Category Archives: News

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With Christmas Tree Delivered, White House to Unveil Holiday Decor Monday

Melania Trump and son Barron joined in a time-honored tradition of receiving the official White House Christmas tree, which will become the showstopper for a president who has vowed to put Christmas back at the center of the winter holidays.

A military quartet played holiday tunes Monday as a horse-drawn wagon carried the 19 1/2-foot (5.9-meter) Balsam fir from Wisconsin up the White House driveway.

The first lady, wearing a red turtleneck and a coat draped over her shoulders, and 11-year-old Barron, in a dark suit coat, white shirt and dark slacks, circled the tree and then visited with growers Jim and Diane Chapman. The Chapmans own a Wisconsin Christmas tree farm and won an annual contest sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association.

“This is a beautiful tree. Thank you so much. We will decorate it very nicely,” the first lady told the Chapmans and other family members. “I hope you can come and visit with us.”

The White House grounds superintendent and the chief usher, who oversees the residence, picked out the tree during a September scouting trip.

After Mrs. Trump and Barron gave their symbolic approval, the tree was carefully carted off to the Blue Room where, after a slight trim and the removal of a monstrous chandelier, it will take center stage.

President Donald Trump has been eagerly waiting to celebrate a Trump Christmas at the White House. During last year’s presidential campaign, he railed against the habit of saying “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” characterizing it as a “chipping away at Christianity.”

“And we’re not going to let that happen anymore, folks. I’ll tell you,” the then-candidate said at a March 2016 news conference in Florida. “A lot of times I’ll say at the rallies around Christmastime we’re going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again. You know, they don’t say it anymore. The department stores don’t put it up. We’re going to start saying it again.”

Invitations to dozens of holiday parties hosted by the Trumps are going out. The subject line of one emailed invite references a White House “Christmas reception” while the language of the invitation itself refers to a “holiday reception.”

The tree for the Blue Room usually arrives the day after Thanksgiving, but it was delivered early this year to accommodate the Trumps, who are spending the holiday at their Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

While the Trumps are away, a small army of volunteer decorators and florists from around the country will descend on the White House on Friday and spend the holiday weekend transforming the 132-room mansion for Christmas, complete with a tree in every public room.

The White House kitchens will go into overdrive preparing all the food and cakes, cookies and pies that are typically served at the parties, along with the gingerbread White House — which, for health reasons, is never eaten. In recent years, cookies in the image of former President Barack Obama’s dogs Bo and Sunny were always among the first items to be slipped into purses for the trip home.

Trump does not have a pet.

The White House plans to unveil the holiday decor Monday, and the first lady will also welcome children and students from Joint Base Andrews for a holiday arts and crafts event. The president plans to light the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse on Thursday.

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FCC Chairman Sets Out to Repeal ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown with consumer groups and internet companies who fear the move will stifle competition and innovation.

The current rules, known as net neutrality, impose utility-style regulation on ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to prevent them from favoring their own digital services over those of their rivals.

Pai said that he believes the net neutrality rules adopted during the Obama administration discourage the ISPs from making investments in their network that would provide even better and faster online access.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said in a statement.

Pai distributed his alternative plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday in preparation for a Dec. 14 vote on the proposal. He promised to release his entire proposal Wednesday.

The attempt to repeal net neutrality has triggered protests from consumer groups and internet companies. More than 22 million comments have been filed with the FCC about whether net neutrality should be rolled back.

The Internet Association, a group whose members include major internet companies such as Google and Amazon, vowed to continue to fight to keep the current net neutrality rules intact.

“Consumers have little choice in their ISP, and service providers should not be allowed to use this gatekeeper position at the point of connection to discriminate against websites and apps,” the group’s CEO Michael Beckerman said in a Tuesday statement.

Consumers Union predicted a repeal of net neutrality would allow ISPs to raise their prices and give preferential treatment to certain sites and apps.

“Strong net neutrality rules are vital to consumers’ everyday lives and essential to preserving the internet as we know it today _ an open marketplace where websites large and small compete on equal terms and where information and ideas move freely,” said Jonathan Schwantes, the advocacy group’s senior policy counsel.

Two of the FCC’s five voting commissioners signaled they will oppose Pai’s plan.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel derided Pai’s plan as “ridiculous and offensive to the millions of Americans who use the internet every day.”

Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn skewered Pai’s proposals as “a giveaway to the nation’s largest communications companies, at the expense of consumers and innovation.”

Rosenworcel and Clyburn are the lone Democrats on the FCC.

Pai’s proposal on net neutrality comes after the Republican-dominated commission voted 3-2 last week to weaken rules meant to support independent local media, undoing a ban on companies owning newspapers and broadcast stations in a single market.

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US Judge Blocks Trump Order on Sanctuary Cities

A federal judge has further blocked the Trump administration’s order to cut funding to so-called sanctuary cities.

The move by U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick in San Francisco made permanent Monday his earlier ruling from April that temporarily stayed the order. Orrick agreed with plaintiffs who argued the order violates the constitution.

The city and county of San Francisco and Santa Clara County filed the suit.

“The Counties have demonstrated that the Executive Order has caused and will cause them constitutional injuries by violating the separation of powers doctrine and depriving them of their Tenth and Fifth Amendment rights,” Orrick wrote in his order.

The January 25 executive order called for federal funding to be withheld from sanctuary jurisdictions, and the judge said the president cannot put new conditions on money already allocated by Congress.

But the administration has argued that sanctuary cities, which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities to detain illegal immigrants arrested in criminal cases, often for minor offenses, pose a threat to the safety of their residents.

“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Wednesday, urging all jurisdictions “found to be potentially out of compliance” to reconsider “policies that undermine the safety of their residents. Sessions’ statement accompanied a list 29 jurisdictions that the Justice Department says may be in violation of a statute that promotes immigration enforcement. The list includes both Santa Clara County and the city and county of San Francisco.

The city of Chicago has also sued the federal government over threats of cuts to funding. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. government from denying the public safety grants in September.

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US Sues to Stop AT&T’s Takeover of Time Warner

The U.S. Justice Department is suing to stop AT&T’s multi-billion dollar bid to take over another communications giant, Time Warner, calling it illegal and likening it to extortion.

“The $108 billion acquisition would substantially lessen competition, resulting in higher prices and less innovation for millions of Americans,” a Justice Department statement said Monday.

“The combined company would use its control over Time Warner’s valuable and highly popular networks to hinder its rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for the right to distribute those networks.”

CNN, HBO top Time Warner products

Time Warner’s products include CNN, HBO, TNT, The Cartoon Network, and Cinemax — these networks broadcast highly popular newscasts, movies, comedy and drama series, and sports.

AT&T and its subsidiary DirectTV distribute these programs, as well as others, thorough cable and satellite.

The Justice Department decries the possibility of AT&T not just controlling television productions, but also the means of bringing them into people’s homes.

In its lawsuit, it threw AT&T’s words right back at the communications giant, noting that AT&T recognizes that distributors with control over the shows “have the incentive and ability to use … that control as a weapon to hinder competition.”

It also cited a DirectTV statement saying distributors can withhold programs from their rivals and “use such threats to demand higher prices and more favorable terms.”

Assured transaction would be approved

AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson told reporters the Justice Department’s lawsuit “stretches the reach of anti-trust law to the breaking point.”

He said the “best legal minds in the country” assured AT&T that the transaction would be approved and said the government is discarding decades of legal precedent.

AT&T and Time Warner are not direct competitors, and AT&T says government regulators have routinely approved such mergers.

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his contempt for one of Time Warner’s crown jewels — CNN, the Cable News Network — because of his perception of CNN being a liberal biased provider of “fake news,” including direct attacks against his administration.

Trump vowed during last year’s presidential campaign to block the merger.

Stephenson called the matter “the elephant in the room,” saying he said he “frankly does not know” if the White House disdain for CNN is at the heart of the Justice Department lawsuit.

But he said a proposal that Time Warner sell-off CNN as part of a settlement with the Trump Justice Department would be a “non-starter.”

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US Ending Temporary Permits for At Least 50,000 Haitians

After years of being shielded from deportation from the United States while their country recovers from a devastating 2010 earthquake, tens of thousands of Haitians will lose that security status.

“It was assessed overall that the extraordinary but temporary conditions that served as the basis of Haiti’s most recent designation has sufficiently improved such that they no longer prevent nationals of Haiti from returning safely,” a senior Trump administration official said during a briefing.

Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, will be revoked for at least 50,000 Haitians living and working in the U.S.

The announcement came in advance of a Thursday deadline for the decision to be made regarding Haiti’s TPS benefits.

The protection will expire July 22, 2019, giving Haitians living in the U.S. an 18-month window to go back to their homeland or legalize their status in the United States.

Haitians with TPS status have a 60-day window to submit an application to renew their status until the 2019 deadline. When that time comes, they will revert to their prior immigration status. Administration officials said Monday evening that Haitians with TPS would not be subject to deportation proceedings until the deadline.

In making the announcement, officials said that conditions on the ground in Haiti resulting from the 2010 earthquake that first let to the establishment of TPS “no longer exist.”

However, advocates argue that Haiti is in no condition to handle the influx, seven years after the 7.0-magnitude quake created billions of dollars in damages, and left 300,000 dead, 1.5 million injured and an equal number internally displaced.

The country was also recently hit by Hurricane Matthew, which created $2.8 billion in damages last year, followed by damage from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Haiti also is battling a deadly cholera epidemic.

Last week, the Office of Civil Protection confirmed that at least five people had died and 10,000 homes were flooded after days of rain.

In May, then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly extended TPS for Haitians for six months, not the one-year extension advocated by Haiti’s government.

Kelly said at the time that the extension “should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.”

Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Paul Altidor, told VOA at the time that the Caribbean country, while glad to welcome back “our brothers and sisters,” was not ready to absorb tens of thousands of returnees “overnight.”

Fear of deportation sparked an exodus of at least several thousand Haitian immigrants this summer, who illegally crossed the Canadian border seeking asylum in the French-speaking province of Quebec.

According to a recent study by the Center for Migration Studies, most Haitians on TPS have been living in the United States for 13 years and have 27,000 U.S.-citizen children among them. More than 80 percent are employed, while 6,200 have mortgages. Haitian immigrant communities primarily are in South Florida, New York, New Jersey and eastern Massachusetts.

TPS was ended for Sudan last month. On January 8, the administration will have to make a decision about more than 130,000 TPS holders from El Salvador.

Earlier this month, in terminating the TPS program for thousands of Nicaraguans who fled to the U.S. after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and deferring a decision on 57,000 similarly affected Hondurans until July, the acting secretary of homeland security, Elaine Duke, acknowledged the “difficulties” families would face and called on Congress to find a permanent solution.

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Elephant Advocates Sue Trump Administration on Trophy Hunting

Conservation groups sued the U.S. government on Monday over a plan to allow hunters to bring home elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe, following changing statements about the possible move by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The lawsuit in federal court in Washington was the latest move in a saga that began last week when a trophy hunting group said at a conference in Africa that the White House was ready to overturn a rule banning the import of elephant trophies, sparking a surge of criticism from wildlife advocates.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement that their lawsuit intended to resolve “contradictory announcements” by the Republican administration about trophy imports of the at-risk species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday said it had concluded that Zimbabwe and Zambia had developed conservation plans that would allow sustainable hunting of the endangered species, an announcement that came the same week that Zimbabwe was rocked by a coup. A proposal published on Friday would have allowed both elephant and lion trophies shot in Zimbabwe, but not Zambia, to be imported into the United States.

“These two final agency actions are arbitrary and capricious, as the conclusions that trophy hunting of elephants and lions in Zimbabwe enhances the survival of the species are not supported by the evidence,” the conservation groups said in their 34-page lawsuit Monday.

The lawsuit asked a judge to rule the move illegal and named as defendants Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Interior Department referred queries about the lawsuit to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Following the release of the proposed Zimbabwe rules, the White House said it had made no decision to allow trophy imports.

“Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal,” Trump said on Twitter on Sunday.

Africa’s elephant population plunged by about a fifth between 2006 and 2015 because of increased poaching for ivory, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said last year.

Wildlife activists argue that corruption is endemic in impoverished Zimbabwe, and that money generated by big game hunting and meant for conservation has been diverted to crooks and poachers.

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Technology Companies, Retailers Send US Stock Indexes Higher

U.S. stocks are higher Monday as technology and industrial companies, banks and retailers all make modest gains. Drugmakers and other health care companies are trading lower. Companies that make opioid pain medications are down sharply after the government released a much higher estimate of the costs of the ongoing addiction crisis.

Keeping score

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,584 as of 2:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 94 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,452. The Nasdaq composite advanced 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,789. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged up 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,499.

Tech tie-up

Chipmaker Marvell Technology Group said it will buy competitor Cavium for $6 billion in the latest deal in the semiconductor industry. Cavium climbed $7.48, or 9.9 percent, to $83.31 and it is up 22 percent over the last two weeks on reports Marvell would make a bid. Marvell rose $1.02, or 5 percent, to $21.31.

Other technology companies climbed as well. IBM added $2.01, or 1.3 percent, to $150.98 and Applied Materials picked up $1.12, or 2 percent, to $57.61. Cisco Systems gained 55 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $36.45.

Retail rising again

Retailers continued to move higher. They climbed last week following solid quarterly reports from Wal-Mart, Gap and Ross Stores. That’s given investors hope that shoppers are ready to spend more money. Home improvement retailer Home Depot rose $2.68, or 1.6 percent, to $170.42 and clothing company PVH rose $2.90, or 2.2 percent, to $136.02. Sporting goods retailer Hibbett Sports, after a 15-percent surge Friday, added $1.85, or 10.8 percent, to $18.95.

General electric slide

Industrial companies rose, as 3M gained $2.56, or 1.1 percent, to $231.92 and Boeing added $2.39 to $264.65.

General Electric missed out on those gains as investors continued to wonder about the company’s direction. On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal said that directors with energy and financial backgrounds, as well as GE’s two longest-tenured directors, are likely to leave the board as it shifts its focus away from those industries. The company said earlier this month that it will reduce the number of directors to 12 from the current 18.

GE lost 24 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $17.97.

Drugmaker downturn

A White House group said the opioid drug epidemic cost the U.S. $504 billion in 2016, far larger than other recent estimates, and companies that make those pain medications traded sharply lower.

Last year a separate estimate said the crisis cost the country $78.5 billion in 2013, including lost productivity and health care and criminal justice spending. The Council of Economic Advisers said the new figure reflects the worsening crisis and that earlier figures didn’t calculate deaths or include the use of illegal drugs.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries fell 77 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $13.07 and Allergan gave up $3.78, or 2.2 percent, to $171.10. Endo International lost 26 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $7.28. Insys Therapeutics shed 20 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $6.18. Executives including Insys’ founder and its former CEO have been charged with offering kickbacks to doctors to get them to prescribe its fentanyl spray Subsys. Its stock traded above $40 in mid-2015.

Merck-y future?

Merck stumbled after Genentech, a unit of Swiss drugmaker Roche, reported positive results from a study of its drug Tecentriq as a primary treatment for lung cancer. Genentech said patients who were given Tecentriq as part of their treatment regimen were less likely to die or see their cancer get worse.

The results could affect sales of Merck’s drug Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo. Merck fell $1.10, or 2 percent, to $54.10 and Bristol-Myers Squibb lost 66 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $60.63.

Energy

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 50 cents to $56.05 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, dropped 67 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $62.05 a barrel in London.

Currencies

The dollar rose to 112.64 yen from 112.13 yen late Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1737 from $1.1796 after a group of German political parties couldn’t agree to form a government, which might mean new elections are on the way. A weaker euro is good for companies that export a lot of products, and the German DAX was up 0.7 percent while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain added 0.2 percent. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6 percent and South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.2 percent.

Bonds

Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.37 percent from 2.35 percent.

Metals

Gold slumped $21.20, or 1.6 percent, to $1,275.30 an ounce. Silver sank 53 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $16.84 an ounce. Copper gained 3 cents to $3.09 a pound.

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Yellen to Leave Fed Board When New Leader Sworn In

Fed Chair Janet Yellen says she will leave the U.S. central bank’s board when her successor is sworn in early next year.

Jerome Powell was chosen by President Donald Trump to head the Federal Reserve when Yellen’s term expires. Powell must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before he can take office, but analysts say his approach to managing interest rates is similar to Yellen’s. She is credited with managing the economy in ways that boosted recovery from the 2007 recession and cut unemployment in half.

In her resignation letter to Trump, Yellen said she is “gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago.” She also noted “substantial improvement in the economy since the crisis.”

Yellen is the first woman to lead the Fed, and was a member of its board of governors before taking the leadership role. Her term on the board does not officially expire until 2024, and she could have stayed on if she wished to do so.

Candidate Trump criticized Yellen during his campaign, but praised her work after he became president.

Yellen has served as vice chair of the Fed, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and head of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. She has researched and taught economics at the University of California at Berkeley.

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Amsterdam, Paris Picked to Host EU Agencies After Brexit

The European Union went back to its roots Monday by picking cities from two of its founding nations — France and the Netherlands — to host key agencies that will have move once Britain leaves the bloc in 2019.

During voting so tight they were both decided by a lucky draw, EU members except Britain chose Amsterdam over Italy’s Milan as the new home of the European Medicines Agency and Paris over Dublin to host the European Banking Authority. Both currently are located in London.

“We needed to draw lots in both cases,” Estonian EU Affairs Minister Matti Maasikas, who chaired the meeting and in both cases made the decisive selection from a big transparent bowl.

Frankfurt, home of the European Central Bank, surprisingly failed to become one of the two finalists competing for the banking agency.

The relocations made necessary by the referendum to take Britain out of the EU are expected to cost the country over 1,000 jobs directly and more in secondary employment.

The outcomes of the votes also left newer EU member states in eastern and southern Europe with some bitterness. Several had hoped to be tapped for a lucrative prize that would be a sign the bloc was truly committed to outreach.

Some 890 top jobs will leave Britain for Amsterdam with the European Medicines Agency, giving the Dutch a welcome economic boost and more prestige. The EMA is responsible for the evaluation, supervision and monitoring of medicines. The Paris-bound European Banking Authority, which has around 180 staff members, monitors the regulation and supervision of Europe’s banking sector.

After a heated battle for the medicines agency, Amsterdam and Milan both had 13 votes Monday. That left Estonia, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, to break the tie with a draw from the bowl. Copenhagen finished third, ahead of Slovakian capital Bratislava in the vote involving EU nations excluding Britain. One country abstained in the vote.

“A solid bid that was defeated only by a draw. What a mockery,” Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Twitter.

Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra was elated.

“It is a fantastic result,” he said. “It shows that we can deal with the impact of Brexit”

The European Medicines Agency has less than 17 months to complete the move, but Amsterdam was considered ideally suited because of its location, the building it had on offer and other facilities.

Even though rules were set up to make it a fair decision, the process turned into a deeply political contest.

Zijlstra said that “in the end, it is a very strategic game of chess.”

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Alabama Candidate’s Sexual Abuse Accuser Says She Took Decades to Recover

The Alabama woman who has accused Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually abusing her four decades ago when she was 14 and he was 32 said Monday it took her decades before she regained her sense of trust and confidence in herself.

Leigh Corfman, now 53, told NBC’s Today show that she was “a 14-year-old child trying to play in an adult’s world” when Moore, then a local prosecutor, initiated the 1979 encounter with her.

“I was expecting candlelight and roses, what I got was very different,” she said. “I felt guilty. I felt like I was the one to blame. It was decades before I was able to let that go.”

Corfman’s accusations against Moore first appeared in The Washington Post more than a week ago, but her NBC appearance was her first televised account.

Corfman said she “didn’t deserve to have a 32-year-old man prey upon” her.

“I met him around the corner from my house, my mother did not know and he took me to his home,” Corfman said. “After arriving at his home on the second occasion that I went with him he basically laid out some blankets on the floor of his living room and proceeded to … seduce me, I guess you would say.”

She had told the newspaper that Moore took off her “shirt and pants and removed his clothes,” touched her over her bra and underpants and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear before she ended the encounter. She asked him to take her home, and he did.

Franken allegations

Meanwhile, a second woman has accused Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota of groping her.

The woman, Lindsay Menz, told CNN that while she posed for a picture with Franken at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair, he “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear. It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”

Last week, Los Angeles radio newscaster Leann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her in 2006 while they were on a Middle East tour to entertain U.S. troops, then grabbing her breasts while she slept on the flight home. She posted a photo offering evidence of the latter accusation on her radio station’s website.

Franken apologized to Tweeden. Franken said that while he does not remember having a picture taken with Menz, “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”

In Alabama, Moore has repeatedly denied the accusations and rebuffed calls from prominent Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and two former Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain, to end his candidacy in the December 12 election. However, the deadline to withdraw from the contest has long since passed and Republican calls for a write-in candidacy of anyone as an alternative to Moore have faltered.

Corfman’s allegations of sexual abuse against Moore, as well as those from another woman, and recollections of Moore’s pursuit of other teenage girls in the late 1970s, have dominated Moore’s attempt to win the contest in the southern state of Alabama against Democrat Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor. The election is to fill the last three years of the Senate seat once held by Jeff Sessions, who resigned from it to join President Donald Trump’s Cabinet as attorney general, the country’s top law enforcement position.

Since the allegations first surfaced, Trump has largely avoided commenting on them, with the White House at first saying Moore should drop out of the race if the accusations were true. Trump had pushed for Republicans to nominate Luther Strange, the appointed senator now holding the seat, but when Strange lost to Moore in a party primary in September, Trump voiced his support for Moore on Twitter.

The White House signaled Monday it wants Moore to win the contest.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, in interviews with CNN and Fox News, described Jones as a “doctrinaire liberal” who would vote against tax cuts the Trump administration is pushing Congress to adopt.

Asked if the White House was asking people to vote for Moore, Conway deflected the question, but said, “I’m telling you we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump believes it is “up to the people of Alabama who their next senator will be.”

Voter surveys in Alabama have shown that Jones has pulled ahead of Moore by about 5 to 8 percentage points.

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