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Trump threatens veto as House Dems ready sweeping campaign finance, ethics package

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Trump threatens veto as House Dems ready sweeping campaign finance, ethics package

House Democrats are preparing to vote Friday on a sweeping ethics and campaign finance reform package known as the For the People Act, and in response the White House issued its second veto threat of the year on Tuesday, calling the proposal a reckless move that would increase opportunities for rampant voter fraud and chill free speech.

The bill, known as H.R. 1, purportedly aims to eliminate “culture of corruption in Washington” and to reduce the role of money in politics. It would make it easier for citizens to register and vote, tighten election security, and establish a small-donor public matching system in congressional elections.

In a direct shot at Trump, the bill would require presidents to release at least 10 years’ worth of tax returns. The bill also would ban executive-branch officials from lobbying their old agency for two years after they leave government, and reauthorize and enhance the Office of Government Ethics, which has clashed with Trump.

Additionally, the Act would require groups like the Chamber of Commerce that spend more than $10,000 on political messaging to disclose the identity of their contributors who gave more than $10,000 — prompting several business groups to raise concerns about their ability to communicate with politicians.

HOUSE DEMS RAMP UP EFFORT TO GET TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS, SETTING UP SEPARATION-OF-POWERS SHOWDOWN

“The $10,000 donor threshold appears designed to target business organizations while largely sparing labor organizations from disclosure of their funding sources, which are typically union dues that are far less than $10,000,”  Neil Bradley, the executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business lobbying group, told reporters on Tuesday.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and House Democrats, now in the majority, unveil a comprehensive elections and ethics reform package that targets what they call a "culture of corruption in Washington" and aims to reduce the role of money in politics, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. She is joined from left by Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and House Democrats, now in the majority, unveil a comprehensive elections and ethics reform package that targets what they call a “culture of corruption in Washington” and aims to reduce the role of money in politics, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. She is joined from left by Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has long pronounced the reform measure dead on arrival in the Senate, where it faces long odds. And the White House, which has already vowed to veto the ongoing effort by Congress to strike down his national emergency declaration over border wall funding, issued a statement Tuesday outlining the administration’s problems with the legislation.

“If H.R. 1 were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend he veto the bill,” the statement flatly concluded. Trump has not yet vetoed any legislation.

One of the measure’s most notable provisions would restore protections included in the 1965 Voting Rights Act and guard against efforts by state officials to purge voting rolls.

OCASIO-CORTEZ, WHO CRITICIZES ‘DARK MONEY’ IN POLITICS, HIT WITH FEC COMPLAINT OVER UNUSUAL CAMPAIGN FINANCE SET-UP

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a veteran of the civil rights movement, called voting “the most powerful, non-violent instrument of transformation we have in our democracy,” and said efforts to make it easier to vote — not harder — were crucial. “I truly believe deep in my heart that the way votes were not counted and purged in Georgia and Florida and other states changed the outcome of the last election” to harm Democrats, Lewis said. “That must never happen again.”

“If H.R. 1 were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend he veto the bill.”

— White House statement

However, the White House said it saw that provision as an invitation to voter fraud.

“H.R. 1 would prohibit commonsense efforts to clean up voting-rolls to limit opportunities for voting fraud,” the White House said. “The bill would also require States to adopt online registration, same-day registration, and automatic voter registration, thus imposing a one-size-fits-all standard for weighing the competing values of voter access and voting integrity.”

The White House statement continued: “Furthermore, H.R. 1 would enhance the powers of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Chairman and reduce the number of FEC members from six to five, thus increasing the chances that the FEC becomes a partisan entity with undue power to shape and regulate elections nationwide.”

Other objections raised by the Trump administration centered on the bill’s advance of political redistricting mandates, as well as its possible effects on First Amendment rights.

In a move designed to reduce partisan gerrymandering, the bill calls for states to establish independent redistricting commissions to draw boundaries for future congressional districts.

“The legislation would force States to create unelected bodies and then delegate redistricting decisions to them,” the White House’s statement said in response. “This would suppress the voices of our Nation’s citizens and cut off a nationwide debate on how best to pursue fair and ethical redistricting processes throughout the country.”

Besides election provisions, the bill would set up a public financing system for House races and require political groups to disclose donors. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter would be required to disclose who paid for online ads, similar to existing rules for television and other media.

Actress Rosario Dawson takes part in a demonstration on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 15, 2016. The demonstration, called Democracy Spring, is advocating a set of reforms the organizers have dubbed the "democracy movement," demanding Congress amend campaign finance laws and restore the Voting Rights Act, among other actions. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Actress Rosario Dawson takes part in a demonstration on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 15, 2016. The demonstration, called Democracy Spring, is advocating a set of reforms the organizers have dubbed the “democracy movement,” demanding Congress amend campaign finance laws and restore the Voting Rights Act, among other actions. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“H.R. 1 also chills free speech by creating requirements that would limit the ability of Americans to participate in advocacy without undue compliance costs and without fear of public reprisals,” the White House countered. “The bill would establish costly and unnecessary programs to finance political campaigns, and force American taxpayers to finance Federal candidates they may not support.”

But Maryland Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes said Democrats were “responding directly to the American people and what they want to see in our democracy,” as shown by the election results in the 2018 midterms.

Calling the bill “transformative,” Sarbanes said in January it will “strengthen our democracy and return political power to the people by making it easier, not harder, to vote, ending the dominance of big money in our politics and ensuring that public officials actually serve the public.”

“You could stamp on this thing ‘McConnell-rejected,’ and it would immediately give it more credibility,” Sarbanes said. The legislation was not built for McConnell or any lawmaker, Sarbanes added: “This was built for the public.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also touted the bill, saying it would “restore integrity to government, so that people can have confidence that government works for the public interest, not the special interests.”

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On ethics, members of Congress would be barred from serving on corporate boards and could not use taxpayer dollars to settle employment discrimination cases. But the White House argued that those provisions would unnecessarily impede the work of the executive branch with burdensome regulations.

Sarbanes and other supporters said the election security measures are particularly important as the 2020 election nears.

Predicting “historic turnout” in upcoming elections, Sarbanes said officials must not only encourage increased participation, but guard against attempts at sabotage from foreign and domestic adversaries.

“If we’re not ready for that in all the ways [the legislation] seeks to ensure, then we could end up with a train wreck,” he said.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Clarence Thomas makes rare intervention during Supreme Court arguments

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Clarence Thomas makes rare intervention during Supreme Court arguments

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas surprised court watchers on Wednesday when he made a rare intervention in court arguments — asking a question in a case where a death row inmate is challenging his conviction and sentence.

Thomas, who is the only African-American and the only Southerner on the court, asked his rare question toward the end of arguments in a case involving a black Mississippi death row inmate, Curtis Flowers, who was tried six different times for the 1996 murders of four people in a furniture store.

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Flowers’ lawyers claims a white prosecutor had a history of impermissibly using jury strikes to exclude African-Americans from the jury.

The Associated Press reported that a clear majority of the court appeared “troubled” by the actions of the prosecutor — District Attorney Doug Evans — in the prosecution of Flowers.

Thomas asked if Flowers’ lawyers in the case had made similar decisions, and the race of any struck jurors. Lawyer Sheri Lynn Johnson said three white jurors were excused by Flowers’ lawyer.

According to The Washington Post, two of Flowers’ trials were hung, and convictions in three others were overturned because of misconduct by Evans.

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But the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his 2010 conviction, despite Evans striking five of six black jurors, arguing that Evans had race-neutral reasons for the strikes.

Thomas’ last questions in a case  were in 2016, and that was his first intervention in a decade. He has said previously that he relies on the written briefs and believes his colleagues interrupt too much.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump says he doesn’t mind if public sees Mueller’s Russia probe report

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Trump says he doesn't mind if public sees Mueller's Russia probe report

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

Mueller is expected to send his report to Attorney General William Barr soon.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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Cindy McCain shares hateful message she received about her family, late husband, after latest attack from President Trump

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Cindy McCain shares hateful message she received about her family, late husband, after latest attack from President Trump

Cindy McCain shared a hateful message she received on Facebook from a stranger the same day President Donald Trump continued his attacks on her late husband, John McCain.

McCain, 64, posted a screenshot of the disgusting comment she was sent by a stranger, identified in the picture as “Tiffany Nicole.”

“I want to make sure all of you could see how kind and loving a stranger can be. I’m posting her note for her family and friends could see,” McCain wrote in a tweet accompanying the image.

The sender called McCain a vile name, labeled John McCain as “traitorous” and “warmongering.” The poster also mocked Meghan McCain’s appearance and said she hopes “The View” co-host “chokes to death.”

DONALD TRUMP’S FEUD WITH McCAIN FAMILY ESCALATES: ‘I WAS NEVER A FAN’

Just hours before McCain posted the message on Twitter, President Trump took another shot at John McCain.

“I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be,” Trump told reporters at the White House, during a meeting with Brazil’s visiting president.

The comments came after Meghan McCain, who on Monday tore into the president during an emotional segment on “The View,” went back on the offensive on social media. The 34-year-old shared a Toronto Star cartoon on Instagram showing her late father’s military medals side-by-side with a collection of pacifiers under the heading “Donald Trump.”

Later in the night, Meghan McCain responded to Trump’s most recent attacks by tweeting, “As my father always used to say to me – Illegitimi non carborundum,” which means “Don’t let the b–tards grind you down.”

MEGHAN MCCAIN SLAMS DONALD TRUMP IN EMOTIONAL ‘THE VIEW’ SEGMENT: ‘HE WILL NEVER BE A GREAT MAN’

Trump has repeatedly tweeted about John McCain in recent days, falsely claiming the late senator graduated “last in his class” at Annapolis and slamming his role in the Russia investigation.

“So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) “last in his class” (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.

On Saturday, the president responded to reports McCain and an associate had shared with the FBI and various media outlets the unverified dossier alleging that Moscow held compromising information on Trump.

“Spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier ‘is, unfortunately, a very dark stain against John McCain.’ Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel,” Trump wrote.

MEGHAN McCAIN HAS SHARP RESPONSE TO TRUMP’S JOHN MCCAIN DOSSIER TWEET

New York, NY - 2017: (L-R) Senator John McCain, Meghan McCain on 'The View', a visit for Meghan McCain's birthday, Monday, October 23, 2017. (Photo by Heidi Gutman /ABC via Getty Images)

New York, NY – 2017: (L-R) Senator John McCain, Meghan McCain on ‘The View’, a visit for Meghan McCain’s birthday, Monday, October 23, 2017. (Photo by Heidi Gutman /ABC via Getty Images)

“He had far worse ‘stains’ than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace [of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act] after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!”

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Trump has made a practice of attacking McCain, even after the former Arizona senator’s death in August of last year.

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