1550616386 vexsome tldr: A shorter front page of the internet


1. Maine paid for 40 rooms at Trump hotel for LePage, staff

AUGUSTA - Former Gov. Paul LePage and his staff members paid for more than 40 rooms at Washington, D.C.'s Trump International Hotel during a two-year period, spending at least $22,000 in Maine taxpayer money at a business owned by the president's family. Documents recently obtained by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram show that the LePage administration paid anywhere from $362 to more than $1,100 a night for rooms at the luxury hotel during trips to meet with President Trump or his inner circle, attend White House events or talk to members of Congress. Daughter Lauren LePage stayed at Trump hotel rooms on at least two trips at times she was not employed by the governor's office, including April 2018 when she was listed as "Attending events on behalf of the First Family." In another instance, the state paid $625.53 for two nights at Quebec's Chateau Frontenac for Paul LePage Jr., who "Staffed" for his father - a role typically filled by others in the governor's office - as LePage met with the provincial premier to discuss forestry, trade and energy issues.

2. Mueller questions Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser

A spokesman for Brittany Kaiser, former business development director for Cambridge Analytica - which collapsed after the Observer revealed details of its misuse of Facebook data - confirmed that she had been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, and was cooperating fully with his investigation. Damian Collins, chairman of parliament's inquiry into fake news, said it was "No surprise" that Kaiser was under scrutiny by Mueller because "Her work connected her to WikiLeaks, Cambridge Analytica and SCL, the Trump campaign, Leave.EU and Arron Banks". In August, Sam Patten, a US political consultant who had worked for Cambridge Analytica on campaigns in the US and abroad, struck a plea deal with Mueller after admitting he had failed to register as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian oligarch.

3. NPR.org : Interior Dept.'s Push To Limit Public Records Requests Draws Criticism

Some of these investigations came about because of public records requests to Interior from media outlets and environmental protection groups. "We file public records requests in order to find out if the people who run the Department of the Interior have conflicts of interests with the companies that they are supposed to regulate," he said. His organization has filed comments with Interior on behalf of 39 news organizations - including NPR. It argues the regulations will make it more difficult for the public and the press to know what's going on at Interior.

4. Ted Cruz introduced a term limit bill that would allow just two terms for Senators

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a constitutional amendment Friday that would restrict senators to two six-year terms. Cruz has been a longtime critic of the Constitution not including term limits. Correction: This article previously stated that the amendment would end Cruz's Senate career after its current term.

5. Trump declares emergency for border wall, House panel launches probe

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval, an action Democrats vowed to challenge as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Fifteen Democrats in the Republican-controlled Senate introduced legislation on Thursday to prevent Trump from invoking emergency powers to transfer funds to his wall from accounts Congress has already committed to other projects. California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, describing the supposed border crisis touted by Trump as "Made-up," and New York state's Democratic attorney general, Letitia James, both said they planned to challenge Trump in court.

6. ‘Evidence in plain sight’ of Trump collusion with Russia, Schiff says

In an interview on CNN, Schiff rejected Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr's statements from earlier this month, in which Burr said evidence shows no collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia. "Chairman Burr must have a different word for it," Schiff told host Dana Bash on "State of the Union," pointing to communications between Russia and Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump aides George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn. "You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence," Schiff said, adding, "There is a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt."

7. ‘Evidence in plain sight’ of Trump collusion with Russia, Schiff says

In an interview on CNN, Schiff rejected Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr's statements from earlier this month, in which Burr said evidence shows no collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia. "Chairman Burr must have a different word for it," Schiff told host Dana Bash on "State of the Union," pointing to communications between Russia and Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump aides George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn. "You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence," Schiff said, adding, "There is a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt."

8. California tells Trump that lawsuit over border wall is 'imminent'

WASHINGTON - California will "Imminently" challenge President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to obtain funds for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Sunday. Trump invoked the emergency powers on Friday under a 1976 law after Congress rebuffed his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall that was a signature 2016 campaign promise. Nearly $1.4 billion was allocated for border fencing under a spending measure approved by Congress last week, and Trump's emergency declaration is aimed at giving him another $6.7 billion for the wall.

9. Catalan separatists stage mass protest in Barcelona

Demonstrators have marched en masse through Barcelona in protest at the trial of Catalan separatist leaders. People took to the streets, waving Catalan flags and shouting pro-separatist slogans in support of the 12 leaders on trial. The separatist leaders' lawyer, Andreu Van Den Eynde, said the trial was about "The right to self-determination and the democratic principle".

10. Judge rules against Walmart for firing employee with medical marijuana card.

A federal judge ruled against Walmart in a recent lawsuit for terminating an Arizona employee who possessed a valid medical marijuana card after a drug test of the worker came back positive, the Phoenix New Times reports. U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg ruled last week that the company violated the nondiscrimination provision in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act by eliminating the employee even though it couldn't prove she was impaired by using the drug at work, according to the local publication. Whitmire, who said she uses marijuana to treat her arthritis pain, then reportedly filed a discrimination charge against Walmart with the civil rights division of the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2017.

11. Conservatives can’t stop obsessing over Ocasio-Cortez. Their latest target: her boyfriend.

On Friday - the day after Valentine's Day, as some commenters dutifully noted - an accusation that the New York Democrat was employing her boyfriend as a member of her staff made its way around the Twitter pages of various conservative media magoos. Fox News picked up on this chatter and published a story that asserted Ocasio-Cortez "Faces questions" about her boyfriend. Her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, told The Post that, "Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's partner, Mr. Roberts, has no official position, paid or otherwise, with her congressional office. Members of Congress have very tightly scheduled calendars that their family members and partners are allowed to access to make personal plans around official schedules."

12. Limbaugh denies influence over Trump: 'I don’t make policy'

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Sunday denied that he wields any substantial political influence over President Donald Trump, criticizing the notion as a false narrative pushed by the president's opponents to make Trump seem incompetent. "If these people in the media, Chris, really thought that I was telling Trump what to do and when, they'd be calling me, they'd be asking me about it, they'd want to get down to the dirty details," Limbaugh told host Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." Trump on Friday praised Limbaugh as "a great guy" during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, in which he announced the emergency declaration.

13. Heather Nauert, Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has withdrawn herself from consideration

President Trump's pick to be the next United Nations ambassador withdrew from consideration Saturday, the State Department said. "Today Heather Nauert withdrew herself from consideration for the nomination of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The President will make an announcement with respect to a nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations soon," deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. "Her personal decision today to withdraw her name from consideration to become the nominee for United States Ambassador to the United Nations is a decision for which I have great respect," he said.

14. President of United States reposts video from winner of Infowars meme contest

President Trump tweeted a video today from a YouTuber known for winning an Infowars meme contest. Donktum's video is less controversial, just cutting up existing footage from the State of the Union in ways that are unflattering to Democrats. Prior to his video being tweeted out by the president, Donktum gained some recognition for winning Infowars host Alex Jones' NPC Meme contest in November 2018.

16. Two Additional Trump Lawyers Accused of Lying to Federal Investigators About Hush Money Payments

Two lawyers working for President Donald Trump may have lied to government ethics officials about the Michael Cohen-facilitated hush money payment to adult actress Stormy Daniels, according to records obtained by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. In a Friday letter addressed to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Oversight Committee Chair Elijiah Cummings said those documents showed that Trump's personal lawyer Sheri Dillon and former deputy White House ethics counsel Stefan Passantino provided "False information" to the Office of Government Ethics about whether Trump reimbursed Cohen for the Daniels payment. On May 2, 2018, President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, made a startling admission when he stated on national television that President Trump had reimbursed Mr. Cohen for his payments to.

17. Japan's PM nominated Trump for Nobel Peace Prize on U.S. request: Asahi

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize last autumn after receiving a request from the U.S. government to do so, the Asahi newspaper reported on Sunday. The report follows Trump's claim on Friday that Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for opening talks and easing tensions with North Korea. The Nobel Foundation's website says a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize may be submitted by any person who meets the nomination criteria, which includes current heads of states.

18. Jussie Smollett Case: Brothers Questioned By Police Bought Rope Used In Attack At Actor’s Request, Sources Say

CHICAGO - Jussie Smollett paid two brothers to stage an attack against him, directed them to buy items used in the alleged assault and actually rehearsed it with them, sources say. The brothers told detectives the three men rehearsed the attack days prior to it happening. "As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."

19. CNN and MSNBC will run anti-Nazi ad that Fox News rejected, filmmakers say

Our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.

20. Venezuela was my home, and socialism destroyed it. Slowly, it will destroy America, too.

While neither 'Medicare-for-all' nor a wealth tax will turn America into Venezuela overnight, all it would take is a series of catastrophic policies. A rich country, wasted resourcesThe excuses for these shortages were hollow: In reality, Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world to use for electricity, and three times more fresh water resources per person than the United States. American liberals embrace same failed policiesEven though so many of us Venezuelans fled to America to escape from the destructive consequences of socialism, liberal politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. José Serrano, D-N.Y., have praised the same kind of policies that produced famine, mass exodus and soaring inflation in Venezuela.

22. Jussie Smollett hires Michael Cohen’s criminal defense lawyer

Jussie Smollett has hired Michael Cohen's criminal defense lawyer, the attorney confirmed this week, amid the deepening mystery of the "Empire" actor's claim that he was the victim of a hate attack. "Yes, at the moment, I am," Michael Monico, a former federal prosecutor in Illinois' Northern District, told WGN's "The Roe Conn Show" on Thursday. Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, hired Monico to his defense team last month to represent him as he faces federal charges that he violated campaign finance laws and lied to Congress.

23. Covington high school students cleared of any wrongdoing in viral incident after independent investigation

The report said the students said they felt he was coming into their group to join in with the students' cheers and that none felt threatened by Phillips. The Covington students - in particular Sandmann - were vilified online after a short viral video widely misrepresented their actions as allegedly harassing Phillips following the pro-life demonstration. COVINGTON BISHOP APOLOGIZES FOR PREMATURELY CONDEMNING STUDENTS IN VIRAL INCIDENT WITH NATIVE AMERICAN ELDER. "The immediate world-wide reaction to the initial video led almost everyone to believe that our students had initiated the incident and the perception of those few minutes of video became reality," he said.

24. Legal challenges to Trump emergency declaration face uphill battle

Democratic lawmakers, states and others mulling legal challenges to President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration to obtain funds to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall face an uphill and probably losing battle in a showdown likely to be decided by the conservative-majority Supreme Court, legal experts said. Peter Shane, a professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, said challenges to the emergency declaration could end up as a replay of the legal battle against Trump's travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority nations. The legal experts said Trump's declaration could be challenged on at least two fronts: that there is no genuine emergency and that Trump's action overstepped his powers because under the U.S. Constitution Congress has authority over federal appropriations, not the president.

25. Bernie Sanders records video announcing 2020 campaign

Bernie Sanders, inching closer to a second bid for the White House, has recorded a campaign video in which he says he is running for president in 2020, according to two people familiar with the spot. It's possible Sanders could launch a 2020 campaign with an exploratory committee and declare his candidacy later, a route other presidential candidates, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have taken. The Sanders team has been in talks with Means of Production, the filmmaking company that created Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's viral campaign video during the midterm elections, about a major 2020 role.