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Latest from Jamie Dupree

    After operating for almost fourteen months with acting leadership, NASA finally has a new Administrator, as the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) as the new head of the space agency, overcoming reluctance among some Republicans, and strong opposition from Democrats who said Bridenstine who too political for the job. “Jim Bridenstine has been very passionate for trying to get NASA back on focus with a big vision and a big mission,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). “I’ve known Congressman Bridenstine for a long time, and I know he is just the man for this important undertaking,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). But among Republicans, there were clearly reservations, even as the vote took place. “I was not enthused by the nomination,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said on the Senate floor, as he acknowledged that continuing with temporary leadership at the space agency was not a good answer. Rubio on the floor explaining his turnaround to support Bridenstine for NASA chief 'We give great deference to the president … and the more important the job, the more discretion the president deserves' — Erica Werner (@ericawerner) April 19, 2018 “There’s no way NASA can go two years and x-number of months without a permanent Administration,” Rubio added, his tone and body language sending the message that he would still have someone other than Bridenstine leading the space agency. For Democrats, Bridenstine’s more conservative political views – especially on climate change – overrode his military experience as a pilot in the Air Force. “Just because you know how to fly a plane does not mean you have the skills and experience to lead the federal government’s space agency,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). Remember the part in the astronaut movie when the unqualified former member of Congress running NASA saves the day by making the right decision regarding a launch? Me neither. — Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 19, 2018 “In short, NASA needs an Administrator who will be driven by science and not by politics,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). But as with most issues in the Congress right now, Democrats are don’t have enough votes to derail a nominee of President Trump – unless some Republicans break ranks to join them.
  • Embroiled in a new legal dispute after an FBI raid earlier this month, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has dropped a $100 million defamation lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed news, and the head of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which spearheaded the development of the Steele Dossier, paid for by Democrats in 2016, which made accusations of ties between Russia and President Donald Trump. “Michael Cohen hereby voluntarily dismissed the above-entitled action as to all named Defendants without costs to any party as against the other,” Cohen’s lawyers stated in a one page filing with a federal court in New York. Democrats in Congress quickly pounced. “Bullies wilt when their bluff is called,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). “Buzzfeed should demand legal fees for Cohen’s frivolous suit.” Let’s review what Cohen charged, what issues he is no longer pursuing in this lawsuit, and why some of it may still be a focus of discussion in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. 1. The general questions about the Steele Dossier. The main charge made by Cohen – and many supporters of President Donald Trump – is that the dossier is filled with false stories and accusations against Mr. Trump and his associates. “This action arises from the immensely damaging and defamatory statements,” Cohen’s lawyers wrote in their original complaint against BuzzFeed news and Glenn Simpson, the head of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which assembled the dossier through the work of ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The Cohen defamation lawsuit was simple – the statements about Cohen in the dossier were false, and he wanted millions of dollars in damages. Now, that lawsuit has been dropped. 2. The very first charge – the Prague trip. In Cohen’s lawsuit, the first specific item that is challenged is the report in the Steele Dossier that Cohen went to the Czech Republic in August of 2016, possibly to meet with people linked to Russia. “I have never in my life been to Prague or anywhere in the Czech Republic,” Cohen has said. Hours after the dossier was released, Cohen tweeted a denial, with a picture of his passport. “No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague,” Cohen tweeted just last week. If this lawsuit had proceeded, there would have been legal discovery about Cohen’s allegations.  Now, that won’t take place in the context of this proceeding. 3. Does the Special Counsel have different evidence? A story last week from McClatchy Newspapers said exactly that – that Cohen was in Prague. But it is notable that the details of that have not been matched by any other news organizations. And as with most questions about the Trump-Russia investigation, we can only go off the verified documents in the public square – and at this point, there is nothing to contradict Cohen’s denial. But if there is more to this story, it certainly could be a central part of the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.  No one knows the answer to that right now, other than Mueller’s team. Bad reporting, bad information and bad story by same reporter Peter Stone @McClatchyDC. No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague. I was in LA with my son. Proven! https://t.co/ra7nwjUA0X — Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) April 14, 2018 4. Cohen’s testimony to Congress remains secret. In late October of 2017, Cohen went before the House and Senate Intelligence committees to testify about the Russia investigation, and was evidently asked about the allegation in the dossier – the basis for his lawsuit – that he met in the Czech Republic with a Russian intelligence operative. That testimony has not been released, but lawmakers sparred about it in another transcript which was made public by the House committee.  This exchange is between Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). 5. Cohen’s legal focus now on FBI raid. What’s next for Cohen is waiting to see what the feds do with the materials seized in the April 9 raids executed against him under a federal magistrate’s approval. Federal Judge Kimba Wood could either allow a special FBI “taint team” to continue to go through that material to look for any attorney-client privilege items related to President Donald Trump. Or, a special master could be appointed to oversee the process. No matter the choice, Cohen faces a tangled legal situation involving what was seized by the feds.
  • The head of the Capitol Hill office which deals with workplace harassment cases said Wednesday that she still does not have the power to reveal the names of lawmakers who used taxpayer dollars to pay legal harassment settlements, drawing sharp rebukes from members of both parties on a House spending panel, as lawmakers in both the House and Senate expressed growing frustration about the matter. “The transparency issue is revolting,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “It is absolutely unacceptable that we continue to let members who abuse their employees hide.” At a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Susan Grundmann, the head of the Congressional Office of Compliance, said that workplace settlements which involve lawmakers, often include non-disclosure agreements, precluding any publicity. “Most settlement agreements – in fact all that I have seen – contain non-disclosure clauses in them,” said Grundmann. “Those are not by our doing.” In my opening statement to @LegBranch_OOC Executive Director Susan Grundmann, I emphasize the need for Congress to remedy workplace harassment on Capitol Hill. How can we expect others to follow our example if we're not willing to acknowledge and address this problem? pic.twitter.com/AHKtaPHVy9 — Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) April 18, 2018 Pressed sharply by both parties at a hearing where she asked for a nine percent budget increase to help deal with harassment training and case reviews, Grundmann made clear there was no plan to reveal the names of members who had engaged in such settlements in the past. “No, I think we are prohibited from under the law – in terms of the strict confidentiality that adheres to each one of our processes, and the non-disclosure agreements, we cannot disclose who they are,” Grundmann added. Grundmann said new reporting standards approved by the House would reveal every six months which offices had some type of legal settlements – and she also said that if a lawmaker agreed to a workplace settlement, taxpayers would pay the bill up front – and then have that member of Congress reimburse Uncle Sam within 90 days. So far, the House and Senate have not finalized an agreement on legislation to set new standards for transparency on workplace settlements involving lawmaker offices, as one leading Democrat today again demanded action by that chamber. “The Senate has no more excuses,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The Senate has no more excuses. We must pass these reforms before our next recess. Members of BOTH parties, men and women, agree that it’s time to act. https://t.co/vSr7sew5KN — Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 19, 2018 Back in Wednesday’s House hearing, lawmakers did not like to hear that while reforms in the House would publicly name the lawmaker and/or a top staffer if they were involved in harassment of other staffers, a Senate reform plan would not be as sweeping. “So, if a Chief of Staff engages in that conduct, or anyone else that isn’t the member, then their conduct is not disclosed?” Wasserman Schultz asked. “That’s correct,” replied Grundmann. “That’s absolutely unacceptable,” the Florida Democrat said. The hearing came days after the resignation of Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who had taxpayers foot the bill for an $84,000 settlement with a former office employee – Farenthold had promised to pay that money, but now that he is gone, it seems unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, Grundmann denied press reports in recent weeks that any personal information about sexual harassment or workplace abuses in Congressional offices was left on unsecured computer servers. “We have not been hacked. We have never stored our data on an unsecured server,” as Grundmann said their computer precautions had been described by officials as “Fort Knox.” “Fort Knox doesn’t talk about their cyber security,” she added, offering to brief members in private about the issue
  • On hold for months, President Donald Trump’s pick to head NASA was finally given the green light by a pair of GOP Senators, as the Senate voted 50-48 to overcome a possible filibuster, and advance the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be the next Administrator of NASA. A final vote to confirm Bridenstine’s nomination could come as early as Thursday in the full Senate. The key votes came from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – Flake initially voted to filibuster Bridenstine, but after an extended wait, returned to change his vote for the final margin of victory. It wasn’t immediately clear why Flake – and then Rubio – had changed course on the President’s NASA nominee, as Bridenstine supporters had spent months trying to squeeze out a final vote in support of the President’s choice, who faced determined opposition from Democrats. Before the vote, Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the decision of the Florida Republican, who had repeatedly rebuffed the calls of fellow GOP lawmakers to support Bridenstine, a more conservative House GOP lawmaker who has not hesitated to make waves during his time on Capitol Hill. Sen Marco Rubio votes 'Yes' on cloture for Bridenstine – after months of opposing his nomination — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) April 18, 2018 Just before the vote, Bridenstine’s leading Democratic critic in the Senate wasn’t backing away from his stern criticism of the three-term Republican Congressman from Oklahoma. “The NASA Administrator should be a consummate space professional,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in a speech on the Senate floor. “That’s what this Senator wants – a space professional – not a politician,” Nelson added. “Senators on both sides of the aisles have expressed doubts – both publicly and privately to me – about his qualifications for the job,” said Nelson, who was the only Senator to address the matter before the vote on cloture, a procedure to end debate in the Senate. Since Bridenstine was nominated for NASA Administrator in September, Rubio had sided with Nelson and other Democrats, raising questions about Bridenstine’s ability to run a federal agency in a nonpartisan manner. But that suddenly changed this week – and GOP leaders quickly moved to take the Bridenstine vote, moving the President a step closer to having his choice in the job as NASA chief. The procedural vote on Bridenstine’s nomination almost went awry, as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voted “No,” leaving the vote tied at 49-49. Ordinarily, the Vice President would be brought in to break the tie, but Vice President Mike Pence was in Florida with President Trump, hosting the Japanese Prime Minister. After a wait of over a half hour, Flake returned to the floor and voted “Yes,” allowing the Senate to force an end to debate.
  • Confirming press reports about a secret trip by CIA Director Mike Pompeo to North Korea, President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had gone “very smoothly and a good relationship was formed.” In the middle of his own summit with the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said on Twitter this morning that details of a meeting between him and the North Korean leader “are being worked out.” “Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!” the President tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018 “We have a responsibility to achieve a condition where Kim Jong Un is unable to threaten the United States of America with a nuclear weapon,” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. Mr. Trump chose Pompeo to move from CIA to the State Department as Secretary of State; while he was asked at his confirmation hearing on April 12 about North Korea, no Senator ever posed the question of had Pompeo ever met Kim Jong Un in person.
  • The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday gave Americans an extra day to file tax returns for 2017, after troubles surfaced for a number of hours with an online payment system, causing troubles for those trying to finish filing and paying their taxes just before the deadline. “This is the busiest tax day of the year, and the IRS apologizes for the inconvenience this system issue caused for taxpayers,” said David Kautter, who is the Acting IRS Commissioner. “The extra time will help taxpayers affected by this situation,” Kautter said in a statement. Urgent: IRS provides an extra day for taxpayers to file, pay their taxes following system issues. File by midnight, April 18. — IRS (@IRSnews) April 17, 2018 The trouble started on the final day of tax filing when the IRS payment portal, known as “Direct Pay,” suddenly wasn’t working mid-morning on Tuesday. At first, the IRS wasn’t going to give taxpayers any extra time. “Note that your tax payment is due although IRS Direct Pay may not be available,” the tax agency said on a web page which had the interesting link of “unplannedOutagePage.” The computer glitch lasted through the afternoon, but was then resolved, as taxpayers were advised to “to file their taxes as normal Tuesday evening – whether electronically or on paper.” The new deadline is midnight on Wednesday night. Urgent: IRS provides an extra day for taxpayers to file, pay their taxes following system issues. File by midnight, April 18. — IRS (@IRSnews) April 17, 2018 Of course, if you really aren’t ready to send in your taxes by the deadline – even with the additional 24 hours – you can still request a six month extension. That was the choice made by President Donald Trump, as he will get extra time to file his tax returns for 2017.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that part of a federal law which requires the deportation of certain criminal aliens was too vague, as Justice Neal Gorsuch, nominated to the Court by President Donald Trump, joined with the four more liberal justices to provide the majority opinion, upholding a ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the process. “Vague laws invite arbitrary power,” Gorsuch wrote in his own concurring opinion. “The law before us today is such a law.” “In my judgment, the Constitution demands more,” Gorsuch added, as the Supreme Court invalidated part of the Immigration and Nationality Act, urging Congress to better define what crimes should demand that a non-citizen be deported. Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan emphasized that vagueness, saying it gives too much discretion to deportation decisions. “Does car burglary qualify as a violent felony under §16(b)? Some courts say yes, another says no,” Kagan wrote. “What of statutory rape? Once again, the Circuits part ways. How about evading arrest? The decisions point in different directions. Residential trespass? The same is true.” At issue was the conduct of James Dimaya, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, who had been convicted twice of first-degree burglary in California. On the basis of those convictions, federal authorities sought to deport Dimaya, arguing his status as an ‘aggravated felon’ made him subject to deportation proceedings. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had also held that federal law was “unconstitutionally vague” on whether Dimaya should be subjected to such proceedings, a point which Gorsuch emphasized today. “Just take the crime at issue in this case, California burglary, which applies to everyone from armed home intruders to door-to-door salesmen peddling shady products,” Gorsuch wrote. “How, on that vast spectrum, is anyone supposed to locate the ordinary case and say whether it includes a substantial risk of physical force?” I'm actually reading Gorsuch's concurrence and find myself nodding along with him. https://t.co/IkcVT2XoW9 His basic argument is that the law, as construed, gives judges way too much discretion to act on their whims because Congress was too vague in how it wrote the law. — Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) April 17, 2018 The ruling was a defeat for the Trump Administration, though it certainly reinforces the President’s recent calls for the Congress to update federal immigration laws, which Mr. Trump argues make it difficult to deport people from the United States.
  • After waiting for months to get enough votes to win confirmation, Senate Republicans have decided to press ahead this week with the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to lead NASA, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the first procedural step on Monday evening to force a final vote on President Trump’s pick to lead the space agency by late in the week. “Congressman Bridenstine was encouraged to see a cloture petition filed in regard to his nomination as NASA Administrator,” said his spokeswoman Sharyl Kaufman, referring to a Senate effort to end debate, and force a vote on Bridenstine. “He is looking forward to a confirmation vote in the very near future,” she added, as a key procedural vote could take place as soon as Wednesday. But as those procedural machinations began on the Senate floor, it wasn’t immediately clear if the GOP had cleared the way for Bridenstine’s confirmation. Leader McConnell has filed cloture on Exec. Cal. #609 James Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration @NASA — Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) April 16, 2018 For months, the vote calculus has not been in favor of Bridenstine, mainly because of one Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has been against Bridenstine’s nomination. With 51 Senators on the GOP side – and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) not returning to Capitol Hill soon because of his fight with cancer – Republicans cannot afford to lose a single vote, as Democrats seemingly remain united against the Oklahoma Republican Congressman. NASA has been under an acting leader since the start of President Donald Trump’s time in office; the current acting Administrator, Robert Lightfoot, is retiring in coming weeks. The legislative maneuvers in the Senate began as Bridenstine was out in Colorado, at the 34th Space Symposium; he was joined there by Vice President Mike Pence, who saluted the outgoing acting head of NASA and Bridenstine as well. “Would you join me to thank Congressman Jim Bridenstine for stepping forward to serve our nation,” Pence said to applause at the space gathering, as the V.P. forcefully endorsed Trump Administration support for the space agency. “Under President Donald Trump, America is leading in space once again,” Pence declared. But while Mr. Trump has made clear he’s bullish on the space program, he hasn’t been able to get his NASA nominee through the Senate. In order for Bridenstine to win, either Sen. Rubio will have to reverse his position, or a Democrat will have to break ranks. One person at the Space Symposium told me the talk among attendees was that a change of heart by Rubio was the most likely possibility, as many on Capitol Hill don’t believe the GOP would hold this Senate vote unless Bridenstine had a majority to win. An email on Monday evening to Rubio’s press office to ask about the Senator’s position on Bridenstine did not draw a response. The Senate could vote on ending debate on the Bridenstine nomination for NASA as early as Wednesday. Democrats have been against Bridenstine from the outset, charging that he is not a space expert, and angered by his views on climate change.
  • A federal judge in New York on Monday refused a request by lawyers for President Donald Trump to stop federal investigators from going through evidence seized from Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, but the judge held off on deciding how best to review those materials for questions of possible attorney-client privilege involving the President, and whether that should keep some of the evidence out of the hands of prosecutors. In a several hour hearing, federal judge Kimba Wood left open the possibility that she might appoint a “special master” to oversee the process of evaluating the evidence seized from the President’s lawyer, to determine which items should – or should not – be protected under attorney-client privilege. The FBI has already set up what is known as a “taint team” to look through the materials – those people are completely separate from prosecutors working on the Cohen case in the Southern District of New York, and would determine if any documents are protected. Judge Wood said that “taint team” could be a ‘viable option’ for how to proceed. Bottom line from Cohen hearing: Judge rejects Trump's request to stop prosecutors from reviewing evidence seized, but hasn't decided on the process the review will take — whether a special master, or a government taint team, or otherwise. — Joe Schneider (@joe_in_nyc) April 16, 2018 It was not clear how swiftly the judge would move to set further hearings, or decide on the process for reviewing the evidence; Wood asked both sides to propose names for a possible “special master,” though there was no guarantee that would be the final choice for evaluating the seized evidence. The proceedings on Monday seemed to be just the start of what may be even to more legal wrangling over the materials seized from Cohen, as the legal team for the President’s personal lawyer will get a chance to see what the government has found, and then presumably, there could be legal challenges on whether that material should then be reviewed by prosecutors. For now, the seized documents remain with the FBI “taint team” while awaiting further legal action. The surprise FBI raid on April 9 was executed after the feds told a federal magistrate in New York that Cohen was under investigation “for criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings.”   It was not clear if there were any direct links to President Trump. Judge Wood denies TRO. Says no injunction ruling right now because it's too soon to know what docs are implicated in the Trump / Michael Cohen / Stormy Daniels review. But, in general, she has found the Manhattan US Atty's args most persuasive #SDNYStorm https://t.co/Ng2bSTkUcA — Pete Brush (@PeteBrush) April 16, 2018 As the court hearing developed, Cohen was asked to reveal the names of all of his clients, in order for the judge to further determine how to proceed with questions about the evidence. Cohen and his legal team had made clear two of the clients included President Trump, as well as Elliott Brody, a GOP donor who recently resigned from a top position on the Republican National Committee. But there was one more. Cohen resisted, but then was forced to reveal the name – that of conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity. But while Cohen claimed Hannity as a client, the Fox News host indicated their relationship was not one that included actual legal work. Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective. — Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 16, 2018 On his afternoon radio show, Hannity said he found the news media response to revelation to be ‘insane,’ as he indicated that he was never really a ‘client’ of Cohen – which ran counter to what Cohen had presented in the courtroom. hannity raw It was not immediately clear if there were any records seized by the FBI in the Cohen raid that had any relation to Hannity, who said on Twitter that most of his legal conversations with Cohen had been about real estate.
  • Congressional investigators reported Monday that the installation of a soundproof communications booth in the office of Environmental Protection Administration chief Scott Pruitt violated federal law, because it spent more money than allowed by Congress for changes to the office of a Presidential appointee. “There are few greater examples of government waste than a $43,000 phone booth,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN). “Now we know that the purchase wasn’t just unnecessary and wasteful, but actually illegal.” In a letter to Democrats in Congress, the Governmental Accountability Office said the EPA had violated what’s known as the “Antideficiency Act,” which the GAO says prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations in excess of the amount available in an appropriation” made by Congress. Under that law, agencies are not allowed to spend more than $5,000 for office renovations of a presidential appointee – unless the Congress gives permission. “EPA violated the Antideficiency Act,” the GAO report stated. “These spending laws are in place for a reason: to limit abuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “This is egregious and it’s past time for Scott Pruitt to resign.” “Scott Pruitt likes to talk about returning the EPA to the rule of law, but it turns out he’s better at breaking it than following it,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). The report is just the latest issue for Pruitt, who has faced a series of questions about his time as EPA chief – much of it not having anything to do with actual policy, but rather with spending. Last week, after Democrats released details of an interview with an EPA whistleblower – who is a supporter of President Trump – Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said his House Oversight Committee would seek interviews with a series of top aides at EPA. In a letter to the EPA chief, Gowdy requested more background on a controverisal low-price condominium deal with an energy lobbyist, and more, saying what the EPA has turned over to investigators so far has been “insufficient to evaluate compliance with federal ethics rules.”
  • Jamie  Dupree

    Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog.A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989. Politics and the Congress are in Jamie’s family, as both of his parents were staffers for members of Congress. He was also a page and intern in the House of Representatives. Jamie has covered 11 national political conventions, with his first being the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta. His political travels have had him on the presidential campaign trail every four years since 1992, chasing candidates throughout the primary calendar.He is heard on Cox Radio stations around the country: WSB-AM Atlanta, WDBO-AM Orlando; WOKV-AM/FM Jacksonville; WHIO-AM/FM Dayton, Ohio; and KRMG-AM Tulsa, Oklahoma.Jamie and his wife Emily live just outside the Beltway with their three children. Some may know Jamie from his other on-air hobby, as he is a licensed amateur radio operator. When not at work or playing with his kids, you can often find him with a golf club in his hands.Follow Jamie on Twitter and Google+

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  • Authorities have declined to press criminal charges against anyone in the 2016 overdose death of musical icon Prince, saying Thursday that investigators were unable to determine where the artist got the fentanyl that killed him. >> Read more trending news >> READ MORE: Charges could be announced in Prince opioid investigation two years after his death | Prince died of fentanyl overdose, autopsy report released | Search warrants unsealed in Prince death investigation | Photos: Prince through the years | MORE
  • Atlanta police are working to identify a woman found dead near Interstate 75/85 and Langford Parkway in southeast Atlanta. Channel 2 Action News there as police tried to figure out how the woman got there. We're talking to investigators as they try to figure out what happened for Channel 2 Action News starting at 4 p.m. A family will receive some tough news today when the medical examiner finally identifies a woman found dead on the side of an interstate at 2am. I'll have the lates at Noon on Ch2 pic.twitter.com/JY3wgM4ZIi — Tyisha Fernandes (@TyishaWSB) April 19, 2018 Atlanta police said officers responded to a report of a person down call just before 2 a.m. Thursday.  When officers got there, they met with two drivers who said they had seen someone having trouble walking in the road and pulled over to help them. They said the woman then collapsed. Police said Grady EMS arrived and said she was dead. TRENDING STORIES: Guilty or Not? Tex McIver jury deliberations continue Man charged with arson in stable fire that killed 24 horses 'Armed and dangerous man' on the loose after killing wife, sheriff says Her injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle, Atlanta police Capt. Andrew Senzer said. Police said they believe the woman is between the ages of 25 and 35 years old. Police on scene said they noticed that there are no apartments or homes nearby, so they said they do not know why she was in the road. “You have 75/85 that splits with Langford Parkway and that loops around, it’s a lot of twists and turns over here, very dark, but we don’t know why the pedestrian was on the roadway,” Senzer said. If the woman was hit by a car, police will then start searching for the hit-and-run driver.
  • A student who led a two-day demonstration outside of his central Michigan high school this week said it was in response to the unpunished theft of a Confederate battle flag from his pickup truck. Cameron Myers, an 18-year-old senior at Bay City Western High School, an overwhelmingly white high school about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Detroit in Auburn, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he complained to school officials that someone had cut the large Confederate flag from a pole on his truck, but no one was disciplined. He then took to friends on social media, asking them to fly their own flags outside the school. 'It all started because my flag was destroyed and nothing was done about it,' said Myers. 'I said to 'fly whatever flag you have at home.' Everybody here has the Confederate flag. It's a country boy thing where it's in their garages, bedrooms, windows.' On Tuesday, about five to eight trucks with Confederate flags parked across from the school, where only about seven of the roughly 1,200 students are black. There were about 20 parked vehicles on Wednesday, and they were met by students who staged a counter-demonstration by waving rainbow flags and placards with messages including 'Black Lives Matter' and 'Hate Not Heritage.' School officials said most of the pro-Confederate flag demonstrators weren't students at the school, but Myers disagreed, saying all but one went to Bay City Western. Administrators canceled classes Thursday at the high school and an adjoining middle school due to reported threats. But Bay County Sheriff Troy Cunningham said the reports apparently started with 'one student hearing from another student and passed around on social media.' Eventually, the information that 'people were coming over to Bay City Western to confront students' made its way to the high school's principal, said the school district superintendent, Stephen Bigelow. He said both schools planned to reopen Friday. Efforts to remove Confederate flags from public places as symbols of national division and black oppression accelerated after violence during a white supremacist rally last year in Charlottesville, Virginia. Myers said he's not racist and that his demonstration shouldn't be seen as such. He also said he hasn't received any threats due to the flag demonstrations. 'I didn't think it would go this far,' he added, saying that in hindsight he might have taken a different approach. Myers' grandmother, Lynn Boyce, said everything has been 'blown out of proportion.' 'These boys are rednecks,' Boyce said of Cameron and his friends. 'The Confederate flag does not mean anything racist to them. We're not racists.' She believes whoever stole Myers' flag from his truck is really to blame for the trouble. She also said her grandson and his friends weren't planning on protesting again on Friday. Cunningham said his department is investigating the theft of Myers' flag. 'We believe his flag was taken down or his truck might have been keyed,' he said. 'We're just monitoring the situation closely, working with other law enforcement, making sure nothing turns violent, nobody gets hurt and education isn't disrupted.' Bigelow said the school district is also trying to get to the bottom of it. 'High school students sometimes make terrible decisions,' he said. __ News researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York City.
  • A raging fire at a base lodge at Idaho's famed Sun Valley Resort ski area heavily damaged the building just days after the ski season ended, officials said Thursday. Flames were shooting 30 feet (9 meters) from the roof of the resort's Warm Springs Lodge when police arrived at the scene Wednesday night and the fire was still burning Thursday afternoon, officials said. There were no reports of injuries. The resort held its final day of skiing last Sunday. No damage estimate was immediately available but it was difficult for firefighters to put out the fire because it got into a space between the building's ceiling and roof, said Will Fruehling, chief deputy of the Blaine County sheriff's office. 'I'm not a building expert, but when big portions of the roof are burned or gone or collapsed, I would find it hard to believe that it's salvageable,' he said. No employees were inside the building that had been closed for the season and there were no reports of injuries, said Sun Valley Resort spokeswoman Kelli Lusk. Damage was estimated at more than $1 million, said Neil Bradshaw, the mayor of the town of Ketchum where the resort is located. He said an investigation into the cause will be conducted by the Ketchum Fire Department, Idaho State Fire Marshal Knute Sandahl, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ski area closed for the season last Sunday with events at the lodge that Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw said brought the community together. 'I'm sure that this sad situation will also bring the community together in a way that we find a solution going forward,' he told reporters near the lodge. 'This is important for our town, important for our valley, and we will work toward finding a good solution that works for our community.' It wasn't yet known if sprinklers inside the lodge had activated, Bradshaw said. The lodge made of river stones and logs was built in 1993 and is one of two base lodges at different access points to the slopes of the 9,150-foot (2,789-meter) Bald Mountain. Bald Mountain and Sun Valley Resort are consistently listed nationally as among the top destinations for skiers, and draws international visitors. Bald Mountain, typically called Baldy by locals, has also produced some of the nation's top alpine skiers and snowboarders. Picabo Street learned to ski at Sun Valley and won a silver medal in the downhill at the 1994 Olympics in Norway and a gold medal in the super G at the 1998 Olympics in Japan. Snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington also learned at the resort and won a gold medal in the halfpipe at the 2014 Olympics in Russia. The Sun Valley region became a seasonal destination for the elite after novelist Ernest Hemingway, who is buried in Ketchum, and other stars started visiting in the late 1930s.
  • The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has launched a wide-ranging inquiry into Fort Valley State University surrounding allegations of employee misconduct and hazing. A GBI official told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday night that the case is growing so big that agents from across the state are being called to the area to assist in the investigation.  TRENDING STORIES: Authorities find body of teacher missing for 3 years Hundreds of bus drivers call out sick; more 'sickout' days planned Waffle House is selling this for the first time ever GBI Special Agent J.T. Ricketson confirmed that the investigation is taking place but would not go into details about what the agency is looking into. Several media outlets have reported that it involves the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and social media is humming over allegations that it might involve a sex ring. “We haven’t confirmed any of the allegations that we have heard,” Ricketson said. “The story is out in front of us, but we have to be very thorough, because there is a lot of stuff out there. I told my agents that there is a lot of street committee talk out there.” Earlier this week, officials at Fort Valley, a 123-year-old HBCU in Middle Georgia, notified the University System of Georgia about a case of employee misconduct and said an employee had been placed on administrative leave. Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest black sorority in the country, issued a statement Wednesday saying it has launched a separate investigation and confirming that the Fort Valley administrator was a member of their sorority. The statement said the sorority has a “zero-tolerance policy for hazing, member sexual misconduct, and harassment.” “These allegations are in no way representative of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s 110-year service-based mission or its nearly 300,000 members,” the statement said. “We condemn these allegations in the strongest possible terms. We remain dedicated to our mission to encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, promote unity, alleviate problems concerning girls and women, create opportunities for them to pursue higher education and be of service to millions of people around the world annually.” Ricketson said the GBI started investigating the case on April 12. He said the situation came to light during a recent Board of Regents visit to Fort Valley. A student mentioned it to a regent, who reported it to the state attorney general’s office, which directed the GBI to open a criminal investigation. Ricketson said the first of as many as 60 interviews with students and staff started on Monday. Computers have also been seized. “As we talk to students and staff, we are gaining additional information,” Ricketson said. “We are not at liberty to tell the nature of the allegations. But the nature of these allegations can be damaging to the reputation of an institution.” This article was written by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • The Latest on fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe (all times local): 4:55 p.m. A lawyer for fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says a criminal referral to prosecutors about his client is 'unjustified.' Attorney Michael Bromwich confirmed the referral to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington in a statement Thursday. It comes amid an inspector general report that concluded that McCabe misled investigators about his role in a news media disclosure. The referral doesn't mean he will be charged, but it does mean he could face a criminal investigation. In his statement, Bromwich says the standard for an inspector general referral 'is very low.' He says he's already met with representatives from the U.S. Attorney's office and is confident that, 'unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the US Attorney's Office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute.' __ 4:25 p.m. The Justice Department's inspector general has sent a criminal referral about fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe to federal prosecutors in Washington, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday. The referral to the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia does not mean McCabe will ever be charged, but it does raise the possibility that the longtime law enforcement official could face a criminal investigation into whether he illegally misled officials about a news media disclosure. Prosecutors could move to charge him if they conclude that he intentionally lied. The person who described the referral was not authorized to discuss a confidential process publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.