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Trump Calls for Senator to Resign Over Opposition to Nominee for Veterans Post

U.S. President Donald Trump called for the resignation Saturday of Democratic Senator Jon Tester for raising concerns about Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ronny Jackson, who withdrew his name from consideration on Thursday.

Jackson, who is the White House physician and a Navy Rear Admiral, dropped his bid Thursday to head the country’s second-largest federal agency as lawmakers probed allegations of professional misconduct and excessive drinking.

In a pair of tweets, Trump wrote the allegations “are proving false” and that Tester, who represents the western state of Montana, should step down.

 

 

Trump blamed Tester for the demise of Jackson’s nomination after Tester said Wednesday that 20 current and former members of the military familiar with Jackson’s office had told lawmakers that he drank on the job. They also said Jackson oversaw a toxic work environment and handed out drug prescriptions with little consideration of a patient’s medical background.

Jackson said if the allegations “had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years. Going into this process, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.”

The White House presented documents to reporters from an administration official who claims they exonerate Jackson from the accusations of inappropriately dispensing medication and crashing a government vehicle after a Secret Service going away party.

Jackson was fast losing support in Congress.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers indefinitely postponed Jackson’s scheduled Wednesday confirmation hearing as they investigated the allegations.

Several news outlets reported that Jackson was known as the “candy man” for over-prescribing drug prescriptions, while CNN said that in one 2015 incident Jackson drunkenly banged on the hotel room door of a female employee in the middle of the night on an overseas trip. The U.S. Secret Service intervened to stop Jackson, according to the report, so then-President Barack Obama, sleeping in another hotel room, would not be awakened.

Jackson gained a degree of fame unusual for White House physicians earlier this year when he took questions from the White House press corps on national television, describing at length about Trump’s health after conducting the president’s physical exam.

Trump, the oldest first-term president in American history, was plagued at the time by questions about his physical health, weight and mental stability. But Jackson gave the president a top rating. “The president’s overall health is excellent,” Jackson declared at the time.

Trump unexpectedly picked Jackson to replace a holdover from the administration of former president Obama, David Shulkin, whom Trump fired. Several lawmakers have complained that the White House did not properly vet Jackson’s background before Trump announced Jackson’s appointment.

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Trump Betting on Large, Friendly Crowd at Michigan Rally

President Donald Trump was betting on a big crowd and a friendly reception at a Saturday evening rally in Michigan – one of the states in the Upper Midwest that Hillary Clinton counted on in 2016 but saw slip away.

In fact, Trump was the first Republican presidential nominee to capture Michigan since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

“Look forward to being in the Great State of Michigan tonight,” Trump said in a tweet hours before the event in Washington Township, Michigan, which is about 40 miles north of Detroit.

He also tweeted: “Major business expansion and jobs pouring into your State. Auto companies expanding at record pace. Big crowd tonight, will be live on T.V.”

Also scheduled to air on cable television Saturday night was a Washington tradition that Trump says he’s happy to skip: The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Trump said in a fundraising pitch from campaign that he had come up with something better than being stuck in a room “with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me.”

He said he would rather spend the evening “with my favorite deplorables.”

During the 2016 campaign, Clinton drew laughs when she told supporters at a private fundraiser that half of Trump supporters could be lumped into a “basket of deplorables” – denouncing them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”

Clinton later did a partial rollback, said she had been “grossly generalistic” and regretted saying the label fit “half” of Trump’s supporters. But she didn’t back down from the general sentiment.

Trump soon had the video running in his campaign ads, and his supporters wore the “deplorable” label as a badge of honor.

Macomb County, the site of Trump’s rally, is among the predominantly white counties known as a base for “Reagan Democrats” – blue-collar voters who abandoned the Democratic Party for Ronald Reagan, but who can be intriguingly movable.

Democrat Barack Obama won the county twice in his White House runs, then Trump carried it by more than 11 percentage points.

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Trump Betting on Large, Friendly Crowd at Michigan Rally

President Donald Trump was betting on a big crowd and a friendly reception at a Saturday evening rally in Michigan – one of the states in the Upper Midwest that Hillary Clinton counted on in 2016 but saw slip away.

In fact, Trump was the first Republican presidential nominee to capture Michigan since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

“Look forward to being in the Great State of Michigan tonight,” Trump said in a tweet hours before the event in Washington Township, Michigan, which is about 40 miles north of Detroit.

He also tweeted: “Major business expansion and jobs pouring into your State. Auto companies expanding at record pace. Big crowd tonight, will be live on T.V.”

Also scheduled to air on cable television Saturday night was a Washington tradition that Trump says he’s happy to skip: The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Trump said in a fundraising pitch from campaign that he had come up with something better than being stuck in a room “with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me.”

He said he would rather spend the evening “with my favorite deplorables.”

During the 2016 campaign, Clinton drew laughs when she told supporters at a private fundraiser that half of Trump supporters could be lumped into a “basket of deplorables” – denouncing them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”

Clinton later did a partial rollback, said she had been “grossly generalistic” and regretted saying the label fit “half” of Trump’s supporters. But she didn’t back down from the general sentiment.

Trump soon had the video running in his campaign ads, and his supporters wore the “deplorable” label as a badge of honor.

Macomb County, the site of Trump’s rally, is among the predominantly white counties known as a base for “Reagan Democrats” – blue-collar voters who abandoned the Democratic Party for Ronald Reagan, but who can be intriguingly movable.

Democrat Barack Obama won the county twice in his White House runs, then Trump carried it by more than 11 percentage points.

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Ex-con Candidate Compounding GOP Woes in West Virginia

Republican Don Blankenship doesn’t care if his party and his president don’t think he can beat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin this fall.

This former coal mining executive, an ex-convict released from prison less than a year ago, is willing to risk his personal fortune and the GOP’s golden opportunity in West Virginia for the chance to prove them all wrong.

“I’ll get elected on my own merits,” Blankenship says.

There aren’t a lot of things that can sink Republicans’ hopes in the ruby red state that Donald Trump won by 42 percentage points in 2016, but Blankenship could well be one.

His candidacy is sending shudders down the spines of Republicans who are furiously working to ensure he is not their choice to take on Manchin in November. While Blankenship’s bid is a long shot, he’s testing whether a party led by an anti-establishment outsider can rein in its anti-establishment impulses.

“The establishment, no matter who you define it as, has not been creating jobs in West Virginia,” Blankenship said at a primary debate this past week.

Even before Blankenship emerged as a legitimate Republican candidate, West Virginia was a worry for some Republicans.

Former Gov. Manchin has held elected office in West Virginia for the better part of the past three decades, and he’s worked hard to cozy up to Trump and nurture a bipartisan brand.

He has voted with the Republican president more than he has opposed him, his office says, noting that the senator and Trump have collaborated on trade, environmental rules, gun violence and court nominations.

The alignment with Trump was so effective that former White House adviser Steve Bannon worried privately to colleagues that Trump might actually endorse the Democrat. An outright endorsement now is unlikely, but a Blankenship primary victory on May 8 could push Trump to help Manchin, at least indirectly, by ignoring West Virginia this fall.

The state has long been considered a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans, who hold a two-seat Senate majority that suddenly feels less secure given signs of Democratic momentum in Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and elsewhere. If Democrats can win West Virginia, which gave Trump his largest margin of victory in the nation, they may have a slim chance at seizing the Senate majority.

Some of Trump’s most prominent conservative supporters, particularly those in Bannon’s network, have rallied behind state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a former Capitol Hill aide who was raised in New Jersey but has served as West Virginia’s top lawyer since 2013.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, a former Democrat, has highlighted his West Virginia roots and deep allegiance to Trump. Jenkins noted that Manchin missed a big chance to align himself with Trump on key issues such as taxes and health care.

“The president gave Joe Manchin every opportunity in the early weeks and months of his administration to vote the right way,” Jenkins said in an interview. “He voted wrong.”

But in interviews this past week, Morrisey and Jenkins declined to attack Blankenship for his role in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster, the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades, killing 29 men. Blankenship led the company that owned the mine and was sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to break safety laws, a misdemeanor.

Raising that dark history has been left to the national GOP forces believed to be behind the Mountain Families PAC, an organization created last month that has invested more than $700,000 attacking Blankenship on television. A spokesman for the Senate GOP’s most powerful super PAC declined to confirm or deny a connection to the group.

Trump has done his part to hurt Blankenship’s chances as well.

The president excluded Blankenship from a recent West Virginia stop, where Trump appeared with Jenkins on one side and Morrisey on the other. And Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who leads the Senate GOP’s national campaign efforts, had this to say to reporters when asked about Blankenship last week: “Do they let ankle bracelets get out of the house?”

For voters, Blankenship remains a deeply polarizing figure.

Blankenship calls himself a West Virginian but had his supervised release transferred last August to federal officials in Nevada, where he has a six-bedroom home with his fiancee 20 miles from Las Vegas, in Henderson.

“It’s a friendly place and I like it,” said Blankenship, whose supervised release ends May 9, the day after the primary.

Blankenship recently drew attention for comments on a radio show about the father of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Blankenship said he believed McConnell has a conflict of interest in foreign relations matters, in particular those dealing with China. Chao’s father was born in China and started an international shipping company in New York.

According to media reports, Blankenship’s fiancee also was born in China.

“I don’t have any problem with Chinese people, Chinese girlfriend, Chinese anything,” Blankenship told the radio station. “But I have an issue when the father-in-law is a wealthy Chinaperson and has a lot of connections with some of the brass, if you will, in China.”

Stanley Stewart, a retired miner who was inside the Upper Big Branch mine when it blew up in 2010, calls Blankenship ‘ruthless, cold-blooded, cold-hearted, self-centered.”

“I feel that if anybody voted for Don Blankenship, they may as well stick a knife in their back and twist it, because that’s exactly what he’ll do,” Stewart said in an interview.

But there is skepticism that Blankenship was treated fairly by the courts. Blankenship has cast himself as a victim of an overbearing Obama administration, an argument that resonates with many white working-class voters on the ground here. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court last October left in place his conviction when the justices declined to take up his case.

“What they’ve said he’s actually done (in the criminal case), I don’t believe none of that,” 21-year-old coal mechanic Zack Ball said while grabbing a bite to eat in the Boone County coal community of Danville. “Don Blankenship all the way.”

Inside a Whitesville pizza shop a few miles north of the shuttered Upper Big Branch mine, retiree Debbie Pauley said Blankenship “was railroaded” at his trial.

“I think that Blankenship does have integrity,” she said. “I don’t think he’d put up with any crap.”

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Ex-con Candidate Compounding GOP Woes in West Virginia

Republican Don Blankenship doesn’t care if his party and his president don’t think he can beat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin this fall.

This former coal mining executive, an ex-convict released from prison less than a year ago, is willing to risk his personal fortune and the GOP’s golden opportunity in West Virginia for the chance to prove them all wrong.

“I’ll get elected on my own merits,” Blankenship says.

There aren’t a lot of things that can sink Republicans’ hopes in the ruby red state that Donald Trump won by 42 percentage points in 2016, but Blankenship could well be one.

His candidacy is sending shudders down the spines of Republicans who are furiously working to ensure he is not their choice to take on Manchin in November. While Blankenship’s bid is a long shot, he’s testing whether a party led by an anti-establishment outsider can rein in its anti-establishment impulses.

“The establishment, no matter who you define it as, has not been creating jobs in West Virginia,” Blankenship said at a primary debate this past week.

Even before Blankenship emerged as a legitimate Republican candidate, West Virginia was a worry for some Republicans.

Former Gov. Manchin has held elected office in West Virginia for the better part of the past three decades, and he’s worked hard to cozy up to Trump and nurture a bipartisan brand.

He has voted with the Republican president more than he has opposed him, his office says, noting that the senator and Trump have collaborated on trade, environmental rules, gun violence and court nominations.

The alignment with Trump was so effective that former White House adviser Steve Bannon worried privately to colleagues that Trump might actually endorse the Democrat. An outright endorsement now is unlikely, but a Blankenship primary victory on May 8 could push Trump to help Manchin, at least indirectly, by ignoring West Virginia this fall.

The state has long been considered a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans, who hold a two-seat Senate majority that suddenly feels less secure given signs of Democratic momentum in Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and elsewhere. If Democrats can win West Virginia, which gave Trump his largest margin of victory in the nation, they may have a slim chance at seizing the Senate majority.

Some of Trump’s most prominent conservative supporters, particularly those in Bannon’s network, have rallied behind state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a former Capitol Hill aide who was raised in New Jersey but has served as West Virginia’s top lawyer since 2013.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, a former Democrat, has highlighted his West Virginia roots and deep allegiance to Trump. Jenkins noted that Manchin missed a big chance to align himself with Trump on key issues such as taxes and health care.

“The president gave Joe Manchin every opportunity in the early weeks and months of his administration to vote the right way,” Jenkins said in an interview. “He voted wrong.”

But in interviews this past week, Morrisey and Jenkins declined to attack Blankenship for his role in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster, the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades, killing 29 men. Blankenship led the company that owned the mine and was sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to break safety laws, a misdemeanor.

Raising that dark history has been left to the national GOP forces believed to be behind the Mountain Families PAC, an organization created last month that has invested more than $700,000 attacking Blankenship on television. A spokesman for the Senate GOP’s most powerful super PAC declined to confirm or deny a connection to the group.

Trump has done his part to hurt Blankenship’s chances as well.

The president excluded Blankenship from a recent West Virginia stop, where Trump appeared with Jenkins on one side and Morrisey on the other. And Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who leads the Senate GOP’s national campaign efforts, had this to say to reporters when asked about Blankenship last week: “Do they let ankle bracelets get out of the house?”

For voters, Blankenship remains a deeply polarizing figure.

Blankenship calls himself a West Virginian but had his supervised release transferred last August to federal officials in Nevada, where he has a six-bedroom home with his fiancee 20 miles from Las Vegas, in Henderson.

“It’s a friendly place and I like it,” said Blankenship, whose supervised release ends May 9, the day after the primary.

Blankenship recently drew attention for comments on a radio show about the father of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Blankenship said he believed McConnell has a conflict of interest in foreign relations matters, in particular those dealing with China. Chao’s father was born in China and started an international shipping company in New York.

According to media reports, Blankenship’s fiancee also was born in China.

“I don’t have any problem with Chinese people, Chinese girlfriend, Chinese anything,” Blankenship told the radio station. “But I have an issue when the father-in-law is a wealthy Chinaperson and has a lot of connections with some of the brass, if you will, in China.”

Stanley Stewart, a retired miner who was inside the Upper Big Branch mine when it blew up in 2010, calls Blankenship ‘ruthless, cold-blooded, cold-hearted, self-centered.”

“I feel that if anybody voted for Don Blankenship, they may as well stick a knife in their back and twist it, because that’s exactly what he’ll do,” Stewart said in an interview.

But there is skepticism that Blankenship was treated fairly by the courts. Blankenship has cast himself as a victim of an overbearing Obama administration, an argument that resonates with many white working-class voters on the ground here. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court last October left in place his conviction when the justices declined to take up his case.

“What they’ve said he’s actually done (in the criminal case), I don’t believe none of that,” 21-year-old coal mechanic Zack Ball said while grabbing a bite to eat in the Boone County coal community of Danville. “Don Blankenship all the way.”

Inside a Whitesville pizza shop a few miles north of the shuttered Upper Big Branch mine, retiree Debbie Pauley said Blankenship “was railroaded” at his trial.

“I think that Blankenship does have integrity,” she said. “I don’t think he’d put up with any crap.”

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Navajos: Utah County Wants Native Candidate Off Ballot

Navajo Nation leaders say a Utah county is trying to keep a Native candidate off the ballot during the first election since a federal judge ruled voting districts were drawn based on race.

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said in statement the threat of possible criminal charges is an “example of the county’s bad-faith attempt to undermine Navajo candidates and disenfranchise voters.”

San Juan County, though, maintained Friday that the investigation into whether a county commission candidate, Democrat Willie Grayeyes, lives on the Utah side of the nearby Arizona border is aimed at ensuring fair elections and isn’t related to politics or race.

Court-ordered voting districts

The dust-up comes as the largely Republican-led county fights back in court against new voting districts that they say unfairly carve up San Juan County’s largest city of Blanding, about 300 miles (482 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.

A federal judge ordered the districts be redrawn after finding they minimized the voices of Navajo residents who make up half the county’s voters. They tend to lean Democratic, and the newly drawn districts could give local candidates like Grayeyes a better shot at winning races during the upcoming election that will be the first under the new boundaries.

The voting-rights lawsuit came amid similar legal clashes over early voting access in Nevada, Native language assistance in Alaska and voter ID laws in North Dakota. Advocates hope greater access to the ballot box could ultimately improve conditions in populations with huge disparities in health, education and economics.

County investigators looking into Grayeyes’ candidacy in Utah want to see proof of residency like a utility bill, said San Juan County spokeswoman Natalie Callahan. 

“They’re really looking for anything that would qualify where he lived,” she said.

Candidate provides proof

His lawyers counter that they’ve provided multiple documents, including satellite images of the remote Utah home where he’s lived for 20 years while holding local leadership positions and an affidavit saying he’s been registered to vote in San Juan County since he was 18. Many homes in the rural area don’t have utility hookups and the lack of a local post office means many residents collect their mail from nearby Arizona.

Grayeyes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He lives on the Navajo Nation, which overlaps with San Juan County and stretches into Arizona and New Mexico. The county says it opened the investigation after a citizen complaint questioned whether Grayeyes lives in Utah. Callahan said they’ve also found other evidence supporting the claim, though she didn’t specify, citing the ongoing investigation.

Grayeyes also serves on the board of Utah Diné Bikéyah, a group that supported the creation of the Bears Ears National Monument to protect land that tribes consider sacred and is home to ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

The land protections were fiercely opposed by largely Republican leaders in San Juan County and statewide. President Donald Trump ordered the monument downsized last year.

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Navajos: Utah County Wants Native Candidate Off Ballot

Navajo Nation leaders say a Utah county is trying to keep a Native candidate off the ballot during the first election since a federal judge ruled voting districts were drawn based on race.

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said in statement the threat of possible criminal charges is an “example of the county’s bad-faith attempt to undermine Navajo candidates and disenfranchise voters.”

San Juan County, though, maintained Friday that the investigation into whether a county commission candidate, Democrat Willie Grayeyes, lives on the Utah side of the nearby Arizona border is aimed at ensuring fair elections and isn’t related to politics or race.

Court-ordered voting districts

The dust-up comes as the largely Republican-led county fights back in court against new voting districts that they say unfairly carve up San Juan County’s largest city of Blanding, about 300 miles (482 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.

A federal judge ordered the districts be redrawn after finding they minimized the voices of Navajo residents who make up half the county’s voters. They tend to lean Democratic, and the newly drawn districts could give local candidates like Grayeyes a better shot at winning races during the upcoming election that will be the first under the new boundaries.

The voting-rights lawsuit came amid similar legal clashes over early voting access in Nevada, Native language assistance in Alaska and voter ID laws in North Dakota. Advocates hope greater access to the ballot box could ultimately improve conditions in populations with huge disparities in health, education and economics.

County investigators looking into Grayeyes’ candidacy in Utah want to see proof of residency like a utility bill, said San Juan County spokeswoman Natalie Callahan. 

“They’re really looking for anything that would qualify where he lived,” she said.

Candidate provides proof

His lawyers counter that they’ve provided multiple documents, including satellite images of the remote Utah home where he’s lived for 20 years while holding local leadership positions and an affidavit saying he’s been registered to vote in San Juan County since he was 18. Many homes in the rural area don’t have utility hookups and the lack of a local post office means many residents collect their mail from nearby Arizona.

Grayeyes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He lives on the Navajo Nation, which overlaps with San Juan County and stretches into Arizona and New Mexico. The county says it opened the investigation after a citizen complaint questioned whether Grayeyes lives in Utah. Callahan said they’ve also found other evidence supporting the claim, though she didn’t specify, citing the ongoing investigation.

Grayeyes also serves on the board of Utah Diné Bikéyah, a group that supported the creation of the Bears Ears National Monument to protect land that tribes consider sacred and is home to ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

The land protections were fiercely opposed by largely Republican leaders in San Juan County and statewide. President Donald Trump ordered the monument downsized last year.

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Trump: House Report Proves ‘No Collusion’

U.S. President Donald Trump has commended the release of a report by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee, saying it proves there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. 

Questioned about it during a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump said, “We were honored. It was a great report. No collusion, which I knew anyway.”

He called the investigation “a witch hunt,” echoing a phrase he had tweeted earlier that morning, and added: “If we can get along with Russia, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. But there has been nobody tougher on Russia than me.” 

Trump was questioned about the 243-page report released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee. The report contained a large number of redactions and a conclusion that while the meddling by Russia was real, collusion with the Trump campaign was not. 

It called contacts between Russian officials and campaign aides “ill-advised” and said at least one person might have given answers in legal testimony that were “incomplete.”

The Republicans on the committee said their report was based on interviews with 73 people and a review of more than 300,000 documents.

But the committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, told reporters that the report exemplified “the [Republican] majority’s fundamentally flawed approach to the investigation and the superficial and political nature of its conclusions.”

The report criticized intelligence officials, saying they leaked information before and after the election that installed Trump as president. It pointed out reports published by The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC and CNN as examples of dangerous leaks. 

Much of the information in the section on leaks was redacted, a fact that gave rise to criticism of the report itself. 

Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who is chairman of the committee, told reporters that he hoped a more transparent version of the report could be released later. He indicated the redactions were not the doing of the committee, but instead of federal agencies vetting the report. He said the committee “will convey our objections to the appropriate agencies and looks forward to publishing a less redacted version in the near future.”

A Democratic rebuttal of the report called its conclusions “misleading and unsupported by the facts and the investigative record.” It also faulted the congressional investigators for failing to interview key witnesses and issue subpoenas to get crucial information. Schiff accused the Republicans on the committee of “adopting the role of defense counsel for key investigation witnesses.”

The report included the caveat that other investigations, including that of special counsel Robert Mueller, might have access to facts that the committee could not obtain. In addition to the House Intelligence Committee and Mueller’s probe, the Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating the matter.

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Trump: House Report Proves ‘No Collusion’

U.S. President Donald Trump has commended the release of a report by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee, saying it proves there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. 

Questioned about it during a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump said, “We were honored. It was a great report. No collusion, which I knew anyway.”

He called the investigation “a witch hunt,” echoing a phrase he had tweeted earlier that morning, and added: “If we can get along with Russia, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. But there has been nobody tougher on Russia than me.” 

Trump was questioned about the 243-page report released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee. The report contained a large number of redactions and a conclusion that while the meddling by Russia was real, collusion with the Trump campaign was not. 

It called contacts between Russian officials and campaign aides “ill-advised” and said at least one person might have given answers in legal testimony that were “incomplete.”

The Republicans on the committee said their report was based on interviews with 73 people and a review of more than 300,000 documents.

But the committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, told reporters that the report exemplified “the [Republican] majority’s fundamentally flawed approach to the investigation and the superficial and political nature of its conclusions.”

The report criticized intelligence officials, saying they leaked information before and after the election that installed Trump as president. It pointed out reports published by The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC and CNN as examples of dangerous leaks. 

Much of the information in the section on leaks was redacted, a fact that gave rise to criticism of the report itself. 

Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who is chairman of the committee, told reporters that he hoped a more transparent version of the report could be released later. He indicated the redactions were not the doing of the committee, but instead of federal agencies vetting the report. He said the committee “will convey our objections to the appropriate agencies and looks forward to publishing a less redacted version in the near future.”

A Democratic rebuttal of the report called its conclusions “misleading and unsupported by the facts and the investigative record.” It also faulted the congressional investigators for failing to interview key witnesses and issue subpoenas to get crucial information. Schiff accused the Republicans on the committee of “adopting the role of defense counsel for key investigation witnesses.”

The report included the caveat that other investigations, including that of special counsel Robert Mueller, might have access to facts that the committee could not obtain. In addition to the House Intelligence Committee and Mueller’s probe, the Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating the matter.

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Former Vermont Governor Who Presided Over Liberal Swing Dies

Former Democratic Gov. Philip Hoff, who’s credited with starting Vermont’s transition from one of the most Republican-entrenched states in the country to one of the most liberal, has died. He was 93.

Hoff, who became the first Democrat elected governor of Vermont in more than 100 years in 1962, died on Thursday, according to The Residence at Shelburne Bay, where he had been living.

“Phil Hoff forever changed the state of Vermont,” said Steve Terry, a former journalist who helped write a biography titled “Philip Hoff: How Red Turned Blue in the Green Mountain State.” ”His influence in the 1960s has molded and created the Vermont many of us know today.”

During his six years in office, Hoff helped start a process that evolved into the state’s environmental movement. He focused on reducing pollution and cleaning up the state’s rivers and streams.

He also emphasized education reform and helped revamp the state’s judicial system.

Hoff’s policies helped refocus state government on meeting the needs of residents, a philosophy embraced by his Republican successor, Deane C. Davis.

The office has alternated between Democratic and Republican governors since Hoff was elected.

At the mid-point of the 20th century, Vermont remained one of the most Republican states in the country. The state was dominated by a couple of political families, but Hoff shook up the staid Vermont political structure.

He became governor when the state was under a federal court mandate to reapportion the state House, where each of the state’s 241 cities and towns were represented by a single person, no matter the community’s population.

“The people of Vermont have clearly said that they don’t want to continue with the old ways, and if we fail to respond to forces at work in our society, we face a bleak future,” Hoff said at his 1963 inaugural address.

“I loved it any time he came into the office because there was a sense of vibrancy and life,” said U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, who joined Hoff’s Burlington law firm after graduating from law school in 1964. Two years later, Hoff appointed Leahy as Chittenden County state’s attorney, a post he held for eight years, until his 1974 election to the U.S. Senate.

“I’d see the governor all the time,” Leahy said. “I was the star-struck young lawyer in his office. I’d see people staying in the halls, just waiting to say hi to him. We’d have meetings with him. It was exciting.”

Philip Henderson Hoff was born on June 29, 1924, in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. He took time off from Williams College to serve in the Navy during World War II and returned to Williams after the war. He graduated and went on to law school at Cornell University before moving to Burlington in 1951.

Hoff first ran for office in 1958 for a seat on the Burlington Board of Aldermen. He was defeated.

Two years later, he was elected to the Vermont House after running what Terry called “a minimalist campaign.” He had no campaign literature of his own and instead handed out brochures promoting the presidential candidacy of U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

After one term in the Legislature, Hoff won the race for governor in 1962 after he campaigned on the need for change and to end 100 years of one-party rule.

Hoff was briefly considered as a vice presidential candidate in 1968 but withdrew his name when it became clear his friend, Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine, was being considered. Hoff ran for the U.S. Senate in 1970, but lost to the incumbent GOP Sen. Winston Prouty.

Hoff returned to the Legislature in 1982 after being elected to the state Senate. He served three, two-year terms.

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