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1154 posts
  • White House
(Saul Loeb / AFP)

President Trump said Friday that he found out about the abuse allegations against his close aide Rob Porter “recently” and was “surprised by it.”

Talking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump mentioned twice that Porter says he’s innocent. Porter’s two ex-wives say they gave detailed accounts and documentation to FBI agents conducting a background check of Porter, claiming that he was physically and emotionally abusive. One provided a photo of her badly blackened eye. The other says Porter grabbed her in a fit of rage and pulled her out of the shower.

Porter’s sudden departure Wednesday raised questions about how he could have worked so closely as the president’s secretary and handled the West Wing’s most sensitive documents for more than a year without senior staff knowing of allegations that could have left him open to blackmail.

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When John Kelly oversaw the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, dozens of detainees refused to eat as a form of protest. Kelly, furious at the potential propaganda implications, instructed his charges to avoid using the term “hunger strike,” insisting it be called a “long-term nonreligious fast.”

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The House passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal early Friday, sending the measure to President Trump for his signature and ending the second government shutdown of 2018.

  • Congress
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

The Senate voted early Friday to reopen the government and pass a $400-billion budget deal, handing the measure off to the House for a pre-dawn debate where success is not assured.

The vote was the first big step in a rush to pick up the pieces of a budget and spending plan that had seemed on track hours earlier. But the government stumbled into the shutdown, the second in three weeks, at midnight after a single senator mounted a protest over the budget-busting deal and refused to give in.

Congress was struggling late Thursday to approve an ambitious bipartisan budget deal to avert a midnight government shutdown, but the compromise was exposing deep divisions in both parties over immigration, deficit spending and how best to prepare for the upcoming midterm election.

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  • Congress
  • Budget

The government stumbled into a midnight shutdown early Friday as a defiant Senate Republican blocked a speedy vote on a massive, bipartisan, budget-busting spending deal, protesting the return of trillion-dollar deficits on the watch of Republicans controlling Washington.

A shutdown — technically a lapse in agency appropriations — became inevitable as GOP Sen. Rand Paul repeatedly held up votes on the budget plan, which is married to a six-week government spending measure. The Senate recessed about 11 p.m. Thursday and reconvened just after midnight.

Paul was seeking a vote on reversing spending increases and refused to speed things up when he was denied.

A sweeping two-year budget deal announced by Senate leaders Wednesday promises to end the shutdown threats that have plagued Congress, but fails to address the unresolved issue of immigration and will add to a deficit already ballooning from the GOP tax cut plan.

  • Congress
  • Immigration

Without making any new promises, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday he was committed to bringing an immigration bill to the floor as the “next big priority” to protect young Dreamers from deportation by a March deadline. 

Ryan is trying to strike a delicate balance by appealing to Democrats and his own centrist Republicans —  whose votes he needs to pass a sweeping budget deal —  while not specifically embracing any particular legislative proposal that could alienate conservatives or be met with disapproval by President Trump, whose support he needs for any immigration plan.

“To anyone who doubts my intention to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill, do not,” Ryan said, referring to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump is ending March 5. A court case is allowing it to continue temporarily.

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Television producer Mark Burnett, left, and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) with President Trump at 2017's year's National Prayer Breakfast.
Television producer Mark Burnett, left, and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) with President Trump at 2017's year's National Prayer Breakfast. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

A year after telling guests at the National Prayer Breakfast to “pray for Arnold” Schwarzenegger’s television ratings as host of the “Celebrity Apprentice,” President Trump gave a more traditional address at Thursday’s event.

Trump’s only reference to the show this year came when he introduced Mark Burnett, who produced the show and introduced Trump at last year’s breakfast.