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Wednesday
Jun212017

Scalise upgraded to 'fair condition,' beginning rehabilitation

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- The condition of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has been upgraded to fair, a week after he was shot while participating in a practice with members of the Republican congressional baseball team.

Scalise, R-La., has made incremental progress since being shot in the left hip last Wednesday; his condition was previously upgraded from "critical" to "serious" on Saturday.

"Congressman Steve Scalise continues to make good progress," said MedStar Washington Hospital Center in a statement. "He is now listed in fair condition and is beginning an extended period of healing and rehabilitation."

Three others were shot in addition to Scalise. The shooting was allegedly carried out by James T. Hodgkinson, who was later killed by police.

Upon Scalise's arrival at the hospital last week, "he was in critical condition with an imminent risk of death," said Dr. Jack Sava, the director of trauma at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, at a press conference Friday.

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Wednesday
Jun212017

Trump traveling to Iowa for campaign-style rally

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump will head to Iowa Wednesday for the first time since being sworn into office for a series of official events followed by a campaign-style rally.

Trump’s last trip to Iowa was in January as part of his “thank you” tour after the election in which he won Iowa with over 51 percent of the state's vote.

Upon his arrival in Cedar Rapids, Trump, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will appear at Kirkwood Community College. There they will tour the largest two-year agriculture program in the country, and Trump will give remarks. The event is part of the administration’s "tech week."

The president will then hold a "Make America Great Again" rally at Cedar Rapids’ U.S. Cellular Center. This is Trump’s first rally since late April, when he held a similar program in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The rally was originally planned for June 1 but was postponed because of an “unforeseen change” in the president’s schedule.

Past rallies have led to conflict between Trump supporters and protesters; in March, eight protesters were arrested during a rally in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Wednesday
Jun212017

Handel to make Georgia history as its first GOP congresswoman

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Republican Karen Handel, who won a special congressional election in Georgia on Tuesday to replace the vacated seat of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, will make history as the state's first GOP congresswoman.

Acknowledging the historic moment while giving her victory speech in Georgia on Tuesday, she said: "Tonight reminds me, anything is possible."

In her speech, Handel discussed what she felt she owed the voters, including "the obligation of being the first Republican woman elected to Congress from the great state of Georgia."

Handel will be the only woman in the current 16-member Georgia congressional delegation, and the seventh woman ever sent to Congress from the state.

The last woman elected to the Senate or House of Representatives from Georgia was Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who served from 2005-2007.

While women account for just over half of the American population, they make up less one-fifth of Congress, according to the Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University.

With the addition of Handel, there will be 105 women representatives in Congress, accounting for 19.6 percent of overall members, according to the center's data. Of those 105, 21 women are senators and 84 including Handel are representatives.

The organization congratulated Handel via Twitter after the win, but noted that there was still "more work to do."

Despite the large imbalance between men and women, Congress has the highest number of women representatives in history.

The Democratic Party retains a comparative edge in the number of its members who are women, with 78 in Congress. Conversely, there will now be 27 Republican women in Congress.

Two states, Mississippi and Vermont, have never sent a woman to Congress, according to CAWP's numbers.

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Wednesday
Jun212017

Republicans react to Handel's 'great' Georgia win

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff on Tuesday in Georgia's special election for its sixth congressional seat, making history as the first GOP Congresswoman to ever be elected in the state.

Fellow Republicans were quick to comment on the result, congratulating Handel for winning what became the most expensive House race in history.

House Speaker Paul Ryan:

"Congratulations to Karen Handel on a hard-earned and well-deserved victory. Democrats from coast to coast threw everything they had at this race, and Karen would not be defeated," a statement from Ryan's office read. "The people of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District are the big winners tonight because they have elected a representative who is going to tirelessly fight for them and their interests."

Vice President Mike Pence:

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal:

Eric Trump:

Rep. Robert Aderholt:

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant:

Sen. Orrin Hatch:

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Wednesday
Jun212017

Trump on Handel's win: 'Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump was quick to react to Karen Handel's win in Tuesday's special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, writing a series of tweets after it appeared she was slated to beat Democrat Jon Ossoff.

"Things are looking great for Karen H!" tweeted Trump at 10:21 p.m.

The president then proceeded to give Fox News a shout-out for a congratulatory headline.

"Thank you @FoxNews 'Huge win for President Trump and GOP in Georgia Congressional Special Election," Trump wrote.

The commander-in-chief then posted a third tweet, writing "Congratulations to Karen Handel on her big win in Georgia 6th. Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!"

Trump kicked off Tuesday tweeting his support for Handel -- whom he described as a "hard worker" -- while slamming Ossoff as a candidate who would raise taxes and be weak on crime.

"Democrat Jon Ossoff, who wants to raise your taxes to the highest level and is weak on crime and security, doesn't even live in district," Trump tweeted at 5:49 a.m.

Thirteen minutes later, he followed up with a tweet supporting Handel.

"KAREN HANDEL FOR CONGRESS," he wrote. "She will fight for lower taxes, great healthcare strong security-a hard worker who will never give up! VOTE TODAY."

And in a nod to the special election in South Carolina -- in which Republican Ralph Norman won -- Trump tweeted, "Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0."

And on Monday, in a nod to the special elections in Georgia and South Carolina, Trump urged residents in those states to vote for the Republican candidate.

"Big day tomorrow in Georgia and South Carolina," he wrote. "ObamaCare is dead. Dems want to raise taxes big! They can only obstruct, no ideas. Vote 'R.'"

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Wednesday
Jun212017

Republican Karen Handel defends district in Georgia special election

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Fending off a serious Democratic challenger in a race widely viewed as a barometer of public opinion on President Donald Trump's presidency, Republican Karen Handel won the special election Tuesday to succeed Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price in Georgia's sixth congressional district.

At 11:31 p.m., the office of the Georgia Secretary of State confirmed that, with 100 percent of all precincts reporting, Handel had won by a 52.13 percent-47.87 percent margin. That translated to 132,459 votes for Handel, and 121,635 votes for Ossoff.

President Trump was quick to react to Handel's win, tweeting, "Things are looking great for Karen H!"

And House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said in a statement, "Congratulations to Karen Handel on a hard-earned and well-deserved victory. Democrats from coast to coast threw everything they had at this race, and Karen would not be defeated. The people of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District are the big winners tonight because they have elected a representative who is going to tirelessly fight for them and their interests."

Ryan continued, "Karen is all business. I’ve campaigned with her and I know how eager she is to get to work. I’m excited to have her as a partner in the House of Representatives, and I look forward to working with her as we tackle our country’s most pressing problems."

Meanwhile, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a rising star in the Democratic party who supported Nancy Pelosi's challenger in the race to lead House Democrats after the election, says the result of Tuesday's special election is a sign that "business as usual isn't working ... Time to stop rehashing 2016 and talk about the future."

At her victory celebration, Handel thanked her supporters and President Trump.

"A special thanks to the president of the United States of America," she said as her supporters chanted, "Trump! Trump! Trump!"

Handel also assured Ossoff's supporters that she will represent them. She preached a message of unity, saying, "we are part of one community, the community of the sixth district."

She also referenced her perseverance in the business and political worlds.

"It's that fighting spirit, that perseverance and tenacity that I will take to Washington," she said Tuesday night.

And in a nod to last week's shooting in Alexandria, Handel said politics has become too embittered.

"My pledge is to be part of the solution, to focus on governing," she said.

Handel told her crowd of supporters that she plans to work on tax reform with lower corporate rates, "but also lower individual rates so that our middle class can participate and our small businesses can participate."

Ossoff expressed a hopeful sentiment in the moments following his loss, while speaking to his supporters, whom he described as a "beacon of hope."

He also thanked supporters for a "hard fought" race, saying that while the outcome was not the one "many of us were hoping for," the race was is "the beginning of something much bigger than us ... the fight goes on." He closed by thanking his fiance and saying that "Hope is still alive."

Handel's defense of the district, occupying the affluent suburbs north of Atlanta, comes as a blow to Ossoff, who raised over $20 million for the race after finishing less than two percentage points shy of achieving a majority and winning the seat outright during the first round of voting April.

Democrats nationwide viewed the special election as an opportunity to mobilize anti-Trump sentiment early in the president's tenure. Though two previous opportunities to flip house seats in special elections in Kansas and Montana fell short this year, Georgia's sixth was thought to be within reach after Hillary Clinton nearly turned the district blue in November.

Clinton fell short of Trump by less than two percentage points in the presidential election, four years after Republican Mitt Romney triumphed over President Barack Obama by a 61-38 percent margin in 2012. No Democrat has represented the district in Congress since 1979.

Donors from across the country showed an outpouring of support for the photogenic 30-year-old Ossoff in his first political race, banking on an influx of younger voters and the changing demographics of the region to carry the documentary film producer to Washington.

The widespread external interest in the candidate -- who lives beyond the borders of the sixth himself -- became a point of contention for Republicans, who decried that over 95 percent of his donations came from outside Georgia. The race ultimately became the most expensive congressional election in U.S. history.

Handel, 55, a former Georgia secretary of state, won the election after falling short in Republican primaries for governor and U.S. senator in 2010 and 2014, respectively. After receiving nearly 20 percent of the vote to finish a distant second to Ossoff in April's jungle primary -- the top finisher in a field of 11 Republicans -- Handel received the backing of the White House, with Trump attending an Atlanta fundraiser in late April and tweeting his support in recent days.

Fundraising for the Republican paled in comparison to the Democrat's total, but Handel was boosted heavily by outside groups. Super PACs and the National Republican Congressional Committee contributed a combined $18.2 million to defend the seat once occupied by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson.

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Wednesday
Jun212017

Rep. Kinzinger shares 'hateful' messages he received after Alexandria shooting

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Illinois Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger shared on Tuesday a few of the "hateful, vitriolic" messages he received following the June 14 congressional baseball practice shooting at a Virginia park that left his GOP colleague Rep. Steve Scalise in critical condition.

The House Majority Whip's condition has since been upgraded to serious.

Kinzinger, who serves Illinois' 16th Congressional District, posted on Facebook some messages he said he received from the public, writing, "We must rise above the angry rhetoric coming from all sides. Below are just a few of the hateful, vitriolic messages I received AFTER the #AlexandriaShooting. I know this is not the worst of it, and that I’ll get even more comments on this post itself, but it’s shocking and disturbing nonetheless."

Some messages he shared unabashedly embraced violence, while others were a bit tamer.

One tweet, making reference to the shooting taking place at a baseball diamond, reads, "@RepKinzinger Too bad you weren't on second base!!"

Another tweet reads, "GOP IS NASTY VIOLENT PARTY; YOU DESERVE TO SUFFER & DIE!"

"You and GOP responsible for vile/violent actions since you are not working for the people," reads one of the tamer tweets Kinzinger posted.

Another message reads, "I hate you. I want to vote you out of office. That doesn't make me bad. It makes me quite smart."

"For the sake of our democracy, for the sake of future generations watching, listening, and reading these comments, we must do better to restore our civility," wrote Kinzinger, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, adding that he is also looking inward, as well. "As I said last week, that includes me -– I am committed to changing my tone and will encourage others in debate to disagree without being disagreeable. It’s time to #RestoreCivility."

Following the shooting in Alexandria by gunman James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois -- who was killed in a shootout with police -- Kinzinger said in a statement, "What happened today was a targeted act of senseless violence from a disturbed individual. This hate will not divide us; it will unite us."

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Tuesday
Jun202017

Trump calls Otto Warmbier’s death ‘disgrace,’ says he should have been rescued from North Korea sooner

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump called the death of Otto Warmbier, American student freed from North Korea, a “disgrace,” Tuesday.

“I think it’s a disgrace what happened to Otto,” Trump said during a pool spray alongside Ukraine’s president, adding that Warmbier should have been brought home sooner.

Many other politicians and public figures have also expressed dismay and outrage.

Warmbier, 22, passed away just days after he was returned home, following 17 months of detainment in North Korea. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center examined Warmbier last week upon his return to Ohio and reported that he had severe brain damage and was in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness."

"It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died," his parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier wrote Monday.

"Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible."

The family added that they are also "at peace" and "at home."

Many politicians and public figures have responded to his parents’ announcement, offering their sympathies and condemning the actions of North Korea.

President Trump offered his “deepest” condolences to the family and condemned the “brutality” of the North Korean regime Monday. In comments at the start of a meeting with top tech CEOs.

"A lot of bad things happened but at least we got him home to be with his parents," Trump said. "It’s a brutal regime and we’ll be able to handle it."

In an interview with CBS News, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that while it’s not clear if North Korea killed Warmbier, they have "heavy responsibility."

"This had happened while Mr. Warmbier was in the detention of North Korean authorities," Moon Jae-in said Tuesday. "But I believe it is quite clear that they have a heavy responsibility in the process that led to Mr. Warmbier’s death."

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., took a different approach to the news, calling for a tourist travel ban to North Korea.

"Travel propaganda lures far too many people to North Korea," Royce said. "The United States should ban tourist travel to North Korea."

Reactions from politicians came quickly. Secretary Tillerson said in a statement that the U.S. holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier’s "unjust imprisonment."

Vice President Pence


Sen. John McCain


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

 


Sen. Marco Rubio


The University of Virginia, the school Warmbier attended and would have graduated from this May, issued a statement Monday.

"It is with great sadness that we learned of Otto’s passing this afternoon," University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family and friends during what has been an incredibly difficult time. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him."

Gov. of Ohio John Kasich


Lt. Governor Ralph Northam

 

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Tuesday
Jun202017

Majority of Americans from both parties believe Comey more than Trump, CBS poll finds

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump’s approval rating has fallen to 36 percent, according to a new poll from CBS News. Americans from both parties question his response to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and 57 percent are more inclined to believe former FBI Director James Comey than the commander-in-chief, the poll found.

The poll was conducted via landlines and cell phones from June 15 to June 18, with a random sample of 1,117 adults from around the country. The results have a margin of error of 4 percent.

This approval rating is the lowest recorded in CBS News Polls since he became president. Past CBS polling showed that Trump had a 39 percent approval rating when he took office in January and a 43 percent approval rating in April.

Only 9 percent of Democrats now approve of Trump, a number that has dropped one percentage point since Trump passed the 100-day mark in April.

The president has also lost ground in this own party: 72 percent of Republicans approve of Trump now, as compared to 83 percent at the 100-day mark, a notable eleven percent drop.

According to Gallup data, President Obama’s lowest approval rate among his own party during his eight years in office was also 72 percent, three years into his presidency in October 2011.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll about Trump’s first 100 days released in April showed a 53 percent disapproval, 42 percent approval rate.

The CBS poll found that 63 percent of Americans disapprove of how Trump has handled the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. A vast majority of Americans from both parties -- 81 percent -- think Trump should not try to stop Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and 56 percent of respondents said they think the investigation will be impartial.

Only one out of every five Republicans believe the investigation is a critical security matter, and more than half think the investigations are a political distraction. But on the other side of the aisle, only 32 percent see the investigations as a distraction, while 27 percent see it was a serious issue, and 39 percent view it as a critical issue of national security.

When it comes to Trump’s handling of the investigation into Russian interference, 60 percent of the those polled said it does not affect their view of him, while 35 percent of Americans said they it makes them think worse of him, according to CBS. Trump's response to the investigation has a greater effect than his stance on the economy or his response to the recent Congressional shooting in Virginia.

The percentage of those polled who now believe that Russia interfered in the 2016 election increased four points, from 40 percent in March to 44 percent in June, according to CBS. Now, 31 percent of people think there was no Russian interference, down from 37 percent. 18 percent of Americans think Russia did interfere, but not in Trump’s favor, up from 10 percent in the March poll.

Nearly two-thirds of the people surveyed by CBS agree that Trump is more interested in protecting himself than protecting the U.S. from Russian interference, which only 30 percent believe he values more. This includes one-third of Republican voters who now think that Trump is prioritizing his own administration over the nation in this regard.

A majority of Americans say they believe Comey’s testimony over Trump’s statements, with 57 percent believing Comey and 31 percent believing Trump. Of those who identify as Republican, 24 percent believe Comey and 64 percent believe the president more. That credibility gap is much more pronounced among Democrats: 84 percent believe Comey and only 8 percent believe Trump. Most people polled by CBS think something improper occurred during Trump's meetings with Comey, but only a little more than one in four people think what happened was illegal.

A large majority -- 71 percent of people -- believe that Trump is criticized more than other recent presidents, but 50 percent say that criticism doesn't affect their view of him. When looking only at Republicans, 85 percent think he is critiqued more than previous presidents, and 34 percent are more likely to support him as a result. Some 65 percent of Democrats think Trump is criticized more than other recent presidents, and 44 percent believe that this makes them more likely to question him.

In the same poll, Americans were asked about their views of the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act, or Obamacare.

According to CBS, Congress is not doing much better in the eyes of its constituents: the majority of Americans would like more transparency about Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Healthcare Act, and hold negative views overall of the capabilities of both parties.

Overall, 73 percent of those polled -- 56 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats -- think that Senate Republicans should discuss their plan publicly as they develop the bill. Some 41 percent of Republicans think the plans should be discussed privately, compared to 18 percent of Democrats. Only 23 percent of Americans polled by CBS think they have a good understanding of what the Republican healthcare plan will do.

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Tuesday
Jun202017

Sen. Al Franken: 'I don't want to be president'

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “A wise man once said that healthcare is complicated. And of course, that wise man was quoting President Trump.”

Appearing Tuesday on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast, Sen. Al Franken didn’t pull any punches during a wide-ranging interview that covered health care, the special counsel’s investigation and his potential political ambitions. “This is a sham,” said the Minnesota Democrat, in regards to Senate Republicans’ attempts to pass their version of the American Health Care Act. “It's not just Democrats that haven't seen this. Most Republicans haven't seen it either.”

Ever the comedian, the former "Saturday Night Live" cast member then jabbed President Trump and House Republicans for their post-AHCA passage celebration in the White House Rose Garden last month, calling it, sardonically, the “unprecedented celebrating of one house passing a bill.”

While Franken has always embraced humor, he has been reluctant to reveal his funny side in the Senate. But after he secured re-election by a big margin, jokes worked themselves back into his repertoire. “So now I'm a workhorse, but I'm a workhorse that allows myself to be funny too,” Franken said.

Regarding the ongoing investigations into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, Franken said “All the Trump people are acting in a way that -- they aren't acting like people who have nothing to hide.”

Not resisting a joke, he added, “There are some very suspicious things there and we may get to the point where we're asking what did the President know, and when did his son-in-law tell him?”

Franken’s name has been (seriously) floated as a potential challenger for the presidency in 2020. But when asked on Tuesday to respond to speculation in Washington fashion, the Senator shot down rumors.

In the cliché answer -– the senator displayed classic Washington-speak, “Right now, what I am doing and what I enjoy doing more than anything in the world is serving the people of my state. And I can't even think about what's going on that far into the future, but I certainly have no intention, no plans to run. Yeah, I have no plans."

"Scratch the intention thing," said Franken. "I didn't know what I was saying. I have no plans to run for president in 2020," said Franken.

Then, when given the opportunity to provide a more honest assessment of his political future, Franken laughed and said, “I don't want to be president. It looks like it's too much work, it's too hard. I've seen what the presidency is from a little closer than I thought I'd ever see it when I was a comedian. And it is an incredibly demanding job.”

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