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Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
The shooting at a congressional baseball practice that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and others seriously injured last week has been injected into the special U.S. House election in Georgia, just days before voters head to the polls Tuesday.
Both candidates Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel have condemned a conservative political action committee’s new TV ad that attempts to tie Ossoff to the shooting, in which a gunman shot five people before being shot himself by police.
“A man is fighting for his life in the hospital right now and it’s shameful to politicize it,” Ossoff said in a statement. “Republicans and Democrats have come together over this national tragedy, and Congressional leadership and Karen Handel should immediately disown this ad and call for it to be pulled from TV.”
While the Handel campaign condemned the ad in a statement, it did not explicitly call for the spot to be taken down.
“The video is disturbing and disgusting,” Handel spokeswoman Kate Constantini said in a statement. “For any group to use the shootings this week for political or personal benefit is shameful. This group should be ashamed.”
The ad from the conservative Principled PAC opens with footage from last week’s shooting.
“The unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans,” the narrator says.
“When will it stop?” the narrator asks. “It won’t if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday. Because the same unhinged leftists cheering last week’s shooting are all backing Jon Ossoff.”
The ad also links Ossoff to Kathy Griffin and Nancy Pelosi, two figures that have been featured in several Republican attacks on the Democratic candidate.
The Republican party chair in Georgia’s 11th district, which neighbors the 6th district in which Ossoff and Handel are running, told the Washington Post that he thinks the shooting will help Republicans win the tight race.
“I’ll tell you what: I think the shooting is going to win this election for us,” District 11 chair Brad Carver said on Saturday. “Because moderates and independents in this district are tired of left-wing extremism. I get that there’s extremists on both sides, but we are not seeing them. We’re seeing absolute resistance to everything this president does. Moderates and independents out there want to give him a chance. Democrats have never given this president a chance.”
In an interview that aired on Sunday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the outgoing House Oversight Committee chair, complained that the Trump administration has been worse than the Obama administration when it comes to fulfilling oversight requests from Congress.
“The reality is, sadly, I don’t see much difference between the Trump administration and the Obama administration. I thought these floodgates would open up with all the documents we wanted from the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Pentagon,” Chaffetz told Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Sharyl Attkisson.
“In many ways, it’s almost worse because we’re getting nothing, and that’s terribly frustrating and, with all due respect, the attorney general has not changed at all,” the congressman continued. “I find him to be worse than what I saw with Loretta Lynch in terms of releasing documents and making things available. I just, that’s my experience, and that’s not what I expected.”
Chaffetz said that he had not been able to obtain any new documents pertaining to the Hillary Clinton email probe or Fast and Furious.
“We tried to issue subpoenas. We tried to hold people in contempt and the Obama administration said ‘no,’ and the Trump administration came in and did zero. Nothing. Nothing changed,” he told Attkisson.
The congressman, who will leave Congress on June 30, also lamented that Republicans are not interested in their oversight role in Congress.
“The reality is, there aren’t very many people that want to play offense. There aren’t that many who say, ‘Look we have a duty and an obligation to fulfill the oversight responsibility that was put in place at the very founding of our country,'” he said.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has withdrawn from consideration for an assistant secretary position at the Department of Homeland Security.
“Late Friday, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. formally notified Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly that he had rescinded his acceptance of the agency’s offer to join DHS as an assistant secretary,” Craig Peterson, spokesman for Clarke, told the Washington Post on Saturday. “Sheriff Clarke is 100 percent committed to the success of President Trump and believes his skills could be better utilized to promote the president’s agenda in a more aggressive role.”
Clarke said in May that he had accepted a position at DHS, but nobody in the federal government ever confirmed his hiring, as Buzzfeed News noted.
The sheriff had been set to start at DHS at the end of June, but his appointment faced delays, the Washington Post reported, citing an unnamed person close to the Trump administration. A DHS spokesman confirmed to CNN that Clarke is no longer under consideration for a job at DHS.
Since Clarke announced that he had accepted a position in May, he has faced accusations of plagiarism.
The sheriff also has run into legal trouble for the way he has run the prisons in Milwaukee County. In early May, an inquest jury recommended charges against Clarke after an inmate died of dehydration when prison officials cut off his access to water for a week. Another inmate sued Clarke earlier this year for keeping her shackled during childbirth in 2013.
Kushner is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed White House official. The official told the Journal that Kushner and these leaders will talk about “their priorities and potential next steps.”
Jason Greenblatt, the Trump administration’s top official in charge of Israeli-Palestinian peace, will travel to the region on Monday, and Kushner will join on Wednesday, according to the Journal.
Kushner’s trip to the Middle East follows reports that federal investigators are looking into Kushner’s finances as part of the Russia probe.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a watchdog agency in the federal government that monitors civil rights law enforcement, announced on Friday that it would launch a two-year assessment of the executive branch.
The commission warned that budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration could lead to a “dangerous reduction” in civil rights law enforcement.
“The Commission, by majority vote, expresses concern with the Administration’s proposed budget cuts to and planned staff losses in numerous programs and civil rights offices across the federal government that enforce our nation’s federal civil rights laws,” the commission said in a statement. “Along with changing programmatic priorities, these proposed cuts would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination.”
The assessment will look at whether the federal government will be able to properly enforce civil rights law with budget cuts and whether the “management practices” in place in the federal government are sufficient. The commission cited specific actions from federal government agencies that caused concern.
The commission noted that the Justice Department decided to place Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in courthouses, arguing it could be a “dangerous impediment to access to justice .” The commission also said the DOJ did not note the need to protect LGBT people and those with disabilities in its priorities for civil rights division.
The commission expressed concern about staff reductions in the civil rights offices at the Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as about changes at other agencies.
“For 60 years, Congress has charged the commission to monitor federal civil rights enforcement and recommend necessary change. We take this charge seriously, and we look forward to reporting our findings to Congress, the President, and the American people,” Commission Chair Catharine Lhamon said in a statement.
President Donald Trump continued to fume this week over the continued attention paid to the Russia probes, especially following a report that he’s now under investigation for potential obstruction of justice.
The President has been yelling at the television, according to the Associated Press:
Trump advisers and confidants describe the president as increasingly angry over the investigation, yelling at television sets in the White House carrying coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy to discredit — and potentially end — his presidency.
He has also started to direct some of his anger at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, according to the AP and the New York Times. The Times reported:
Inside the White House, those close to the president say he has continued to fume about the actions of Justice Department officials, his anger focused mostly on Mr. Rosenstein for appointing Mr. Mueller and on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime political ally whose decision to recuse himself from the Russia case in March enraged Mr. Trump.
Trump’s frustration with Rosenstein spilled into the public sphere on Friday morning with a series of tweets about the Russia probe, one of which appeared to be aimed at Rosenstein.
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
President Donald Trump has hired another attorney to join his outside legal team as he faces a special counsel investigation, according to reports from Reuters, Politico, and CNN.
John Dowd, a veteran Washington, D.C. lawyer, will join Trump’s legal team run by Marc Kasowitz, a longtime attorney for Trump.
Dowd led the Major League Baseball investigation into Pete Rose and represented Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on the congressional ethics charges in the “Keating Five” probe.
Trump has added lawyers to his outside legal team as the Russia investigations heat up. The Washington Post reported this week that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct justice, and Trump appeared to confirm that in a Friday tweet.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday night issued an odd statement warning Americans against trusting news stories that cite “anonymous ‘officials.'”
It was not immediately clear what stories Rosenstein was referring to in the cryptic statement, but it followed several Thursday evening reports about the status of the investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives.
“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations,” he said in the statement. “The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”
Rosenstein’s statement echoed President Donald Trump’s attempts to delegitimize news stories about his administration, albeit with a more measured approach. Trump constantly blasts “fake news,” while Rosenstein issued a warning about anonymous sourcing.
An anonymous Justice Department official told a CNN reporter Friday morning that Trump did not order Rosenstein to issue the statement on anonymous sources.
A Justice official says the White House didn't order Rosenstein's statement. @evanperez
A Washington Post report that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking at Jared Kushner’s finances cited anonymous sources, but described them as U.S. officials. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Mueller is investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct justice, citing unnamed “officials.”
However, Trump appeared to confirm himself on Friday morning that he is under investigation by the FBI.
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
Trump has tweeted about the Russia probes or lashed out at the media three out of the five business days this week, suggesting that the President has become frustrated with the attention paid to the Russia probes. Often early in the morning, Trump uses Twitter to declare that his campaign did not collude with Russia and to try to delegitimize the “Fake News” that’s reporting on the investigations.
His Friday morning tweets followed two reports that hint at the progress the Russia probes are making. The Washington Post reported that the special counsel’s investigation is looking at Jared Kushner’s finances. And a memo obtained by the New York Times and Politico revealed that the Trump transition team has been ordered to preserve documents related to Russia for the probes into election meddling.