Review Category : Politics

Republican Karen Handel defends district in Georgia special election

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(ATLANTA) — Fending off a serious Democratic challenger in a race widely viewed as a barometer of public opinion on President Donald Trump’s presidency, Republican Karen Handel won the special election Tuesday to succeed Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price in Georgia’s sixth congressional district.

At 11:31 p.m., the office of the Georgia Secretary of State confirmed that, with 100 percent of all precincts reporting, Handel had won by a 52.13 percent-47.87 percent margin. That translated to 132,459 votes for Handel, and 121,635 votes for Ossoff.

President Trump was quick to react to Handel’s win, tweeting, “Things are looking great for Karen H!”

And House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said in a statement, “Congratulations to Karen Handel on a hard-earned and well-deserved victory. Democrats from coast to coast threw everything they had at this race, and Karen would not be defeated. The people of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District are the big winners tonight because they have elected a representative who is going to tirelessly fight for them and their interests.”

Ryan continued, “Karen is all business. I’ve campaigned with her and I know how eager she is to get to work. I’m excited to have her as a partner in the House of Representatives, and I look forward to working with her as we tackle our country’s most pressing problems.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a rising star in the Democratic party who supported Nancy Pelosi’s challenger in the race to lead House Democrats after the election, says the result of Tuesday’s special election is a sign that “business as usual isn’t working … Time to stop rehashing 2016 and talk about the future.”

At her victory celebration, Handel thanked her supporters and President Trump.

“A special thanks to the president of the United States of America,” she said as her supporters chanted, “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

Handel also assured Ossoff’s supporters that she will represent them. She preached a message of unity, saying, “we are part of one community, the community of the sixth district.”

She also referenced her perseverance in the business and political worlds.

“It’s that fighting spirit, that perseverance and tenacity that I will take to Washington,” she said Tuesday night.

And in a nod to last week’s shooting in Alexandria, Handel said politics has become too embittered.

“My pledge is to be part of the solution, to focus on governing,” she said.

Handel told her crowd of supporters that she plans to work on tax reform with lower corporate rates, “but also lower individual rates so that our middle class can participate and our small businesses can participate.”

Ossoff expressed a hopeful sentiment in the moments following his loss, while speaking to his supporters, whom he described as a “beacon of hope.”

He also thanked supporters for a “hard fought” race, saying that while the outcome was not the one “many of us were hoping for,” the race was is “the beginning of something much bigger than us … the fight goes on.” He closed by thanking his fiance and saying that “Hope is still alive.”

Handel’s defense of the district, occupying the affluent suburbs north of Atlanta, comes as a blow to Ossoff, who raised over $20 million for the race after finishing less than two percentage points shy of achieving a majority and winning the seat outright during the first round of voting April.

Democrats nationwide viewed the special election as an opportunity to mobilize anti-Trump sentiment early in the president’s tenure. Though two previous opportunities to flip house seats in special elections in Kansas and Montana fell short this year, Georgia’s sixth was thought to be within reach after Hillary Clinton nearly turned the district blue in November.

Clinton fell short of Trump by less than two percentage points in the presidential election, four years after Republican Mitt Romney triumphed over President Barack Obama by a 61-38 percent margin in 2012. No Democrat has represented the district in Congress since 1979.

Donors from across the country showed an outpouring of support for the photogenic 30-year-old Ossoff in his first political race, banking on an influx of younger voters and the changing demographics of the region to carry the documentary film producer to Washington.

The widespread external interest in the candidate — who lives beyond the borders of the sixth himself — became a point of contention for Republicans, who decried that over 95 percent of his donations came from outside Georgia. The race ultimately became the most expensive congressional election in U.S. history.

Handel, 55, a former Georgia secretary of state, won the election after falling short in Republican primaries for governor and U.S. senator in 2010 and 2014, respectively. After receiving nearly 20 percent of the vote to finish a distant second to Ossoff in April’s jungle primary — the top finisher in a field of 11 Republicans — Handel received the backing of the White House, with Trump attending an Atlanta fundraiser in late April and tweeting his support in recent days.

Fundraising for the Republican paled in comparison to the Democrat’s total, but Handel was boosted heavily by outside groups. Super PACs and the National Republican Congressional Committee contributed a combined $18.2 million to defend the seat once occupied by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson.

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Rep. Kinzinger shares ‘hateful’ messages he received after Alexandria shooting

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — Illinois Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger shared on Tuesday a few of the “hateful, vitriolic” messages he received following the June 14 congressional baseball practice shooting at a Virginia park that left his GOP colleague Rep. Steve Scalise in critical condition.

The House Majority Whip’s condition has since been upgraded to serious.

Kinzinger, who serves Illinois’ 16th Congressional District, posted on Facebook some messages he said he received from the public, writing, “We must rise above the angry rhetoric coming from all sides. Below are just a few of the hateful, vitriolic messages I received AFTER the #AlexandriaShooting. I know this is not the worst of it, and that I’ll get even more comments on this post itself, but it’s shocking and disturbing nonetheless.”

Some messages he shared unabashedly embraced violence, while others were a bit tamer.

One tweet, making reference to the shooting taking place at a baseball diamond, reads, “@RepKinzinger Too bad you weren’t on second base!!”

Another tweet reads, “GOP IS NASTY VIOLENT PARTY; YOU DESERVE TO SUFFER & DIE!”

“You and GOP responsible for vile/violent actions since you are not working for the people,” reads one of the tamer tweets Kinzinger posted.

Another message reads, “I hate you. I want to vote you out of office. That doesn’t make me bad. It makes me quite smart.”

“For the sake of our democracy, for the sake of future generations watching, listening, and reading these comments, we must do better to restore our civility,” wrote Kinzinger, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, adding that he is also looking inward, as well. “As I said last week, that includes me -– I am committed to changing my tone and will encourage others in debate to disagree without being disagreeable. It’s time to #RestoreCivility.”

Following the shooting in Alexandria by gunman James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois — who was killed in a shootout with police — Kinzinger said in a statement, “What happened today was a targeted act of senseless violence from a disturbed individual. This hate will not divide us; it will unite us.”

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Trump Associate Denies Being Middle Man for Russia

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Another associate of Donald Trump has come forward to deny allegations contained in a 35 page dossier with unsubstantiated allegations that Russia and the Trump campaign were in cahoots during the U.S. presidential election.

In an interview with ABC News, one-time Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page, said that he never met with key Russian officials on Trump’s behalf.

“It would have been an honor to meet [Russian oil executive and Putin ally] Igor Ivanovich [Sechin], but I never had that opportunity,” said Page, an energy executive who traveled extensively in Russia who Trump initially identified as one of his early foreign policy advisors.

Page, whose name appears repeatedly in the dossier gathered by a former British spy, under the heading “Secret Kremlin Meetings Attended by Trump Advisor,” called the assertion that he met with Sechin or other Russian officials on Trump’s behalf “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Never happened,” he said emphatically.

Page did not, however, agree with senior Trump aides who argued that he had no advisory role in helping shape the candidate’s foreign policy.

Trump had initially named Page during a recorded meeting with Washington Post editors as one of a handful of people helping him bone up on international affairs. But as Page’s name began surfacing in media reports suggesting Russian influence on the campaign, aides began to dismiss him.

In August, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Page “does not speak for or represent the campaign in any official capacity.”

In January, the description from spokesman Sean Spicer was even more emphatic: “Carter Page is an individual whom the President-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign,” he said.

Page said he remains in contact with Trump aides and, just as he did when he first volunteered to help Trump about a year ago, he continues “to help in any way I can.”

“I think, you know, very broadly, they’re on the right track including on Russia,” Page said. “So I’m very optimistic. And I think there’s great things happening.”

Page says he was never offered money by Russian officials to help persuade Trump to drop the crippling economic sanctions that the U.S. imposed after the Russian invasion of Crimea.

“If I were offered a prize of many billions of dollars, that would be quite an offer,” he said. “But that was never dropped in my lap, no.”

That said, Page did not rule out having met, in passing, with senior Russian officials in the course of his travels.

He said he frequently lectures in Russia at academic events attended by a range of people, including many who were encouraged by Trump’s pro-Russia posture during the 2016 campaign.

“I heard feedback in this regard,” he said. “Across the board feedback that people were very excited. You know, it reminded me of 1991, my first trip to Moscow at the end of the Soviet era when there was a great optimism in the streets about the possibilities for a major change in U.S.-Russia relations.”

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President Trump to Attend National Prayer Breakfast

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Partaking in a tradition that dates back over half a century to the tenure of Dwight Eisenhower, President Donald Trump will attend the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday.

The event, which brings together politicians with members of the business and religious community, began in 1953 and is organized by The Fellowship Foundation and hosted by a committee of members of Congress.

Over 3,000 people attend the breakfast annually, according to The Fellowship Foundation, where they hear from a variety of speakers including the current president. Past deliverers of the keynote address at the function include former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, King Abdullah II of Jordan and U2 frontman Bono. King Abdullah is expected to attend Thursday’s breakfast as well.

In 2013, a then-relatively unknown Dr. Ben Carson — currently awaiting Senate confirmation to be secretary of housing and urban development — delivered a scathing critique of President Barack Obama’s attempts at health care reform at the gathering. The appearance vaulted Carson to celebrity in conservative circles, eventually leading to his unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

The breakfast is not without controversy however, with some critics decrying the event’s religious theme and fusion of church and state.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization promoting the secularity of government, released a statement in opposition to the function Wednesday, writing, “Instead of serving ‘Americans of all backgrounds,’ [the breakfast] further enshrines the place of worship and religion in our political setup, acting contrary to our godless Constitution.”

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First Lady Melania Trump Hires Chief of Staff, Plans Move to DC in Summer

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — An aide to Melania Trump on Wednesday confirmed that the first lady will move to the White House starting at the beginning of the summer.

“Mrs. Trump will be moving to D.C. and settling into the White House at the end of the school year, splitting her time between New York and D.C. in the meantime,” Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, senior adviser to the first lady told ABC News. “Mrs. Trump is honored to serve this country and is taking the role and responsibilities of the first lady very seriously.”

The confirmation comes after a rumor sparked by tabloids early Wednesday morning that the first lady and her 10-year-old son Barron Trump were not considering a move to Washington, D.C. from New York City.

Later on Wednesday, the White House also announced that Lindsay Reynolds would be joining the First Lady’s team as her Chief of Staff.

“I am putting together a professional and highly-experienced team which will take time to do properly,” the first lady said in a White House press release.

Apart from being the first lady’s Chief of Staff, Reynolds is also an assistant to the President. But in her capacity as Chief of Staff, Reynolds will be in charge of “managing the agenda and day to day operations” of the first lady’s office.

“It has been an honor to take on the responsibility of the position of First Lady, with its long history as an important representative of the President, our family, and the traditions of our nation around the world,” the first lady said in the statement.

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Trump Executive Order Draft Could Curtail LGBT Rights

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A draft of an executive order on “religious freedom” is circulating inside the Trump administration, outlining a potential weakening of protections designed to shield LGBT individuals from discrimination, according to a copy of the proposed order obtained by ABC News.

The order –- which may never become administration policy, depending on internal deliberations — would also free some private companies from being forced to provide contraceptive coverage as part of the health plans they offer employees. It would also open the door for tax-exempt entities to speak out “on moral or political issues from a religious perspective” without fear of losing favored tax status.

White House officials told ABC News that the draft appears to be among the hundreds of executive orders that are circulating –- drafted by either the Trump transition team, the White House policy team or even by outside groups –- and that not all reflect administration thinking or likely policy. One official did not say who drafted this potential order, but did not dispute its authenticity.

“We do not have plans to sign anything at this time but will let you know when we have any updates,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokesperson.

The draft order began circulating inside the Trump administration on Tuesday, hours after a statement by the Trump White House committed the president to leaving intact workplace discrimination protections enacted by President Obama to protect LGBTQ individuals, in 2014.

“President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday morning. “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.”

A copy of the draft document was provided to ABC News by a government official who was authorized to review it, but was not authorized to release it publicly. The four-page draft executive order is titled, “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.”

Even without any indications that it is moving forward, news of the proposal spread quickly through Capitol Hill and the advocacy community. GLAAD, a prominent gay-rights group, announced late Wednesday that it would hold a rally at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City Thursday night to protest the possible plans.

“If anything in this document were to become federal law, it would be a national license to discriminate, and it would endanger LGBTQ people and their families,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO.

The order would declare it to be “policy” of the administration that “Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their conscience, and will remain free to express their viewpoints without suffering adverse treatment from the Federal Government.”

Several outside conservative groups that have been pushing for similar actions have been pressing for something to be released surrounding Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, told CNBC on Tuesday that he believed that “religious liberty” would be addressed in an executive action by Trump, despite the president’s statement earlier that day.

“I think this is going to be addressed,” Perkins said. Perkins did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Religious groups have argued that Obama-era policies have curtailed their freedoms, by forcing them to provide services that conflict with their beliefs. Mallory Quigley, communications director for the social conservative Susan B. Anthony List, said an order protecting religious freedoms is critical for the new president to deliver on promises made to the conservative base.

“It is an expectation of the pro-life movement that the Trump administration would provide relief for Little Sisters of the Poor and others who have had their conscience rights violated by Obamacare,” Quigley said. “This would certainly be in keeping with the priorities that the administration has already laid out.”

While not rescinding any previous executive orders, the proposed draft could free companies and individuals that do business with the federal government to decline to work with gay and lesbian couples on adoptions and other services.

The order states that the federal government “shall not discriminate or take any adverse action against a religious organization” providing adoption or child-welfare services if the organization “declines to provide, facilitate, or refer such service due to a conflict with the organization’s religious beliefs.”

After being provided a copy of the draft by ABC News for review, a spokesman for a prominent gay-rights group said the order could permit federal employees and contractors to refuse a range of services to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identification. Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Council, called the draft “sweeping and dangerous.”

“It reads like a wish list from some of the most radical anti-equality activists,” Griffin said in a statement. “If true, it seems this White House is poised to wildly expand anti-LGBTQ discrimination across all facets of the government — even if he does maintain the Obama [executive order from 2014]. If Donald Trump goes through with even a fraction of this order, he’ll reveal himself as a true enemy to LGBTQ people.”

On a different topic, the proposal would exempt “all persons and religious organizations” from providing health care options that include contraceptive coverage, as is now required under the Affordable Care Act, if they “object to complying with the mandate for religious or moral reasons.”

The draft order would expand the definition of a “religious organization” to include “closely held for-profit corporations, operated for a religious purpose, even if its purpose is not exclusively religious.”

That would appear to apply to companies including Hobby Lobby, which brought a landmark case against the Obama administration challenging the requirement that employer-provided health care include contraceptive coverage.

The order also seeks to ensure tax-exempt status for religious organizations even if they speak out on beliefs opposing gay marriage, extra-marital sex, abortion rights, and rights for transgender individuals.

That appears to be an attempt to roll back the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law prohibiting tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Trump promised repeal of the Johnson Amendment as a candidate, though congressional action would be necessary for that to occur.

The draft would also establish a working group inside the Justice Department that would “ensure that the religious freedom of persons and religious organizations is protected throughout the United States,” and would take “appropriate action.”

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As Gorsuch Comes to the Hill, Democrats Divided on a Plan

tupungato/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — With small talk of his resume and home state of Colorado, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch began making the rounds on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as lawmakers prepared for battle over his confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

Gorsuch spent his day in a flurry of meetings with Republican senators –- including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. He ended his day with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, a conservative Democrat up for reelection in two years.

How exactly to proceed with Gorsuch’s nomination, has in many ways, become a microcosm of the larger debate Democrats are having about how best to move forward as a party. Several Democrats have promised to meet with Gorsuch and are urging their colleagues to hear him out. They believe the party should, at least, grant him hearings that Republicans denied President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

Others, however, argue that Democrats should take a page from Republicans’ playbook and obstruct Trump and his party at every turn. In an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, said he’ll oppose Gorsuch regardless of what emerges during the confirmation process.

“This nomination should never have occurred,” he said, citing Senate Republicans’ controversial blockade of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat during the presidential election. “This seat has been stolen from another administration.”

Merkley is not alone. A handful of other senators from the progressive wing of the party have already vowed to oppose Gorsuch, and major Democratic fundraising groups, including MoveOn and NARAL, have launched online and social media campaigns against his nomination.

They argue Gorsuch’s previous opinion on the Hobby Lobby case is evidence that the Colorado judge is out of the mainstream. That case gained national attention and eventually went to the Supreme Court after Gorsuch sided with Christians who sought a religious exception to a part of the Affordable Care Act requiring health insurance to cover contraception.

Republicans have begun pressuring Democrats to take up Gorsuch’s nomination as soon as possible.

The Judicial Crisis Network will spend $10 million on a campaign to pressure vulnerable Democratic senators to support Gorsuch for the court. The group will sink $2 million into television and web ads, focusing first on Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota and Montana.

In an interview, Carrie Severino, the JCN’s chief counsel, said conservatives plan to hold Democrats up for reelection in 2018 accountable for their votes.

Republicans started working Senate Democrats on the Supreme Court vacancy before Trump even took office. Vice President Mike Pence has been meeting with Democrats one-on-one on Capitol Hill since November, taking their temperature on big-ticket items like Obamacare replacement legislation and Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — and what it would take to get them on board, according to sources familiar with the meetings.

The looming battle over the Supreme Court seat mirrors the larger struggle between Trump and Republicans, and Democrats hoping to oppose the GOP agenda.

On Wednesday, after Democrats boycotted a committee vote, Republicans on the committee simply waived the rules, allowing the group to vote without Democrats present.

Should Democrats outright block Gorsuch now, it is possible Republicans move to change the rules for confirming a Supreme Court justice. Trump advised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to explore that option too.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he was focused on fighting the fight in front of him. Like Merkley, he has said he will oppose Gorsuch’s nomination.

“We’ve had a tradition in this country for a number of decades that Supreme Court nominees should be mainstream. They should be able to attract 60 votes, a number of votes from both parties,” he said.

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Rex Tillerson: Everything You Need to Know About the New Secretary of State

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Four Democrats and all Republican senators voted in favor of President Donald Trump’s pick to be the nation’s top diplomat, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

Trump settled on Tillerson to lead the state department after a long and high-profile search.

“Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none. I can think of no one more prepared, and no one more dedicated, to serve as Secretary of State at this critical time in our history,” Trump said in a Dec. 13 statement.

Tillerson has ample experience in international negotiations. However, he also has a history of close ties to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, which came up during his confirmation hearings.

Here’s everything you need to know about this administration’s secretary of state.

Name: Rex Wayne Tillerson

Age: 64 (born March 23, 1952)

Family: Married with four children

What he used to do: Tillerson joined ExxonMobil in 1975 as a production engineer. He rose through the ranks, becoming general manager in 1989 and production adviser to the Exxon Corp. in 1992. In 1998 he became vice president of Exxon Ventures and president of Exxon Neftegas Limited, where he was responsible for the company’s holdings in Russia, including the Caspian Sea and the Sakhalin Island area. By August of 2001, he was promoted to senior vice president of the ExxonMobil Corp. and became CEO of ExxonMobil in 2006. He has not had any previous public sector experience.

Education: B.S., civil engineering, University of Texas at Austin

Relationship with Trump: Tillerson emerged as a late contender on what seemed to be an ever expanding list of possible nominees for secretary of state. He met with Trump on Dec. 6, and the two convened for a second time on Dec. 10. Tillerson has a history of donating to Republicans in recent years. According to Federal Election Commission filings, he donated $50,000 to Mitt Romney’s presidential victory fund in 2012 and gave $5,000 to Right to Rise, a super PAC backing Jeb Bush, in August 2015. But his FEC records do not show any donations to Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Trump and Exxon relationship: Trump owned ExxonMobil stock. His 2015 financial disclosure filing lists $50,000 to $100,000 worth of assets in ExxonMobil.

Things you might not know about him: When he was CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson was No. 20 on Forbes’ most powerful people list in 2015.

He has a strong relationship with Russia: Tillerson’s business relationship with Russia dates to the 1990s, when he assumed responsibility for all of ExxonMobil’s holdings there. In 2011 the company forged a deal with Russian oil company Rosneft, which at that time was 75 percent owned by the Russian government. The deal gave ExxonMobil access to Arctic oil deposits, and Putin attended the signing ceremony. In 2013 the two companies expanded their partnership. That year, Tillerson received the Order of Friendship from Putin.

In 2014, after Russia annexed Crimea, Exxon was forced to halt the deal because of U.S. sanctions. Although ExxonMobil put out a press release saying it was “winding down” its operations after the sanctions, Tillerson reportedly called sanctions “ineffective” at a 2014 shareholders meeting.

“We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don’t find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively, and that’s a very hard thing to do,” he said at that meeting, according to The Dallas Business Journal.

An ABC News search found that Rosneft sanctions are still listed in a Treasury Department database of sanctions.

Tillerson’s relationship with Russia was a focal point in his confirmation hearings with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month.

He referred to economic sanctions against Russia as a “powerful tool” and rejected the claims that he and ExxonMobil, under his leadership, lobbied against them to advance the company’s financial interests.

When grilled by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as to whether Putin should be labeled a war criminal, Tillerson said, “I would not use that term.” Tillerson was also reluctant to call Putin a war criminal for his brutal bombing campaign targeting innocent civilians and hospitals inside anti-rebel held areas of Syria.

He did, however, acknowledge that Putin was behind the hackings intending to influence the U.S. election.

Climate change:
Although Tillerson has acknowledged climate change is a problem, ExxonMobil was the subject of controversy at its shareholders meeting last year for rejecting resolutions that would have pushed the company’s resources toward renewable energy, according to a Washington Post article.

“We have to have some technology breakthroughs, but in the meantime, just saying ‘turn the taps off’ is not acceptable to humanity,” he said at the meeting, according to The Washington Post.

At least five attorneys general were investigating the company’s climate change policies as of spring 2016, including New York’s Eric Schneiderman, who oversaw a now-settled lawsuit against Trump University, according to the Post.

Tillerson’s confirmation has already drawn the ire of environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.

“It’s unconscionable that the Senate confirmed an oil executive to be America’s ambassador to the world. And yet, that’s exactly what they have done,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune wrote in a statement.

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Donald Trump Attends Dignified Transfer of US Navy SEAL Killed in Yemen Raid

ABC News(DOVER, Delaware) — Accompanied by his daughter Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump landed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Wednesday for the return of the remains of a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, died early Sunday “of wounds sustained in a raid against al-Qaeda” in Yemen, according to a Pentagon statement released Monday.

Officials told ABC News that the raid on the al-Qaeda compound in southern Yemen was carried out by SEAL Team Six, the elite Navy special operations unit involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Three more Navy SEALS were injured during the raid.

Servicemembers killed abroad are brought back to the U.S. and given a dignified transfer, in which a flag-draped container with the soldier’s remains is carried from the aircraft to a vehicle for proper burial.

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Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary Dealt Confirmation Blow by Key GOP Senators

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Two Republican senators announced they will vote against President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, casting serious doubt about whether she has the support to be confirmed.

Democrats had already spoken out against Betsy DeVos but Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski said Wednesday they will also vote against her.

Sen. Jeff Sessions has not said if or how he will vote. So far the Attorney General nominee has shied away from votes on fellow Trump cabinet nominees to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Vice President Mike Pence could also vote to break a tie in favor of DeVos.

Murkowski said DeVos displayed a “lack of experience with public education” and a “lack of knowledge” in her confirmation hearing.

Despite the news about opposition to Trump’s pick for the Education Department, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stood by DeVos, saying he is “100 percent confident she will be the next Secretary of Education.”

DeVos is a wealthy Republican donor and activist from Michigan, where she has been a vocal supporter of charter schools and school choice policies.

Education groups like the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are strongly opposed to DeVos.

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