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CIA Director Nominee to Face Confirmation Hearing in May

The confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency will begin next month.

The current deputy CIA director Gina Haspel will testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence starting on May 9, the committee announced Thursday.

If confirmed, Haspel would replace Mike Pompeo, who was nominated be Secretary of State after Trump fired Rex Tillerson.

Haspel is the first woman tapped to head the CIA.

Michael Bowman contributed to this report.

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California Governor: Deal Reached on National Guard, Border

California reached an agreement with the federal government that the state’s National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers, Gov. Jerry Brown said. The announcement comes after a week of uncertainty in which President Donald Trump bashed the governor’s insistence that troops avoid immigration-related work.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote on Twitter that final details were being worked out “but we are looking forward to the support.”

Brown said Wednesday he secured federal funding for terms similar to those outlined in last week’s proposed contract: The Guard cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement.

Federal officials refused to sign the proposal because they said it was outside established protocol for the Guard.

Brown’s office said Wednesday that the previous contract was unnecessary after he secured federal funding for his goals. Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said the exact cost hasn’t been determined.

Some troops may be deployed this month and are expected to stay until at least Sept. 30, Brown said. They will be assigned to all parts of the state, not just the border.

Brown elicited rare and effusive praise from Trump last week when he pledged 400 troops, which helped put the president above the lower end of his threshold of marshaling 2,000 to 4,000 troops for his border mission.

Federal officials said Monday that Brown refused to commit California Guard troops to some initial jobs that were similar to assignments in the three other border states, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, all governed by Republicans. Trump bashed Brown’s position two days in a row, even as the governor said a deal was near.

“There’s been a little bit of back and forth, as you always get with bureaucrats but I think we can find common understanding here,” Brown said Tuesday in Washington. “There’s enough problems at the border and the interface between our countries that California will have plenty to do, and we’re willing to do it.”

Nielsen, appearing alongside Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to thank him for contributing 440 troops, said Wednesday there were 1,000 troops deployed on the border mission and that number is growing. She said they were performing aerial surveillance and vehicle repairs.

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California Governor: Deal Reached on National Guard, Border

California reached an agreement with the federal government that the state’s National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers, Gov. Jerry Brown said. The announcement comes after a week of uncertainty in which President Donald Trump bashed the governor’s insistence that troops avoid immigration-related work.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote on Twitter that final details were being worked out “but we are looking forward to the support.”

Brown said Wednesday he secured federal funding for terms similar to those outlined in last week’s proposed contract: The Guard cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement.

Federal officials refused to sign the proposal because they said it was outside established protocol for the Guard.

Brown’s office said Wednesday that the previous contract was unnecessary after he secured federal funding for his goals. Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said the exact cost hasn’t been determined.

Some troops may be deployed this month and are expected to stay until at least Sept. 30, Brown said. They will be assigned to all parts of the state, not just the border.

Brown elicited rare and effusive praise from Trump last week when he pledged 400 troops, which helped put the president above the lower end of his threshold of marshaling 2,000 to 4,000 troops for his border mission.

Federal officials said Monday that Brown refused to commit California Guard troops to some initial jobs that were similar to assignments in the three other border states, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, all governed by Republicans. Trump bashed Brown’s position two days in a row, even as the governor said a deal was near.

“There’s been a little bit of back and forth, as you always get with bureaucrats but I think we can find common understanding here,” Brown said Tuesday in Washington. “There’s enough problems at the border and the interface between our countries that California will have plenty to do, and we’re willing to do it.”

Nielsen, appearing alongside Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to thank him for contributing 440 troops, said Wednesday there were 1,000 troops deployed on the border mission and that number is growing. She said they were performing aerial surveillance and vehicle repairs.

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NY Official: Trump Pardons Can’t Be Shield for State Charges

New York’s attorney general says an unintended loophole in state law could allow criminal defendants pardoned by President Donald Trump to argue that they can’t be charged at the state level.

Democrat Eric Schneiderman wrote to state legislators Wednesday urging them to clarify the law to eliminate the possibility. He says a well-intentioned state double jeopardy law could prevent state charges when a defendant already has received a president pardon for similar federal charges. He says the loophole is clearly unintended.

Schneiderman says he was “disturbed” by reports that Trump, a Republican, may be considering pardons that could impede criminal investigations, potentially including those into the Trump Organization, the administration or Russian meddling.

Democratic state Sen. Todd Kaminsky responded, saying he’ll introduce legislation to close the loophole.

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NY Official: Trump Pardons Can’t Be Shield for State Charges

New York’s attorney general says an unintended loophole in state law could allow criminal defendants pardoned by President Donald Trump to argue that they can’t be charged at the state level.

Democrat Eric Schneiderman wrote to state legislators Wednesday urging them to clarify the law to eliminate the possibility. He says a well-intentioned state double jeopardy law could prevent state charges when a defendant already has received a president pardon for similar federal charges. He says the loophole is clearly unintended.

Schneiderman says he was “disturbed” by reports that Trump, a Republican, may be considering pardons that could impede criminal investigations, potentially including those into the Trump Organization, the administration or Russian meddling.

Democratic state Sen. Todd Kaminsky responded, saying he’ll introduce legislation to close the loophole.

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Haley: Relationship with Trump is ‘Perfect’

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday that her relationship with President Donald Trump was “perfect” and that he did not need to be worried about Haley and Vice President Mike Pence running against him in 2020.

Her comments come amid unusual public friction between Haley, a former South Carolina governor who is known for her blunt diplomacy at the United Nations, and the White House.

Haley, a member of Trump’s Cabinet, said Sunday that Washington was preparing new sanctions on Russia over its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. However, Trump delayed further action, a senior administration official said.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Haley might have been confused about Washington’s plans, but Haley fired back Tuesday: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

Kudlow said he had apologized to Haley.

Not publicity shy

When asked Wednesday about her relationship with Trump, Haley said: “It’s perfect.”

While former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shied away from the spotlight, Haley has carved out a high-profile role for herself in the Trump administration while at the same time ensuring that she publicly praises the president.

Her direct approach at the United Nations initially raised eyebrows among diplomats, but many acknowledge her political skills and speculate that she has ambitions for higher office.

2020 bid?

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Republicans close to the White House whisper about a possible joint campaign by Haley and Pence in 2020. Trump, who is known to place a high premium on loyalty, has said he will run again in 2020.

When asked Wednesday if Trump should be worried about a Pence/Haley campaign, Haley smiled, shook her head and said: “No.”

Pence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adding to the friction was Pence’s brief appointment of Haley’s senior aide Jon Lerner as his top adviser on foreign policy issues. Lerner withdrew Sunday after a behind-the-scenes White House argument hit the headlines. He will continue working for Haley.

A senior administration official said that Haley had not been “freelancing” when she spoke about new Russian sanctions Sunday. 

“The president just wanted to slow down the process after she spoke,” the official said.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he had not spoken with Haley about her remarks on sanctions. When asked if he believe Haley or the White House, Nebenzia said: “I believe in God. Let them sort it out themselves. It’s not our game.”

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Haley: Relationship with Trump is ‘Perfect’

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday that her relationship with President Donald Trump was “perfect” and that he did not need to be worried about Haley and Vice President Mike Pence running against him in 2020.

Her comments come amid unusual public friction between Haley, a former South Carolina governor who is known for her blunt diplomacy at the United Nations, and the White House.

Haley, a member of Trump’s Cabinet, said Sunday that Washington was preparing new sanctions on Russia over its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. However, Trump delayed further action, a senior administration official said.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Haley might have been confused about Washington’s plans, but Haley fired back Tuesday: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

Kudlow said he had apologized to Haley.

Not publicity shy

When asked Wednesday about her relationship with Trump, Haley said: “It’s perfect.”

While former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shied away from the spotlight, Haley has carved out a high-profile role for herself in the Trump administration while at the same time ensuring that she publicly praises the president.

Her direct approach at the United Nations initially raised eyebrows among diplomats, but many acknowledge her political skills and speculate that she has ambitions for higher office.

2020 bid?

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Republicans close to the White House whisper about a possible joint campaign by Haley and Pence in 2020. Trump, who is known to place a high premium on loyalty, has said he will run again in 2020.

When asked Wednesday if Trump should be worried about a Pence/Haley campaign, Haley smiled, shook her head and said: “No.”

Pence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adding to the friction was Pence’s brief appointment of Haley’s senior aide Jon Lerner as his top adviser on foreign policy issues. Lerner withdrew Sunday after a behind-the-scenes White House argument hit the headlines. He will continue working for Haley.

A senior administration official said that Haley had not been “freelancing” when she spoke about new Russian sanctions Sunday. 

“The president just wanted to slow down the process after she spoke,” the official said.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he had not spoken with Haley about her remarks on sanctions. When asked if he believe Haley or the White House, Nebenzia said: “I believe in God. Let them sort it out themselves. It’s not our game.”

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Ex-Playboy Model Settles Lawsuit Over Alleged Trump Affair

A former Playboy model who said she had a 10-month affair with President Donald Trump settled her lawsuit Wednesday with a supermarket tabloid over an agreement that prohibited her from discussing the relationship publicly.

Karen McDougal’s settlement with the company that owns the National Enquirer “restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago,” she said in a statement Wednesday. 

In August 2016, the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story about the alleged relationship, but the story never ran. 

Last month, McDougal filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles asking to invalidate the contract. The suit alleged Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, was secretly involved in her discussions with AMI executives.

Federal agents raided Cohen’ office and residence last week seeking any information on payments made in 2016 to McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to people familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. The search warrants also sought bank records, records on Cohen’s dealings in the taxi industry and his communications with the Trump campaign, the people said. 

Under the settlement agreement, McDougal can keep the $150,000 she was paid and AMI has the rights to up to $75,000 for any future profits from her story about the relationship. The company also retains the rights to photographs of McDougal that it already has, the settlement said. 

AMI had argued McDougal had been allowed to speak about her relationship since 2016 and the contract gave the company discretion over whether to publish the story.

In an interview with CNN that aired last month, McDougal said Trump tried to pay her after their first sexual tryst at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006. McDougal said she continued the relationship with Trump for about 10 months and broke it off in April 2007 because she felt guilty. 

The White House has said Trump denies having an affair with McDougal. Trump married his current wife, Melania Trump, in 2005, and their son, Barron, was born in 2006.

“My goal from the beginning was to restore my rights and not to achieve any financial gain, and this settlement does exactly that,” McDougal said. “I am relieved to be able to tell the truth about my story when asked, and I look forward to being able to return to my private life and focus on what matters to me.”

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Ex-Playboy Model Settles Lawsuit Over Alleged Trump Affair

A former Playboy model who said she had a 10-month affair with President Donald Trump settled her lawsuit Wednesday with a supermarket tabloid over an agreement that prohibited her from discussing the relationship publicly.

Karen McDougal’s settlement with the company that owns the National Enquirer “restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago,” she said in a statement Wednesday. 

In August 2016, the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story about the alleged relationship, but the story never ran. 

Last month, McDougal filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles asking to invalidate the contract. The suit alleged Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, was secretly involved in her discussions with AMI executives.

Federal agents raided Cohen’ office and residence last week seeking any information on payments made in 2016 to McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to people familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. The search warrants also sought bank records, records on Cohen’s dealings in the taxi industry and his communications with the Trump campaign, the people said. 

Under the settlement agreement, McDougal can keep the $150,000 she was paid and AMI has the rights to up to $75,000 for any future profits from her story about the relationship. The company also retains the rights to photographs of McDougal that it already has, the settlement said. 

AMI had argued McDougal had been allowed to speak about her relationship since 2016 and the contract gave the company discretion over whether to publish the story.

In an interview with CNN that aired last month, McDougal said Trump tried to pay her after their first sexual tryst at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006. McDougal said she continued the relationship with Trump for about 10 months and broke it off in April 2007 because she felt guilty. 

The White House has said Trump denies having an affair with McDougal. Trump married his current wife, Melania Trump, in 2005, and their son, Barron, was born in 2006.

“My goal from the beginning was to restore my rights and not to achieve any financial gain, and this settlement does exactly that,” McDougal said. “I am relieved to be able to tell the truth about my story when asked, and I look forward to being able to return to my private life and focus on what matters to me.”

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SunPower Buys US Rival SolarWorld to Head Off Trump Tariffs

SunPower Corp. on Wednesday said it would buy U.S. solar panel maker SolarWorld Americas, expanding its domestic manufacturing as it seeks to stem the impact of Trump administration tariffs on panel imports.

The White House cheered the deal, saying it was proof that Trump’s trade policies were stimulating U.S. investment.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The news sent SunPower’s shares up 12 percent on the Nasdaq to their highest level since before President Donald Trump imposed 30 percent tariffs on imported solar panels in January.

“The time is right for SunPower to invest in U.S. manufacturing,” chief executive Tom Werner said in a statement.

SunPower is based in San Jose, California, but most of its manufacturing is in the Philippines and Mexico. The company had lobbied heavily against the solar trade case brought last year by U.S. manufacturers, including SolarWorld, which said they could not compete with a flood of cheap imports.

‘This is great news’

The deal is a win for the Trump administration’s efforts to revive U.S. solar manufacturing through the tariffs. SunPower will manufacture its cheaper “P-series” panels, which more directly compete with Chinese products, at the SolarWorld factory in Hillsboro, Oregon, it said. It will also make SolarWorld’s legacy products.

“This is great news for the hundreds of Americans working at SolarWorld’s factory in Oregon and is further proof that the president’s trade policies are bringing investment back to the United States,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in an emailed statement.

The announcement comes as SunPower is seeking an exemption from tariffs on its higher-priced, more efficient panels manufactured overseas. It has argued to the U.S. trade representative, which will make a decision on exemptions in the coming weeks, that those products should be excluded because there is no U.S. competitor that makes a similar product.

In a note to clients, Baird analyst Ben Kallo said the SolarWorld deal would enable the company to compete against Chinese imports should SunPower’s products not receive an exemption. But he added that skeptics “may question the company’s ability to generate profits with U.S. manufacturing.”

Capital injection

The deal will inject much-needed capital into SolarWorld’s long-suffering manufacturing plant and give it the support of a major market player. SunPower is one of the largest solar companies in the world and is majority owned by France’s deep-pocketed oil giant Total SA.

The U.S. arm of Germany’s SolarWorld AG opened the Hillsboro factory in 2008 as it sought to capitalize on surging solar demand in the United States. But its start coincided with a dramatic increase in the production of cheaper solar products in Asia, and SolarWorld struggled to compete.

Twice, in 2012 and 2014, trade cases brought by SolarWorld prompted the U.S. Commerce Department to slap import duties on solar products from China and Taiwan. Yet prices on solar panels continued their free fall, and in 2017, the company joined rival Suniva in asking for new tariffs.

SolarWorld called the outcome “ideal” for its hundreds of employees in Hillsboro.

Suniva’s future in doubt

During the trade case and after the tariffs were announced, the solar  industry’s trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, argued that the tariffs would not be enough to keep SolarWorld and Suniva afloat.

Indeed, Suniva’s future remains uncertain after a U.S. bankruptcy court judge this week granted a request by its biggest creditor that will allow it to sell a portion of the company’s solar manufacturing equipment through a public

auction.

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