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Meet some of the governors leading the charge against the Senate healthcare plan

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), left, and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) participate in a bipartisan news conference to discuss the Senate healthcare bill in Washington. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), left, and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) participate in a bipartisan news conference to discuss the Senate healthcare bill in Washington. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

In today’s political climate, it’s rare to find bipartisanship. But as President Trump calls on Senate Republicans to pass a bill in the coming weeks that would overhaul the Affordable Care Act, governors from both sides of the aisle are unified in opposition.

The Senate GOP healthcare bill would cut Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next decade, leaving millions of low-income people uninsured in states where Medicaid was expanded under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

The governors from states that took advantage of the Medicaid expansion have worked together in crafting letters, holding teleconferences with reporters and hosting private meetings with members of Congress. Some have called for no repeal, others a more measured approach. Who are they? Here’s a look:

Trump's latest tweet in media war is a literal show of mock pugilism

President Trump's tweet on Sunday used an edited version of a years-old promotional video for professional wrestling. It showed him attacking a crudely rendered stand-in for CNN. None
President Trump's tweet on Sunday used an edited version of a years-old promotional video for professional wrestling. It showed him attacking a crudely rendered stand-in for CNN.

President Trump on Sunday circulated a doctored video clip on Twitter that showed him physically attacking a crudely rendered stand-in for CNN, a post that drew rebukes from critics as an incitement to violence, but prompted renewed expressions of support from backers.

In doing so, Trump also ignored pleas to stop tweeting or at least take a more presidential tone -- from lawmakers in his own party -- after he took his war against news media to new heights last week with a coarse post on the appearance and intellect of cable television host Mika Brzezinski. On Saturday he also posted several anti-media messages as Americans began their Fourth of July celebration. 

Sunday’s tweet, which used an edited version of a years-old promotional video for professional wrestling, showed Trump, clad in a business suit and tie, administering a choreographed beat-down to a figure whose face was obscured by CNN’s logo.

CNN, which has been a particular target of the president since the network was forced to retract a story relating to an element of the sprawling investigation into possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, quickly condemned the tweet.

“It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters,” the network said in statement. It also tweeted a recent assertion by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders that Trump had never engaged in such incitement.

As is often the case, the president’s surrogates were left scrambling to explain or justify an inflammatory Twitter outburst. Homeland security advisor Thomas Bossert, who was shown the clip while appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” watched it stone-faced and then declared: “No one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t.”

The night before, Trump had used a celebration of veterans at Washington’s Kennedy Center to again denounce the news media. The president, who had briefly broken a weekend golf getaway to appear at the rally, pounded away at the theme that he is being treated unfairly.

“The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House,” he told the raucous crowd. “But I’m president, and they’re not.”

Increasing number of states reject request for personal information on voters from Trump commission

 (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

A growing number of states have rejected a request for personal information about voters from a presidential commission on vote fraud led by Kansas' controversial Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kobach, the vice chairman of the commission, sent letters to each state and Washington, D.C., asking for voters' personal information. The request asked for names, addresses, voting history and the last four digits of voters' Social Security numbers.

The commission was set up to look into voter fraud after President Trump alleged that he lost the popular vote in 2016 only because millions of people voted illegally -- a claim that numerous states' election officials from both parties and outside experts have dismissed as groundless.

As of Friday afternoon, at least 13 states had outright rejected the request from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity. Officials in several other states either said they would not supply all the information or needed more information before making a decision.

Some officials did not mince words in their "no's."

"They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great State to launch from," Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann wrote in a statement.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement that strongly criticized Kobach that he would "continue to defend the rights of all eligible voters to cast their ballots free from discrimination, intimidation or unnecessary roadblocks." 

 

As a Kansas official, Kobach has been a leading backer of immigration restrictions and of measures to put new requirements on who is allowed to vote. His opponents note that he was fined last week for misleading a federal court in a voting rights case.

Democratic elected officials in several states criticized the commission, itself, not just the information request.

"The president created his election commission based on the false notion that 'voter fraud' is a widespread issue – it is not," Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Grimes wrote.

In an odd contradiction, Kobach said that Kansas, like some other states, will partially reject at least one aspect of the request.

"In Kansas, the Social Security number is not publicly available. … Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available," he told the Kansas City Star.

The states that have fully rejected the request include California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Dakota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Mississippi and Minnesota.

Others, including Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Missouri, Kansas, Utah and Texas will turn over some of the requested information. Vermont has requested an affidavit from the commission. And Wisconsin has suggested that the commission could purchase the publicly available information, just as political campaigns do. Officials in Washington state said they were reviewing the request.

Look at possible conflicts of interest in Trump team's OneWest Bank probes, 2 Democrats urge

Protesters gather outside a OneWest Bank in Pasadena in 2014. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
Protesters gather outside a OneWest Bank in Pasadena in 2014. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Two House Democrats want Congress to look into possible conflicts of interest in the Trump administration’s handling of investigations into Pasadena’s OneWest Bank — a bank formerly headed by now-Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Al Green (D-Texas) said Friday that there was “room for considerable doubt as to the impartiality and the adequacy of this administration’s investigations into OneWest” and a subsidiary, Financial Freedom.

Mnuchin was the bank’s chairman from 2009 to 2015. President Trump has nominated Joseph Otting, the former chief executive of OneWest, to be comptroller of the currency, a key bank regulator who is part of the Treasury Department.

And Brian Brooks, who was OneWest’s vice chairman, reportedly will be tapped to be deputy Treasury secretary.

Watch live: President Trump and South Korea president deliver joint statements at White House

Healthcare issue delivers nothing but pain for Nevada's embattled Sen. Dean Heller

Dean Heller is Stephanie Diaz-Gonzalez’s problem now.

She’s never met Nevada’s Republican senator and hadn’t had much time to familiarize herself. How could she? The 25-year-old is holding down a full-time job and ra+ising a 7-year-old son, who keeps her busy with soccer games, math homework and those too-often terrifying moments when he can’t breathe.

When President Trump was elected and congressional Republicans moved on their top priority to dismantle Obamacare, Diaz-Gonzalez got to know Heller a whole lot better.

Given his back-and-forth on the issue, she came to distrust him.

“I don’t know if I could vote for him or support him,” the Democrat said. “He seems very contradictory.”

Which is why Heller is also Karen Steelmon’s problem.

Steelmon, a 48-year-old Republican who grew up in northern Nevada, isn’t happy with the lawmaker, who is considered the most vulnerable GOP senator in the country when he comes up for reelection next year.

Obamacare has always been an abomination to Steelmon, an ardent supporter of repeal. To her, deeply held principles are at stake.

“Heller has never acted in favor of what I would consider conservative, constitutional principles as a general rule,” said Steelmon, who would like to see the incumbent taken out in a GOP primary. “And on the very few times he has, it’s always come as a surprise.”

This is Heller’s dilemma.

Morning Joe hosts pen op-ed in response to Trump's tweets, while the president tweets a new attack

 (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program hit back at President Trump after his Twitter attack on them.

In an op-ed in Friday's Washington Post, co-anchors Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough wrote that they had criticized Trump, but that "our concerns about his unmoored behavior go far beyond the personal."

"America's leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president," they wrote.

"We have out doubts," they added, "but we are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show."

Trump soon retaliated with yet another tweet.

To which Scarborough responded.

The president's Twitter wars have exasperated Republican lawmakers and discouraged even many of his supporters, but he shows no sign of changing his long-set ways.

'I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire': White House spokeswoman defends Trump tweets

Trump will meet face-to-face with Putin in Germany next week

 (Alexei Nikolsky / Associated Press)
(Alexei Nikolsky / Associated Press)

President Trump has governed five months under a cloud of questions about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, yet the two men will meet next week for the first time, on the sidelines of the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg, Germany.

White House officials on Thursday confirmed plans for the private meeting but said no decisions had been made about the topics Trump will raise. So it's unclear whether the men will discuss Russia's election-year cyberattacks that are the focus of criminal and congressional investigations.

"Our relationship with Russia is not different from any other country in terms of us communicating with them, really, what our concerns are, where we see problems in the relationship but also opportunities," said Trump's national security advisor, H.R. McMaster. 

McMaster said he expected the two men to have "a broad, wide-ranging discussion" about problems in the relationship but also about where the U.S. and Russia have "common interests."

"There's no specific agenda," McMaster said. "It's really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about," he added.

The White House has refused to say whether Trump would sign legislation with new sanctions on Russia for meddling in the elections by hacking, including into some states' voting systems, and by spreading false news stories.

But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated the existing restrictions against Russia were sufficient. "We've got plenty of those as well," Mnuchin said.

Trump will also meet with the leaders of China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore and other countries during the summit of 20 major world economies.

Trump's director of the White House National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, said the meeting would fall short of a typical "bilateral" discussion between the American president and the head of another country, but would be more than what's known in diplomacy-speak as a "pull aside" — a quick, informal get-together on the edge of a conference. 

Trump's scheduled meeting with Putin in Hamburg places added significance on his stop in Poland next Wednesday.

In Warsaw,  McMaster said, Trump intends to bolster U.S. relationships with Poland and other central European and Baltic states that were once in Moscow's orbit under the Soviet Union, but now rely on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the U.S. to counter pressure from Russia. Trump's meetings there seem designed to strengthen his hand with Putin. 

McMaster called Poland "a front-line NATO nation with regards to the eastern flank," noting that it sent troops to fight alongside the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq and has exceeded its pledge on NATO defense spending.  As a candidate and president, Trump has criticized other NATO countries that have not yet met those pledges for military spending equal to at least 2% of the size of their respective economies.

Watch live: Press briefing with Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Media Watch: On the Right

Travel ban seen a win by at least one conservative; Breitbart focuses on upcoming votes in Congress

 (AP file)
(AP file)

After it stalled for several months in federal courts, a portion of President Trump's travel ban is set to take effect Thursday evening and will bar individuals from six majority-Muslim countries. Some in conservative media are viewing it as a much-needed political victory for Trump.

Here are some of Thursday’s headlines:

Two wins for Trump (Washington Times)

Trump has seen setbacks in his fledgling administration – probes into possible collusion with Russia, infighting among his party over a healthcare overhaul, federal courts halting his travel ban. But now, the president gets a W.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow portions of President Trump’s travel ban to proceed is a much-needed victory for the administration,” Cal Thompson writes. “In doing so the unanimous court affirmed — at least temporarily, pending a full hearing on the case in the fall — a president’s constitutional authority to determine whether people seeking admittance to the U.S. pose a threat to our safety and security.”

Thompson also highlights the Supreme Court decision this week that churches have the same right as other charitable groups to seek state money for new playground surfaces and other non-religious needs. Thompson called the ruling in the case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia Inc. v. Comer, a victory for religious institutions and Trump, who at times has touched on the issue of religious freedom. 

Breitbart prods GOP leaders to pass 'pro-American' immigration reforms (Breitbart)

For Trump, Breitbart hasn’t always delivered the most approving headlines for his administration – particularly on immigration. Some right-wing bloggers and pundits don’t think Trump has done enough on immigration, a key pillar of his campaign platform.

This piece turns the attention to members of Congress, where two bills – focused primarily on detaining people in the country illegally – could come up for a vote .

“The GOP-run House is expected to vote for two modest immigration-reform bills as soon as this week, but pro-American reformers are using the two votes to build loud and energetic public pressure for major reform legislation,” notes the right-wing website.

Trump attacks 'Psycho' Joe Scarborough, 'Crazy' Mika Brzezinski in Twitter tear (Fox News)

At first, they were friends; now, perhaps, enemies?
Trump used Twitter early Thursday to jab “Morning Joe” hosts  Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who the president in past has said he admires.

The tweets have drawn the ire of Republicans. Here's what the president wrote:

And the response?

Trump plans to nominate Brendan Carr to fill final FCC seat and provide crucial vote on net neutrality rules

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

President Trump intends to nominate Brendan Carr, a former aide to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, to fill the final open seat at the agency and provide a crucial vote on the future of tough net neutrality rules.

Carr, the FCC’s general counsel, would fill a Republican slot on the commission and would be expected to support Pai’s push to roll back the regulations for online traffic.

Carr’s intended nomination was announced by the White House on Wednesday night. It comes after Trump nominated Jessica Rosenworcel, a former FCC commissioner, on June 14 to fill a Democratic seat.

If the Senate confirms both nominees, as expected, the FCC would have its full complement of five commissioners and a 3-2 Republican majority.

Gorsuch is already pushing Supreme Court to the right on religion, guns and gays

Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

When Judge Neil M. Gorsuch went before the Senate in March as President Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, he sought to assure senators he would be independent and above the political fray.

“There is no such thing as a Republican judge or Democratic judge,” he said more than once. “We just have judges.”

But in just his first few weeks on the high court, Justice Gorsuch has shown himself to be a confident conservative activist, urging his colleagues to move the law to the right on religion, gun rights, gay rights and campaign funding.

He dissented along with Justice Clarence Thomas when the court rejected a gun-rights challenge to California’s law that strictly regulates who may carry a concealed weapon. “The 2nd Amendment’s core purpose,” they said, shows “the right to bear arms extends to public carry.”

He wrote a dissent, joined by Thomas and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., when the court struck down part of an Arkansas law that gave opposite sex-couples, but not same-sex couples, the right to have both spouses listed on a child’s birth certificate. The court said it had already decided that same-sex couples deserve fully equal rights under state law.

And when Trump’s travel ban came before the court this week, Gorsuch dissented from the majority’s middle-ground approach, which allowed the ban to take effect except for foreign travelers who had a relationship with this country, such as a close relative or a student enrolled in a university.

When he meets South Korea's president, Trump will be asking for trade concessions and help confronting North Korea

 (Nicholas Kamm / AFP Photo)
(Nicholas Kamm / AFP Photo)

President Trump plans to pressure South Korean President Moon Jae-in to make trade concessions when they meet Friday, while at the same time seeking closer cooperation against North Korea's accelerating nuclear program.

Both aims, outlined Wednesday by a senior administration official, could make for some difficult discussions, especially since the newly elected Moon campaigned for a softer approach to the government in Pyongyang.

Moon, who arrived Wednesday in Washington, began his four-day visit by laying a wreath at a memorial at Marine Corps Base Quantico in northern Virginia to the U.S. Marines who died during the Korean War in the battle at Chosin Reservoir.

Trump will host Moon and his wife, Kim Joon-suk, for dinner at the White House on Thursday before the two leaders meet one-on-one in the Oval Office on Friday morning.

Having criticized the two countries' trade agreement when he was running for president, Trump will argue for a more balanced trade relationship, the administration official said in a background briefing. In particular, Trump will cite the large amount of Chinese steel that is sometimes processed in South Korea before being sold cheaply in the U.S. market.

The two leaders will have a “friendly, frank discussion about the trade imbalance between South Korea and the United States,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Seoul's trade surplus is “shrinking,” the official added, but “there is still a large gap.”

The visit will mark the first time the two leaders have met since the liberal Moon took office last month after the ouster of President Park Geun-hye, a scandal-tarred conservative who had taken a hard line against North Korea.

Trump and Moon share “precisely the same goal,” the Trump aide said -- “the complete dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program.”

But the approach of the two leaders is starkly different. Trump has called for "maximum pressure" against North Korea, seeking additional economic sanctions and demanding that China, North Korea's main ally and patron, do more to shut off assistance to Pyongyang.

Moon has risen through the ranks of his country's politics advocating for closer ties between the Koreas, which technically are still at war. Already he has taken steps to delay the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, known as THAAD, an anti-missile system intended to counter any North Korean  strikes.

The anti-missile system is a divisive issue in South Korea; it prompted protests last weekend at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. China has objected to installation of the powerful radar defense as well, but the White House believes the U.S. system will ultimately be fully operative.

The delay “should not be equated as a reversal of the decision to deploy THAAD,” the official said, and suggested that the topic would not be central to the two presidents' discussions.

“As important as anything [will be] building a rapport and getting to know each other,” the official said.

Senate Republicans aim for new healthcare bill by Friday, but skeptics remain

 (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Senate Republicans reconvened behind closed doors Wednesday trying to break the impasse on their healthcare overhaul but emerged with no apparent strategy for resolving differences by an end-of-week deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky vowed to try again for a vote after the Fourth of July recess, despite having abruptly delayed action this week.

Senators were aiming for a revised bill by Friday, the Republican whip, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, told reporters, so it could be assessed by the Congressional Budget Office during the break.

But senators remained skeptical after the lengthy lunchtime huddle that appeared to run long on ideas but short on consensus.  

“I think it’s going to be very difficult,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

McConnell surprised senators by delaying this week’s expected votes once it became clear he did not have a majority for passage – or possibly to even open the debate.

As many as 10 Republican senators now publicly oppose the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, and leaders are scrambling to win them over with an estimated $200 billion in savings from the bill that can be applied to their particular state’s needs.

But even with that fund of resources, it is not clear McConnell will be able to satisfactorily improve the legislation, which now threatens to cut 22 million Americans off health insurance. He can only afford to lose two Republican votes in the face of Democratic opposition.

"It's going to be very difficult to get me to a yes... have to make us an offer we can't refuse,” Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said on a telephone town hall late Tuesday, according to journalist Jon Ralston, who monitored the call.

Fresh polling Wednesday showed paltry support for the Republican approach to overhauling the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, which has enjoyed a surge in popularity now that Republicans are closer than ever to repealing it. A USA Today poll put approval of the Senate GOP bill at 12%.

Republicans, though, are under enormous pressure from their most conservative supporters – and big dollar donors, including the powerful Koch network – to deliver on their promised to end Obamacare.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, suggested that President Trump convene all 100 senators – much the way then-President Obama did during his first days in office for a session at Blair House – to see how they might be able to work together to improve, rather than repeal, the Affordable Care Act. 

“I’d make my friends on the Republican side and President Trump an offer: Let’s turn over a new leaf. Let’s start over,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“President Trump, I challenge you to invite us – all 100 of us, Republican and Democrat – to Blair House to discuss a new bipartisan way forward on healthcare in front of all the American people.”

No such invitation, however, seemed forthcoming. Trump dismissed Schumer's proposal – "he just doesn't seem like a serious person," the president said – and instead promised his own "big surprise" on healthcare.

"Healthcare is working along very well," Trump told reporters at the White House. "We could have a big surprise, with a great healthcare package."

Asked what he meant by a big surprise, Trump simply repeated: "A great, great surprise."

The Republican bill, like its counterpart passed by House Republicans, does not fully gut Obamacare, but rescinds the new taxes imposed on high-income individuals and healthcare companies to pay for expanding coverage through Medicaid and subsidies for private insurance on the ACA marketplace.

Senators said the private talks Wednesday focused mainly on changes to the Obamacare marketplace that could bring down the cost of insurance premiums.

One idea from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to allow insurers to offer policies that do not meet the Obamacare benchmarks for what insurance needs to cover met with mixed reaction, senators said.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, warned that such changes would alter the risk pool, keeping insurance costs high.

“You end up with policies that, for example, don’t cover maternity,” Cassidy said. “Do you want a policy that doesn’t have maternity, which would be principally appealing to young men, when obviously typically men have had a role in that pregnancy?”

Other senators were floating new ideas, but McConnell gave no indication whether those proposals would be included in the final revised product.

Michael A. Memoli contributed to this report.

CongressObamacare

It's crunch time for McConnell after Senate GOP is forced to delay vote on healthcare bill

 (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

The abrupt decision Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to temporarily shelve a vote on the Republican Obamacare overhaul gives him a few extra weeks to build support for a revised bill before it risks becoming hopelessly stalled by the opposition.

The seasoned GOP leader will be aided by what amounts to a $200-billion piggy bank to push Republican holdouts into line. That’s the bill’s extra cost savings, compared with the House version, that McConnell can tap to provide perks to individual senators, from more opioid assistance to expanded tax-free health savings accounts.

A similar strategy — delay and enticements — worked well in the House, where Republicans last month passed their healthcare bill on the third try.

But prolonging the debate also gives Democrats and other critics time to mobilize, and ensures that senators will be exposed to an onslaught of opposition as they head home for the weeklong holiday break to defend a bill that has estimated would leave tens of millions of Americans without insurance.

After the delay was announced, President Trump hosted a White House gathering of all GOP senators. But rather than rally them around the bill with the power of the presidential bully pulpit, he struck a surprisingly detached tone.

“This will be great if we get it done,” Trump told senators in the East Room. “And if we don't get it done, it's just going to be something that we're not going to like. And that's OK.”

No new laptop bans, but air travelers to the U.S. will face tighter screening all over the globe

Homeland Security officials said Wednesday they will order stricter passenger screening and other new security measures for all flights entering the United States but will not bar laptop computers in carry-on luggage as airlines and passenger groups had feared. 

The new order will cover about 2,000 flights a day from 280 airports in 105 countries, a move that could make international flying even more onerous just as the busy summer travel season starts.

Security officials would not detail the new measures but said passengers headed to the United States will face more intensive screening at airports, and probably more security dogs. They gave no date for when the new procedures will start.

If carriers don’t implement the measures effectively, Homeland Security still may ban laptops, e-readers and other electronic devices larger than cell phones from cargo holds as well as passenger cabins.

The decision follows intelligence, reportedly gathered from Islamic State in Syria by Israeli spy services, suggesting a lethal new threat from bombs that could be concealed in digital devices and that could evade detection by airport screening devices.

In March, U.S. and British authorities banned laptops in cabins on flights from eight Muslim-majority countries in North Africa and the Middle East, saying terrorists were seeking “innovative methods” to bring down commercial jetliners.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told a security conference in Washington on Wednesday that the new security measures will be “both seen and unseen” and will be phased in over time.

He said they will include tougher screening, particularly of electronic devices, plus new technology and procedures to protect planes from so--called insider attacks by airline employees.

“It is time that we raise the global baseline of aviation security,” Kelly said. “We cannot play international whack-a-mole with every new threat.”

He said terrorists still see commercial aircraft as “the crown jewel target” for attacks, and that intelligence has shown renewed interest by terrorists to attack airlines.

Kelly told a House committee several weeks ago that the department was considering extending the laptop ban to 71 more airports overseas.

But Kelly ultimately decided to tighten screening across the board, instead of focusing on laptops or “chasing after each item” that might be used to bring down a jetliner, senior Homeland Security officials said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. 

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to brief reporters, said Kelly worked with airlines to find ways to improve screening without unduly inconveniencing passengers.

“Intensive doesn’t always mean slower,” said one official. “In some cases, airlines have been doing these things at international airports for some time.”

The officials said more security dogs, which sniff for explosives, may be used. And they said airlines and airports may institute pre-check programs like those approved by the Transportation Security Administration for use in U.S. airports. 

The officials said restrictions on the first 10 airports will be lifted once airlines in those countries satisfy the new security protocols, officials said.

Airport authorities in the eight countries affected by that ban – Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates – have been told about the new security measures and will put them in place so the ban is lifted, the officials said.

In recent weeks, Kelly and his aides have huddled with their counterparts overseas, as well as with representatives of major airlines, to discuss whether to expand the ban around the globe.

Airlines protested that a laptop ban would inconvenience passengers and not remove the threat. Aviation experts and European security officials warned that putting laptops in cargo holds would pose other dangers because the lithium batteries could start fires.

In 1988, a bomb hidden in a radio cassette player exploded aboard a Pan Am jet flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew. The plot was blamed on then-Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi.

In 2010, powerful bombs hidden in printer ink cartridges were found aboard two cargo jets headed from Yemen to Chicago. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula later claimed responsibility for the plot.

Media Watch: On the Right

As vote looms, concerns over Medicaid cuts rise from some in conservative media

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

The vote – for now – is delayed.

As President Trump has urged Senate Republicans to pass a bill that would overhaul the Affordable Care Act, some, including Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada and Rob Portman of Ohio, have expressed concerns over cuts to Medicaid. Both represent states that, under Obamacare, expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income adults. The current Senate healthcare bill would deliver deep cuts to Medicaid, leaving millions uninsured.

While Trump awaits a vote in the coming weeks – originally scheduled for this week, but pushed back until after the July 4 recess – it’s on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to gather enough support from within his GOP caucus to secure the bill’s passage.

Some in the conservative media are questioning the current bill. Here is an overview of today’s headlines on this and other issues:

Republicans have a Medicaid problem (Weekly Standard)

The Republican healthcare bill would cut Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next decade.

Chris Deaton writes that "Republicans aim to offset the consequences of these Medicaid changes by offering tax credits for private insurance to people under the poverty line.”

In this piece, Deaton raises the question of whether low-income earners would be better off with Medicaid coverage or obtaining insurance through a GOP tax credit? He answers by noting, “It’s long been a contention of conservative thinkers that healthcare outcomes improve with private insurance rather than Medicaid."

Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, registers as foreign agent (Associated Press)

He’s among those facing scrutiny in an FBI investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Now, Paul Manafort, who at one time served as Trump’s campaign chairman, has registered with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent.

In a filing with the department, Manafort notes that his consulting firm received nearly $17 million between 2012 and 2014 from a Ukrainian political party with links to Russia, according to the Associated Press.

Last spring, former national security advisor Michael T. Flynn, who resigned from his position in February after misleading administration officials about contacts with Russians, also registered as a foreign agent, for consulting work he did for a Turkish businessman.

A Democratic road to recovery (American Spectator)

The party is attempting a reboot.

After Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss and defeats in several special elections this year, Democrats are in search of a new face for the party. Even so, liberals are in lock-step in their opposition to Trump.

This piece offers Democrats some advice – from the right – on how to recover.

Leftists: You have been lied to and taken advantage of. When you eventually come out of this haze you are in, you will realize that it was done not by the president, but by the snake oil salesmen and charlatans, who took advantage of your sickness and weakness, simply for money and power,” writes Judah Friedman. “Ask yourselves this: What is the Democratic Party, right now, without this rage, and hate, with which it is fueling your addictions? The answer is nothing.”

Sarah Palin sues the New York Times for tying her PAC ad to mass shooting

Former vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is accusing the New York Times of defamation over an editorial that linked one of her political action committee ads to the mass shooting that severely wounded then-Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

In the lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court Tuesday, Palin's lawyers say the Times "violated the law and its own policies" when it accused her of inciting the 2011 attack that killed six people.

The lawsuit refers to a June editorial in the Times on the recent shooting of Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise. The editorial later was corrected.

Palin is seeking damages to be determined by a jury.

A spokeswoman for the Times, Danielle Rhoades Ha, says the company hasn't seen the lawsuit but will defend against any claim vigorously.

Trump succeeds where Obama failed – spawning a new wave of liberal activism

Amanda Litman and Ross Morales Rocketto launched the Democratic activist group Run For Something, which encourages people under 35 to seek elected office. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Amanda Litman and Ross Morales Rocketto launched the Democratic activist group Run For Something, which encourages people under 35 to seek elected office. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The night Hillary Clinton lost the White House, Amanda Litman cried so hard she threw up.

In Atlanta, as the returns rolled in, Traci Feit Love faced a question from her anguished 8-year-old daughter: “Now what do we do?”

Across the country, in the heart of Silicon Valley, Rita Bosworth wondered the same thing.

The three never met, never spoke, never communicated in any fashion. But in the days and weeks that followed, they became common threads in a sprawling patchwork: the angry and politically aggrieved who — with no help from politicians, political parties or any formal campaign structure — have joined to fight President Trump and his policies.

 

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