<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Politics]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usMon, 24 Jul 2017 03:51:38 -0700Mon, 24 Jul 2017 03:51:38 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[John McCain Spends Weekend Outdoors With Daughter, Friend]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 01:23:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/AP421965667883.jpg

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., spent the weekend outdoors about a week after undergoing surgery and being diagnosed with brain cancer, NBC News reported.

McCain, 80, tweeted a photo Sunday afternoon of himself and a friend, Joe Harper, with their feet in the Oak Creek of Zebra Falls in Arizona.

The senator's daughter Maghan McCain also tweeted a photo of the outing, which she used to thank supporters for their well wishes in the wake of her dad's diagnosis.

McCain underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on July 14 and was subsequently diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.




Photo Credit: 414088103 /AP, File
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<![CDATA[GOP Legislative Agenda Stalled Amid Ideological Divides]]> Sun, 23 Jul 2017 03:41:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/senate-gop.jpg

Despite having control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, Republicans are struggling to pass major aspects their legislative agenda and face many issues that interfere with the party's ability to govern, NBC News reported.

In Congress, Republicans face differences within party on health care reform, a dynamic that threatens to intrude on other major issues like the federal budget. At the White House, President Donald Trump has been fixated on investigations, leaving him an ineffective chief spokesperson for the party and their ideas.

Party unity on key issues has proven elusive for a party with widespread ideologies, ranging from northeast centrists to religious conservatives, fiscal conservatives and small-government libertarians.

That dynamic has stymied the GOP on health care, an issue that appeared simple for the past seven years on the campaign trial and when Trump promised it would be done "on day one."



Photo Credit: Alex Brandon/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Back-Slapping Hedge Fund Magnate Scaramucci Reaches WH]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 13:07:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/scarAP_17202665084579.jpg

Anthony Scaramucci, the back-slapping Wall Street hedge fund magnate, is a long-time Republican donor and fundraiser who once criticized Donald J. Trump, the presidential candidate, CNBC reported.

But he eventually became one of Trump's biggest defenders, and after months of delays he is finally getting what he has worked for behind the scenes since last year: a position in the Trump White House.

He was originally going to be a White House adviser and liaison to the business community. That didn't happen. Then he was offered the post of U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That didn't happen. In June, he was named chief strategy officer of the Export-Import Bank.

Now, he is White House communications director.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sean Spicer Resigns as WH Press Secretary]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:20:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Trump_Statement_on_Spicer_Resignation-150066638797800001.jpg

President Donald Trump thanked White House press secretary Sean Spicer after Spicer announced his resignation on July 21, 2017 - six months after he started the position. Trump's statement was made through incoming press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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<![CDATA[Sean Spicer Resigns as White House Press Secretary]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:32:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/spicer1.jpg

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has resigned after six months as President Donald Trump’s chief spokesman, according to sources. The move appeared to be linked to opposition over the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director.

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<![CDATA[What Happens If John McCain Leaves the Senate?]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:51:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mccainjohn_1200x675.jpg

After Sen. John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis, the six-term Arizona senator declared he would "be back soon" to attend to his duties in the legislative branch — but the political ramifications of his exit could be substantial, NBC News reported.

According to Arizona law, the state governor would appoint a member of the same party to fill a Senate vacancy until the next regularly scheduled general election, which would be in November 2018. 

If McCain left the Senate seat vacant before the midterm elections, Arizona would have two Senate elections in 2018 — an extremely rare event.

Elections would be contentious between Democrats and Republicans in a state where voter demographics are rapidly changing — raising the stakes for both parties.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sessions Talks Tough on Gangs, Sanctuary Cities in Philly]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 13:16:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sessions-in-philly.jpg

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a speaking appearance in one of the country's biggest sanctuary cities Friday.

He spoke about that controversial topic in the heart of Philadelphia, which under Mayor Jim Kenney has vowed to continue policies that the Department of Justice says doesn't comply fully with federal immigration law.

At the Center City offices of the U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, Sessions also talked about gangs like MS-13 and the need for quality local policing.

He emphasized of the violent nature of gangs like MS-13 and said they recruit young new members from schools, "even elementary schools."

“The more they recruit, the more damage they do,” Sessions said. He called for everyone "to work together to take MS-13 off the streets."

Sessions even said the violent MS-13 gang is operating in Philadelphia.

Protesters of the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration demonstrated outside the federal building at 6th and Chestnut streets.

Sessions initially planned the visit for early July, but canceled.

The attorney general and Philadelphia officials have been at odds over immigration enforcement since President Donald Trump took office in January. Philadelphia has been a so-called sanctuary city since Kenney began his term, though last year the city began calling itself a "Fourth Amendment city" in an effort to highlight constitutional rights protecting due process and probable cause.

Sessions said that by giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, the city is "providing sanctuaries for criminals."

“I urge the city of Philadelphia and every sanctuary city to consider carefully the harm they’re doing to residents by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement,” he said.

Under the Trump administration, federal law enforcement agencies, notably Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have asked for increased help from local agencies in detaining undocumented immigrants who have been arrested.

Philadelphia and many other municipal and county law enforcement agencies have refused to follow ICE's request to hold undocumented immigrants until federal agents can meet with the arrested individuals, which have become known as "ICE detainers."

And twice since January, the Department of Justice has publicly demanded local agencies follow federal guidance that involves police officers inquiring about the immigration status when making arrests. In March, the attorney general said Philadelphia and others risked losing Department of Justice grant money if they remained out of compliance.

He did not give a deadline for compliance at that time.

The DOJ gave $26 million in grants to Philadelphia in the 2015 fiscal year, which a city spokeswoman said was the most recent year in which a comprehensive total is available.

In April, the DOJ sent a letter to Philadelphia and at least nine other local and state governments warning again about failure to comply with one federal guideline in particular.

The letter stated that Philadelphia is required to cooperate under Section 1373 of the federal code as per its grant agreement with the DOJ's Office of Justice Programs, which is one of the federal government's largest funding sources for local law enforcement. That section, the DOJ contends, is related to the federal government's request that local law enforcement provide information about the legal status of arrestees.



Photo Credit: Matt Rourke/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Can the President Pardon Himself? Good Question]]> Sat, 22 Jul 2017 04:45:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/foto+generica+fachada+casa+blanca+2.jpg

The Constitution grants an absolute, unilateral pardon power to the president for federal offenses and courts have upheld pardons of people even before charges had been filed, NBC News reported.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that President Donald Trump asked advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia. NBC has not confirmed the report.

But could the president pardon himself? There isn't court precedent on the question, NBC News reported. The Department of Justice has in the past provided legal guidance stating that the president cannot be indicted in office, but can be indicted when he leaves office.

Saturday morning Trump tweeted: "While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS"



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump and Putin May Have Met More Times, Russian FM Says]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 07:31:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lavrov.jpg

President Donald Trump may have held more meetings with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit earlier this month, Russia's foreign minister said Friday, NBC News reported.

But Sergei Lavrov downplayed the meetings' significance, likening the Russian president's encounters with his U.S. counterpart to children mingling at kindergarten.

“When you are bought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom?” he asked.

Lavrov also said the U.S. presence in Syria was illegitimate and accused C.I.A director Mike Pompeo of having “double standards” regarding the establishment of military bases in the country.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Sohn]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Trump Aide to Be Named WH Communications Dir.: Sources]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 04:30:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cnAP_17177648807597.jpg

Anthony Scaramucci, a former Trump transition team official, is expected to be named as the new White House communications director, four sources in and close to the White House told NBC News Thursday.

Scaramucci did not respond to a request for comment, but the decision, first reported by Axios, is expected to be announced Friday. Sean Spicer is expected to stay on the communications team.

Scaramucci met with President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka in the Oval Office Thursday so the president could offer him the job, a source said.

Scaramucci was a supporter of Trump's during the campaign, dealing with fundraising and appearing on cable TV as a frequent defender of the president.



Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's First 6 Months: His Wins, Losses and Stalemates]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 05:32:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-816483790.jpg

President Donald Trump took office promising a pivot for the country on everything from health care to immigration, a transfer of power not from one administration to another but from Washington, D.C., to the American people.

In his inaugural address, Trump said the United States must protect against other countries stealing companies and jobs, and vowed prosperity and strength.

"From this day forward, it’s going to be America first -- America first," he said. "Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families."

Anne Norton, the chairwoman of the political science department at the University of Pennsylvania, said that, symbolically, Trump has met the expectations of his supporters and those who voted for him as a protest.

"They believe he is 'sticking it to the man' both in Washington and abroad," Norton said. "When he tweets things his critics regard as offensive or ridiculous or outright falsehoods -- that's all to the good for them. The more provocative he is, even the more he profits from his office, the better they like it."


But for those looking for policy changes, he has not met expectations, Norton said.

"He hasn't displaced the elites, he hasn't built the wall, he hasn't done a whole series of things that they want him to do and most importantly, he hasn't found them jobs," she said. 

Trump and the Congressional Republicans had a significant and very public failure this week when the U.S. Senate failed to repeal Obamacare and replace it with an alternate health care bill. Plus, Trump's administration has been rocked by revelations of contacts with Russian officials and clashes in the federal courts. His $4.1 trillion spending plan, with deep domestic spending cuts, has little chance in Congress.

His promises of tax cuts and infrastructure projects are still to come. Observers are saying that Trump needs a win in tax reform to show a legislative success.


Though the legislative scorecard is lacking, Trump has had other victories, particularly on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here's a look at his progress so far.

HEALTH CARE

Repeal and Replace, or Just Repeal?
Republicans failed to come through on their promise, and Trump’s, to repeal and replace "Obamacare" when the U.S. Senate version for a replacement bill collapsed on Tuesday. Two senators — Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas — announced they would not support the new health care bill, a vote on which had been delayed while Sen. John McCain recovered from surgery, which led to a brain tumor diagnosis for the senator.

Two other senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine — had already come out against the bill — which would have allowed insurers to sell low-cost, bare bones plans but included deep cuts Medicaid. Only one additional defection was needed to doom it because Senate Democrats all opposed it. The House bill, narrowly approved in May, would leave 23 million more people without insurance than under the Affordable Care Act. 

A fallback plan to pass a straight repeal also fell apart. 


FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ISIS' Shrinking State
Trump saw the defeat of ISIS in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and one of ISIS's strongholds, last week after a nine-month battle. But the terrorist group still holds significant territory in Syria and in Iraq, particularly the Syrian city of Raqqa, which it declared its capital.

During the campaign, Trump once said he would "bomb the hell" out of ISIS and ordered his generals to submit a plan for defeating ISIS within 30 days. The Pentagon sent him a preliminary one on Feb. 27.


Iran's Nuclear Deal
During the campaign, Trump criticized the nuclear agreement with Iran as "the worst deal ever." But since taking office, he has twice certified its compliance with the deal.

He continues to say that his administration wants to strengthen the deal. His administration is preparing new economic sanctions against Iran because of its ballistic missile program and its adding to regional tensions.


ECONOMY

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Trump got good news on one of his main campaign pledges when the government reported that 222,000 jobs had been added in June, though some manufacturers will continue to send jobs overseas. Ford Motors, for example, announced it would produce its Focus model in China. And though the jobless rate rose slightly, that was because job seekers who had given up returned.


Other Economic Measures
Put the stock market in the positive column for the Trump team, as it's hit record levels several times during his presidency, including last week. And a report from the Federal Reserve at the beginning of July found that the U.S. economy was growing steadily, though still faces problems: Investment levels remain low, productivity is growing slowly, and pay is rising slowly.

The Associated Press disputed Trump's contention that "no matter where you look, the economy is blazing." "At best, it's a controlled burn," an AP fact check said. The economy grew at a sluggish annual rate of 1.4 percent during the first three months of the year and Federal Reserve officials are predicting the economy will grow by 2.2 percent this year, leaving the 4 percent annual growth Trump has predicted elusive.

THE COURTS

Tilting Right on the Supreme Court
One of Trump’s clear victories has been the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump had promised to nominate federal judges “in the mold of Justice (Antonin) Scalia.”  Gorsuch, who voted to allow an Arkansas inmate to be put to death and was in favor of allowing all of Trump’s travel ban to take effect while the court considers it, has already been one of the most conservative justices on the high court.

He replaced Scalia after Republicans in the U.S. Senate refused to consider President Barack Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland. Trump has the chance to fill more than 120 openings on the federal courts — a result of the slow pace with which Republicans took up Obama’s nominees.


IMMIGRATION

Walling off Mexico
Throughout the campaign, Trump promised a wall along the more than 1,900-mile U.S.-Mexico border that Mexico would pay for. That wall recently shrunk to 700 to 900 miles after Trump told reporters on July 13 that natural barriers and other factors make a longer one unnecessary. There is already a fence along nearly 700 miles of the border. The wall, for which House Republicans have budgeted $1.6 billion to begin construction, could include solar panels and would need to be transparent so drugs couldn’t be thrown over it, Trump said. So far, Mexico is refusing to pay.


Banning Travel from Mostly Muslim Countries
Trump’s campaign call for barring all Muslims from entering the United States has been scaled back and the administration would now ban people from certain predominantly Muslim countries. But even that has run afoul of the federal courts, which blocked implementation of the initial ban and a subsequent revised version.

At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed some parts to go forward until it could hear arguments on the policy but left the details to the Trump administration. On July 13, a federal judge in Hawaii expanded categories to allow in grandparents and other close relatives, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court upheld on Wednesday. The case pits the president’s authority to limit immigration against protection from discrimination based on religious beliefs or national origin.


Arresting Undocumented Immigrants
Arrests of immigrants jumped 40 percent, according to a government report released in May, with the largest arrest spike in immigrants with no criminal offense other than being undocumented.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have arrested more than 41,000 people since January — at an average of 400 arrests a day, according to a report by ICE.

The increase came though Trump had said that his immigration crackdown would focus heavily on criminals, "bad hombres" and public safety. 

CLIMATE CHANGE

Methane Regulation
The Trump administration’s efforts to roll back dozens of environmental regulations put in place by President Barack Obama hit a legal setback at the beginning of July when a federal appeals court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency could not suspend a rule to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had imposed a two-year moratorium on parts of the regulation, but the court ruled that his decision was unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious. The EPA must instead go through a new, exhaustive rule-making process.

Paris Agreement
Trump made good on his campaign pledge to cancel the Paris climate accord last month when he announced the United States would withdraw from the agreement. And though he said he wanted a better deal for the United States, the leaders of France, German and Italy responded that the 2015 pact was not open for renegotiation.

Trump described the agreement, adopted by 195 countries, as “draconian” and said it imposed unfair standards on the U.S. businesses. The United States was to have cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. It also would have committed up to $3 billion in aid for poorer countries by 2020.


Keystone XL Pipeline
Trump approved the Keystone XL Pipeline in March, reversing a decision by President Barack Obama on the controversial project opposed by environmentalists and some Native Americans.

Trump said the pipeline's construction would bring new jobs, lower energy costs and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil.




Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]]>