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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    Without enough votes from Republicans in the Congress, Democrats in the House are expected to fall short on Tuesday in their bid to override President Donald Trump's veto of a plan which would block his national emergency declaration from funneling billions of dollars from the Pentagon to construction of a wall along the southern border with Mexico. While both the House and Senate approved the plan to reverse the President's emergency declaration, neither chamber had enough votes for a veto override, which will allow Mr. Trump to move money around within military construction accounts in the Pentagon, shifting at least $3.6 billion from that funding into a border wall. 'The Republicans in the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of a secure border,' the President said when he vetoed the resolution earlier this month. 'Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution - I have the duty to veto it,' Mr. Trump added. 'Whether we can succeed with the number of votes is not the point,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 'We are establishing the intent of Congress,' as Democrats argue the President is wrongly defying the Legislative Branch, and its spending decisions on the border wall. 'Both Houses of Congress, in a bipartisan way, sent him a bill that said this is how we’ll address border security,' the Speaker told reporters. 'He defied the Constitution with his action.' Still not spelled out by the Trump Administration is what military construction projects would lose money in order to funnel extra money to a border wall. The Pentagon last week gave lawmakers a 21 page document which listed dozens of projects that could lose money - but officials repeatedly emphasized that no decisions had been made on exactly what projects might see their money stripped in order to fund the wall. “I hope they will take that into consideration before the vote to override the President’s veto,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). But even with questions still unanswered about what home state projects might be scrapped, Democrats have seemingly made no headway in driving a wedge between GOP lawmakers and the White House on the issue, as the Tuesday vote arrives in the House with no expectation that Democrats will come close to the needed two-thirds super majority.
  • A day after Congress was told the Mueller investigation had not found evidence of coordination or conspiracy involving Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 elections, a leading GOP Senator vowed to fully investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, arguing that President Donald Trump may have been the victim of overzealous investigators inside the Justice Department. 'The double standard here has been striking and quite frankly disappointing,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who told reporters at the Capitol on Monday morning that it's time to find out more about how the investigation began during the 2016 campaign, how it meshed with the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails, and whether there had been bias inside the Justice Department and FBI against President Trump. While Graham said he would conduct oversight via the Senate Judiciary Committee, the South Carolina Republican also said he wants a more formal review by the Justice Department, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr. 'What I want to do is see if he'll appoint a Special Counsel,' Graham said, as he argued that President Trump had been unfairly targeted. Graham said he would look at the role of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch - who tried to step back from the Clinton email investigation, which led to the broader involvement of former FBI Director James Comey. 'What was the conflict that made Loretta Lynch so unable to preside over the Clinton email investigation?' Graham asked. While Graham ticked off the boxes of a series of questions which have dominated conservative talk radio over the past two years, the ally of the President made clear he agreed with the Mueller report findings on one very key issue - that the Russians were responsible for the hacking of the Democratic Party in 2016. “It was the Russians - it wasn’t some 300 pound guy sitting on a bed somewhere,” Graham said, making reference to a quote by President Trump, who at times has rejected assertions that Russian Intelligence was responsible for the hacking of emails from Clinton campaign and DNC officials. Graham said he also wanted answers on how the Obama Administration handled the initial developments in the Russia investigation - which came during the 2016 campaign. 'Nobody went to President Trump to tell him, there may be some people in your orbit that are connected to the Russians and working with the Russians,' Graham said at a news conference. At the White House, President Trump kept his comments limited about the Mueller report, saying he would not oppose the release of the details of the report, if that’s what Attorney General Barr wants to do. Asked during an event in the Oval Office whether the Special Counsel had done his job honorably, Mr. Trump responded: 'Yes, he did.' “I wish it could have gone a lot sooner, a lot quicker,” the President added.
  • A day after the outlines of the Special Counsel investigation were delivered to the Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court kept alive one part of the Russia probe, refusing to hear arguments in the so-called 'Mystery Case' involving an unknown foreign company owned by an unidentified foreign government, which is trying to get out of a subpoena for grand jury testimony involving the Mueller investigation. In a simple order issued by the Justices on Monday morning, the Court refused to allow arguments on efforts to block the grand jury subpoena, in a case which has proceeded with dramatic secrecy through the courts over the past few months. 'The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied,' the order stated, in the case officially known as 'In Re Grand Jury Subpoena.' The unidentified company has argued that federal laws don't allow foreign governments or businesses to be ensnared in criminal cases in the U.S. - while the involvement of prosecutors from the Special Counsel's office was finally revealed in recent weeks, it's still not clear what company, what country, or what information is at play in this grand jury subpoena fight. The lack of information about the case has left legal experts grasping for clues - and now with the Mueller investigation wrapping up its work - it’s not clear how long legal battles like this one over testimony will continue in the courts. The unknown company at the center of this dispute has been paying a fine of $50,000 for every day that it does not comply with the grand jury subpoena for information. It’s been estimated those legal penalties topped $2 million in late February, and would continue to mount with today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Armed with his Attorney General's summary of a lengthy report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump was up early on Monday morning celebrating the findings of that probe, joining GOP lawmakers in Congress in declaring that his campaign had been cleared of any questions of wrongdoing. 'The Special Counsel did not find that the Trump Campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian Government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump Campaign,' the President tweeted early on Monday, quoting from a letter sent Sunday by Attorney General William Barr to Congress. The four page letter from Barr - summarizing the findings of the Mueller investigation - found no conspiracy existed between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, even as Russian intelligence hacked Democratic Party emails, and 'despite multiple. offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.' 'But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts,' the letter from Barr noted. In Congress, Republican lawmakers gleefully joined the President in heralding the findings, trying their best to undercut any ongoing efforts by Democrats to further dig into the details of the Mueller report - which the Attorney General said he would strive to make as much public as possible in the weeks and months ahead. 'There was NO collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump or his campaign,' said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). 'Facts trump the liberal circus, every time,' said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). 'Democrats in Congress should follow his lead and allow the President to govern as he was elected by the American people to do,' said Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL). 'After two years the case is closed.' As for Democrats, they quickly dug into the details of the Barr letter and focused on getting the details of the Mueller report made public, zeroing in on Barr's description that Mueller had made no conclusions about whether President Trump had obstructed during the Russia investigation. 'The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,'' Barr quoted the Mueller findings. 'There must be full transparency in what Special Counsel Mueller uncovered to not exonerate the President from wrongdoing,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the head of the House Judiciary Committee, who vowed to press for more documents and hearings about the Mueller investigation. 'Questions remain related to evidence of obstruction of the investigation into Russian election interference,' said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). The findings - as related by the Attorney General on Sunday - clearly made any chance of impeachment proceedings against the President in Congress much less of a possibility, both easing the political pressure on Mr. Trump, and at the same time giving him a public boost which his campaign quickly jumped on for supporters. The President was already scheduled to take his message on the road for a campaign rally on Thursday in Michigan.
  • Attorney General William Barr told Congress on Sunday that a sweeping investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of coordination between Russian Intelligence and the Trump Campaign in 2016, as Barr said there was not enough evidence to pursue allegations of obstruction of justice against President Donald Trump, though Mueller left open that question in his report. In a four page letter summarizing the major findings of the Mueller investigation, the Attorney General said, 'the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.' On the question of whether the President obstructed justice by impeding the investigation into the underlying matter, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had concluded from the Mueller findings that, 'the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.' Republicans said the Barr summary showed the investigation had found nothing which could lead to the President's prosecution or impeachment. 'No collusion and no obstruction,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 'The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report.' The White House immediately declared victory as well. “The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction,” said Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement.  “Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States,” Sanders told reporters. While the letter was immediately hailed by Republicans as the end of the investigation, it also left Democrats with some tantalizing tidbits which they are sure to pursue on the obstruction issue, specifically one line cited by the Attorney General in his Sunday letter to the Congress. 'The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,'' the Attorney General wrote, in quoting the Mueller report’s section about the issue of obstruction of justice. 'Special Counsel Mueller clearly and explicitly is not exonerating the President, and we must hear from AG Barr about his decision making and see all the underlying evidence for the American people to know all the facts,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Other Democrats also made clear they want more than just the four page summary written by the Attorney General, as Nadler vowed to bring Attorney General Barr in for hearings. You can read the full four page letter from Attorney General Barr at this link. As for the possibility of the Mueller report being made public, Barr told Congress in his letter that he would still try to err on the side of transparency. “I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel's report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies,” Barr wrote.
  • As Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted a report to the U.S. Attorney General on Friday concerning the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, many questions remain unanswered about what Mueller had uncovered, what legal actions still must take place related to the investigation, and just how much of the report that lawmakers in Congress will be able to review in coming months. Even before the contents of the Mueller report - initially described as 'comprehensive' - were known, there were certainly metrics for the Special Counsel investigation, which netted a series of guilty pleas, and one trial conviction, that of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on charges of tax and bank fraud. Court filings by the Special Counsel's office demonstrated a sweeping effort by Russian Intelligence agents to hack emails and other documents from Democratic Party officials in the U.S., and showed how a number of people with ties to the President lied to Mueller's investigators when asked about their links to certain Russians under scrutiny by the feds. 1. Will the Congress actually get to see the Mueller report? This is not as simple as it might seem, as the Special Counsel law does not guarantee that the Congress will get the details of the Russia findings. The decision on how much is shared with the Congress - and whether it can be shared with the public - is first up to the Attorney General William Barr. Under the law, Barr is supposed to review the report, and then send a summary to lawmakers, something he may do as soon as this weekend. But that's not the Mueller report. And it's clear that members of both parties want to read it. 2. What about the Mystery Case? Even while the Special Counsel is closing down his work, it doesn't mean the loose ends are just going to vanish into thin air. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court was considering on Friday - just hours before the Mueller report was submitted - whether or not to grant a hearing on a case involving an unknown foreign company owned by an unidentified foreign country which has been subpoenaed for the Mueller investigation. If the trial for Roger Stone is going to continue, then why wouldn't the legal wrangling over 'Country A' go on as well? Just one of the many unknowns at this point. 3. What about other federal prosecutors? As we have seen during the Mueller investigation, the Special Counsel at times farmed out certain cases to U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of New York, or the Eastern District of Virginia. Could those matters - emerging from the Mueller investigation - still continue even after the Special Counsel is playing golf in coming weeks? That's also a big unknown. Certainly, it's always been a fervent hope of Democrats that something happens along those lines - but there's definitely no guarantee. 4. Will we ever hear from Robert Mueller? Unlike Watergate, unlike the Monica Lewinsky investigation, Robert Mueller has not made any public comments or held press conferences. It has probably driven both the White House and Democrats absolutely batty to see him be so quiet. Some Democrats have already suggested that Mueller be called before the Congress to testify on what he found, just like Independent Counsel Ken Starr was given the chance to outline his findings before the House Judiciary Committee against President Clinton in 1998. 5. There still is a lot going on in the 'Mueller' probe. I don't want to belabor this point, but even with Mueller on the golf course, lots of legal wrangling will have to continue on an array of fronts. A judge must still give former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn his sentence. Roger Stone's trial doesn't start until November. Paul Manafort's aide Rick Gates is still cooperating with the feds and has not been sentenced as yet. Andrew Miller - an associate of Roger Stone - is still being asked to testify before a federal grand jury. So, even with Mueller's report now filed - and even before we know the details - the impact of the Mueller investigation isn't 'over' - so to speak. 6. Waiting on the details. We still don't know what's in the Mueller report. And yet, everyone on the news is talking about it. I've been counseling for months about this investigation that one should wait to see actual documents before marching off to any conclusions. The same can be said of the Mueller probe. Has Mueller delivered total exoneration for the President? We really don't know. While Mueller's office won't be delivering more indictments, could more be in the pipeline? We don't know. Will this report recommend impeachment, or be silent on that issue? We don't know. If this was like the Starr Report, we would have all of the information. Instead, we have to wait.
  • Democrats on Friday quickly called for the release of details in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump, as U.S. Attorney General William Barr told key lawmakers he could release some of the findings to Congress as soon as this weekend. 'Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer in a joint statement. 'The Special Counsel's report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the Attorney General should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public,' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.  'Nothing short of that will suffice,' Warner added, as Democrats quickly piled on to join that point of view. “The Attorney General should make the report public and let the American people learn the facts Mueller uncovered,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL).
  • The Treasury Department reported Friday that the federal government ran a budget deficit of almost $234 billion in the month of February, the highest monthly deficit ever recorded by the U.S., pushing the 2019 deficit to over $544 billion after five months of the fiscal year, over $150 billion more than the same point a year ago. In its budget report, the Treasury Department took the unusual step of adding a 'highlight' explanation on the latest batch of red ink for Uncle Sam. 'February has been a deficit month 53 times out of 65 fiscal years as February is the first full month of the annual individual tax filing season and generally contains elevated individual tax refund levels, while also not containing a major corporate or individual tax due date,' the report stated. Revenues were up in February 2019 by almost $12 billion from February of 2018 - that marked only the fourth month since the GOP tax cut went into effect that revenues had been up on a year-to-year basis. So far in Fiscal Year 2019, revenues coming in to Uncle Sam are down $8 billion. Spending in February was $401.2 billion, up from $371 billion a year earlier. Overall spending in 2019 is up about $145 billion in total from the same period of 2018. The surging deficit is no surprise to those on Capitol Hill or in the Trump Administration, as earlier this month, the White House predicted in the President’s own budget proposal that the deficit would remain over $1 trillion each of the next four years. These are the White House yearly deficit projections: 2019 - $1.092 trillion 2020 - $1.101 trillion 2021 - $1.068 trillion 2022 - $1.049 trillion The deficit in 2018 was $779 billion. In terms of interest being paid on the public debt, that was at $28 billion in February of 2019, up from $23 billion in the same month a year ago. Trump Administration officials continue to argue that continued economic growth will change the dynamic on the deficit. “An extra one percent of GDP growth per year means trillions of dollars of additional economic activity and more revenue to the government,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress earlier this month. But so far, the extra GDP growth - at just under 3 percent for 2018 - has not triggered a revenue windfall for Uncle Sam, as revenues are slightly down so far in 2019.
  • In an interview aired Friday morning by the Fox Business network, President Donald Trump again voiced his public displeasure about actions of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), at one point admonishing TV host Maria Bartiromo for pressing him several times about why he was criticizing someone who is dead, suggesting that the subject wasn't supposed to be part of the exclusive White House interview. 'Now, I could say I have no comment, but that's not me,' the President told Bartiromo, who had just questioned how Mr. Trump could unite the country at the same time he was blasting a dead U.S. Senator. 'You shouldn't have brought it up,' the President told Bartiromo after she asked about McCain. 'Actually, I thought you weren't supposed to bring it up. But that's okay, fake news.' 'No, it's not fake news,' Bartiromo countered, as the President again criticized McCain for giving the Steele Dossier to the FBI some two months after the law enforcement agency had already received the materials alleging ties between Russia and officials tied to the Trump campaign. 'He handed something to the FBI on me - he knew it was a fake,' Mr. Trump said. “I’m not a fan,” the President said. Bartiromo later said there had been no conditions at all on the subject of Sen. McCain. “My thanks to President Trump for joining us and for the record, there were no conditions or stipulations agreed to ahead of that interview,” Bartiromo said on Friday. During the interview, Bartiromo questioned why the President would continue to tangle with McCain, saying, “Mr. President, he's dead. He can't punch back. I know you punch back, but he's dead.” 'It was a fraud,' Mr. Trump said of the Steele Dossier, as he said McCain had given the documents to 'the FBI for very evil purposes.' In Congress, most Republicans remained fairly silent about the President's public blasts at McCain, with a few lone voices urging him to move on to something else, like freshmen Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). In the Fox Business interview, President Trump again complained about the Mueller probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 elections. As the President left the White House on Friday morning for his Florida retreat, Mr. Trump said he knew nothing about the status of the Mueller investigation. “I have no idea about the Mueller report,” Mr. Trump said as he walked up to reporters gathered on the South Lawn on the White House. The President also criticized Democrats in Congress over their investigations into various White House and Trump Administration matters, saying it was just an extension of the Mueller probe. 'This is a continuation of the same witch hunt,' Mr. Trump said, in a familiar refrain.
  • A man who was charged with sending explosive devices to a series of critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty on Thursday to the crimes, as federal prosecutors say Cesar Sayoc could spend the rest of his life in prison for mailing 16 improvised explosive devices to former President Obama, former Vice President Biden, as well as sitting Democratic lawmakers in Congress. 'For five days in October 2018, Cesar Sayoc rained terror across the country,' said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. 'Thankfully no one was hurt by these dangerous devices, but his actions left an air of fear and divisiveness in their wake.  'Sayoc has taken responsibility for his crimes, and will soon be sentenced to significant time in prison,' Berman added in a statement, as prosecutors labeled Sayoc's effort 'domestic terrorism.' 'Sayoc’s crimes were intended to incite fear among his targets and uncertainty among the general public,' said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney. Sayoc is scheduled for sentencing on September 12. In a statement issued by prosecutors, the feds said Sayoc pleaded guilty to 65 separate felony counts brought against him for his mail bomb flurry, which involved 16 identical looking padded envelopes sent from south Florida. 'Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded,' the feds stated. 'Sayoc also attached to the outside of each IED a picture of the intended victim marked with a red 'X.'' Sayoc’s mail bombs were sent to former Vice President Joseph Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, actor Robert De Niro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Rep. Maxine Walters (D-CA).   When Sayoc was arrested, authorities found his van, which was plastered in pro-Trump and anti-Democratic Party stickers and placards.

News

  • The price of vaping in Washington could soon skyrocket if a proposed 60 percent tax is passed by lawmakers. >> Read more trending news  'It's like being told, ‘We're going to put a new tax on your favorite pizza.’ No! Don't do that!” said Jim Music. Washington lawmakers introduced HB 1873. It would add a 60 percent tax to vapor products, which is similar to tobacco, KIRO-TV reported. Currently vape isn’t taxed. Vapor store owner Joshua Baba said vape is different than tobacco and the price hike would force many shops to close their doors. 'Sixty percent, we owe that to the state just all of a sudden? That's crazy. That does put me out of business,” he said. Standing in the rain, Monday afternoon a small group held signs and gathered to protest. “Those kind of numbers are scary to somebody. I go through a couple bottles of vapor juice a week and that's going to double my cost,” said Music. A new Washington State Health Youth survey shows e-cigarettes and vaping are on the rise. Thirty percent of high school seniors said they use vapor products, which is up from 20 percent in 2016. State Rep. Gerry Pollet proposed the House bill. He wants to see the numbers drop and believes a tax is the ticket. “E-cigarettes and vaping products are dirt cheap, you won't believe how cheap they are,' he said. “A pack of cigarettes in the state of Washington, on average, costs about a little more than $8. Vaping the same amount of nicotine will cost you about $2.' Lawmakers believe the tax will drop youth vaping by 25 percent. Others find that hard to believe.  “This tax isn't going to change where the kids are getting it or how they're getting it, but it is going to change, in a negative way, the lives of a lot of shop owners and a lot of product users that are fully in compliance with the law,” said Music. Pollet said the 60 percent tax would eventually raise as much $30 million per year. The money would be used to fund programs that work to prevent teens from vaping.
  • A Monday morning British Airways flight scheduled to fly from London, England, to Dusseldorf, Germany, accidentally went to Edinburgh, Scotland, instead. >> Read more trending news  The error has been attributed to an incorrect flight plan filed by WDL Aviation, which operated the flight on behalf of British Airways, USA Today reported. This led the pilot and cabin crew to believe the flight was bound for Edinburgh. Air traffic controllers followed the same flight plan and saw nothing amiss, British Airways officials told The Associated Press. Zsófia Szabó, a passenger on the flight, told CNN she noticed something may have been amiss when she saw mountains outside the cabin window instead of the “usual German landscape.” A coworker brought up Google Maps on their phone, she said, and noted the plane was in Scotland. 'When we landed there was a bit of a hilarious moment when the flight attendant asked for a show of hands for the people going to Dusseldorf, which turned out to be everyone,' Szabó said. The pilot apologized to passengers, then announced the plane would refuel and head to Dusseldorf. Most passengers didn’t seem mad about the situation and instead found it funny, Szabó said. Why an incorrect flight path was filed remains unclear. 'We are working with WDL Aviation, who operated this flight on behalf of British Airways, to establish why the incorrect flight plan was filed. We have apologized to customers for this interruption to their journey and will deal with them all individually. Customers are on route to Dusseldorf currently,” British Airways spokesman Chip Garner said in a statement. WDL Aviation said they’re also investigating the incident: “We are working closely with the authorities to investigate how the obviously unfortunate mix-up of flight schedules could occur,' said WDL spokesperson Joachim Schöttes. “At no time has the safety of passengers been compromised. We flew the passengers on the flight with number BA3271 to Dusseldorf after the involuntary stopover in Edinburgh.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • In a move that has surprised some, mixed martial arts fighter Conor “The Notorious” McGregor has announced his retirement from the sport via Twitter. >> Read more trending news  “Hey guys quick announcement,” McGregor tweeted late Monday. “I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as ‘Mixed Martial Art’ today. I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition. I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!” The 30-year-old fighter, originally from Dublin, Ireland, is a two division UFC world champion and two division Cage Warriors World Champion. He’s ranked No. 2 lightweight champion and No. 9 pound for pound champion in the UFC, according to Fox Sports. Yahoo Sports reported the announcement came as a surprise, and that McGregor may “just be trying to get an upper hand in a negotiation.” McGregor appeared Monday on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and made no mention of retiring, MMA Fighting reported. He talked of fighting this summer. “We’re in talks for July,” McGregor told Fallon. “So we’ll see what happens. A lot of politics going on. The fight game is a mad game. But again, like I said, and to my fans, I am in shape and I am ready.” Some fans on Twitter seemed unconvinced of the news. “Last time he said this he fought twice in the next 6 months,” tweeted @BishopSportsNet. UFC hasn’t yet commented on McGregor’s announcement.
  • Now that the Gronk's officially hanging up his cleats -- fans are left wondering what he'll do next. >> Read more trending news  Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced on Instagram that he is retiring from football following the team's Super Bowl LIII win, ending his historic nine-year NFL career, Boston 25 News reported. What he'll do after is up in the air, though some say he might go down the wrestling road. In fact, he has dabbled in it before with an appearance at WrestleMania 33 -- stepping in the ring to help his real-life friend Mojo Rawley during the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. And many fans were hoping to see Gronk at TD Garden on Monday night, where WWE Raw was taking place. He did not make an appearance, but fans in Boston are excited to see what he'll take on next regardless a cameo at the Garden.  'Oh yeah he’s an entertainer,' said Patriots fan, Josh Lima. 'He’s funny, you know he’s either gonna be an actor or wrestler.' Public relations executive and Emerson professor, David Gerzof Richard, thinks Gronk sure has the personality and brand for it in his post-NFL career. 'He has his own brand of being the happy-go-lucky tight end, it's really leveraging that and with various people he is interacting with on both Instagram and Twitter and leveraging into what comes next,' said Richard.  Richard says sports stars in previous decades didn't have the social media star power -- or social media at all -- to build off of like Gronk. 'The worst thing he could do is go silent... and that is something I don't think we are going to see from Rob Gronkowski,' adds Richard. And his fans certainly hope he'll find a way to stay successful in the public eye. 'I think he should go into movies because he's a pretty funny guy and people look up to him,' said Patriots fan, Donte Tyler from Stoughton. Another fan thinks so too, and she thinks comedy would be the only way to go.  'I don't know about a serious ... maybe in a comedy or something,' another fan said. 'What would it be called? Maybe Adam Sandler and Gronk go on vacation.' As for the wresting, a WWE spokesperson gave no comment on any potential deals or announcements.
  • A metro Atlanta family said an airline crew told their two sons they’d have to get off a plane after a dispute over one of the boys’ severe peanut allergies, WSB-TV reported. >> Read more trending news  The boys were traveling from Atlanta to Manila, where their father is based on a temporary job, according to the news station. Rakesh Patel said his 15-year-old and 16-year-old sons were traveling by themselves after visiting their sick grandfather. The family told WSB-TV they let Delta Air Lines know ahead of time that the teen had a peanut allergy. Delta made sure that on the first leg of the flight, from Atlanta to Seoul, no peanuts were served, WSB reported.  However, things were different on the second leg of their flight. When the boys went to board their flight from Seoul to Manila on Delta’s skyteam partner Korean Air, the boys were told there would be peanuts served on board, the news station reported.  According to the family, the crew said they were not going to deprive other guests of peanuts and presented the teens with two options: deal with the peanuts or get off the flight.  When the son with allergies asked for another option, the boys were forcibly removed from the plane and stranded in Seoul, their father confirmed. They took a return flight to Atlanta, the family told WSB. Patel said he filed a complaint with the airline and asked for a refund.  In a statement, Delta apologized to the Patel family for the ordeal, “particularly during what is already a difficult time for them.”  “Delta and our partner Korean Air are communicating with the family and examining the processes surrounding this incident; we will use our findings in our work to create a consistent experience for customers flying Delta and our partner airlines,” the statement said. >> Trending: Giant alligator sneaks up on golfers, lumbers across links, plops down near 17th hole  A statement from Korean Air read, in part: “Korean Air is aware that peanut and food allergies are an industry issue and no airline can guarantee a food allergy-free environment. But we are reviewing ways to deal with this issue in a safe and feasible way. We totally understand the risks faced by passengers with nut and food allergies and will certainly try to accommodate them better in the future.”
  • A giant 9-foot alligator surprised golfers Sunday at a course in Savannah, Georgia, when it suddenly appeared out of nearby brush and lumbered across the links.  The reptile stopped the game at the Savannah Harbor Club on Hutchinson Island as stunned players gawked and gave the gator plenty of room. >> Read more trending news  One of the golfers captured the encounter on video, including the moment the creature decided to take a rest at the 17th hole. Savannah resident Ed Vance told IslandPacket.com he was getting ready to take a shot onto the 17th green when he heard a loud noise from nearby brush. “We all looked at each other and were asking, ‘What is that noise?’” Vance said. “At first, I thought it was the maintenance crew on the other side of the brush cutting it back or something.”  Then, a huge alligator ambled onto the course, heading for a pond just beyond the 17th hole. Vance said the reptile was so enormous, the sound of its feet hitting the course could be heard as it moved. “I will always remember the sound of his feet when he was walking on the green,” Vance said. “The video doesn’t pick it up, but the ‘thud, thud, thud’ sound was what you would think a dinosaur sounds like. It was surreal.” >> Related: Emotional support alligator visits senior home, is just like a dog, owner says After taking a quick pitstop on the links, the gator made its way to the pond and slithered in. The golf club isn’t too far from a wildlife refuge, so residents in the area are accustomed to seeing alligators and other wild animals, but Vance said he never expected such a giant gator to suddenly interrupt his golf game and he won’t soon forget it.