Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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As president, Donald Trump plans to wind down funding to NASA's earth science division, which leads federal climate change research that has been heralded scientific community, a Trump advisor told the Guardian in a report published Wednesday.

The advisor, Bob Walker, said that the research "has been heavily politicized" and "Mr. Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.” He said NASA funding will instead shift to deep space exploration, as Trump campaigned on exploring the entirety of the solar system by the end of the century, according to the Guardian.

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The Donald J. Trump Foundation received $150,000 from a Ukrainian oligarch in exchange for a video-speech Trump gave at a conference while he was a presidential candidate in 2015. The Washington Post and BuzzFeed reported the contribution Tuesday based on foundation tax forms that were made public this week.

The transaction appears to be similar to earlier donations the foundation received that had raised concerns among charity law experts, who say the payments should be taxed like personal income for Trump rather than treated as tax-exempt contributions to a nonprofit.

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The Donald J. Trump Foundation acknowledged that it had violated the so-called "self-dealing" ban in charity law -- referring to the use of a charity's money for an principle's own personal benefit -- on an IRS form that has been posted publicly, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

On the IRS Form 990 for the 2015 tax year, the foundation marked "yes" on a question regarding whether a disqualified person -- meaning someone with a position of influence within the charity -- had benefited from the foundation's income or assets. The form 990 is the tax return that tax-exempt organizations file. It was posted to the charity watchdog website GuideStar Monday evening. It is unclear whether the form had been submitted to the IRS, the Washington Post said.

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A procedural step taken by the House GOP in its lawsuit targeting Obamacare is an early but revealing signal of the choices congressional Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump will face in repealing the Affordable Care Act.

House Republicans led by Speaker Paul Ryan filed a court document Monday evening asking an appeals court to pause the proceedings in the case, known as House v. Burwell. A senior GOP aide said the move was made to give the new administration the opportunity to weigh how to handle the lawsuit. What happens next (assuming the court grants Republicans the delay) could be an important indication of how the Trump administration and his congressional counterparts will work together moving forward on the larger repeal effort, and whether they are willing to wreak chaos on consumers in order to dismantle Obamacare.

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach -- a far-right Republican known for championing anti-immigration measures and voting restrictions -- was photographed with President-elect Donald Trump Sunday holding Kobach's "strategic plan" for the Department of Homeland Security, the Topeka-Capital Journal reported. The plan appears from the photograph to include some of Kobach's most extreme anti-immigration proposals and even alludes to election law, another area where the secretary of state is known for taking hard right positions.

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The announcement that Donald Trump will nominate Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be his attorney general has produced a panic among civil rights groups.

The NAACP called his selection “deeply troubling” and said Sessions “supports an old, ugly history where Civil Rights were not regarded as core American values.” The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said Sessions had “no place leading our nation’s enforcement of civil rights and voting rights laws.” The NAACP-Legal Defense Fund said it was “unimaginable that he could be entrusted to serve as the chief law enforcement officer for this nation's civil rights laws.”

Of particular concern is Sessions’ history on voting rights, which the Leadership Conference described as a “record of hostility.” Over the course of 30 years, Sessions has shown a skepticism toward the Voting Rights Act, while being quick to inflame concerns over alleged election fraud. With Sessions at the helm of the Department of Justice, its recent efforts to curb discriminatory voting restrictions look to be very much in jeopardy.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the Democrat who will become the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, warned in a statement Wednesday that Democrats will "scrutinize" President-elect Donald Trump's judiciary nominees and won't forget how President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee was blocked by Senate Republicans.

"After the unprecedented and disrespectful treatment of Merrick Garland—a moderate judge who should have been quickly confirmed—the committee will pay very close attention to proposed nominees to ensure the fundamental constitutional rights of Americans are protected," Feinstein said.

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The federal judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University -- whom President-elect Donald Trump smeared during the GOP primary -- said Wednesday in court documents that comments made by Trump, including those on the campaign trail, would not be automatically excluded as evidence in the case.

Trump's attorneys last month asked that "Statements by or about Mr. Trump made or publicized during the campaign or otherwise outside of the adjudicative process" be inadmissible as evidence in the trial. They included in that category tweets and stump speeches, as well as comments made by his campaign surrogates. Additionally, they asked that "Comments about this case or the Court" be not considered in the case.

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When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), within a few hours of Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death in February, declared that his seat should remain open for the next president to fill, no matter whom President Obama nominated, many were quick to cry foul.

Democrats argued that the GOP, yet again, was proving to be the party of obstructionism, and the voters would punish Republicans for the unprecedented gambit. Legal observers, including some conservatives, fretted over the constitutional norms that were being shattered with the move, along with its political wisdom. Some Republicans even signaled their discomfort with the stance, particularly after Obama nominated a 63-year-old moderate who, they argued, would be better for them than whatever young liberal a President Clinton could be expected to nominate.

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With Tuesday’s election of Donald Trump, the great white whale that animated conservative politics for the last half-decade is in Republicans’ sights. Come 2017, with control of the White House and both chambers, the GOP will have the votes for a major gutting of Obamacare, if not a full-scale repeal.

The question is how they’ll go after it and whether the policy and political complexity of dismantling the Affordable Care Act -- even with broad GOP control of Washington -- will still complicate Republicans' path along the way.

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