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Julian Castro admits Hatch Act ‘mistake,’ calls for Kellyanne Conway’s termination, in Fox News Town Hall

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Julian Castro admits Hatch Act 'mistake,' calls for Kellyanne Conway's termination, in Fox News Town Hall

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro told Fox News on Thursday night White House adviser Kellyanne Conway should be fired for violating the Hatch Act — the same federal law that Castro himself was found to have violated in 2016.

The 2020 White House contender’s remarks came in a Fox News Town Hall in Tempe, Ariz., hosted by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. Separately, the Democrat tried to defend the Hillary Clinton campaign’s decision to fund an opposition research dossier written by a British ex-spy, even as he condemned President Trump for saying this week that he would be open to opposition research from foreign actors.

Castro, who served in the Obama administration, qualified on Thursday to participate in the Democrats’ first presidential primary debate, along with more than a dozen other candidates.

But, the day also brought an unwelcome spotlight on Castro’s past. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recommended Thursday that Conway violated the Hatch Act on “numerous occasions,” and concluded that she should be removed from federal service.

FOX NEWS EXCLUSIVE: WATCHDOG DEFENDS DECISION TO CALL FOR CONWAY’S TERMINATION

The Hatch Act is a federal law that limits the political activities of certain federal employees. In 2016, “OSC concluded that Secretary Castro violated the Hatch Act by advocating for and against Presidential candidates,” the watchdog wrote in a letter to Obama. “Secretary Castro’s statements during [a televised] interview impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official agency business despite his efforts to clarify that some answers were being given in his personal capacity.”

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act, a watchdog found Thursday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act, a watchdog found Thursday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The Obama White House took no action. Castro, pressed by Baier, argued that his case was different from Conway’s.

“Instead of saying, ‘Look, I’m going to take these efforts to make sure that doesn’t happen again,'” Castro said, “she said, ‘To hell with that, I’m going to do it.'”

Castro added that Conway’s lack of remorse was disqualifying: “Because she repeatedly violated it, even though she was told it was a violation, she should be removed from office.”

Baier and MacCallum also pushed for Castro to explain his condemnation of Trump’s recent statement that he would accept foreign political opposition research if offered. In 2017, Brian Fallon, a former Clinton campaign spokesperson, told The Washington Post that foreign-generated opposition research was a normal part of the political process.

DEMS HAMMER TRUMP FOR STATEMENTS ON FOREIGN OPPO RESEARCH, STAY SILENT ON STEELE DOSSIER, UKRAINE COLLUSION

“The first I learned of Christopher Steele or saw any dossier was after the election,” Fallon said. “But if I had gotten handed it last fall, I would have had no problem passing it along and urging reporters to look into it. Opposition research happens on every campaign, and here you had probably the most shadowy guy ever running for president, and the FBI certainly has seen fit to look into it. I probably would have volunteered to go to Europe myself to try and verify if it would have helped get more of this out there before the election.”

Republicans have pressed for answers on the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC’s role in the creation of the infamous Steele dossier, written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele. The Clinton campaign and DNC, through the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, funded the dossier’s creation by a foreign national.

A key source for Steele was an ex-Russian intelligence officer, according to notes obtained by The Hill and written by Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.,” Ohr wrote.

The FBI went on to cite the dossier to obtain a secret surveillance warrant to monitor former Trump aide Carter Page. Numerous problems with the Steele dossier’s reliability have surfaced, including several issues that were brought to the FBI’s attention before it cited the dossier in its FISA application and subsequent renewals.

“Democrats and even some Republicans are criticziing the preisdent for saying he would listen to opposition research from a foreign government if it was offered,” MacCallum said, “but one of the questions from the other side that comes up, is how is that really different from the Democrats funding the Steele dossier in 2016 through a British operative that they knew had Russian sources?”

Castro deflected: “Well, first of all, I don’t think we should distract our situation from the fact that he have an unprecedented situation here, of a president of the United States, who if I remember the video correctly, was actually sitting in the Oval Office bbehind his desk saying that he would take intelligence against his political opponent from a foreign government.”

Pressed on Fallon’s remarks, Castro asserted that the situations were simply “completely different,” without explaining.

“I think it’s safe to say we have never seen that moment in American history, and I don’t think that’s a good thing,” Castro said, referring to Trump’s comments. “I don’t understand why, on this network and in many conservative circles, people are still talking about Hillary Clinton.”

Toward the end of the town hall, even as he expressed his opposition to the Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding for abortion, Castro pointedly refused to condemn Biden’s recent flip-flop on the issue.

“We’re not on the debate stage,” Castro, considered a potential vice presidential pick, responded. “The fact is, I need to introduce myself to a lot of people who don’t know who I am yet.”

Immigration also featured prominently early in the town hall, with Castro saying the issue was “personal” to him — and that Obama, his former boss, had demonstrated real “compassion on the issue.”

“I think the crisis that exists is driven by conditions in countries like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala,” Castro said. “I believe we have a crisis of leadership.”

Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

WATCH: LIBERAL POLICIES BLAMED FOR WORSENING CALIFORNIA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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