Trump signs bill to avert shutdown

The federal government avoids another shutdown–at least until December 20.

A funding bill to keep the federal government open until December 20 received President Trump’s signature Thursday, averting partial government shutdowns that would have gone into effect Friday had the bill not cleared his desk. Congress will continue negotiations in the coming weeks over how to divvy up the funds among all federal agencies and keep the government funded from December 20 until the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2020.

The bill had passed the House on Tuesday by a vote of 231-92 and cleared the Senate earlier by 74-20.

The next round of Congressional funding negotiations coincides with Congressional impeachment inquiries into Trump’s purported attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son.

Trump’s demand that Congress provide funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border also remains a major sticking point. One of the funding bills that is still under debate in Congress, a Homeland Security bill, includes $5 billion for border-wall construction. Democrats oppose the wall funding and are also seeking to block Trump from using “emergency powers” to allocate military funds toward the wall.

Democrats have insisted that none of the funding bills be finalized until there is agreement on all of them. But some Democrats have stated willingness in recent days to consider a “cromnibus” that combines new funding for most of the government along with continuing resolutions for the more controversial bills, such as Homeland Security.

“The wall I think is the major impediment. But that’s only one bill: the Department of Homeland Security,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said earlier in the week. “But it ought not to adversely affect the other 11 bills. They’re being held hostage, essentially.”

Trump calls for whistlerblower’s identity to be exposed

Trump launches an attack against the whistleblower.

Trump’s “calls to the public to identify my client by name and his suggestion that he would support acts of violence against my client are, candidly, some of the most dangerous and reckless things a President of the United States can say,” wrote attorney Andrew Bakaj.

“Let me be clear: should any harm befall any suspected named whistleblower or their family, the blame will rest squarely with your client. As a direct consequence of the President’s irresponsible rhetoric and behavior, my client’s physical safety became a significant concern, prompting us to instead state our willingness to only answer written interrogatories,” Bakaj wrote in his letter.

The whistleblower is a disgrace to our country. A disgrace. And the whistleblower, because of that, should be revealed,” Trump told reporters, adding that the lawyer should be sued “for treason.”

“Why isn’t the first whistleblower going to testify anymore?” Trump asked, referencing reports that the whistleblower won’t speak to House investigators. “Because everything he wrote in that report almost was a lie.”

The House is set to air deposition this week from a number of Trump associates, regarding the investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

President Donald Trump says additional call logs will be released

Trump digs in, hits at House Democrats.

President Donald Trump is taking aim at Democrats, saying Saturday that he plans to release additional calls made with the president of Ukraine.

“They want to have a transcript of the other call, the second call, and I’m willing to provide that,” the President told reporters Saturday before boarding Air Force One. “You’ll read the second call, and you’ll tell me if there’s anything wrong with it.”

The announcement comes as Trump said he first spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in April. Just months later the president spoke with President Zelensky again, a call that is now under the watchful eye of House Democrats, who have since launched an impeachment inquiry.

Trump’s announcement was met with skepticism from House Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff.

Schiff said on Saturday that the Intelligence Committee “is evaluating the Minority’s witness requests and will give due consideration to witnesses within the scope of the impeachment inquiry, as voted on by the House.”

Bill Maher sets Jimmy Kimmel straight on healthcare debate

Real Time host, Bill Maher, reacted to a Jimmy Kimmel monologue about Obamacare.

Real Time host, Bill Maher, reacted to a Jimmy Kimmel monologue about Obamacare.

On Monday, Kimmel, on his late night show, spoke tearfully as he revealed to his public that his newborn son had gone through a heart operation days after his birth. Kimmel took the opportunity to plead for Obamacare, which Republican leadership has been trying to repeal, to remain in place.

“If your baby’s going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make – I think that’s something whether you’re a Republican or Democrat we all agree on,” reasoned Kimmel. “We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all. Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease, like my son was, there’s a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition.

“Unfortunately that’s not true, and that needs to be said,” responded Maher. “That’s not true. One side wants to tax rich people so that babies don’t have to die, and one side is mostly against that, and this lets Republicans off the hook. Let’s not f— around with this. We are not on the same page with this. This is not a squabble where it’s just about two sides.”

Kushner family business fined for falsifying real estate paperwork

President Trump’s son-in-law and current adviser Jared Kushner Companies has been hit with $210 000 fines.

President Trump’s son-in-law and current adviser Jared Kushner Companies has been hit with $210 000 fines by New York City regulators for filing false real estate paperwork over several years.

Kushner was still at the helm of the real estate company as CEO hen the New York City Department of Building says the company routinely falsified construction applications at 17 sites.

The city’s Building Department found his company frequently under-reported, and in some cases failed to report any rent-regulated tenants living in its buildings, despite renting to hundreds of them.

It is required by law that developers are required to report the number of rent-controlled tenants they inherit when they buy properties and renovate them. The requirement is made to protect tenants from abrupt rental increases or from being driven out to make way for higher-paying tenants.

The city fined the Kushner family on Monday for 42 violations at 12 addresses between January 2013 and September 2016.

“Protecting tenants is a key part of our mission to make construction safe for all New Yorkers, and we are determined to hold landlords accountable for the accuracy of their applications – no matter who they are,” the department said in a statement emailed to NPR.

However, a spokeswoman for Kushner Company, Christine Taylor, contradicted what the city’s Building Department said.

“No fines were assessed against the company today,” Taylor said in an email to NPR.

Seven arrested over toppled statue of a Confederate soldier in North Carolina

Seven people have been arrested Saturday during fights at a University campus where protesters earlier in the week.

Seven people have been arrested Saturday during fights at a University campus where protesters earlier in the week pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier, a school official said.

The police arrested the seven in connection to the toppling of the statue and were taken into custody where most of them face assault charges, Carly Miller, a spokeswoman for the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, said in an email.

Saturday’s protest was the continuation of a larger one on Monday when about 300 demonstrators surrounded the Silent Sam memorial, which was erected in 1913 to honor soldiers of the pro-slavery Confederacy killed during the U.S. Civil War, and used ropes to pull it down.

The incident is the latest in a campaign against Civil War symbols by opponents who argue that they glorify the South’s legacy of slavery and racism. However, supporters view the memorials as emblems of American history.

A university police spokesman on Friday said three people suspected of pulling down the Silent Sam face misdemeanor charges of riot and defacing a public monument.

North Carolina law requires that the memorial be placed back on the campus within 90 days, UNC board member Tom Goolsby said in a video statement on Thursday. He added that the statue was “torn down by a violent mob.”

Trump opens the possibility of negotiating an agreement with Iran: reports

President Donald Trump on Tuesday has kept open the chances of negotiating an agreement to denuclearize Iran.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday has kept open the chances of negotiating an agreement to denuclearize Iran, just two days after he lashed out against the country on Twitter.

“We’ll see what happens, but we’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,” he said during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Iran on Monday dismissed Trump’s tweet warning that Tehran risked dire consequences “the like of which few throughout history have suffered before” if it made threats against the United States.

Defense secretary Jim Mattis, speaking at a news conference in California, declined to answer directly a question about whether he was concerned that Trump’s rhetoric might escalate tensions in the region. Mattis listed many concerns about Iranian actions in the Middle East, including Tehran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war and for Houthi militants fighting the internationally recognized government in Yemen.

“It’s time for Iran to shape up and show responsibility as a responsible nation. It cannot continue to show irresponsibility as a revolutionary organization that is intent on exporting terrorism, exporting disruption, across the region,” said Mattis, a retired Marine general.

“So I think the president was making very clear that they’re on the wrong track.”

Man detonates something like ‘a firecracker device’ near U.S. embassy in Beijing

A man who detonated a small explosive near the U.S. embassy in Beijing, injured only himself, officials said.

A man who detonated a small explosive near the U.S. embassy in Beijing, injured only himself, officials said.

The incident happened around 1 p.m. local time in a public space near the southeast corner of the compound, according to a statement from a spokesperson at the U.S. embassy obtained by ABC News.

“There was one individual who detonated a bomb,” the spokesperson said. “Other than the bomber, there were no injuries. The local police responded.”

Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau wrote on its official Weibo account that the 26-year-old man from Inner Mongolia detonated what authorities believed to be “a firecracker device.”

Authorities said the suspect was identified as having the last name Jiang. He’s currently receiving treatment at a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The U.S. embassy building was not damaged, the spokesperson said.

A woman who sells maps outside the embassy said she was the man detonated the bomb. “I was really scared and ran away,” said Mrs. Liu, who only provided her last name.

A young man identified as Mr. Li said he was waiting outside the embassy for a visa interview when he heard the explosion. He said it “sounded like muffled fireworks” and he thought a tire had exploded.

Senate majority leader issued strong warning to Moscow: reports

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has issued a strong warning to Moscow that more sanctions.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has issued a strong warning to Moscow that more sanctions may be in store if Russia tries interfering in U.S. elections.

“The Russians better quit messing around in our elections,” McConnell said. “They did it the last time. They better not do it again.”

McConnell’s words contradicted those of Trump eight days earlier in Helsinki during his summit with Putin where he seemed to give equal weight to the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election and Putin’s denials.

However, President Trump has backtracked on some of his remarks, but his private meeting with Putin and a subsequent invitation for him to come to Washington has made even some Republicans pushback against the president on several fronts, including relations with Russia and trade.

Republicans senators have also joined with Democrats to sponsor legislation that would impose new sanctions on Russia and GOP lawmakers on Tuesday panned the administration’s plan to provide $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by a spreading trade war as an expensive bandage on an injury created by the White House.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday said they will combine on a proposal for increased sanctions on Russia, including targeting its sovereign debt, which sent the ruble falling.

Russia yet to respond to invitation from President Trump: reports

Russia on Tuesday remained silent about whether it would accept an invitation from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Russia on Tuesday remained silent about whether it would accept an invitation from U.S. President Donald Trump to hold a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Washington later this year, citing that the two men had other chances to meet in the future.

Russia’s failure to quickly accept Trump’s invitation for a Washington summit has been noticeable. It was obvious Moscow saw the Helsinki summit between the two leaders as a success, but the fiercely negative reaction by some U.S. politicians to Trump’s performance has made Russia distance itself.

A Russian official Yuri Ushakov said that though Washington and Moscow agreed that there was a need for another Putin-Trump summit, Russia has not started any preparations for such a meeting.

“There are other options (to meet) which our leaders can look at,” Ushakov told reporters, citing a meeting of G20 leaders in Argentina which starts at the end of November.

“Maybe there will be other international events which Trump and Putin will take part in.”

Ushakov did not give reasons why it is taking Moscow longer to accept Trump’s invitation. When he was asked for details about how Trump had behaved at the Helsinki summit, he declined, citing that he does not want to add to what was an already overheated U.S. political situation.\

“After the (Helsinki) summit you know what kind of atmosphere there is around its outcome,” Ushakov told reporters. “I think it would be wise to let the dust settle and then we can discuss all these questions in a business-like way. But not now.”