. Buttigieg on Friday released a summary of the work he did — but he has not heeded Warren’s calls to make public a full client list, citing a nondisclosure agreement he signed with McKinsey. Warren’s campaign said Sunday’s disclosure provides more information on her business income than releasing additional, past tax returns would because her tax documents don’t fully itemize earnings the same way the details it released do. A steady rise in the polls throughout the summer landed Warren among the Democratic primary front-runners, but polling in recent weeks has suggested her support is plateauing or beginning to slip. At the same time, Buttigieg has seen his polling numbers improve enough to become a front-runner himself, with the lead-off Iowa caucuses now less than two months away. Among the clients for whom Warren consulted were the attorneys for Rabobank, a Dutch financial institution that became a creditor in the Enron bankruptcy; former directors of Getty Oil, who were involved in Texaco’s bankruptcy; and women whose allegations of harm from silicone breast implants produced by Dow Corning were imperiled when the company filed for bankruptcy. The cases listed involve Warren serving as a consultant, mediator or expert witness in addition to those in which she served as counsel. Her largest disclosed payday was nearly $187,000 for a case originally filed in 1995. Her campaign said Warren “represented a well-known chain of department stores to make sure that it could stay alive and pay its creditors. Elizabeth succeeded, and the company continued to employ people across its many stores.” Warren taught at Harvard Law School before being elected to the Senate in 2012.
  • It might not be indescribably beautiful, but a 20-foot-tall inflatable leg lamp is on display outside the “A Christmas Story” house. >> Read more trending news  The giant leg lamp, reminiscent of the one that brought joy to Ralphie’s dad in the classic Christmas movie, was inflated Sunday outside the Cleveland house featured in the movie. The inflatable leg lamp replaced a 20-foot inflatable Ralphie clad in an Easter bunny outfit.
  • Washington state authorities say 4-year-old twins freed themselves from their car seats and climbed an embankment seeking help following a car crash that killed their father. KING-TV reported 47-year-old Corey Simmons of Langley died when the vehicle with his daughters in the backseat crashed on Whidbey Island around 6 p.m. Friday. Family members say the girls climbed about 200 feet (61 meters) up to the road after the accident 34 miles (55 kilometers) north of Seattle. Authorities say Simmons was not wearing a seatbelt when the car crashed into trees and went down the embankment. Police say the girls were transported to a hospital with minor injuries after an unidentified woman passing in her car went back to help and called 911. Authorities say the accident is under investigation.
  • Elizabeth Warren said Sunday she believes Americans are ready for a presidential ticket with two women at the top, rejecting concerns from some Democrats that a woman can't beat President Donald Trump. 'Sure, why not?' the Democratic presidential candidate told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of a town hall campaign event in Charleston. “I think (voters) would support a lot of different combinations.” In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton's 2016 defeat, some Democrats have expressed hesitation about nominating another woman to take on Trump in 2020. But Warren argued that women notched historic wins during the 2018 midterms, suggesting voters are worried less about gender than the message candidates are offering. Her comments come less than a week after California Sen. Kamala Harris abruptly dropped out of the race, prompting debate about whether a party that says it values diversity is shortchanging candidates of color and women. Other than Warren, the Democratic top tier is currently all male. They are also all white. Warren has said she'd consider tapping Harris as a running mate. She also told the AP she would be “open” to asking former Vice President Joe Biden to reprise his old job. “Look, it would be presumptuous of me to be talking about individuals, but I'm open to getting this right because that's what we want to do,' Warren said. 'We want to build a Democratic ticket and a stronger Democratic Party that's ready to get out there and compete at the national level, at the state level, at the local level.” Her openness to teaming with Biden is notable because the two candidates represent distinctly different visions of the Democratic Party's future. Warren has embraced calls for systemic reforms to the nation's economy and health care. Biden has urged more pragmatic approaches and has specifically rejected Warren's $20 trillion plan to transition the U.S. to a single-payer health care system as unworkable. Biden has the advantage in South Carolina, where he's leading in the polls because of his deep ties to the black community. He told the AP in October that Warren “doesn’t affect my strategy, period' in the state. But her trip to South Carolina on Sunday suggests she won't cede the state to Biden. She has upped her efforts to appeal to black voters, especially women. She delivered a well-received speech at a historically black college in Atlanta last month and a group of more than 100 black female activists endorsed her candidacy. In the interview and the town hall that followed, Warren went after her billionaire opponents, particularly former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. She has decried his multimillion-dollar ad spending as a way to try to buy the election, especially considering his decision not to compete in early-voting states, including South Carolina. “The problem with the billionaires is that there's just no limit on how much they can spend. They can reach in their pockets and just spend and spend and spend,' Warren told the AP. “That means they get to buy a bigger share of democracy than anyone else, and that's a real problem.” But Warren said the problem extends to candidates willing to hold big-dollar fundraisers in lieu of relying on a small-dollar donor base, referring to recent criticism she levied against fellow Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg. “If the only way we're going to get a Democratic candidate is that you've either got to be a billionaire, or go suck up to the billionaires, then buckle up, because it means we're going to have a government that just keeps working better for the billionaires and not for everyone else,' Warren said. Regardless of who emerges from the crowded Democratic field, Warren said the party will have to find ways to attract Republicans who are disenchanted by Trump's presidency. “We're going to need as many Democrats as we can to build up our turnout, and we're also going to need some Republicans to help us, some Republican women, some Republican men, who are turned off by how Donald Trump behaves,” Warren said. “I think we've got a path to victory, and I think the energy and enthusiasm of women is really what's going to carry us across the finish line with a good margin.' She said women will “not only help us win the White House but, just as has been happening, help us win up and down the ticket.” ___ Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
  • A “model prisoner” escaped jail Saturday while he was delivering meals to other inmates, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  Andrew J. Viles, 34, walked out of the jail around 4:30 p.m., the Chicago Tribune reported. He was wearing a dark coat, light-colored blue jeans and dark shoes. It is unclear how he got a change of clothes. Viles was jailed June 1 for burglary and violating parole for a burglary conviction but had earned the trust of those who oversaw him, the Tribune reported. “Viles had been a model inmate,” the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office told the Tribune. “He had earned the role of jail trustee within the facility. This trustee role allowed him certain privileges, including assisting with meal service.” He was apprehended Sunday and taken back into custody.
  • The Senate’s top Democrat said Sunday that congressional leaders have reached a “real breakthrough” deal to give 12 weeks of paid parental leave to millions of federal workers as part of the annual defense policy bill. Sen. Charles Schumer said the agreement over the National Defense Authorization Act was reached late Friday night and a vote is expected later this week. The establishment of President Donald Trump’s proposed Space Force is also included in the bill. Trump administration officials have said Space Force is urgently needed to preserve U.S. dominance in space. A proposal from the Pentagon released earlier this year suggested the service would have about 15,000 personnel and begin in 2020. Space Force would reside within the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps exists within the Navy. The must-pass bill includes a provision that would allow more than 2 million federal government workers to take paid leave to care for a new baby or for an adopted child. Parental leave was a priority for high-ranking Democrats, including Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The provision is a victory for federal workers, who would face benefit cuts under the Trump administration’s budget submission. Under the current federal law, civilian workers are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave. “It’s a real breakthrough for families,” Schumer said, adding that Democrats hope the move will encourage more private employers to offer similar parental leave benefits. “Not only does it mean that federal employees will get what they’re entitled to, the federal government is a pacesetter,” Schumer added. “If you work for a private company, this means the pressure on your employer will be much greater to give you parental leave as well when the blessed event of a child comes around, or god forbid your child is really sick and needs serious care.” Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and adviser, said Friday that such a provision would “mark a HUGE step forward towards making paid leave a reality for all Americans.
  • U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson appeared at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic church in Atlanta Sunday to thank his constituents as he prepares to retire amid health challenges, saying: “I love this city, love this place and love all of you.” The three-term Republican senator’s visit to the politically progressive Ebenezer Baptist Church was in keeping with his emphasis on bipartisanship as he leaves office. Ebenezer’s pastor, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, considered running as a Democrat for Isakson’s seat in 2016 and has been sharply critical of the Trump administration. Isakson called Warnock a great friend Sunday, noting he had appeared at Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations at Ebenezer. “I called Raphael and said, ‘Could I come?’ He said, ‘Well, you are leaving.’ I said, ‘No, I am not leaving. I am just retiring. There is a difference,’” said Isakson, 74, who used a walker to get to the church’s microphone. “I wanted to come and just say thank you for all the things you have done for me over the last 45 years,” he added. “I was born here in 1944 and have been here ever since. And I love this city, love this place and love all of you.” Isakson announced in August that he would step down because of his struggles with “mounting health challenges” that include Parkinson’s disease, recovery from a fall in July and surgery to remove a growth on his kidney. His decision sets up two simultaneous elections for the U.S. Senate in 2020 as Democrats scramble for gains in what has been a reliably conservative state. Last week, Gov. Brian Kemp, a fellow Republican, appointed financial executive Kelly Loeffler to Isakson’s seat, selecting the co-owner of Atlanta’s WNBA franchise over a GOP congressman endorsed by President Donald Trump. Loeffler will serve through next year. And the state will hold an election in November 2020 to fill the remainder of Isakson’s term, which ends in 2022. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, also a Republican, is facing three challengers in his bid for a second term. Metro Atlanta’s suburbs are home to two of the nation’s most competitive U.S. House races. And control of the Georgia House is in play. On Sunday, Warnock, introduced Isakson as a friend and “one of Georgia’s most beloved public servants.” The pastor highlighted how Isakson stays each year for the whole hours-long Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Ebenezer, eliciting knowing laughter and applause from the pews. Later, during a sermon focusing on John the Baptist’s foresight and selflessness, Warnock criticized the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion tax cut from 2017, saying it benefits the richest corporations in the nation, and blasted its approval of a rule this month that will remove nearly 700,000 people from the federal food-stamp program by more strictly enforcing work requirements. The pastor — he declined through a spokeswoman to comment about whether he would run for Isakson’s seat — also alluded to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s plans this week to debate whether to approve articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. “Somebody ought to tell the members of Congress this historic week that some things are bigger and more important than your party and the next election. And who is up. And who is down. And who is winning. And who is losing,” Warnock said, his voice rising in a preacher’s cadence. “This is about the soul of our democracy. This is about the Constitution.” Moments earlier, Isakson asked all veterans in the church to raise their hands. Pleading with the parishioners to support them, he noted many veterans struggle with joblessness and homelessness. “They are all volunteers. Think about that,” said Isakson, a Georgia Air National Guard veteran and the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “The greatness of this country is in large measure because we can depend on them at any point, any time and any place, no matter what somebody does.” Isakson also condemned the fatal shootings of three U.S. sailors at Naval Air Station Pensacola Friday, vowing to fight gun violence for the rest of his life. Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill, a student at Naval Aviation Schools Command, was among those killed, the U.S. Navy confirmed Saturday. Isakson concluded at Ebenezer with a patriotic message. “This is the greatest country on the face of this earth. You don’t find anybody trying to break out of the United States of America. They are all trying to break in,” he joked. “I have been very lucky to be a United States senator, but I have been luckier to be a human being born in the United States of America and be a citizen of this country.”
  • Fighting to be in the next Democratic presidential debate, Cory Booker concluded a nearly 800-mile, 12-county tour of Iowa on Sunday by criticizing the Democratic party for allowing “elites' and “money' to control who gets on stage and urging voters to offer his name when pollsters call. “Iowa never lets elites decide,' he told a crowd at his campaign office in Cedar Rapids on Sunday. “Let's let Iowa have another comeback story.” Just six candidates are qualified for the Dec. 19 debate, and Booker is not one of them. He's met the threshold of donors required to qualify but he has yet to hit the polling qualifications — either 4% support in at least four polls or 6% support in two early-state polls. The deadline is Thursday, and he's yet to hit the mark on a single poll. Booker said such measurements benefit candidates who can afford to air television ads and do not reflect the feelings of Iowa voters. Over his four-day trip, Booker frequently received standing ovations at events ranging from town halls to forums with Teamsters union members and farmers. He brought several voters close to tears, shared corny jokes and gleefully posed for photos with voters, sometimes alongside his girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson. “I'm a little upset with the (Democratic National Committee) right now because they seem to be trying to make the decisions for you,” he told a Sunday afternoon crowd gathered in a Dubuque bar. Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokeswoman for the DNC, called the party's debate rules “inclusive' and said no candidate who has gone on to be the party's nominee has polled lower than 4% at this point in past primaries. “While we are legally required to have objective criteria for each debate, our qualifying criteria has stayed extremely low throughout this entire process,' she said in an emailed statement. “We’ve never seen a political party take this many steps to be inclusive.' As Booker seeks momentum, he's sharing a message focused far more on emotion and values than on policy and purity tests. He said his policy chops compare to any of his rivals, but it will take a leader who can help Americans see and care for each other to make progress on thorny issues like gun control and climate change. “We've lost elections with the person who had the best 15-point policy plans,” he said. “Underneath this has got to be the gut, it's got to be the heart, it's got to be who's going to to represent that spirit, who's going to get folks up and recognize that democracy is not a spectator sport.' It was a message that resonated with Renee Meyer, a former elementary school art teacher from Dubuque. “He just moves you; he wants you to rise to a higher calling and I think we all need that,' Meyer, 63, said. It was her second time seeing Booker speak. She hopes to see him on the December debate stage, but she also likes Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Sunil Malapati, a 47-year-old college chemistry teacher, said he was leaning toward caucusing for Booker but Sunday's event “more or less sealed the deal.” “There's a certain authenticity you can't fake,' he said. Booker has just four more days to see enthusiasm reflected in the polls. If he's not on stage, he has committed to campaigning in Iowa that day. Warren, Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, and businessman Tom Steyer will also be onstage. It could be the party's first debate of the presidential cycle featuring all white candidates.
  • In his rise to the top tier of the Democratic race for president, Pete Buttigieg has impressed voters with his unflappable demeanor. But that moderate bearing is being tested as his opponents challenge him to reveal more about his two years working for an international consulting company. How Buttigieg handles the heat will be another measure of the durability of his improbable run, now that the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is seen as a serious threat to front-running candidates, especially in Iowa. To date, the more intense inspection — much of it invited publicly by rival Elizabeth Warren — doesn't appear to be slowing Buttigieg's progress in Iowa, where he's attracting large, excited crowds. But with more than eight weeks until Iowans march to their caucuses, there is still time for a drumbeat to begin. “The more heat there is, I welcome that,' Buttigieg told reporters in Waterloo Friday. “We’re talking about the American presidency and you should be able to show you can handle tough decisions, tough questions.' In the face of new questions about transparency — most notably about his three years with international consulting firm McKinsey & Co. — the South Bend, Indiana, mayor says he is taking steps to provide transparency, though stopping short of revealing the clients he's legally bound to keep confidential. The new questions about Buttigieg's role at McKinsey, including some time spent working in wartime Iraq and Afghanistan, come after his November rise to the top of Democratic preference polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, where voting for the 2020 presidential nomination begins. After shying away for months from criticizing her rivals by name, Warren, a Massachusetts senator who shot to the top of Iowa polls last summer, has called on Buttigieg to release the names of his McKinsey clients, disclose his campaign's most influential donors and open his fundraisers to the news media. Now fighting to catch Buttigieg in Iowa and New Hampshire, Warren has begun mentioning him by name in the context of her campaign's central theme: ending corporate influence in public policy, especially in light of President Donald Trump's refusal to release his income tax records. “We've got a chance as Democrats to say we're going to do this a different way and that different way does not involve going behind closed doors with millionaires and billionaires,” Warren told reporters in New Hampshire Saturday. The Buttigieg campaign released the names of about two dozen fundraising bundlers for the first quarter in April, but hasn’t since then. Buttigieg has said he would consider naming more and opening fundraising events to public but declined to give a timeline for a decision. He has released tax information, and given a timeline for his work at McKinsey, describing projects he worked on without naming corporate clients. But Buttigieg declined to declined to say whether he would break the agreement should the firm deny his request to release him. “Well, then they’re putting me in a difficult position,” he said Saturday. It's a first look at how the Cinderella campaign of this onetime asterisk in the Democratic field is responding to his increasing time under the microscope. The questions appeared to have no impact on Buttigieg's weekend campaign events, which drew large and excited crowds across Democrat-rich eastern Iowa. Cathy Ondler of Cedar Rapids, who stood among 1,000 people at tiny Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, to see Buttigieg Saturday, said he spent little time at McKinsey when he was just out of college, though she was familiar with the questions. “I don't think he has anything to hide,” the 44-year-old finance director for a nonprofit group said. Ondler is considering supporting Buttigieg or Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Former state Rep. Nate Willems, a 40-year-old labor lawyer and former state representative from Mount Vernon, doesn't expect to support Buttigieg, but said, “He's getting picked apart on Twitter, not among everyday Iowa Democrats.” Still, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put Buttigieg on the spot Friday, urging him to break the non-disclosure agreement to send a message in the age of Trump. “Shouldn't you break that NDA so that you have the moral authority and the high ground against somebody like Trump, who hides behind the lack of transparency to justify everything that he's doing?' the Chicago mayor asked Buttigieg during a one-on-one question session at a conference in Waterloo. “I’m going to give them a chance to do the right thing,” he replied. __ Associated Press writer Hunter Woodall in Rochester, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.
  • A petition started at Change.org is seeking to keep former NFL quarterback Michael Vick from being honored at the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl. >> Read more trending news  The creator, Joanna Lind, wrote that she “was absolutely disgusted” and asked the NFL to take “responsibility for the behavior of its current and former players.'”To honor a man who had zero regard for animals is unacceptable,' Lind wrote in the petition, which has more than 362,000 signatures. Sports Illustrated reports Vick was chosen to serve as one of the Pro Bowl captains. He served 18 months in prison in 2007, when he was found guilty of running a dogfighting ring. The 2020 Pro Bowl takes place Jan. 26 in Orlando at Camping World Stadium.
  • Even as Democrats press ahead with a historic effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the House, lawmakers in both parties are on the cusp of possibly producing series of major, bipartisan legislative deals, covering everything from a crackdown on surprise medical bills to a compromise establishing the President's plan for a 'Space Force' at the Pentagon in exchange for a big benefits change for federal workers. The calendar doesn't offer much time for action in either the House or Senate, as lawmakers hope to leave town by the weekend before Christmas - which would give the House and Senate until around December 20-23. Here are some of the big issues which might get resolved in Congress at the same time as Democrats force a vote on impeachment. 1. Lawmakers cut deal on surprise medical bills. Sunday brought news that a group of key lawmakers - in both parties from the House and Senate - had reached agreement on a plan to rein surprise bills which consumers often face, especially after emergency care. Backers stressed the bipartisan nature of the agreement. 'The legislation includes proposals from 80 Senators, 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a Sunday statement. That does not necessarily mean this deal gets voted on in the next two weeks. 2. New minimum age to buy tobacco products. The deal on the issue of surprise medical bills also has some other items involved in it, including a provision which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. The idea of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco has been supported in recent months by the Senate's top Republican - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - but it's not clear if McConnell would rush such a bill to the Senate floor over the next two weeks. 3. 'Space Force' might be ready for launch. Lawmakers in both parties were trying to finalize a major defense policy bill early this week, and the details are expected to finally give President Trump his plan to set up a 'Space Force' inside the Pentagon. The plan - which has been resisted by lawmakers in both parties - would not set up a brand new branch of the military, as sought by President Trump. Instead, the Space Force would operate out of the Air Force, sort of like the Marines are considered part of the Navy. Critics argued a plan to set up a separate new branch of the military would have been too expensive, and would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy. 4. Paid family leave benefit for federal workers? The President won't get his Space Force for nothing in this major defense policy bill, as reportedly the deal with the White House will give around 2.7 million federal workers a new benefit - paid family leave. The plan would reportedly include up to 12 weeks of such leave for federal civilian workers. While no final bill language has been released, a tweet from over the weekend by President Trump's daughter shows this exchange could well be part of the defense bill. Stay tuned. 5. USMCA trade deal still a late year possibility. With a flurry of late negotiations involving U.S., Mexican, and Canadian trade officials, it's still possible that the final touches could be put on a new trade deal among the three nations, and have it voted on by the House and Senate. The White House has been quietly working with Mexico and Canada in recent weeks to work out tweaks to the agreement, mainly dealing with labor and environmental enforcement, trade dispute resolution, and issues dealing with some medical drugs. While the President and his allies keep saying the plan has been sent to Congress already for a vote - that is simply not true. 6. Government funding plan remains in limbo. While there were seemingly agreement on surprise medical billing, the Space Force, and more, lawmakers still have not finalized a giant package of bills to fund the operations of the federal government for 2020. The current temporary funding bill runs out on December 20. While there is obviously the threat of a government shutdown, lawmakers in both parties hope they can either reach a deal now - or extend that temporary spending plan into the New Year. So, this could also be part of a late rush of big legislation.
  • A suspect died Friday morning after opening fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing at least three people and injuring seven others. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the shooting was reported just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office exchanged gunfire with the suspected shooter, killing him, officials said. Here are the latest updates: Update 3:42 p.m. EST Dec. 8: Officials are still trying to determine whether Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani acted alone or was part of a terrorist group Friday when he opened fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, The Washington Post reported. Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division, said at a news conference that the agency’s main goal is to determine whether the Saudi air force lieutenant worked as “part of a larger network,” the newspaper reported. Rojas said Shamrani’s weapon, a 9mm Glock, was purchased legally, but she did not describe how Shamrani obtained it and brought it onto the base, according to the Post. Update 10:38 p.m. EST Dec. 7: The third victim of the Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting was identified as Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill Georgia. “The Sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty and showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil,” Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer at the installation, said in a release. 'When confronted, they didn’t run from danger; they ran towards it and saved lives. If not for their actions, and the actions of the Naval Security Force that were the first responders on the scene, this incident could have been far worse.” Update 9:58 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Two of the three victims in the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola were identified. Mohammed “Mo” Haitham, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was killed as he tried to stop the shooter, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Haitham, 19, joined the Navy after graduating high school last year. He was assigned to flight crew training and was expected to graduate later this month. “He said he was going to get his flight jacket for Christmas,” his mother, Evelyn Brady, who also served in the Navy, told the Times. Update 3:08 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Authorities said Mohammed Saeed Ashamrani, the Saudi student who fatally shot three people at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola hosted a dinner party earlier in the week, and he and three other people watched videos of mass shootings, The Associated Press reported Saturday. The official was briefed by federal investigators, according to the AP. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, whose district includes the Pensacola area, tweeted he received condolences from Saudi Ambassador Reema Al-Saud, WEAR-TV reported. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported “Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own,” Adam Johnson wrote Friday night. ”After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. 'He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.” Watson’s father, Benjamin Watson, told the News Journal his son was the officer on deck at the time of the shooting. Joshua Watson was shot at least five times, his father told the newspaper. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported. Update 9:30 p.m. EST Dec. 6: The shooter has been identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani according to WKRG. He is one of hundreds of international military members who are receiving training there. In a news conference Friday night, the FBI declined to comment on his possible motivations. “There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L. Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office. “This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.” Update 2:25 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities declined to confirm the identity of the person who shot several people Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people before being shot and killed by deputies. “I think there’s obviously going to be a lot of questions about this indivdual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi Air Force and then to be here training on our soil and to do this,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning at a news conference. “The FBI is working with (the Department of Defense), they’re working with (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement), they’re working with Escambia County sheriff’s to answer those questions.” DeSantis said he spoke earlier Friday with President Donald Trump. “One of the things that I talked to the president about is given that this was a foreign national in the employ of a foreign service ... obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for the victims,' DeSantis said. 'I think that they, they are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.” Authorities confirmed at a news conference that the suspect used a handgun in Friday’s shooting. Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of NAS Pensacola, said the suspect was at NAS Pensacola for aviation training. Earlier in the day, deputies said the suspect opened fire just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 1:45 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities in Pensacola are expected to provide an update Friday afternoon on the investigation into the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that left four people dead. Update 1:20 p.m. EST Dec. 6: President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon that he’s spoken to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and received a full briefing on the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” Trump said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.” Update 12:50 p.m. EST Dec. 6: An official told The Associated Press that the person who opened fire Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people and wounding several others before being shot and killed by authorities, was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia. Authorities are investigating to determine whether the shooting was terrorism-related, according to the AP. Military from around the globe attend the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Authorities are expected to hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. local time Friday to update the public on the investigation. Update 11:50 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities expect to hold a news conference at 12 p.m. local time Friday to provide more updates on the shooting that left four people dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities said a total of 11 people were injured or killed in Friday morning’s shooting, including the suspected shooter. The injured included two responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan said Friday at a news conference. One deputy was shot in the arm and the other was shot in the knee, Morgan said. They were both expected to survive. Morgan described walking through the scene left by Friday’s attack as being similar to “being in a movie.” “You just don’t expect this to happen here at home,” he said. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 10:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials are holding a news conference to update the public on Friday morning’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Update 10:25 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Vice President Mike Pence said he’s monitoring the situation in Florida after a shooting left two victims and a suspect dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “Praying for the victims & their families,” Pence wrote Friday morning in a Twitter post. “We commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter & getting those on base to safety.”  Update 10:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: White House officials said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the deadly shooting reported Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 10:15 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with Naval Air Station Pensacola said the base will closed for the day Friday after a shooting left three people dead earlier in the day. Authorities said at least three people, including the suspected shooter, were killed in the incident. Reports indicated at least eight other people were wounded in the shooting. The incident happened two days after authorities said a U.S. sailor shot and killed two civilian employees before turning the gun on himself at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. One other person was injured in that shooting. Naval Air Station Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to officials. Update 10:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said his office has been in “close contact with all the relevant officials & closely monitoring events” after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing two people. Authorities said the shooter also died. “Please pray for everyone impacted by this horrible situation,” Rubio said in a Twitter post. Update 10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: A spokesman at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital told CNN that hospital officials expected to get three patients who had been injured in Friday morning’s shooting, down from the six expected earlier in the day. Hospital spokesman Mike Burke told the news network most victims were taken to Baptist Hospital because of its proximity to the base. Kathy Bowers, a spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital, earlier told the Pensacola News Journal that the hospital had received five patients wounded in Friday’s shooting. Update 9:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy have confirmed that a second person has died after a shooter opened fire Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 9:35 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials told the Pensacola News Journal two people were confirmed dead after Friday morning’s shooting, in addition to the shooter. Naval officials previously said at least one person had been killed. Update 9:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: At least 11 people were hospitalized in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting, according to The Associated Press. Ascension Sacred Heart spokesman Mike Burke told the AP six people were taken to the hospital after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola early Friday. The Pensacola News Journal previously reported five other people were taken to Baptist Hospital with injuries. Naval officials said at least one victim was killed in Friday’s shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 9:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy said at least one person died Friday morning in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Authorities said the suspected shooter was also dead Friday morning. Update 9 a.m. EST Dec. 6: An official with Baptist Hospital told the Pensacola News Journal five patients were taken to the hospital after Friday morning’s reported shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 8:55 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said a suspected shooter was dead Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Original report: Authorities are responding Friday morning to reports of shots fired at Naval Air Station Pensacola, according to base officials. Authorities at NAS Pensacola said both gates to the base were closed Friday morning as authorities investigated. Officials with the U.S. Navy said the base was on lockdown around 7:45 a.m. local time. A spokeswoman for ECSO told the Pensacola News Journal deputies were working to “take down” what was described as an active shooter around 7:30 a.m. local time. Officials with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office told WEAR-TV injuries were reported. Details on the number of people wounded and the extent of their injuries was not immediately available. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • The Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from restarting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The justices denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. The first of those had been scheduled for Monday, with a second set for Friday. Two more inmates had been given execution dates in January. Attorney General William Barr announced during the summer that federal executions would resume using a single drug, pentobarbital, to put inmates to death. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures in court. Chutkan ruled that the procedure approved by Barr likely violates the Federal Death Penalty Act. The federal appeals court in Washington had earlier denied the administration’s emergency plea to put Chutkan’s ruling on hold and allow the executions to proceed. Federal executions are likely to remain on hold at least for several months, while the appeals court in Washington undertakes a full review of Chutkan's ruling. The Supreme Court justices directed the appeals court to act “with appropriate dispatch.” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a short separate opinion that he believes the government ultimately will win the case and would have set a 60-day deadline for appeals court action. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined Alito's opinion. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the legal fight would continue. “While we are disappointed with the ruling, we will argue the case on its merits in the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court,' Kupec said in a statement. Four inmates won temporary reprieves from the court rulings. Danny Lee was the first inmate scheduled for execution, at 8 o'clock Monday morning. Lee was convicted of killing a family of three, including an 8-year-old. The government had next planned on Friday to execute Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl and killed an 80-year-old woman. His lawyers say Purkey is suffering from dementia and he has a separate lawsuit pending in federal court in Washington, D.C. Then in January, executions had been scheduled for Alfred Bourgeois, who tortured, molested and then beat his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to death, and Dustin Lee Honken, who killed five people, including two children. A fifth inmate, Lezmond Mitchell, has had his execution blocked by the federal appeals court in San Francisco over questions of bias against Native Americans. Mitchell beheaded a 63-year-old woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter.
  • As one family mourns the loss of a beloved pet, they are hopeful their heartbreaking experience might save other dog owners some unexpected sorrow. >> Read more trending news  Cori and Kris Clark lost 6-year-old Isa one week ago after the wire-haired pointer ate half a container of chewing gum left in a vehicle console, WTVT reported. “Most of you are aware that we lost our sweet Isa last night. We had to make the hardest decision and our hearts are extremely heartbroken,' the couple wrote on Facebook, adding, “Not only did we lose an amazing dog but we lost a part of our family.” Although the family rushed Isa to an emergency veterinarian upon realizing the problem, she succumbed quickly to seizures and liver failure brought on by the ingestion of Xylitol, KTRK reported. Because Xylitol is a strong stimulator of insulin release, the ingredient is lethal for dogs even in small amounts, KTRK reported. “I had a lady message me yesterday to tell me that our post saved her dog’s life,” Cori Clark told WTVT, adding, “We just want people to be aware.”

Washington Insider

  • Even as Democrats press ahead with a historic effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the House, lawmakers in both parties are on the cusp of possibly producing series of major, bipartisan legislative deals, covering everything from a crackdown on surprise medical bills to a compromise establishing the President's plan for a 'Space Force' at the Pentagon in exchange for a big benefits change for federal workers. The calendar doesn't offer much time for action in either the House or Senate, as lawmakers hope to leave town by the weekend before Christmas - which would give the House and Senate until around December 20-23. Here are some of the big issues which might get resolved in Congress at the same time as Democrats force a vote on impeachment. 1. Lawmakers cut deal on surprise medical bills. Sunday brought news that a group of key lawmakers - in both parties from the House and Senate - had reached agreement on a plan to rein surprise bills which consumers often face, especially after emergency care. Backers stressed the bipartisan nature of the agreement. 'The legislation includes proposals from 80 Senators, 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a Sunday statement. That does not necessarily mean this deal gets voted on in the next two weeks. 2. New minimum age to buy tobacco products. The deal on the issue of surprise medical bills also has some other items involved in it, including a provision which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. The idea of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco has been supported in recent months by the Senate's top Republican - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - but it's not clear if McConnell would rush such a bill to the Senate floor over the next two weeks. 3. 'Space Force' might be ready for launch. Lawmakers in both parties were trying to finalize a major defense policy bill early this week, and the details are expected to finally give President Trump his plan to set up a 'Space Force' inside the Pentagon. The plan - which has been resisted by lawmakers in both parties - would not set up a brand new branch of the military, as sought by President Trump. Instead, the Space Force would operate out of the Air Force, sort of like the Marines are considered part of the Navy. Critics argued a plan to set up a separate new branch of the military would have been too expensive, and would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy. 4. Paid family leave benefit for federal workers? The President won't get his Space Force for nothing in this major defense policy bill, as reportedly the deal with the White House will give around 2.7 million federal workers a new benefit - paid family leave. The plan would reportedly include up to 12 weeks of such leave for federal civilian workers. While no final bill language has been released, a tweet from over the weekend by President Trump's daughter shows this exchange could well be part of the defense bill. Stay tuned. 5. USMCA trade deal still a late year possibility. With a flurry of late negotiations involving U.S., Mexican, and Canadian trade officials, it's still possible that the final touches could be put on a new trade deal among the three nations, and have it voted on by the House and Senate. The White House has been quietly working with Mexico and Canada in recent weeks to work out tweaks to the agreement, mainly dealing with labor and environmental enforcement, trade dispute resolution, and issues dealing with some medical drugs. While the President and his allies keep saying the plan has been sent to Congress already for a vote - that is simply not true. 6. Government funding plan remains in limbo. While there were seemingly agreement on surprise medical billing, the Space Force, and more, lawmakers still have not finalized a giant package of bills to fund the operations of the federal government for 2020. The current temporary funding bill runs out on December 20. While there is obviously the threat of a government shutdown, lawmakers in both parties hope they can either reach a deal now - or extend that temporary spending plan into the New Year. So, this could also be part of a late rush of big legislation.
  • The U.S. economy was humming last month, as the Labor Department reported Friday that 266,000 jobs were created in the month of November, with the nation's unemployment rate ticking down again to the historically low level of 3.5 percent, as job growth in 2018 is now almost equal to last year's levels. Not only were 266 thousand jobs added in November, but the latest jobs report also revised growth upwards in both September and October, adding another 41,000 jobs. Monthly average job growth in 2019 stands at just under 180,000 jobs per month, compared to 182,000 in 2018, and 195,000 in 2017. While some of the November job gains were attributed to workers ending a strike against General Motors, the November job gains were the second largest of 2019, trailing only the 312,000 jobs created in January. GOP lawmakers in Congress hailed the new numbers. While the jobs report indicated stronger than expected growth, the overall numbers in terms of U.S. economic output have shown a slower pace of growth in recent months than earlier in 2019. The U.S. Gross Domestic Product was at 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019, but dropped to 2.0 percent in the second quarter. The current estimate is for a 2.1 percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2019. President Trump has repeatedly blamed slowing growth on the head of the Federal Reserve - whom he nominated for the post - arguing the Fed should have cut interest rates more to spur economic activity in the U.S.
  • Invoking the concerns of the Founding Fathers about foreign interference in U.S. elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she was authorizing the House Judiciary Committee to draw up impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, possibly paving the way for a full House vote on impeachment by Christmas. 'In America, no one is above the law,' the Speaker said in a statement to reporters outside her office in the U.S. Capitol. A day after a closed door meeting with fellow Democrats, the Speaker said Congress could not close its eyes to the evidence gathered so far about the President's actions related to Ukraine. 'The facts are uncontested. The President abused his power for his own personal political benefit,' Pelosi said, as Democrats charge Mr. Trump withheld military aid for Ukraine in an effort to force the government to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had hacked Democrats in the 2016 campaign. At the White House, the reaction was one of condemnation. 'They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country,' President Trump tweeted about Democrats shortly before the Speaker's announcement.  'But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,' Mr. Trump added. The White House Press Secretary echoed the President's sentiments on Twitter. Democrats quickly showed their support for the Speaker's decision. “The president abused his power,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL).  “The president jeopardized our national security.    The president on multiple occasions obstructed justice.” While Pelosi did not set out a timeline for action, top Democrats have talked about action in the next week by the House Judiciary Committee, followed by a vote in the full House later this month. 21 years ago, Republicans faced a similar time crunch before the holidays, and ended up voting to impeach President Clinton on the Saturday before Christmas. It could be this Congress is heading for an impeachment vote holiday repeat.
  • As the focus of work in Congress on the impeachment of President Donald Trump shifted to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a panel of constitutional experts became the proxies for both parties in this impeachment fight, with the two sides using the testimony to buttress their points for and against the impeachment effort. 'President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors,' said Harvard law professor Noah Feldman. 'If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account,' said Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan. 'If what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,' added University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt. While Democrats focused their questions on their three witnesses, Republicans gravitated to their sole invitee, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. 'If you rush this impeachment, you're going to leave half the country behind,' Turley warned, comparing the Trump impeachment to that of President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War. 'This is the narrowest impeachment in history,' Turley added, urging Democrats to take extra time to bolster the investigative record related to President Trump. At one point, Turley questions about possible impeachment charges centering on abuse of power by President Trump on Democrats. 'It is an abuse power,' Turley said. 'It's your abuse of power.' While Turley said he was no supporter of President Trump, his testimony against impeachment drew interest - because he had testified 21 years ago for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. 'In my view, President Clinton's conduct demands an open and deliberative review under the conditions created for that purpose by the Framers,' Turley testified in November of 1998. 'Allegations of criminal acts in office by a president are perhaps the greatest threat to the perceived legitimacy of government,' Turley told the same House Judiciary Committee twenty one years ago before the Clinton impeachment. In the hearing, GOP lawmakers belittled today's proceedings. 'What a waste,' said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). 'This is not an impeachment, this is a simple railroad job,' argued Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). At the start of the hearing, Republicans forced a series of procedural votes which slowed proceedings, as they demanded testimony from the original Intelligence Community whistleblower who raised questions about the President's actions regarding Ukraine, and demanded the right to question Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the head of the House Intelligence Committee. With Christmas just three weeks away, it was not immediately clear when the Judiciary Committee would move to draw up actual articles of impeachment against the President, or when those votes would take place. 'What are we doing for the next two weeks?' asked Rep. Collins with an aggravated tone. 'I have no idea!' It was a similar situation in December of 1998, when there was talk from GOP leaders - exactly 21 years ago - of not voting on impeachment until the next year. Ultimately, the House Judiciary Committee, and the House, worked through two weekends, holding an impeachment vote in the full House on the Saturday before Christmas.
  • Phone records obtained by the House Intelligence Committee and made public in a new impeachment report from Democrats show President Donald Trump's personal lawyer speaking to the White House and figures in the Ukraine investigation at key times in 2019, and also reveal contacts between Giuliani a mystery phone number labeled only as '-1' in call records. 'Certainly the phone records show there was considerable coordination among the parties, including the White House,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff did not reveal how the call records were obtained, though the legal 'Bates' identifiers used in the report might indicate Giuliani's cell phone records were obtained with a subpoena. It was not immediately clear who the '-1' calls were with - but the New York Times reported that a similar number was found in cell phone records introduced as evidence in the trial of Roger Stone. 'We can't confirm yet who that '-1' number belongs to, but certainly there were indications in the trial of Roger Stone that when he was communicating with the President it would show up in phone records as a 'dash-one' number,' Schiff told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview Tuesday evening. The new report from Democrats also had phone records from Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who helped Giuliani along with Igor Fruman in Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman were arrested in early October and charged with illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. elections. The phone records contained in the new impeachment report also showed Giuliani contacts with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as phone calls between Nunes and Parnas. 'Devin Nunes, you should have recused yourself at the outset' of the impeachment hearings,' tweeted Joseph Bondy, the lawyer for Parnas, who was arrested as he and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were leaving the country on a flight to Austria. While Nunes refused comment to reporters, he told Sean Hannity on Fox News that he didn't really remember calls with Parnas, saying it was 'possible' they had spoken. Ironically, the revelation of the Nunes-Parnas phone calls came as Nunes filed a $435 million defamation lawsuit against CNN, in which he said, 'Parnas was a renowned liar, a fraudster, a hustler, an opportunist with delusions of grandeur.