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National Politics

    President Donald Trump on Sunday accused the FBI and Justice Department of misleading a special intelligence court, as both parties wrestled over the details of surveillance requests made in 2016 and 2017 on a one-time Trump Campaign aide, Carter Page, in which the FBI made the case that “Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian Government.” “Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!” the President tweeted from his New Jersey golf club, as he again denounced the investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 elections, and any possible ties to the Trump Campaign. What exactly do the details show? Let’s take an extended look. 1. First, this is a historic move by the FBI. This was the first time that the FBI had ever released details about a surveillance warrant requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which are made to a special, secret intelligence court. The release was spearheaded by a lawsuit filed in part by Brad Heath, an investigative reporter with USA Today. As one might expect, much of the document is redacted because of intelligence and investigative reasons, keeping many people guessing about what was actually in the 412 pages released to the public, which you can read for yourself. 2. FBI request came after Page left Trump Campaign. After stories had surfaced in September of 2016 raising questions about Carter Page’s ties to certain Russian interests, Page had left his role as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump Campaign. The FBI did not ask for a surveillance warrant until October of 2016, after Page was already out of his role. That undermines the President’s complaint on Sunday which he aired on Twitter: “Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC,” the President wrote. But the facts when it comes to the timing of the case don’t bear that out. Trump seems to be referring to the FISA warrant of Carter Page, which was approved four times by judges appointed by GOP presidents and started in October 2016 (after the Trump campaign said Carter Page had no role in the campaign) and continued after the election https://t.co/SEVqCsj2Jw — Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 22, 2018 3. What did the FBI base its request on? Here we start getting into the meat of the political debate on the Page FISA warrant. The FBI was pretty blunt about what it believed was happening when it came to Russian interference in the 2016 elections: “the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign,” the FBI wrote in the original surveillance warrant request. One redacted section sets out “Clandestine Intelligence Activities of the Russian Federation,” before even getting to details about Page. “The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian Government,” the FISA request states. One name that makes an appearance early on in the FBI request is that of George Papadopoulos, who has already plead guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russians. 4. Zeroing in on the Page FISA request. The FBI sets out that “Page has established relationships with Russian Government officials, including Russian intelligence officers” – and then a redacted session of evidence. The document recounts how two Russian intelligence agents tried to recruit Page in 2015 during meetings in New York. Finally after 15 pages, the FBI gets to a ‘confidential human source (Source #1) – that would be Michael Steele, who authored what’s become known as the Steele Dossier, assembled by the company Fusion GPS, and paid for by interests supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign. 5. The FBI addresses the Steele Dossier. Here is where the two parties will go different ways on what was included in the FBI surveillance request on Carter Page, as it pertains to Steele. In the GOP memo released earlier this year by House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Republicans accused the FBI of not giving the FISC court any information about who was bankrolling the information from Steele – but the document clearly says that a “U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. person to conduct research regarding Candidate #1’s ties to Russia,” and the FBI makes clear what they thought it was for: “The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.” Even with that knowledge, “the FBI believes Source #1’s reporting herein to be credible.” 6. The FBI document undermines Nunes on one point. In the GOP memo released back in February about this FISA request, Republicans state clearly that the “Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff,” making it seem like the FBI was relying on information in that article to support the FBI request for surveillance of Page. Except when you read the actual FISA document, that article is noted under a section headlined, “Page’s Denial of Cooperation with the Russian Government,” as the FBI even includes information from a letter that Page wrote to the FBI Director denying any wrongdoing. The GOP memo is first in the below graphic, followed by the FISA warrant request. 8. The FBI’s bottom line in October 2016. The FBI wraps up its request with a succinct accusation – “the FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian Government.” 9. This is really four surveillance applications. While the document begins with the FBI’s initial request for 90 days of surveillance on Carter Page from October of 2016, the 412 pages also include a renewal request from January of 2017, another renewal in April 2017, and a final renewal of the FISA warrant on Page in June of 2017. Each time, the information supporting the request for surveillance increased in length, suggesting that the FBI was including actual intelligence information gleaned from the investigation of Page, and why it supported further monitoring by U.S law enforcement. We don’t get to read any of that, because in those sections, it is page after page of blacked-out materials, making it difficult for us to evaluate what was presented by the FBI, and how the rulings were made by the intelligence court. 10. The four judges involved were appointed by Republicans. For the first time, we learned the identities of the judges on the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court who dealt with the four requests for surveillance on Carter Page – and it turns out that all four were put on the federal bench by Republican Presidents – Reagan, the first President Bush, and President George W. Bush. In a tweet, the President quoted Andrew McCarthy, a legal analyst who often appears on Fox News: “This is so bad that they should be looking at the judges who signed off on this stuff, not just the people who gave it.” The 4 judges who signed Carter Page warrants are revealed: They are Rosemary Collyer, Michael Mosman, Anne Conway, and Raymond Dearie. Appointed by Bush 2, Bush 2, Bush 1 and Reagan, respectively. https://t.co/7ZstgwlVOh @dailycaller — Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) July 21, 2018  
  • U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw appeared conflicted in early May on whether to stop families from being separated at the border. He challenged the Trump administration to explain how families were getting a fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution, but also expressed reluctance to get too deeply involved with immigration enforcement. 'There are so many (enforcement) decisions that have to be made, and each one is individual,' he said in his calm, almost monotone voice. 'How can the court issue such a blanket, overarching order telling the attorney general, either release or detain (families) together?' Sabraw showed how more than seven weeks later in a blistering opinion faulting the administration and its 'zero tolerance' policy for a 'crisis' of its own making. He went well beyond the American Civil Liberties Union's initial request to halt family separation — which President Donald Trump effectively did on his own amid a backlash — by imposing a deadline of this Thursday to reunify more than 2,500 children with their families. Unyielding insistence on meeting his deadline, displayed in a string of hearings he ordered for updates, has made the San Diego jurist a central figure in a drama that has captivated international audiences with emotional accounts of toddlers and teens being torn from their parents. Circumstances changed dramatically after the ACLU sued the government in March on behalf of a Congolese woman and a Brazilian woman who were split from their children. Three days after the May hearing, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero tolerance policy on illegal entry was in full effect, leading to the separation of more than 2,300 children in five weeks. Sabraw, writing in early June that the case could move forward, found the practice 'arbitrarily tears at the sacred bond between parent and child.' It was 'brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.' David Martin, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia School of Law, said, 'It's probably not the first judge who seemed more deferential and then got much more active when he or she thought the government was not being responsive or had taken a particularly objectionable stance. Childhood separation clearly had that kind of resonance.' 'The intrusion into the family is so severe, the judicial reaction has been just like much of the public's reaction: 'This is an extraordinary step, you shouldn't have done it, you better fix it as quickly as possible,'' said Martin, a Homeland Security Department deputy general counsel under President Barack Obama. Sabraw, 60, was born in San Rafael, near San Francisco, and raised in the Sacramento area. His father was stationed in Japan during the Korean War, where he met his mother. The judge has said prejudice against Japanese growing up made their housing search difficult. 'In light of that experience, I was raised with a great awareness of prejudice,' he told the North County Times newspaper in 2003. 'No doubt, there were times when I was growing up that I felt different, and hurtful things occurred because of my race.' While studying at University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law, he met his wife, Summer Stephan, who was elected San Diego County district attorney in June. He told the Federal Bar Association magazine in 2009 that his wife and three children, then teenagers, kept him 'running from one activity to another, and grounded in all that is good and wonderful in life.' Republican President George W. Bush appointed Sabraw to the federal bench in 2003 after eight years as a state judge. By virtue of serving in San Diego, his caseload is heavy with immigration and other border-related crimes. In 2010, he oversaw a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations that San Diego officials misled investors about city pension liabilities. In 2014, he favored Apple Inc. in a closely watched patent infringement case against the tech behemoth. In 2016, he sided with the state of California in refusing to block a law requiring school vaccinations. Robert Carreido, a criminal defense attorney who estimates having 20 to 30 cases before the judge, was a little surprised how hard Sabraw came down on separating families because he hews pretty closely to the government's sentencing recommendations. 'He rarely will go above what we've negotiated (in plea agreements), but he doesn't usually go much lower than what the government recommends,' Carreido said. 'In my experience, I would consider him in the middle.' Sabraw's reputation for a calm, courteous demeanor and running an efficient calendar has been clear in his highest-profile case so far. He has kept hearings to about 90 minutes, telling attorneys he doesn't want to get too 'in the weeds' on logistics of reunifying families. 'My general view is if the court has to raise its voice, or threaten sanction, then we've lost control,' Sabraw told the Daily Journal, a Los Angeles legal publication, last year. 'I never want to be in that position. Usually, almost always, court is almost like a place of worship.' His patience wore thin one Friday afternoon when the government submitted a plan to reunite children 5 and older that excluded DNA testing and other measures. The government said 'truncated' vetting was needed to meet Sabraw's deadline, despite considerable risk to child safety. The judge quickly summoned both sides to a conference call at 5:30 p.m. to say the plan misrepresented his instructions and was designed to pin blame on him if anything went wrong. The government, which never showed serious consideration of an appeal, submitted a revised plan two days later that restored DNA testing if red flags arose. Jonathan White, a senior Health and Human Services Department official and the plan's architect, authoritatively answered questions in court the next day, prompting the judge to tell him he had 'every confidence that you are the right person to do this.' The revised plan, he said, was a 'great start to making a large number of reunifications happen very, very quickly.
  • President Donald Trump asserted without evidence Sunday that newly released documents relating to the wiretapping of his onetime campaign adviser Carter Page 'confirm with little doubt' that intelligence agencies misled the court that approved the warrant. But lawmakers from both political parties said that the documents don't show wrongdoing and that they even appear to undermine some previous claims by top Republicans on the basis for obtaining a warrant against Page. Visible portions of the heavily redacted documents, released Saturday under the Freedom of Information Act, show the FBI telling the court that Page 'has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.' The agency also told the court that 'the FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.' The documents were part of officials' application for a warrant to the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance court, which signed off on surveilling Page. Trump tweeted Sunday on the documents: 'As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of 'Justice' and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!' The release appears to undercut some of the contentions in a memo prepared by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes earlier this year. Nunes, R-Calif., and other Republicans had said that anti-Trump research in a dossier prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and paid for by Democrats was used inappropriately to obtain the warrant on Page. While the documents confirm that the FBI relied, in part, on information from Steele to obtain the initial warrant, they also show how the FBI informed the court of his likely motivation. A page-long footnote in the warrant application lays out the FBI's assessment of Steele's history and the likely interest of his backer, adding that despite the political concern, the bureau believed at least some of his report to be 'credible.' Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said the documents detail 'just why the FBI was so concerned that Carter Page might be acting as an agent of a foreign power.' 'It was a solid application and renewals signed by four different judges appointed by three different Republican presidents,' Schiff said on ABC's 'This Week.' Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also broke with Trump, saying he didn't think the FBI did anything wrong in obtaining warrants against Page. 'I have a different view on this issue than the president and the White House,' Rubio said Sunday on CBS' 'Face the Nation.' ''They did not spy on the campaign from anything and everything that I have seen. You have an individual here who has openly bragged about his ties to Russia and Russians.' On Sunday, Page said on CNN's 'State of the Union': 'I've never been the agent of a foreign power.' In a 2013 letter, Page had described himself as an 'informal adviser' to the Kremlin but now said 'it's really spin' to call him an adviser. Page has not been charged with a crime, but he has been interviewed by the FBI and congressional investigators about his ties to Russia. White House officials have argued that Page, announced by the president in early 2016 as a foreign policy adviser, played only a minor role in the Trump campaign. Another former campaign policy aide, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty last year to charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller alleging he had lied to the FBI about his Russia contacts. He is now cooperating with Mueller's expansive probe. The documents released Saturday include the FBI's October 2016 request to surveil Page and several renewal applications. It marks the first time in the more than 40-year history of the highly-secretive court that underlying documents for a warrant have been released.
  • The agency that supervises the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile would essentially lose direct Cabinet oversight under legislation that Congress is negotiating. The little-noticed provision in a defense policy bill is opposed by the Trump administration and senior lawmakers from both parties, but efforts to scrap it have not overcome resistance from staffers on the Senate Armed Services Committee. At issue in the Senate-approved bill is whether the National Nuclear Security Administration remains under the direct control of the Energy Department, where it's been since its creation in 2000. The bill would empower that agency to act nearly on its own, freed from what a report by the Senate committee calls a 'flawed DOE organizational process' that has led to 'weak accountability ... insufficient program and budget expertise and poor contract management.' That report cites a series of delays and cost overruns at the agency, including a contentious project to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium and uranium into fuel for commercial reactors. The cost of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina has ballooned from $1.4 billion in 2004 to more than $17 billion and completion is decades away. The Energy Department has moved to cancel the project, but it remains open — at a cost of $1.2 million a day — amid a legal challenge by the state of South Carolina. The White House and Energy Secretary Rick Perry strongly oppose the reorganization, saying it would usurp Perry's authority to set policy in crucial areas and make the nuclear agency's general counsel independent of the Energy Department's legal division. The White House said in a statement that the bill would block the energy secretary from directing civil and national security functions at the agency and 'degrade' the secretary's ability to protect the health, safety and security of employees and the public. A Perry spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, called the plan 'misguided' and said it would 'weaken national security efforts by limiting DOE's critical role in managing America's nuclear weapons capabilities.' 'It is in the best interest of the safety and security of all Americans to remove this provision from the bill and continue NNSA to be represented by a Cabinet-level official, allowing DOE and NNSA's complementary relationship to remain strong,' Hynes said. The NNSA said in a statement that while intended to improve efficiencies, 'the changes put forward by the Senate committee would significantly limit the secretary's ability to fulfill his nuclear security missions and ... lead to unnecessary duplication of effort at NNSA for work already being carried out by DOE.' The leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said the plan was 'a major step backward.' 'To reduce the secretary's authority in such a sweeping way .... raises serious questions about the long-term consequences,' Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Murkowski and Cantwell supported Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he tried unsuccessfully to remove the provision during Senate debate on the defense bill last month. A later Cruz effort also failed on procedural grounds. Criticism of the nuclear agency isn't new. A congressional commission led by a former Army undersecretary and retired Navy admiral concluded in 2014 that it had failed in its mission and relied too heavily on private contractors that had turned it into a massive jobs program with duplicative functions and a 'dysfunctional management and operations relationship.' The commission, however, did support the current oversight arrangement. A Senate aide familiar with the reorganization plan contended it was 'a straight-up power grab' by staffers at the nuclear agency and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Agency staffers, frustrated by delays that occur as the Energy Department's general counsel and other officials review their work, took their case to Senate committee staffers, according to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations. The committee chairman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been away from the Capitol since December as he fights brain cancer. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has led the committee in McCain's absence but has not played a role in the nuclear agency dispute. In its staff-written report, the committee said the proposal was not 'an indictment of the current Energy secretary' but rather an effort to 'address a number of structural impediments' that have 'damaged the NNSA's ability to carry out its mission.' A committee spokeswoman declined to comment, as did representatives for Inhofe and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the committee's top Democrat. Spokesmen for leaders of the House Armed Service Committee also declined to comment. Perry told Congress this year that there have been 'historically questionable expenditures of dollars' on the MOX project and other NNSA contracts, but said officials were working to ensure taxpayers 'are getting a good return on our investment.' 'We will give good oversight,' Perry told the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in May, pledging to make the NNSA and other DOE agencies 'as transparent as we can and try to get us the results that this committee wants.' Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, a New Mexico-based watchdog group, said the proposed changes would begin 'dismantling civilian control over the nuclear weapons enterprise.' Corporate contractors 'have already captured NNSA. These changes would gut what remaining oversight and external control there is,' Mello said. ___ Online: National Nuclear Security Administration: https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/national-nuclear-security-administration ___ Follow Matthew Daly: https://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC
  • Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema says Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that some in her party are clamoring to abolish, is performing an 'important function.' She recently joined House Republicans to ease restrictions on banks. And she offered a decidedly nonpartisan comment on conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. The third-term congresswoman has come a long way from her days as a Green Party activist as she tries to become the first Democrat to represent Arizona in the Senate in 30 years. It's a notable strategy in an election year in which many Democrats see a path to victory by tapping into the outrage of the party's base in the Trump era. In neighboring Nevada, for instance, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen is aiming to flip another GOP-held Senate seat and she seized on the high court vacancy to highlight the threat to abortion rights. Some Arizona Democrats are frustrated that the 42-year-old Sinema hasn't taken similarly aggressive stances. Ken Wixon, a lifelong Democrat, said he planned to back Sinema's Democratic opponent, Phoenix activist Deedra Abboud, in the Aug. 28 primary. 'I supported (Sinema) before, but she's too easily influenced,' Wixon said after attending a recent political meeting in suburban Phoenix where Abboud spoke. 'She seems to roll over too easily.' Sinema said her shift to the right is the result of learning to work with others in a hyper-partisan Congress. 'What I'm really proud of is my ability and willingness to learn and grow as a political leader,' she told The Associated Press recently when asked if her moderate profile would turn off Democrats. 'That's allowed me to learn new opinions and change as I've gotten new information.' Sinema is favored to win the primary and is seen as a competitive Democratic candidate in a general election that could hinge on how voters feel about President Donald Trump and his policies. That's why some Democrats are willing to back her even if her liberalism has limits. 'I have some serious questions,' said Steven Slugocki, Democratic chairman in Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous. 'That's not to say I won't support her. The alternative is far worse.' That alternative, to Slugocki, is any of the Republicans vying to succeed retiring, one-term Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a persistent Trump critic. The GOP field includes former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a crusader against illegal immigration who was convicted for contempt of court related to racial profiling practices and later pardoned by Trump, and Kelli Ward, a state senator endorsed last year by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The third GOP candidate, Rep. Martha McSally, has been viewed as a moderate in the vein of Arizona's senior GOP senator, John McCain. But as the primary approaches, she has sharpened her stance on immigration, removing her name as a co-sponsor of legislation backing a path to citizenship for some young immigrants in the country illegally. Immigration politics are central to Arizona's politics today. In 2016, the influx of Latino voters contributed to Democrat Hillary Clinton's narrow loss to Trump here. Clinton lost Ohio, for instance, by nearly twice as much as she lost Arizona. A Democratic victory in the Senate race would suggest the state could be up for grabs in 2020. Bill Clinton was the last Democratic presidential nominee to carry Arizona in 1996. And yet Sinema remains controversial among Arizona Democrats. She drew complaints among liberals last year as one of two dozen House Democrats to join majority Republicans backing a measure to sharply increase penalties for people deported more than three times, more sharply for those with a criminal record. Likewise, she was one of a handful of Democrats who backed a measure giving federal officials authority to detain and deport noncitizens who live in gang territory. While Latino voter advocates groan at some of Sinema's positions, they note her support for allowing a path to citizenship for some young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. 'The most important thing we can do right now is elect candidates who will serve as a check on Donald Trump,' said Cristobal Alex, president of Latino Victory, a national political advocacy group active in several states this year. 'She's the only viable choice for our community in this election.' One important sign of Sinema's viability, albeit with the election still more than three months away, is that she reported having more than $5.3 million in her campaign account at the end of June. That's many times more than what Arpaio, McSally and Ward had. Recent polls also show Sinema leading all three Republican prospects in potential head-to-head contests. Some Arizona Democrats acknowledge murmurs of discontent, but say Sinema reflects her politically-mixed southwest Phoenix-area district, home to Arizona State University in Tempe and Republican-leaning residential areas in Scottsdale and Chandler. 'There are some grumblings,' said state Sen. Lela Alston, who served alongside her in the Legislature before Sinema's election to Congress in 2012. 'While there are some individuals who would never vote for her, more say — even though they wish she was voting more to the left — they are going to embrace her candidacy, given their choices.' Sinema's little-known Democratic opponent, Abboud, said she thinks both candidates have a shot to get votes from moderates or disaffected Republicans. 'You have people that want something different,' Abboud said. 'They want to vote on their values.' Such grumblings boiled over in May when some Democrats in Pima County, which abuts the U.S. border with Mexico, proposed condemning some of Sinema's votes with the Republican majority. The motion was ultimately defeated, a sign that voters are seeking pragmatism, said Jo Holt, who leads the party in Pima County. 'Some of these folks on the left will say in one breath they don't like a vote she took, but that they'll support her because things in the country have gotten so bad,' Holt said. 'In another political environment, these votes might hurt her more.' Sinema's resilience has not been lost on some Republican operatives in Arizona, increasingly anxious about their party's chances of holding the seat. 'She has benefited from being able to stake out a centrist approach,' said strategist Jon Seaton, 'and really hasn't paid much of a price for it.
  • Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh suggested several years ago that the unanimous high court ruling in 1974 that forced President Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes, leading to the end of his presidency, may have been wrongly decided. Kavanaugh was taking part in a roundtable discussion with other lawyers when he said at three different points that the decision in U.S. v. Nixon, which marked limits on a president's ability to withhold information needed for a criminal prosecution, may have come out the wrong way. A 1999 magazine article about the roundtable was part of thousands of pages of documents that Kavanaugh has provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the confirmation process. The committee released the documents on Saturday. Kavanaugh's belief in robust executive authority already is front and center in his nomination by President Donald Trump to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. The issue could assume even greater importance if special counsel Robert Mueller seeks to force Trump to testify in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. 'But maybe Nixon was wrongly decided — heresy though it is to say so. Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch by holding that the courts had power and jurisdiction to order the president to disclose information in response to a subpoena sought by a subordinate executive branch official. That was a huge step with implications to this day that most people do not appreciate sufficiently...Maybe the tension of the time led to an erroneous decision,' Kavanaugh said in a transcript of the discussion that was published in the January-February 1999 issue of the Washington Lawyer. At another point in the discussion, Kavanaugh said the court might have been wise to stay out of the tapes dispute. 'Should U.S. v. Nixon be overruled on the ground that the case was a nonjusticiable intrabranch dispute? Maybe so,' he said. Kavanaugh was among six lawyers who took part in the discussion in the aftermath of independent counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh had been a member of Starr's team. The discussion was focused on the privacy of discussions between government lawyers and their clients. Philip Lacovara, who argued the Watergate tapes case against Nixon and moderated the discussion, said Kavanaugh has long believed in a strong presidency. 'That was Brett staking out what has been his basic jurisprudential approach since law school,' Lacovara said in a telephone interview Saturday. Still, Lacovara said, 'it was surprising even as of 1999 that the unanimous decision in the Nixon tapes case might have been wrongly decided.' Kavanaugh allies pointed to a recent, more favorable assessment of the Nixon case. 'Whether it was Marbury, or Youngstown, or Brown, or Nixon, some of the greatest moments in American judicial history have been when judges stood up to the other branches, were not cowed, and enforced the law. That takes backbone, or what some call judicial engagement,' Kavanaugh wrote in a 2016 law review article in which he referred to several landmark Supreme Court cases. The 1999 article was among a pile of material released in response to the committee's questionnaire. Kavanaugh was asked to provide information about his career as an attorney and jurist, his service in the executive branch, education, society memberships and more. It's an opening look at a long paper trail that lawmakers will consider as they decide whether to confirm him. The high court appointment could shift the court rightward for years to come. A longtime figure in the Washington establishment, Kavanaugh acknowledged in the questionnaire that he had joined clubs that he said once had discriminatory membership policies. 'Years before I became a member of the Congressional Country Club and the Chevy Chase Club, it is my understanding that those clubs, like most similar clubs around the country, may have excluded members on discriminatory bases that should not have been acceptable to people then and would not be acceptable now,' he wrote. Asked to list the 10 most significant cases for which he sat as a judge, Kavanaugh cited nine in which 'the position expressed in my opinion (either for the court or in a separate writing) was later adopted by the Supreme Court.' The 10th regarded a man fired by mortgage giant Fannie Mae after he filed a discrimination complaint that alleged a company executive had created a hostile work environment by calling the worker 'the n-word.' Kavanaugh said he included it 'because of what it says about anti-discrimination law and American history.' Kavanaugh said an appeals court panel on which he sat reversed a lower court's ruling in favor of Fannie Mae. He said he joined the majority opinion in 2013 and wrote a separate concurrence 'to explain that calling someone the n-word, even once, creates a hostile work environment.' In the questionnaire, Kavanaugh cited his opinion in that case: 'No other word in the English language so powerfully or instantly calls to mind our country's long and brutal struggle to overcome racism and discrimination against African-Americans.'' But it was one of the relatively few discrimination cases in which Kavanaugh sided with a complaining employee. Offering a timeline leading to his nomination, he said White House counsel Don McGahn called him the day Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, June 27, and they met the next day. Trump interviewed him July 2, with McGahn present, and Vice President Mike Pence interviewed him July 4. Kavanaugh spoke by phone with the president on July 8 and that evening met at the White House with Trump and his wife, Melania, where he said he was offered and accepted the nomination. Asked whether anyone sought assurances from him about the stand he might take on a specific case or issue, he answered 'No.' He also said he had not offered any indication how he might rule as a justice. Kavanaugh has written some 300 rulings as an appeals court judge and has a record in the George W. Bush White House as well as in Starr's probe of Clinton. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee chairman, said the questionnaire was 'the broadest and most comprehensive' ever sent by the committee and he welcomed 'Judge Kavanaugh's diligent and timely response.' The nominee told lawmakers he registered for the Selective Service in his younger days but did not serve in the armed forces. Years before he became a judge and compiled a solidly conservative record, Kavanaugh also reflected on how past nominees have sometimes disappointed partisans who wanted a more liberal or conservative justice. Speaking on CNN in 2000, he was responding to a question about whether the next president could 'pack the court' with like-minded justices. Presidents often prefer to avoid bloody confirmation fights, he said in a transcript that was released Saturday. 'We've seen that time and again, to pick the consensus pick who turns out to be more moderate and thus less predictable, that's what's happened,' Kavanaugh said. ___ Online: Questionnaire: https://tinyurl.com/y9gqfdkg Supporting documents: https://tinyurl.com/y7x95l45 ___ Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday released a highly redacted copy of the application made by the bureau to a special intelligence court, asking to establish surveillance in the fall of 2016 on Carter Page, a one-time foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign, showing officials feared that Page was working with Russia to undermine the Presidential election. “The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian Government,” the document states – interrupted by redactions – but then continues, “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election in violation of criminal law.” The FBI released an unclassified version of the FISA application document after requests under the Freedom of Information Act. At one point, the 412 page document states that “the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign.” “Page has established relationships with Russian Government officials, including Russian intelligence officers,” the documents states, before additional evidence was redacted, in order to protect intelligence sources and classified information.
  • The top U.S. intelligence official said Saturday he meant no disrespect to President Donald Trump in a televised interview discussing the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said his Thursday comments at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado were not intended to be critical of the president's decision to invite Putin to a meeting in Washington later this year. 'Some press coverage has mischaracterized my intentions in responding to breaking news presented to me during a live interview,' Coats said. 'My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the president.' Coats has been under scrutiny since he said he wished Trump had not met one-on-one with the Russian leader and expressed dismay that the president had publicly undermined U.S. intelligence agencies. Coats issued a rare statement rebutting the president's Monday comments during a press conference with Putin doubting the findings of the intelligence community on Russian election interference. White House aides were fearful that the former lawmaker might resign over the president's comments, and the president spoke positively of Coats in a television interview Wednesday. But Coats' display of surprise upon learning that Trump had invited Putin to Washington this fall for a follow-on meeting drew the president's ire. 'Say that again,' Coats said, cupping his hand over his ear on live television. He took a deep breath and continued: 'OK. That's going to be special.' Coats also revealed in the interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell that he was unaware of what transpired in the private meeting between Trump and Putin in Helsinki, and restated without equivocation his belief that Russia continues to pose a threat to the American electoral system. 'Basically, they are the ones that are trying to undermine our basic values and divide with our allies,' Coats said of Russia. 'They are the ones who are trying to wreak havoc over our election process.' Coats, who oversees the nation's 17 intelligence agencies, also said that if he had been asked, he would have advised Trump against meeting Putin alone, with just interpreters. 'That's not my role. That's not my job. It is what it is,' Coats said. The statement Saturday from Coats, more than 48 hours after the initial interview, capped a week of public walk backs by the Trump administration relating to Russia. Trump's public doubting of Russia's culpability for interference in 2016 — though he later tried to 'clarify' his remarks a day later — sparked bipartisan condemnation in Washington and sparked congressional lawmakers to look once again for ways to tighten sanctions on the longtime U.S. foe. Coats, a former GOP senator from Indiana, has until this week been a largely invisible figure in Trump's Cabinet. Earlier in the administration, his voice was drowned out by the more outspoken Mike Pompeo, who was CIA director before Trump tapped him as secretary of state. Now with Pompeo heading the State Department, Coats has been thrust into the limelight as the voice of the intelligence community. ___ Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed from Aspen, Colorado.
  • Vice President Mike Pence made his presence felt Saturday in Georgia's race for governor, headlining a rally for Secretary of State Brian Kemp ahead of the looming Republican primary runoff. The appearance came three days after President Donald Trump unexpectedly weighed in on the race, tweeting his 'full and total endorsement' for Kemp. Kemp is locked in a contentious runoff that will be decided Tuesday with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and both are vying to position themselves as the true Trump conservative. 'President Trump asked me to be here today for one reason and one reason only, and that is to tell you that the president and I fully support Brian Kemp,' Pence said in an appearance in the central Georgia city of Macon. He praised Kemp as being 'tough on crime' and 'strong on borders.' One of the largest reactions from the crowd in Macon came when Pence trumpeted strong support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 'Leading liberal Democrats in the country said they want to abolish ICE,' Pence said. 'Abolish them!' a member of the crowd yelled back. 'We will never abolish ICE,' Pence said to applause from the crowd. Kemp and Cagle are both seeking to stake out conservative positions on the coattails of Trump, each frequently evoking the president's name in television ads, in stump speeches and in debates. And Trump on Saturday tweeted anew that Kemp has his 'full endorsement,' saying 'He will be a GREAT governor!' Cagle, meanwhile, was making the rounds in northern Georgia on Saturday. He attended an early meet-and-greet in Cleveland, Georgia, not far from Cagle's hometown of Gainesville, and another event in Hiawassee, near the North Carolina border. 'It's always good to be back ... in Cleveland. This is our third time during this election cycle & I know we'll be back soon. Especially with the great advertising on the sign! Proud to be supported by the Sheriff, Commission Chair, and Senator,' Cagle tweeted. The winner of Tuesday's Republican contest faces Democrat Stacey Abrams in the general election in November. Pence's appearance in Georgia followed a stop earlier in the day in Tennessee, where Pence touted Republican tax cuts and campaigned with two GOP congresswomen waging tough campaigns for statewide offices. In an appearance in Cleveland, Tennessee, Pence praised U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn, who joined the rally and are hoping to lead Tennessee's statewide GOP ticket this fall. Trump has endorsed Blackburn in her bid for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee but has not formally backed a candidate in that state's GOP primary for governor, where Black is one of four leading contenders. ___ Associated Press writer Bruce Schreiner contributed to this report from Louisville, Kentucky.
  • The Latest on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire (all times local): 5:30 p.m. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh suggested several years ago that the unanimous high court ruling in 1974 that forced President Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes may have been wrongly decided. The Supreme Court decision led to the end of the Nixon presidency. Kavanaugh's belief in robust executive authority already is front and center in his nomination by President Donald Trump. The comments are among thousands of pages of documents that Kavanaugh has provided to lawmakers as part of the confirmation process. Kavanaugh was taking part in a roundtable discussion when he made the remarks about the Watergate tapes case. A 1999 magazine article about the roundtable was among the material that Kavanaugh has provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the confirmation process. ___ 2:05 p.m. President Donald Trump's choice for the Supreme Court has given members of Congress lots of material to help them judge the judge. Judge Brett Kavanaugh has responded to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire that probes his career as an attorney and jurist, his education, society memberships and more. It's part of a long paper trail that lawmakers will consider as they decide whether to confirm him. The high court appointment could shift the court rightward for years to come. Kavanaugh has written nearly 300 rulings as an appeals court judge and has a record in the George W. Bush White House and Kenneth Starr's probe of Bill Clinton in the 1990s. His response to the questionnaire runs 110 pages and comes with thick appendices.

News

  • It was Hank Aaron who convinced the Braves to draft Chipper Jones. What led him to believe, at a young age, that Chipper was going to be a Hall of Famer? WSB Radio’s Jay Black and Chris Camp sat down with the baseball legend to discuss his answer to that question, and many more on topics including the Braves’ success during the first half of the season and his take on the crop of young players having success this year: LISTEN TO WSB’S FULL INTERVIEW WITH HANK AARON HERE.
  • Divers will continue searching tomorrow for a woman who fell from a boat on Lake Lanier on Sunday. Channel 2 Action News has learned Hall County Sheriff’s Deputies and Hall County Fire Services were called to Lake Lanier between Port Royale and Old Federal Park regarding a possible drowning just before 4 p.m. RELATED STORIES: Man accused of groping woman at Roswell park turns himself in Man found malnourished, children unsupervised in southwest Atlanta home, police say Boaters' window shot out while cruising on Lake Lanier Authorities told Channel 2 Action News a 31 year-old woman had jumped off of a sailboat to go for a swim and the boat drifted away from her. A man, who was still on the boat, told authorities the victim was trying to swim back to the boat but became tired and efforts to throw a line to her were unsuccessful. He told authorities he went into the water in an attempt to rescue the victim, but was didn't find her after she went under and did not resurface. Dive teams spent an hour looking for her but had to suspend their search due to inclement weather.   
  • A man shot and injured two people at a Nevada church during service Sunday afternoon, officials said.  >> Read more trending news One of the victims was taken to a hospital Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford told KOLO. The identities and conditions are unknown.  The gunman is in custody, Tedford told KOLO.  The shooting happened in front of other parishioners at Fallon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, KOLO reported. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) shared his condolences on Twitter.  This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
  • Police arrested the mother and stepfather of three unsupervised children and a disabled adult who appeared to be malnourished after officers found them in a southwest Atlanta residence. Officers arrived to the house on Saturday at about 5:30 p.m., police spokesman John Chafee said in a statement. >> Read more trending news The people who called police had moved out of the house about three weeks ago, Chafee said. “They returned to the home today to retrieve some of their property when they located the children and 21-year-old in the home,” Chafee said.  This family apparently had moved into the home after the people who called police moved out, police said. The mother and stepfather returned to the scene and were taken into custody and charged with violating state law on protection of disabled adults and elder persons. The children appeared to be in good health, police said. Their ages were not released.  Chafee said it is his understanding that the woman is the mother to the disabled man and the three children. “The children have been placed in the care of a family member, and (the division of family and children services) is following up with them,” Chafee said. The disabled man, who is 21, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment. No identities were released, and police are still investigating.
  • The 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank in a Missouri lake were remembered Sunday during a service attended by around 200 people in the tourism community of Branson. A church bell at Williams Chapel at College of the Ozarks chimed 17 times for those who died Thursday at Table Rock Lake, the Joplin Globe reported. 'Today we honor the 17 lives that were lost,' said Branson Mayor Karen Best. 'We honor the 14 survivors. And we honor the many heroes who did everything in their power to save lives.' The service was held at the college near the site of the accident, which happened as winds approached hurricane strength. The city and college hosted the remembrance for the victims. Nine of the people who died were part of one Indiana family. Online fundraisers had raised more than $400,000 for their funeral expenses by Sunday afternoon. Two GoFundMe campaigns are underway for the Coleman family, who lost three generations in the duck boat accident. GoFundMe spokeswoman Katherine Cichy says it's verified one campaign that's raising money. Ingrid Coleman Douglas tells The Indianapolis Star a second campaign is also legitimate. Others killed were from Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois.
  • Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle tried to minimize the damage to his race for governor after President Donald Trump’s endorsement of his rival. The White House tried to make sure that didn’t happen. And Secretary of State Brian Kemp shifted his focus beyond Tuesday’s vote. It was a weekend of furious campaigning across the state, as the two Republicans hurtling toward the runoff tried to mobilize their supporters and sway undecided voters. In what’s expected to be a low-turnout race, a few thousand ballots could swing the election. Trump’s surprise tweet endorsing Kemp transformed him from an underdog into a front-runner, and at campaign stops around the state he acted like it. The full-scale attacks on Cagle, long a staple of his campaign, were replaced with pledges that he’ll defeat Democrat Stacey Abrams in November. He had plenty of backup from his newest supporters. He appeared Saturday with Vice President Mike Pence, who said Kemp would bring Trump-like leadership to Georgia’s top office. And Trump sent a second tweet offering his “full endorsement” to a candidate who is “very strong on crime and borders.” RELATED STORIES: Man accused of groping woman at Roswell park turns himself in Man found malnourished, children unsupervised in southwest Atlanta home, police say Boaters' window shot out while cruising on Lake Lanier Cagle countered by relentlessly tying himself to Gov. Nathan Deal, who endorsed him last week. At a Sunday event in Auburn, he tried to downplay the president’s snub, saying that Georgians don’t “need someone else deciding who our governor’s going to be.” “There are two gold-star endorsements in the race,” he told a crowd of about 50 supporters gathered in a sweltering park. “One, of course, is President Trump. But the other is Governor Deal.” Meanwhile, Abrams prepared for the spotlight to refocus on the general election once the GOP nominee is settled. Her campaign sent a note to supporters Sunday warning that the GOP “will be all-in here in Georgia, pouring millions of dollars into their nominee’s campaign” to stop her. ‘Help’ For Kemp, the final days of the race gave him a last chance to remind Republicans of Trump’s support – and cast Cagle as an also-ran. At his rally with Pence in Macon on Saturday, he didn’t mention the lieutenant governor’s name, a stark shift after weeks of assailing Cagle over a secretly made recording that captured him acknowledging he supported “bad public policy” for political reasons. Instead, Kemp framed himself as the only candidate who can energize Republican voters in November to defeat Abrams, who has staked her campaign on mobilizing Democrats who rarely cast ballots by campaigning on left-leaning policies. And Kemp’s supporters echoed his approach. Barbara Bryant, a Lizella retiree, was already supporting Kemp before Trump’s endorsement. But now, she said, voting for the secretary of state takes on more significance. “We want to stand behind Trump, and that’s a way to do it,” she said. “I see this as a way to show our support for the president – he needs all the help he can get.” Ditto for Mike Fuller, a Macon retiree who said he’s unimpressed with talk that the race has become a proxy battle between Trump and Deal. Though the governor endorsed Cagle after an unrelated speech last week, he hasn’t headlined any rallies or events for the lieutenant governor. “So Cagle gets the governor who is going out of office. And Kemp gets the president and vice president,” said Fuller. “Shall I say it? Cagle got trumped. He’s been running scared for a while, and there’s enough Republican support to put (Kemp) over the top.” ‘Real deal’ It’s still unclear why Trump sided with Kemp, but analysts point to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia governor who appointed Kemp to the state’s top elections post in 2010. His aides and his first-cousin, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, have denied any involvement. Even so, Pence may have stirred the pot – knowingly or unknowingly – as he revved up the crowd in Macon. He called Kemp the “real deal,” borrowing Deal’s campaign slogan, while touting Kemp as the best GOP choice for governor. Cagle’s supporters took notice, though the lieutenant governor has refrained from taking any shots at Trump since he waded into the race. He’s walked a delicate line trying to energize the GOP base without alienating backers of Trump, who is highly popular among the conservatives who will decide the race. Cagle’s closing message on the trail Sunday reflected the bind he was in. He said he wouldn’t predict why the president picked sides, but he added: “I will be a bulldog for the people of Georgia and not a lapdog for Washington.” Cagle’s campaign is counting on fervent supporters who won’t leave the fold. Among them is Phil Dacosta, a Barrow County Republican who said he’s unshaken by poll numbers that show the lieutenant governor trailing Kemp. “People who care about experienced leadership with a steady hand, those people will turn up at the polls and Casey’s going to win by a mile,” said Dacosta, who attended Cagle’s Auburn rally. “I don’t think Trump’s endorsement matters – most people can make their own decision.” Kemp’s campaign is betting that he’s wrong, and quickly launched a final campaign ad focused on Trump’s support. And interviews with more than a dozen voters over the weekend revealed a handful who had switched their loyalties to Kemp in the last few days, or were seriously considering doing so. That’s the fraught situation David Alexander is in. The Lawrenceville resident voted for Kemp in the May primary, largely because he wanted to see a runoff between him and Cagle. At the beginning of last week, he was leaning toward Cagle. But now, with Trump’s decision, he’s up in the air. “The endorsements do sway me,” said Alexander. “There’s going to be lots of prayer in the next few days.”