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National Govt & Politics
Five things to watch in President Trump's State of the Union Address
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Five things to watch in President Trump's State of the Union Address

Five things to watch in President Trump's State of the Union Address
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Five things to watch in President Trump's State of the Union Address

Delayed by a week due to the partisan wrangling over a 35 day partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump goes before Congress and the nation on Tuesday night to deliver his second State of the Union Address, a speech which White House officials say will again focus on bipartisanship in the U.S. House and Senate, a message the President delivered in 2018 as well.

"Together we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock extraordinary promise of America’s future," officials said the President would tell the nation, as Mr. Trump will focus on 'choosing greatness.'

The speech comes as the days are ticking by to a February 15 funding deadline, as House-Senate negotiations seem to be on hold while lawmakers wait to see whether the President declares a 'national emergency' to get money to build a border wall.

Here are five things to watch in the speech:

1. Immigration could dominate all other issues. While the President is certain to talk a lot about border security, and getting money to fund a border wall, that won't be the only thing Mr. Trump talks about before the Congress. But what President Trump says about a possible 'national emergency' declaration to funnel money to wall construction will certainly make headlines, and threatens to overshadow much of what he will say in the speech about other issues. If the President does authorize a national emergency, the Congress gets to vote on that - and it's certain to be brought to the floor by Democrats in the House, as some Republicans have made clear to the White House that such a move would be a mistake, because it would certainly be used by Democrats in the future when they win the Presidency.

2. Reading the tea leaves on Trump agenda. The State of the Union often gives a glimpse into what issues a President wants action on in the Congress, but other than talking about border security for the last few months, Mr. Trump has said little publicly about other agenda items. In office for more than two years now, the President said in last year's State of the Union that it was "time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure," but press reports in recent days indicate that might not even get mentioned, as the White House has yet to formulate an infrastructure plan for the Congress to act upon. Watch to see what the President emphasizes when it comes to domestic policy items.

3. The reaction of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Don't underestimate the power of a facial twitch, eye roll, or smirk. With the change from last November's mid-term elections, President Trump will have a Democrat sitting over his shoulder during this speech to Congress, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will wield the gavel, sitting next to Vice President Mike Pence. The last time that Speaker Pelosi and President Trump were in the same room was in early December, when the President said he would gladly take the blame for any partial shutdown of the federal government. Mr. Trump has harshly criticized Pelosi for weeks over money for his signature plan to build a border wall - now, the main TV camera shot quickly show us every facial reaction the Speaker makes as the President is speaking to lawmakers and the nation - especially if he directly mentions her.

4. A handful of Democrats won't attend the State of the Union. There was more talk a year ago of Democrats boycotting the President's speech - in the end, about a dozen didn't show up, and this year it seems to be an even smaller number who will decide to do something different. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) have made clear they don't want to be in the House Chamber for the address. It's always possible that a few others will quietly stay home and watch from the comfort of their own couch as well. "If I did protest, it would be something very passive," said Johnson. Meanwhile, as they did in 2017, a number of Democratic women will dress in all white, representing the Suffragette movement, trying to send their own message to the President - in person.

5. Trump speaks on anniversary of House Fight Night. If you are rooting for some kind of wild spectacle on the floor of the House during this year's State of the Union Address, a wild fight scene actually happened on this same night in 1858, as the House floor turned into a pre-Civil War version of WWE. The House had moved into its current chamber just a few months earlier, when a night of procedural votes, testy debate, and simmering North-South turmoil led to a brawl on the House floor. I wrote about it six years ago, and it's again another reminder that while many think things are out of hand today, we haven't reached such a boiling point inside the House Chamber.

Jamie Dupree
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News

  • A man pulled a knife on animal shelter workers Monday as he was trying to get back his dog, investigators said. >> Read more trending news  The man pretended to be a volunteer at the Animal Humane Society in an attempt to get back his dog after it was impounded because of an incident with the Robbinsdale Police Department, KARE reported. When staffers tried to stop him, he pulled out a knife and a fight ensued. Employees were able to get the knife from him and subdue him until police arrived, KARE reported. The 39-year-old suspect has not been identified. He is facing multiple charges, including aggravated assault and terroristic threats, KARE reported. No charges have yet been filed. 
  • “You told me to.” Those were the dying words of a North Carolina man who was shot by police as he followed orders to drop the gun he had in his pocket, body camera footage shows. Footage of the March 25 death of Danquirs Napoleon Franklin, 27, was released Friday by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The video was released on the order of Mecklenburg County Superior Judge Donnie Hoover, who was responding to a petition by local media.  Prosecutors and the attorney representing Officer Wende Kerl objected to the release. Assistant District Attorney Bill Bunting argued the release could impact the ongoing criminal investigation into the shooting, WSOC in Charlotte reported. Defense attorney Jeremy Smith cited concerns for Kerl’s safety.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officials said dispatchers received two 911 calls around 9 a.m. the morning of the shooting, the calls coming within two minutes of one another. The calls came from a Burger King located on Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte.  “The first caller frantically said she needed police quickly because the individual entered the store, walked behind the counter with a gun and was pointing it at an employee,” a police department statement said. “The second caller frantically said she needed police because an individual had approached her vehicle while she was waiting for food in the parking lot of the business and pulled out a gun.” Listen to the 911 call from inside Burger King, courtesy of WSOC. Kerl and another officer, Larry Deal, responded to the scene, where they saw Franklin squatting next to the open front passenger door of a burgundy Honda Accord parked outside the fast food restaurant.  “A short time later, Officer Kerl perceived an imminent, deadly threat and subsequently fired her department issued firearm two times, striking Mr. Franklin,” police officials said. “He was transported to Atrium Health where he was pronounced deceased a short time later.” Kerl’s own body camera footage shows Franklin never pointed the weapon at anyone during the fatal confrontation. He appeared to be following the officers’ orders to put his weapon on the ground.  The 2-minute, 20-second video begins with footage of Kerl driving up to the Burger King. She does not get out of her car until the midpoint of the recording. Watch the entirety of the body camera footage below. Warning: The footage is graphic and shows Danquirs Franklin’s final moments. Viewer discretion is advised. As soon as she is out of the car, she joins Deal in ordering Franklin to show his hands. Franklin is not yet visible on the camera footage. After screaming for Franklin to let them see his hands several times, Kerl begins to move in front of Deal. “I’m crossing. I’m crossing,” Kerl says, letting Deal know she’s entering his line of fire.  At this point, Kerl is about a car length away from Franklin, who squats by the open car door. Another man sits inside the car.  “Put the gun down now!” Kerl and Deal shout at Franklin, who is approached by a Burger King employee.  “He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun,” Kerl says.  Watch Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney discuss body worn cameras below. The officers order the female employee to get out of the way. They continue to scream at Franklin, ordering him to drop the weapon.  “I heard you the first (unintelligible) time,” Franklin appears to say calmly.  The gun is still not visible on the body camera footage.  “Put it on the ground!” Kerl shouts one last time. Franklin’s right hand appears to go into his pocket. He pulls out a handgun by its barrel and lowers it to the ground. As soon as the handgun is visible, Kerl fires her service weapon twice into Franklin’s body. He turns his face toward the officer.  “You told me to put it …,” Franklin says, the rest of his words swallowed by the officers’ continued screams for him to drop the gun.  At that point, the weapon can be seen already on the pavement.  A shocked-looking Franklin, grimacing in pain, glances into the car once more before slumping against the open car door.  “Shots fired. Shots fired,” Kerl says into her body-worn radio. Deal can be heard radioing the need for medical assistance as someone screams from somewhere near the restaurant.  Kerl and Deal approach Franklin, who has slumped onto the pavement. They order the man sitting in the car, who tells them he’s the “GM,” or general manager, to put his hands on the dashboard as Kerl picks up Franklin’s gun from near his still body.  That’s when the publicly released footage ends.  Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles urged calm in the community in advance of the release of the police footage, according to WSOC.  “It’s another really sad moment and (a) reminder that the responsibilities of law enforcement are, and will always be, immense,” Mayor Lyles said. “In the blink of an eye, their jobs require an instantaneous decision, and that’s something none of us should take lightly.” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said his department expected there would be protests, but that he expected they would be peaceful. “We expect this to be people voicing their opinion,” Putney said.  When asked about his own reaction to watching the video, he described it as being “like a punch to the gut.” “It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to see. Because a life has been lost,” Putney said, according to WSOC. “I hope you’ll do what we’re doing and pray for Miss Franklin and her family. Pray for our officers, whose lives have been destroyed as well. Come together as a community and be heard. But be lawful.” Peaceful protests did pop up around Charlotte in the aftermath of the video’s release, including one hosted by the NAACP’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg branch and UNC Charlotte that NAACP officials said was “in memory of Danquirs Franklin and every stolen life.” During that event, Corine Mack, the president of the local NAACP chapter, said that priorities must change.  “I think that Chief Putney is a good and decent human being,” Mack said. “But I also know that one man can’t change the hearts and minds of 1,800 officers. Especially those who’ve been reared in the root of hate in this country. “All cops are not bad cops. But if you’re a solid cop, you are now accountable for that bad cop’s actions. We’re asking for folks to be honest and forthright, to come forward when they see wrong. To speak out when they see wrong. To ensure that the lives that we’re talking about get the same fair treatment as anyone else.” At another protest, Mack told the crowd the video made her “sick to her stomach,” WSOC reported.  “When I saw that video, I wanted to hurt somebody,” Mack said. “If I felt that way, imagine how the family felt.” Franklin’s cousin, James Barnett, spoke to the news station about watching the video.  Up until this point we’ve been silent and only wanted the truth to come out, but we also wanted to see it because it was the last moments of his life,” Barnett said.  Scott MacLatchie, a police attorney with experience in officer-involved shootings, told WSOC a key factor was the amount of time officers gave Franklin prior to firing a gun. He pointed out that it took more than 40 seconds for Franklin to follow the officers’ orders. “He wasn’t cooperating for a long time,” Franklin said. Kerl, who has been a police officer in Charlotte since April 1995, was placed on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted. According to police officials, an internal investigation is being done parallel to the criminal investigation into the officer’s actions.  All findings of the criminal investigation will be turned over to the district attorney for review, authorities said. 
  • Investigators believe they have found the cause of the destructive fire that damaged a large portion of Notre Dame Cathedral. A French judicial police official said the fire may have started by a short-circuit, The Associated Press reported. >> Read more trending news  Check back for the latest on this developing story.
  • U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Thursday released a redacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. >> Read more trending news The report was released around 11 a.m., weeks after Mueller completed his investigation. President Donald Trump hailed the report as a victory over his critics. >> Mueller Report: Read the report Barr just released Update 12:45 p.m. EDT April 18: Brad Parscale, manager of the 2020 Trump presidential campaign, hailed the release of Mueller’s report Thursday and repeated the president’s calls for an investigation into the investigators. “President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again,” Parscale said in a statement. “Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever.” In the report released Thursday, Mueller said the FBI launched an investigation into whether Trump campaign officials were coordinating with the Russian government in July 2016. The investigation came after authorities said then-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that “the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.” Update 12:35 p.m. EDT April 18: Mueller said Trump attempted to influence the investigation into Russian election meddling. Mueller said his efforts “were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede his request.” Mueller’s report details instances by several officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, former White House counsel Don McGahn and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, ignoring or refusing Trump’s requests to interfere in the investigation. Update 12:15 p.m. EDT April 18: When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Trump in May 2017 that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate Russian election meddling, the president 'slumped back in his chair and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm (expletive).' Trump blamed Sessions for the appointment, according to Mueller. 'Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency,' Trump said, according to the report released Thursday. 'It takes years and years and I won't be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.' Speaking Thursday at an event at the White House, Trump said, “this should never happen to another president again.” Update 11:45 a.m. EDT April 18: In the report released Thursday, Mueller said his team considered Trump’s written responses to questions in the Russia probe to be inadequate, but they decided against subpoenaing the president because of the delay such a move would cause to the investigation. Other revelations from the report include: Mueller said Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn in June 2017 to call the acting attorney general and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest. Trump previously denounced reports of the call as “fake news.”  Members of Trump’s staff might have saved him from more dire legal consequences by refusing to carry out orders they thought were legally risky, according to The Washington Post.  Mueller made clear in the report that “Russia wanted to help the Trump campaign, and the Trump campaign was willing to take” the help, the Post reported. However, investigators were unable to establish that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government. Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 18: In his report, Mueller shared the reasoning behind his decision not to answer the question of whether the might have president obstructed justice. Mueller’s team scrutinized 10 episodes in which Trump sought to seize control of the Russia probe, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey, his directive to subordinates to have Mueller fired and efforts to encourage witnesses not to cooperate. The president’s lawyers have said Trump’s conduct fell within his constitutional powers, but Mueller’s team deemed the episodes were deserving of scrutiny to determine whether crimes were committed. Update 11:25 a.m. EDT April 18: President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was “having a good day” following the release of the Mueller report. “This should’ve never happened,” Trump told a crowd gathered at a Wounded Warriors event at the White House, according to CNN. “I say this in front of my friends — this should never happen to another president again. This hoax — it should never happen again.' Trump’s attorneys hailed the report as “a total victory for the president” in a statement released to CNN. “The report underscores what we have argued from the very beginning - there was no collusion - there was no obstruction,” the statement said. “This vindication of the President is an important step forward for the country and a strong reminder that this type of abuse must never be permitted to occur again.” >> The Mueller report: What is in it, when will it be released, what will happen next? Update 11 a.m. EDT April 18: Barr has released a redacted version of the Mueller report, which is 448 pages long. >> Mueller report: Read the transcript of William Barr's remarks Update 10:55 a.m. EDT April 18: President Donald Trump was expected to deliver remarks Thursday morning at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride as lawmakers and the public await the release of Mueller’s report. However, by 10:55 a.m., Trump had yet to appear for the event. Update 10:30 a.m. EDT April 18: In a letter sent Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler asked Mueller to testify before the panel no later than May 23. Nadler released his letter to Mueller minutes after Barr spoke with reporters about the report, which is expected to be released Thursday. Barr told reporters he had “no objection to Bob Mueller testifying.” “It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings,” Nadler said. Update 10:20 a.m. EDT April 18: Barr said he plans to release a less-redacted version of Mueller’s report to several congressional committees on Thursday “in an effort to accommodate congressional requests” for Mueller’s full report. “These members of Congress will be able to see all of the redacted materials for themselves -- with the limited exception of that which, by law, cannot be shared,” Barr said Thursday morning at a news conference. “I believe that this accommodation, together with my upcoming testimony before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, will satisfy any need Congress has for information regarding the special counsel’s investigation.”    Update 10:05 a.m. EDT April 18: At a news conference Thursday morning, Barr said it will be important to view President Donald Trump’s actions in context. “President Trump faced an unprecedented situation,” Barr said. “As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.” Barr said the Office of the White House Counsel has reviewed the redacted version of Mueller’s report but that Trump declined to assert privilege over it. Trump took to Twitter after Barr spoke to highlight that there was 'No collusion. No obstruction.' Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 18: Mueller’s report details two main efforts sponsored by Russian government officials to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, Barr said Thursday morning at a news conference ahead of the report’s release. The report details efforts by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company with ties to the Russian government, to “sow social discord among American votes through disinformation and social media operations,” Barr said. It also details efforts by Russian military officials connected to the GRU, “to hack into computers and steal documents and emails from individuals affiliated with the Democratic Party.” “The special counsel found no evidence that any Americans -- including anyone associated with the Trump campaign -- conspired or coordinated with the Russian government or the IRA in carrying out this illegal scheme,” Barr said. Update 9:15 a.m. EDT April 18: President Donald Trump called the Mueller investigation 'The Greatest Political Hoax of all time!' in a series of tweets posted Thursday ahead of the release of the report. >> Mueller report: Trump tweets 'presidential harassment' ahead of redacted report's release “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” he wrote in a subsequent tweet. Trump has frequently criticized the Mueller investigation, framing the probe as a political “witch hunt” aimed at harming his presidency. Original report: Barr is expected to release a redacted version of Mueller’s report to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon Thursday before sharing the report on the special counsel’s website, Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree reported. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Battle lines clear as D.C. awaits redacted Mueller report Mueller completed his investigation late last month, 22 months after he launched his probe at the direction of the Justice Department. The investigation was frequently lambasted by President Donald Trump as a “witch hunt” aimed at undermining his presidency. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A California man was arrested after police said he went on a violent, nine-minute crime spree that included stabbing a woman, breaking into two homes and hitting a pedestrian with a stolen car. >> Read more trending news  James Carlos Melendrez, 25, of Anaheim, was booked into the Orange County Jail on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder, carjacking and two attempted carjackings, The Los Angeles Times reported. His bail was set at $2 million. The incident started around 5 p.m. Tuesday, when Melendrez got into a fight outside a Salvation Army store in Lake Forest, Orange County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Chad Taylor said in a news conference. Melendrez then ran from the fight and forced his way into a nearby apartment, Taylor said. The two people inside the apartment chased Melendrez out. Melendrez then entered a house through a back window, police said. A woman and her two daughters were home at the time. When Melendrez grabbed a knife from the kitchen, the mother ran from the home in an effort to lure him outside, The Orange County Register reported. Melendrez chased the woman outside and down the street, then stabbed her several times when she fell, Taylor said. The woman was left in critical condition, according to The Orange County Register. A group of people driving by in a white BMW stopped to help the woman. When they got out of the car, Melendrez -- still armed with a knife -- began chasing them and then stole the car, Taylor said. “He was on drugs,” Kelly Meyer, an occupant of the BMW, told CBS LA. “You could tell he was on something. His eyes were just weird, like they were looking through you. Just strange. He looked weird.” Melendrez drove erratically, police said, jumping a curb and hitting a woman who was walking on a sidewalk. She was critically injured but is expected to survive, The Orange County Register reported. Melendrez drove off and collided with another vehicle, Taylor said. He then left the scene of the crash and attempted, unsuccessfully, to break into another house, the Times reported. Melendrez tried carjacking a few more drivers before a bicyclist stopped him with pepper spray, Taylor said. Taylor said Melendrez didn’t know any of the victims, and that the crimes appear to be random.
  • A woman was arrested Saturday after telling police methamphetamine in her purse were “healing crystals,” investigators said. >> Read more trending news  Cactus Naomi Calderas, 43, was pulled over for not using a turn signal and appeared to be very nervous as police approached, KHOU reported. Police said she consented to a search of her vehicle, KHOU reported. During a pat down, an officer found four butane lighters and a pipe used for smoking meth in Calderas’ pocket. The meth was found in her purse. Calderas was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, KHOU reported.