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    President Donald Trump's son Eric Trump says the U.S. Secret Service took an employee of a Chicago cocktail lounge into custody after she spit on him. Eric Trump told Breitbart News in a telephone interview that it was 'purely a disgusting act by somebody who clearly has emotional problems.' His comments came after reports of the alleged spitting incident Tuesday night at The Aviary in Chicago's West Loop area. The Associated Press sent an email Wednesday seeking comment on behalf of the lounge. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi (goo-lee-EHL'-mee) said on Twitter that officers assisted the Secret Service with a 'law enforcement matter' and deferred inquiries to the agency. The Secret Service, White House and Trump Organization, which Eric Trump helps run, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Moscow says that it has officially protested the reported mistreatment of a U.S. national who is kept in jail on spying charges. The U.S. Embassy said in a statement on Wednesday that it has sent a note of protest to the Russian foreign ministry, asking it to investigate the allegations that Paul Whelan has been mistreated while in custody and that his safety is ensured. Whelan, who also holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenship, was arrested in a hotel room in Moscow at the end of December and charged with espionage, which carries up to 20 years in prison. The former U.S. Marine, who denies the charges, has publicly complained of poor conditions in prison and said his life is in danger.
  • The national fight between left-wing and moderate Democrats played out again Tuesday in New York City, where the closely watched Democratic primary for Queens district attorney was tantalizingly close deep into the vote count. Late on election day, political newcomer Tiffany Caban, a public defender who says the criminal justice system is rigged against the poor, held a narrow lead over Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, a seasoned politician who was the favorite of the state's Democratic Party establishment. At Caban's election night headquarters, raucous supporters celebrated as she claimed victory. 'When we started this thing, they said I was too young. They said I didn't look like a district attorney. They said we could not build a movement from the grass roots. They said we could not win. But we did it y'all,' she said. But the race might not be decided soon. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Caban led Katz by 1,090 votes, out of more than 85,000 votes counted. Election officials won't start counting absentee ballots until Monday. At least 3,400 of those ballots have been received and more could arrive in the next few days. The Associated Press deemed the race too close to call. Katz told supporters just before 11 p.m. that 'there's a lot more days' before the results will be known. 'We always knew this was going to be tough, if it wasn't tough, it wasn't a race,' Katz said. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Katz supporter, said every vote should be counted before the race is decided. The contest in Queens, a borough of nearly 2.4 million people, is serving as a dual referendum on criminal justice reform and progressive politics. All the Democrats largely embraced changes that already have been implemented to some degree by the top prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn, like reducing prosecutions for possession of small amounts of marijuana. But Caban, 31, who identifies as a queer Latina, has promised to take things further, saying more radical reform was needed to change a cycle of mass incarceration. She has promised to stop prosecuting recreational drug use, prostitution and small-time crimes like subway fare evasion, and seek less punitive sentences for many felonies. She's been endorsed by two presidential contenders, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newcomer whose primary defeat of a longtime incumbent in part of Queens and the Bronx a year ago this month electrified the party's left wing. Katz, 53, has the backing of state and county party leaders like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as a host of unions. She's also a veteran politician with deep ties to Queens, having served in the state Assembly from 1994 to 1999 and on the City Council from 2002 to 2009. Katz has never worked in criminal law, but was the best-financed candidate in the race. She had also promised major reforms to the district attorney's office, including curtailing prosecutions of women for prostitution. Other candidates trailed far behind in the vote tallies, including former judge and Queens Assistant District Attorney Gregory Lasak, former District of Columbia Deputy Attorney General Mina Malik, former Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Betty Lugo, and former New York Deputy Attorney General Jose Nieves. The winner will be favored to win the November general election to succeed longtime District Attorney Richard Brown. He died last month at age 86. Either Katz or Caban would be the first woman to serve as Queens district attorney.
  • The Trump administration's $50 billion economic support plan for the Palestinians cannot succeed without addressing the political elements of a Middle East deal, international financial chiefs and global investors said Wednesday in comments that pushed back on the U.S. insistence that the two must be separated. Panelists at the two-day conference in Bahrain welcomed the proposal's ambitious investment and development goals, but warned it would fall short without good governance, rule of law and realistic prospects for lasting peace — which they said are largely missing from the initiative. Their views were aired as the Palestinians repeated their outright rejection of the so-called 'Peace to Prosperity' plan because it ignores their political demands, including an end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of an independent state. Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, suggested that peace is the missing part of the proposal, which was put together by President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. The Palestinians have great economic potential that can only be fulfilled with serious reform and protections for investors that must include serious anti-corruption efforts. But those alone are not enough, Lagarde said, stressing that a 'satisfactory peace' is imperative for prosperity. 'It's a matter of putting all the ingredients together,' she said. 'Improving economic conditions and attracting lasting investment to the region depends ultimately on being able to reach a peace agreement,' she said in a statement released later by the IMF. 'Peace, political stability and re-establishment of trust between all the parties involved are essential pre-requisites to the success of any economic plan for the region.' Lagarde's comments appeared at odds with the views expressed by Kushner when he opened the conference on Tuesday. 'Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary precondition to resolving what has been a previously unsolvable political situation,' he said. The proposal depends heavily on private sector investment in the West Bank, Gaza as well as Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, where it envisions creating a million new jobs, cutting Palestinian unemployment to single digits, doubling the Palestinian gross domestic product and reducing the Palestinian poverty rate by 50% through projects in the health care, education, power, water, tourism, transportation and agriculture sectors. The plan acknowledges that its success hinges on the completion of a long-elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. But that necessity was driven home by participants who sprinkled their comments with repeated references to 'Palestine,' a 'country' and a 'nation-state.' Those words have not featured in U.S. officials' comments about a resolution to the conflict since Trump became president in 2017 and began cutting aid and political support to the Palestinians in what critics have cited as the U.S. administration's pro-Israel bias. The administration has also refused to endorse a two-state solution that has long been seen as the only viable path to peace. 'You are going to have to deal with the political thing in order to get investment,' said Daniel Mintz, a founder of Olympus Capital Asia. 'Stability and security is key to investment in every country where we go,' said Selim Bora, the president of the Turkish investment firm Summa. 'Things don't have to be perfect, but we have to have a minimum level to go in.' Others said the plan could not succeed without the Palestinians having rights and dignity within their own state. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are represented by official delegations and many Arab nations that are attending the gathering have sent lower-level officials in a sign of their skepticism of the plan. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been staging protests against the plan and the Bahrain conference since Monday. On Wednesday, the Palestinian Liberation Organization issued a scathing statement condemning the plan and the Trump administration for what it called blatant bias toward Israel. It accused the administration of showing 'willful blindness to the occupation' and a 'deliberate refusal to deal with reality.' 'The workshop attempts to circumvent the real issues by peddling in recycled and failed ideas. It wants to sell a mirage of economic prosperity for the Palestinian people so long as they accept and endorse their perpetual captivity,' it said. 'This is a formula that no dignified people can accept.' In a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians, the Gulf Arab state of Oman used the second day of the conference to announce Wednesday that it would open an embassy to the 'State of Palestine' in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Omani foreign ministry said the decision comes 'in continuation of the sultanate's support for the Palestinian people.' Also speaking at the Bahrain conference on Wednesday were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the head of the international football federation FIFA Gianni Infantino, and the lone Palestinian on the agenda, Ashraf Jabari, a West Bank businessman who is viewed with deep suspicion by many fellow Palestinians. Infantino, who participated in the event despite a last-minute direct appeal from the Palestinians to reconsider, said he was hopeful that sports, particularly soccer, could have an important role in giving hope to Palestinian communities and improving relations with Israel. 'With football, though football, we can really build bridges,' he said in a discussion about using sport and entertainment as catalysts for development. 'Let's use football as tool to show what is possible. We play footoball in Palestine, we play football in Lebanon, it is possible. Football can play a little role, but an important one.' Infantino's co-panelist, film producer Fernando Sulichin, spoke of the need to change the narrative of 'Palestinian victimization' through entertainment. 'We need to stop the victimization and start telling new stories.' He suggested there could be a 'Black Panther' or 'Billy Elliott' hero for the Palestinians or an uplifting story like 'Roma,' the Academy Award winning film about the life of a live-in housekeeper of a middle-class Mexican family. 'Why don't we have a 'Roma' in Palestine?' he asked.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held meetings in India's capital on Wednesday amid growing tensions over trade and tariffs that has strained the partners' ties. Pompeo called on India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday morning, and later was meeting his counterpart S. Jaishankar. India's foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Pompeo and Modi exchanged 'views on various aspects of Indo-US relationship.' 'Working together to further deepen our strategic partnership,' Kumar tweeted. Pompeo arrived in New Delhi late Tuesday after visiting Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan on a trip aimed at building a global coalition to counter Iran. His visit is the first high-level engagement between the two countries since Modi's reelection last month. The countries call each other a strategic partner despite retaliatory tariffs they imposed on some of the other's goods this month. India imposed tariffs on 28 American products including walnuts and almonds on June 16 in retaliation for the U.S. ending India's preferential trade status on June 1. The Trump administration imposed higher duties on products including aluminum and steel. The visit also comes ahead of the scheduled meeting between President Donald Trump and Modi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Japan later this week. The two countries' officials are also likely to discuss India's plans to purchase Russia's S-400 air defense system. U.S. has shown reservations about the deal. But still the U.S. has become India's top defense supplier in last two years. India's trade with the U.S. has also seen steady growth at $150 billion annually. Indian officials say they have little differences with the U.S. over political and strategic issues including on Iran, but they have cautioned the two countries need to be careful on trade and commerce. India stopped oil purchases from Iran after the U.S. sanctions waiver ran out in May but Indian officials have continued working out for a renewal of the waiver amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Indian officials say while they understand the U.S. concerns regarding Iran, their country has taken an economic hit. Before Pompeo's arrival in India, hundreds of supporters of left-wing groups marched in central New Delhi to protest his visit and denounce American policies in the Middle East. They urged the Indian government not to cut off imports of oil from Iran, as the U.S. has demanded. Pran Sharma, a protester, said there was a 'bigger game' behind 'the trade war' between India and the U.S. 'That is the invasion of Iran, for which it (U.S.) is making preparations. How it can get cooperation from India?' he said.
  • The divide in Oregon between the state's liberal, urban population centers and its conservative and economically depressed rural areas has made it fertile ground for the political crisis unfolding over a push by Democrats to enact sweeping climate legislation. Eleven Republican senators are entering the seventh day of a walkout Wednesday to deny the supermajority Democrats the quorum needed to vote on a cap and trade bill that would be the second of its kind in the U.S. The stalemate has drawn international attention, in part because right-wing militias have rallied to the GOP cause. One Republican lawmaker said state troopers dispatched to hunt down the rogue lawmakers should 'come heavily armed' if they want to bring him back to the Capitol — a departure from traditional bipartisan cooperation. 'This is not the Oregon Way and cannot be rewarded,' said Democratic Gov. Kate Brown. 'The Republicans are driving us away from the values that Oregonians hold dear, and are moving us dangerously close to the self-serving stalemate in Washington, D.C.' Experts say the standoff was inevitable given the state's political make-up. Oregon has a national reputation as a liberal bastion best known for its craft beer, doughnuts and award-winning wine. But while the state's urban centers lean left, about 40% of residents — mostly those in rural areas — consistently vote Republican, said Priscilla Southwell, a University of Oregon professor who wrote 'Governing Oregon.' 'The reality is that it is a much more divided state than people realize,' she said. 'It's kind of like a perfect storm for this kind of thing to happen.' That political divide also translates to an economic chasm for many. As Portland has boomed, huge swaths of the state have been left without enough money to keep libraries open or fully staff sheriff's departments. Logging, which once thrived, has almost vanished because of environmental restrictions and a changing global economy. Rural voters worry the cap-and-trade bill would be the end for logging and trucking. 'It's going to ruin so many lives, it's going to put so many people out of work,' said Bridger Hasbrouck, a self-employed logger from Dallas, Oregon. 'If the guys that I'm cutting for can't afford to run their logging companies, then I have to figure out something different.' The proposal would dramatically reduce greenhouse gases over 30 years by capping carbon emissions and requiring businesses to buy or trade from an ever-dwindling pool of pollution 'allowances.' Democrats say the legislation is critical to make Oregon a leader in the fight against climate change and will ultimately create jobs and transform the economy. Republicans say it will kill jobs, raise the cost of fuel and other goods and gut small businesses. They also say that they've been left out of policy negotiations, an assertion the governor called 'hogwash.' Yet that sense of rural alienation gives right-wing groups such as the Oregon Three Percenters a way into the conversation by portraying the climate bill as a stand-in for a number of concerns held by rural, conservative voters nationally, said Chris Shortell, chairman of Portland State University's political science department. 'It highlights the ways in which local politics have become nationalized,' he said. 'It's not just about the climate change bill in Oregon. Now it's about, 'Are Democrats legitimate in acting this way?'' Some also worry the climate standoff could put Oregon back in the crosshairs of an anti-government movement that in 2016 used the federal prosecution of two ranchers to mobilize an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. One militia member was killed and another injured in weeks-long standoff protesting the U.S. government's management of vast swaths of the American West. During the current political crisis, one militia group offered safe passage to the rogue GOP senators and the Capitol shut down last Saturday because of what police called a credible 'militia threat.' Right-wing and nationalist groups have been increasingly visible in Oregon over the past five years as rural voters get more disillusioned, said Eric Ward, executive director of the Portland-based Western States Center. 'In frustration, there are organizations and individuals who have stepped into a leadership gap and are attempting to provide parallel leadership,' he said. 'But that leadership is led by ... bigotry and threats of violence.' For more than 50 years, the rural U.S. West has undergone tremendous change as federal protections for forestland and endangered species reshaped residents' relationship with the land, said Patty Limerick, faculty director at the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, Boulder. 'Sometimes a historical shakeup takes a couple of decades for people to adjust and sometimes it takes a couple of centuries,' Limerick said. 'I think we ought to understand that this is a really different world from 50 years ago — and no wonder that some people feel that it's time for acts of desperation and dramatically staged opposition.' For now, it's unclear how that drama will play out. The governor said late Tuesday that the Democrats no longer have the votes needed to pass the bill even if Republicans were to return, but the GOP still stayed away. ____ Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus
  • Sixty seconds for answers, a television audience of millions and, for some candidates, a first chance to introduce themselves to voters. The back-to-back Democratic presidential debates beginning Wednesday are exercises in competitive sound bites featuring 20 candidates hoping to oust President Donald Trump in 2020. The hopefuls range widely in age, sex and backgrounds and include a former vice president, six women and a pair of mayors. The challenge: Convey their plans for the nation, throw a few elbows and sharpen what's been a blur of a race so far for many Americans. What to watch Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo: ___ WHAT'S HER PLAN? Sen. Elizabeth Warren's task is to harness the recent momentum surrounding her campaign to prove to voters that she has what it takes to defeat Trump. As the sole top-tier candidate on stage Wednesday, she could have the most to lose. The Massachusetts senator and former Harvard professor is known for her many policy plans and a mastery of classical, orderly debate. But presidential showdowns can be more 'Gladiator'-style than the high-minded 'Great Debaters.' This is no time for a wonky multipoint case for 'Medicare for All,' student debt relief or the Green New Deal. So, one challenge for Warren, 70, is stylistic. Look for her to try to champion her progressive ideas — and fend off attacks from lesser-known candidates — with gravitas, warmth and the brevity required by the format. Another obstacle is to do so without alienating moderates any Democrat would need in a general election against Trump. Being the front-runner on stage conveys a possible advantage: If the others pile on Warren, she gets more time to speak because the candidates are allowed 30 extra seconds for responses. ___ WHO'S THAT? There may be some familiar faces across the rest of the stage, such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, 50, or former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, 46. But a few names probably won't ring any bells at all. These virtual strangers to most Americans may be enjoying their first — and maybe last — turn on the national stage, so they have the least to lose. Take John Delaney, 56, a former member of the House from Maryland. Look for him to try to make an impression by keeping up his criticism of Warren's student debt relief plan, among others. Or Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, 45, who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He has likened the Democratic primary to 'speed dating with the American people.' ___ BREAKING OUT, GOING VIRAL For several of the candidates onstage Wednesday, the forum is about finding the breakout moment — a zinger, a burn — that stays in viewers' minds, is built for social media and generates donations, the lifeblood of campaigns. In 2015, Carly Fiorina won applause and a short surge for her response to Trump, who had been quoted in Rolling Stone as criticizing Fiorina's face. 'Look at that face,' Trump was quoted as saying. 'Would anyone vote for that?' Asked on CNN to respond, Fiorina evenly replied: 'I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.' For candidates such as O'Rourke, a breakthrough moment on Wednesday is critical to revitalizing a campaign that has faded. The 10 White House contenders have two hours on stage that night and up until the curtain rises on the star-studded second debate the next day to make their mark. Former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 77, headline Thursday's debate and are certain to take up much of the spotlight. ___ BREAKING OUT BADLY An 'oops' moment can be politically crippling to any presidential campaign. Just ask Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who, in a 2011 debate, blanked on the third agency of government he had said would be 'gone' if he became president. 'Commerce, Education and the, uh, what's the third one there?' Perry said. 'EPA?' fellow Republican Ron Paul offered. Yep, Perry said, the Environmental Protection Agency. Perry's campaign, already struggling, never recovered. ___ WHAT ISSUES? There's simply no time for an in-depth discussion of issues. But listen for shorthand mentions of 'Medicare for All,' free college, climate change and student debt relief as the candidates try to distinguish themselves. It's possible, too, that racial issues surface after an emotional House hearing on reparations for the descendants of slaves — and Booker's criticism of Biden for saying he'd found ways to work with segregationist senators on foreign policy. Speaking of Biden, listen for references to him and questions about whether he is in touch with the Democratic Party or of this moment, both suggestions about his age. The former senator and vice president won't be on stage Wednesday, but he's the front-runner and especially fair game. ___ TRUMP This is the Democrats' night. But Trump has dominated the political conversation since that escalator ride four years ago, and he loathes being upstaged. It's worth asking: Will he tweet during the debates? And if he does, will NBC and the moderators ignore him or respond in real time? It's hard to commit to anything in advance, but NBC News executive Rashida Jones said the focus will be on the candidates and the issues. 'Beyond that, it has to rise to a certain level,' she said. During the first debate, Trump will be on Air Force One on his way to the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The plane's cable televisions are usually turned to Fox News, which is not hosting the debates. For the second debate, he will be beginning meetings at the G-20. ___ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller and AP Media Writer David Bauder contributed to this report. ___ Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman
  • Ten presidential candidates, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, will converge on the debate stage on Wednesday on the first night of Democratic debates to offer their pitches to voters and attempt a breakout moment for their campaigns. For many of the White House hopefuls, it will be the highest-profile opportunity yet to offer their vision for the country and, if for just two hours, chip into a political news cycle often dominated by President Donald Trump. Given the massive field , the debate will be split over two nights , with 10 other candidates — including former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — appearing Thursday. But on opening night, Warren will take center stage. The Massachusetts senator's constant stream of policy proposals has helped her campaign gain ground. Strategists say that Warren, widely viewed as a talented debater, is well positioned to showcase her strengths. 'I don't think anyone else on that night has her level of skill and her level of experience in this format,' said Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist. 'I think she should look at this as an opportunity to really shine and come out of the first night as the one that is dominating the conversation.' Yet Warren could still face challenges. The other candidates on stage Wednesday aren't as well known and could use the moment to take aggressive stances against Warren in an effort to find a breakout moment. 'She's liable to have a target on her back and a lot of people potentially coming after her on that stage,' said Charles Chamberlain, the chairman of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America. 'But on the other hand, that will let people see how she handles attacks and can fend them off.' Asked whether she felt the pressure of effectively being the front-runner during the first debate, Warren shrugged off her center-stage position. 'This is just a chance to be able to talk to people all across this country about how this government works better and better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top, and it's just not working for the rest of America, she told reporters after her Tuesday rally in Miami. '2020's our chance to change that.' Beyond Warren, the candidates who will debate on Wednesday are Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tim Ryan of Ohio and former Reps. Beto O'Rourke of Texas and John Delaney of Maryland, along with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and ex-Obama housing secretary Julián Castro. One split that could emerge Wednesday centers on 'Medicare for All,' the single-payer health plan introduced by Sanders and supported by Warren and others. But some candidates are not fully on board, preferring more incremental reforms. Delaney has been especially vocal in his criticism. With so many White House hopefuls on stage, it could be difficult to dive too deep on any given issue. NBC News, which is hosting the debate, said candidates will have 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for follow-ups. They will be allowed closing statements but no openers. All the candidates are competing ahead of a major fundraising deadline that will have lasting implications. The end of the second fundraising quarter on Sunday gives candidates a chance to make a splash with strong numbers ahead of the mid-July deadline to report that information to the Federal Election Commission. A strong debate performance could fuel more donations, which is critical to the candidates' ability to participate in future debates. The Democratic National Committee is enforcing more stringent requirements for participating in the presidential primary debates this fall, so candidates who are struggling to gain a foothold may not have another similar opportunity on a nationally televised stage unless they are able to significantly boost their standing in the polls and fundraising numbers. 'For some of them, this might be their best opportunity to land a blow,' said Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist. The debate will unfold as many Democratic voters are just beginning to tune in. Only 35% of registered Democrats say they're paying close attention to the campaign, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Two-thirds say they're paying some or no attention. 'People may have heard (the candidates') names, but they couldn't pick them out and don't know much about them,' said Jesse Ferguson, a veteran Democratic strategist. 'None of them are going to seal the deal in the first debate, but they need to get people interested enough to want to learn more. The debate's second night on Thursday features more of the leading Democrats in the race. Biden will stand at center stage with Sanders at his left and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, at his right. The former vice president has come under fire from fellow Democrats after recently recalling that the Senate was once a more civil place, pointing to his work with two segregationist former senators. Several of the candidates went to Florida early to raise money or court voters in the critical battleground state. Buttigieg held two Florida fundraisers on Monday night and stayed in Florida for debate prep. Warren, meanwhile, was in the state Tuesday to campaign for her new proposal to boost election security . Not to be outdone, Vice President Mike Pence was also in Miami on Tuesday to launch 'Latinos for Trump' as part of an effort to engage Latino voters for 2020. The Trump campaign said it was running ads in Wednesday's Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald touting the president's achievements on behalf of Latinos. ___ Associated Press writers Sara Burnett in Chicago, David Bauder in New York, Alexandra Jaffe in Miami and Elana Schor in Washington contributed to this report.
  • It took last-minute changes and a full-court press by top Democratic leaders, but the House passed with relative ease a $4.5 billion emergency border aid package to care for thousands of migrant families and unaccompanied children detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill passed along party lines Tuesday night after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quelled a mini-revolt by progressives and Hispanic lawmakers who sought significant changes to the legislation. New provisions added to the bill were more modest than what those lawmakers had sought, but the urgent need for the funding — to prevent the humanitarian emergency on the border from turning into a debacle — appeared to outweigh any lingering concerns. The 230-195 vote sets up a showdown with the Republican-led Senate, which may try instead to force Democrats to send President Donald Trump a different, and broadly bipartisan, companion measure in coming days as the chambers race to wrap up the must-do legislation by the end of the week. 'The Senate has a good bill. Our bill is much better,' Pelosi, D-Calif., told her Democratic colleagues in a meeting Tuesday morning, according to a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private session. 'We are ensuring that children have food, clothing, sanitary items, shelter and medical care. We are providing access to legal assistance. And we are protecting families because families belong together,' Pelosi said in a subsequent floor speech. The bill contains more than $1 billion to shelter and feed migrants detained by the border patrol and almost $3 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children who are turned over the Department of Health and Human Services. It seeks to mandate improved standards of care at HHS 'influx shelters' that house children waiting to be placed with sponsors such as family members in the U.S. Both House and Senate bills ensure funding could not be shifted to Trump's border wall and would block information on sponsors of immigrant children from being used to deport them. Trump would be denied additional funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds. 'The President's cruel immigration policies that tear apart families and terrorize communities demand the stringent safeguards in this bill to ensure these funds are used for humanitarian needs only — not for immigration raids, not detention beds, not a border wall,' said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. Three moderates were the only House Republicans to back the measure. The only four Democratic 'no' votes came from some of the party's best-known freshmen: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ihan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The White House has threatened to veto the House bill, saying it would hamstring the administration's border security efforts, and the Senate's top Republican suggested Tuesday that the House should simply accept the Senate measure — which received only a single 'nay' vote during a committee vote last week. 'The idea here is to get a (presidential) signature, so I think once we can get that out of the Senate, hopefully on a vote similar to the one in the Appropriations Committee, I'm hoping that the House will conclude that's the best way to get the problem solved, which can only happen with a signature,' said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. A handful of GOP conservatives went to the White House to try to persuade Trump to reject the Senate bill and demand additional funding for immigration enforcement such as overtime for border agents and detention facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a top GOP lawmaker who demanded anonymity to discuss a private meeting. Trump was expected to reject the advice. House Democrats seeking the changes met late Monday with Pelosi, and lawmakers emerging from the Tuesday morning caucus meeting were generally supportive of the legislation. Congress plans to leave Washington in a few days for a weeklong July 4 recess, and pressure is intense to wrap up the legislation before then. Agencies are about to run out of money and failure to act could bring a swift political rebuke and accusations of ignoring the plight of innocent immigrant children. Longtime GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Democrats were simply 'pushing partisan bills to score political points and avoiding doing the hard work of actually making law,' warning them that 'passing a partisan bill through this chamber won't solve the problem.' Lawmakers' sense of urgency to provide humanitarian aid was amplified by recent reports of gruesome conditions in a windowless Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, where more than 300 infants and children were being housed. Many were kept there for weeks and were caring for each other in conditions that included inadequate food, water and sanitation. By Tuesday, most had been sent elsewhere. The incident was only an extreme example of the dire conditions reported at numerous locations where detainees have been held, and several children have died in U.S. custody. The Border Patrol reported apprehending nearly 133,000 people last month — including many Central American families — as monthly totals have begun topping 100,000 for the first time since 2007. Federal agencies involved in immigration have reported being overwhelmed, depleting their budgets and housing large numbers of detainees in structures meant for handfuls of people. Changes unveiled Tuesday would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish new standards for care of unaccompanied immigrant children and a plan for ensuring adequate translators to assist migrants in their dealings with law enforcement. The government would have to replace contractors who provide inadequate care. Many children detained entering the U.S. from Mexico have been held under harsh conditions, and Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer John Sanders told The Associated Press last week that children have died after being in the agency's care. He said Border Patrol stations are holding 15,000 people — more than triple their maximum capacity of 4,000. Sanders announced Tuesday that he's stepping down next month amid outrage over his agency's treatment of detained migrant children. In a letter Monday threatening the veto, White House officials told lawmakers they objected that the House package lacked money for beds the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to let it detain more migrants. Officials also complained in the letter that the bill had no money to toughen border security, including funds for building Trump's proposed border wall.
  • The Latest on funding to aid migrant families detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border (all times local): 8 p.m. Democrats have whisked a $4.5 billion bill through the House aimed at improving conditions for thousands of families and other migrants whose sheer numbers have overwhelmed federal immigration authorities. The mostly party-line 230-195 vote sets up a showdown with the Senate, whose Republican leaders plan approval of a bipartisan bill this week. Many Democrats prefer the House version. It contains stronger protections for how migrant children are treated and provides more services for migrants, including legal representation. Neither measure would finance President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. Pressure to approve the funds this week has grown amid reports of hundreds of children being housed in appalling conditions in a Texas facility. Congress plans a July 4 recess next week and lawmakers dread facing constituents without having approved the money. __ 3 p.m. Democratic leaders in the House are proposing tighter requirements for the care of unaccompanied refugee children as they try to pass a $4.5 billion emergency funding bill to address the humanitarian crisis involving the thousands of migrant families detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Lawmakers and aides say they expect the changes, which are concessions to Hispanic and liberal Democrats, to produce a winning tally when the measure comes to a vote later Tuesday. A full court press by leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is also helping nail down support, though some Democrats have lingering reservations. The Senate plans to vote on a different, and bipartisan, companion measure in coming days.

News

  • A man said his pain medication and a broken back door are what led to his 2-year-old son wandering onto a busy Florida highway. Jacob Krueger, 25, and the child's mother, 28-year-old Yajaira Tirado were both arrested on neglect charges after their son was found on the highway around 10:30 a.m. Monday with a dirty diaper and bug bites covering his arms.  'I'm sorry,' Krueger said after walking out of jail Tuesday. 'I didn't mean for it to come down to this.' Krueger explained that he and Tirado are on medications for conditions that he said kept them asleep during the ordeal. He also blamed a broken door at the home they rent as why his son was able to escape. >>Read: Toddler wearing dirty diaper, covered in bug bites found crossing highway, police say; 2 arrested When asked why there wasn't any attempt to fix the door to prevent an incident like this, Krueger said, 'There's no way. Doesn't matter if I tried doing something to it.' Krueger went on to deny a responding deputy's claim that his home was littered with broken bottles and smelled like feces. >> Read more trending news  'I love my child. I want the best for them (and) don't ever want to hurt them,' Krueger explained.  Officials said they had been to the home in 2018 for another case of child neglect in which Tirado was arrested after a 1-year-old and 2-year-old were left at the home alone, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.  Deputies said the toddler found crossing the highway was placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Tirado remains in the Volusia County Jail.
  • The Democratic presidential primary debates begin Wednesday with 10 candidates going head-to-head in Miami as the 2020 presidential election season gets underway. >>Read more trending news Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and seven others will likely face questions on border security, health care and climate change on the first night of the two-night event. >>Jamie Dupree: Warren leads Democrats into first night of 2020 debates Here’s what to know about and how to watch Wednesday’s Democratic debate.  When and where is the debate being held? The debate will be broken up into two nights with 10 candidates on the stage to debate each night. The debates will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Who will be on the stage on Wednesday? Here is the lineup for Wednesday’s debate: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey  Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts  Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas  Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii  Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota  Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington  Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio  Where will they stand onstage? The candidates will stand from left to right in this order – de Blasio, Ryan, Castro, Booker, Warren, O’Rourke, Klobuchar, Gabbard, Inslee, Delaney.  Who will be asking the questions at the debate? Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate. Holt, Guthrie and Diaz-Balart will moderate the first hour, with Holt, Todd and Maddow asking questions in the second hour. How can I watch the debate? NBC is sponsoring the debate, but it will be shown on all three major networks and on cable news channels. It will stream online free (without requiring an account with a television provider) at NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, and Telemundo's digital platforms. What time wil it be on? The debate will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday. Where can I watch the livestream? Here is the livestream link of the debate from YouTube Live coverage: Come back here beginning at 7 p.m. for live coverage of the first night of the debate. 
  • Police arrested a woman who allegedly tried to kidnap a couple’s children in the atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Saturday morning. Police said Esther Daniels, 26, tried to grab a stroller with a child in it before being fended off by the child’s mother. She then picked up one of the couple’s other children and walked away, but the father took the child back from her, Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Chafee said in an emailed statement. >> Read more trending news  An officer responded a few minutes later and found Daniels in a frenzied mental state, Chafee said. She then allegedly ran toward a nearby family and had to be restrained by the officer, Chafee said.  Daniels, who lives in Kansas, eventually calmed down and was escorted to the police precinct in a wheelchair, the statement said. She was checked out at Grady Memorial Hospital before being taken to the Clayton County Jail. Daniels was charged with kidnapping and obstructing an officer. Her bond has not been set.
  • A Virginia man and woman are facing homicide charges after their 2-month-old daughter died from cocaine and heroin intoxication last year, authorities said. According to WDBJ-TV, police on Tuesday arrested Eugene Chandler Jr., 27, and Shaleigh Brumfield, 26, of Danville, on felony homicide charges in the baby's November 2018 death. Officials also charged the pair with child abuse and neglect, the news station reported. >> Read more trending news On Nov. 24, Danville police and emergency crews responded to a report of an infant who couldn't breathe, according to court documents. The child, identified as Marleigh Rain Chandler, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, the Danville Register & Bee reported. While searching the family's home, investigators discovered evidence of drug use, including marijuana and drug paraphernalia, WSET reported. The Western District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy, which revealed that Marleigh died from 'acute heroin and cocaine intoxication in a setting of co-sleeping,' officials said. Chandler and Brumfield were booked into the Danville City Jail, where they are being held without bond.
  • When the first Democratic presidential primary debate kicks off Wednesday night, Kirkland Dent will be watching. Dent, 28, a medical librarian at Mercer University in Macon, has been trying to keep up with the sprawling Democratic field aiming to unseat President Donald Trump — “I can probably name 80% of them,” he said. But he is looking forward to seeing them in action. “I’m curious about what their goals are, what issues they want to tackle.” So are Judy Hauser, Michael Murphy-McCarthy and John Chastain. They are among about a dozen Democratic and independent voters in Georgia who have agreed to take part in an informal focus group organized by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to discuss the 2020 Democratic primary race. The AJC checked in with them for the first time ahead of the debates Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, the first opportunity many voters will get to see the candidates answer questions for a national audience. THE LATEST | Georgia Presidential candidate visit tracker MORE | Democratic presidential hopefuls emphasize Georgia’s big role in 2020 For the most part, the Georgia voters said they have been paying some attention to the race but want to know more. That’s true of Democratic voters nationally, too. According to a poll released this week by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, only 35% of Democrats who are registered to vote say they’re paying close attention to the campaign. The size of the field doesn’t help, and most of the Georgia voters who talked to the AJC said they are eager for it to thin out a bit. The debates, which will feature 10 candidates on stage each night, won’t give the contenders a lot of time to make their case. “It’s going to be really, really hard to stand out in that big a crowd,” said Murphy-McCarthy, who lives in Peachtree Corners and works in IT. “It will be easier to fall down than to stand out.” Dent said a number of candidates have stood out for him so far: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang. But he’s open to being surprised by lesser-known candidates. “It’s important for our generation to start paying attention a lot more,” he said. RELATED | Biden reverses stance on Hyde abortion amendment at Atlanta event MORE | Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ law targeted by Democratic presidential hopefuls Chastain, 73, lives in largely Republican Cherokee County. “If I say I am a Democrat, it’s like I have the plague,” he joked. He said he’s very interested in the Democratic primary race and wants to hear candidates get specific at the debates. “I’m looking for some action plans,” he said, “I want to know what they are going to do, not just getting Trump out.” He’s retired and said health care is a top issue. Hauser, a registered nurse from Buckhead, wants a candidate who can win. “We need someone who is going to be able to take on Trump and his mouth,” she said. She said she likes Biden but is also interested in Buttigieg and Harris. Biden, she said, “has very good core values. Yes, he’s made some mistakes, but who hasn’t?” His age doesn’t bother her. “I see him as a one-term president that will bring this country back on even keel,” she said. Murphy-McCarthy, 51, said he’s been impressed by Warren but says he’s open to the others. “I’m OK with somebody coming out of nowhere,” he said. DEEPER COVERAGE | Which Democratic candidates have raised the most in Georgia PHOTOS | Top Democratic presidential contenders campaign in Atlanta Howard Giambrone of Coweta County is an independent who has mostly voted for Republicans in the past, but he is considering a Democrat in 2020. It won’t be Bernie Sanders or Warren, who he says are too liberal. He said he is looking for a candidate who is fiscally responsible, supportive of the military and has what he considers a moderate view on immigration. Giambrone’s wife is from Colombia and he doesn’t like Trump’s immigration policies. “I want to strengthen the border but make coming here (legally) less difficult,” he said. So far he thinks Biden and Cory Booker are possibilities. What can the candidates say to win him over? “I want to hear fresh ideas and get away from trashing Trump,” he said. William Black, 38, is a housekeeper in Jones County. He said his top issues are race relations and global warming, and his favorite candidates so far are Sanders and Biden. He isn’t too worried about the size of the field. “They will weed themselves out,” he said. He’s happy to see the enthusiasm. “It’s good for the Democratic Party that there’s that level of interest of people who want to change the country.” How to follow Democratic presidential debates NBC will host the first Democratic presidential debates Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 9 and concluding at 11 each night. Each night will feature 10 candidates. The debates will be broadcast by NBC News and also appear on MSNBC and Telemundo. Telemundo will broadcast the debate in Spanish. They also will stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms. NBC News will also stream the debates live and in full on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • A 58-year-old man is behind bars after police said he raped a child nightly over a three-year period. According to the Jackson Sun, William Paul Godwin of Parsons, Tennessee, was arrested Sunday and charged with 12 counts of child rape, as well as one count of continuous child rape, authorities said. >> Read more news stories Godwin is accused of forcing the girl into sexual intercourse nightly beginning in fall 2012, when she was 5, the Sun reported. The victim said the rapes continued until summer 2015, according to court documents. Godwin was jailed on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court July 8, WBBJ reported. Read more here or here.