Review Category : Poltics

Judge Refuses to Throw Out Case Against Rick Perry

Stewart F. House/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) — On Tuesday a judge in Texas refused to throw out two felony indictments against Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry is accused of illegally threatening to pull funding from an office supervised by a district attorney caught driving drunk.

Defense lawyer Tony Buzbee argued that the special prosecutor in Perry’s case wasn’t properly sworn in.

Perry, a Republican, is the longest-serving governor in Texas history and a potential presidential candidate in 2016. He and his supporters have blasted the indictments as politically motivated.

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Federal Safety Agency Calls on Takata to Expand Airbag Recall

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Tuesday that it has called on airbag maker Takata to expand its recall of driver-side airbags nationwide.

The acting director of NHTSA, David Friedman, said on a conference call with reporters that his department now has a report of a defective bag beyond the earlier identified geographical area, which was formerly confined to humid areas.

Several carmakers use Takata airbags, including Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Mazda, and BMW. An expanded recall could involve millions of vehicles, officials said.

The incident in question took place in North Carolina in August in a Ford Mustang, and the complaint was received two weeks ago, officials said.

Takata must now respond. If the company doesn’t expand the recall voluntarily, NHTSA officials said they will force the company to do so.

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Keystone Pipeline Fails to Get Through Senate

ABC NEWS(WASHINGTON) — The controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline failed to win approval in a Senate vote Tuesday night by one vote, a blow to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu who hoped to be able to push it through.

Landrieu, who is in a tight December run-off to keep her Senate seat, had sponsored the bill and had expressed confidence earlier in the day that she and other supporters had rounded up the 60 votes necessary to move the long stalled project forward.

The final vote was 59-41.

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White House Concedes Obama Shift on Immigration Action

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has long declared he does not have the legal authority to do what he is about to do on immigration: bypass Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants through an executive order.

“I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself,” Obama said Oct. 25, 2010.

“I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed,” he declared three years later on Feb. 14, 2013.

Later that year on Sept. 17: “[I]f we start broadening that [the deferred action program for undocumented immigrant youth], then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally,” he said. “So that’s not an option.”

How could the president now do what he plainly said was illegal as recently as last fall?

That’s what ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Tuesday’s White House briefing. In what appears to be a rare acknowledgement of a presidential flip flop, Earnest explained “obviously there are some things that have changed on this.”

Watch the exchange.

KARL: Does the president still stand by what he said last year when he said, quote, “I am not the emperor of the United States; my job is to execute laws that are passed.” Is that still operative?

MR. EARNEST: Absolutely.

KARL: He’s not a king either.

MR. EARNEST: That’s right.

KARL: Because he was asked very specifically about the idea of expanding the deferred action executive order for the dreamers to their parents. And he said Sept. 17 last year, Telemundo, very clearly, “If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that would make it very difficult to defend legally, so that is not an option.” Is that still operative when the president had said specifically that expanding the DACA executive order is not an option because it would be ignoring the law? Does he still believe that?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Jon, I don’t want to get ahead of what any sort of announcements that the president may make before the end of the year about executive actions that he may take to fix our broken immigration system. Since this interview aired, the president did direct the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a review of the law to determine what, if any, authority he could use to try to fix some of the problems that House Republicans have refused to address. So this is something that has been under consideration for some time by the attorney general of the United States and by the secretary of Homeland Security. And, you know, it –

KARL But just to be clear, so you’re saying that this is no longer operative because we’ve had a review. So when the president said that expanding DACA to apply to the parents of the dreamers, for instance, would be broadening and essentially ignoring the law in a way that would be difficult to defend legally, that it’s not an option, that statement is no longer operative?

MR. EARNEST: Well, what I’m saying is we’ll have an opportunity to evaluate the actions that the president has chosen to take after he’s announced them.

KARL: But I’m not asking about the options. I’m just saying, does the president still stand by what he said in that interview in September of last year?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Jon, there – obviously, there are some things that have changed in this. Obviously, there have – some things that have changed, right? We have been in a situation where the president has ordered a broader, in-depth review of the existing law to determine what sort of executive authority does rest with the presidency to determine what kinds of steps he could take on his own.

The other thing that we’ve seen is we’ve seen House Republicans refuse to act even on common-sense legislation that would fix so many of the problems of our broken immigration system in a way that would strengthen border security, reduce the deficit and be good for the economy.

KARL: But they had already refused to act at this point.

MR. EARNEST: Well, I guess – I guess it’s fair to say they’ve been refusing to act for quite some time. At that point it had only been a few months that they’d been refusing to act. Now it’s been almost a year and a half.

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Obama: Ebola ‘Efforts Paying Dividends’ but ‘Nowhere Near Out of the Woods’

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — Flanked by his Ebola Czar and Counterterrorism Advisor, President Obama Tuesday declared significant progress in “stamping out” the Ebola outbreak but warned “we are nowhere near out of the woods,” even as media attention has waned.

“As long as the outbreak continues to rage in the three countries in West Africa…this is still going to be a danger not just for America but the world,” Obama said. “We are nowhere near out of the woods yet in West Africa.”

He added that “Our efforts are really paying dividends…the curve is bending…” but that it is “important to push forward until we stamp out that disease entirely in that region…We cannot be complacent…We have to stay with it.”

Obama acknowledged the death of Dr. Salia in Nebraska Monday, but said that all eight other patients treated properly in the U.S. have recovered. He also called on Congress to pass more Ebola funding.

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Why Washington Is Talking About a Government Shutdown – Again

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Talk of a shutdown is percolating again on Capitol Hill — this time over immigration.

The political scars of last year’s government shutdown over Obamacare are still fresh, leading many Republicans to disavow suggestions they would consider shutting down the government again as an attempt to thwart President Obama’s upcoming executive action on immigration reform.

“We’ll not be shutting the government down or threatening to default on the national debt,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Mo., said last week.

“We’re not heading into a government shutdown,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “Exactly what we do may depend on what he does and when he does it, how he goes about it, and what his proposed basis for doing that is.”

Republicans are floating myriad options to counter the president’s expected executive action — from tying the immigration order to the upcoming government funding debate to litigating the issue in court.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is among the lawmakers pushing for including language in the next spending bill that would keep any executive action from going into effect — a move that could potentially lead to another government shutdown if Republicans and Democrats find themselves at a stalemate when the current continuing resolution expires on Dec. 11.

“President Obama’s executive amnesty will not be easy to execute,” Sessions wrote in Politico last week. “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will have to be ordered to redirect funds and personnel away from its statutorily mandated enforcement duties and towards processing applications, amnesty benefits, and employment authorizations for illegal immigrants and illegal overstays. It is a massive and expensive operation. And it cannot be implemented if Congress simply includes routine language on any government funding bill prohibiting the expenditure of funds for this unlawful purpose.”

“Congress has the power of the purse. The president cannot spend a dime unless Congress appropriates it,” he added.

Some Republicans, such as Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., have raised the possibility of challenging the president in court.

“What ought to be done, frankly, is, No. 1, if we think he has gone beyond legal limits, we ought to go to the courts,” Cole said on ABC’s This Week.

While he has yet to weigh in on what course of action should be taken, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Republicans will “fight tooth and nail” and consider all options to keep any executive action from going forward.

“Our goal here is to stop the president from violating his own oath of office and violating the Constitution. It’s not to shut down the government,” Boehner said last week. “We are looking at all options. They’re on the table.”

Despite objections from Republicans, set to control both chambers of Congress in January, Obama has said he will issue an executive action on immigration reform by the end of the year.

“I’m just disappointed about what I hear in the White House,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Tuesday. “The president had two years with the House and the Senate and did nothing on immigration, but he won’t even allow this new American Congress to convene before we have an opportunity to do something about it.”

As Republicans discuss ways to counter any potential executive action, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he is working with McConnell and Boehner to come to an agreement on a funding bill that would keep the government from shutting down.

“We’ve heard there are going to be no government shutdowns from the leaders, but members of their caucuses are really saying some very scary things,” Reid said on the Senate floor Monday. “The question is whether Republican leaders will be able to stand up to the radical forces within their own party.”

Obama has said he’s undeterred by any talk of shutting down the government, saying his main concern is “making sure that we get it right.”

“There’s no reason for it to shut down,” Obama said in a news conference at the G20 in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. “We traveled down that path before. It was bad for the country, it was bad for every elected official in Washington and, at the end of the day, was resolved in the same way that it would’ve been resolved if we hadn’t shut the government down.”

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Clinton Tourism in Arkansas: Go Along for the Ride on a ‘Billgrimage’

Mario Tama/Getty Images(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The first Billgrims came 10 years ago.

Following the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library on Nov. 18, 2004, travelers descended on Arkansas like never before. Suddenly, the state was welcoming people from all around the world who came to tour Bill Clinton’s library and, along the way, visit other historic landmarks related to the former president.

The trip became known as a “Billgrimage.”

A classic Billgrimage includes a visit to four cities in Arkansas: Hope, to see Clinton’s birthplace; Hot Springs, where he graduated high school; Fayetteville, where he and Hillary Clinton taught law; and Little Rock, the state’s capital where he was governor and that served as the launch pad for his political career.

Originally, visitors were given a small “passport” by Arkansas’ tourism bureau and could get stamps at each destination they visited in the state. The passport has since been discontinued and, these days, fewer people make the entire four-stop trail. But Little Rock continues to see a huge tourism boost, largely to the presidential library, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Tuesday.

In the past decade, its economic impact on the local community has totaled an estimated $3.3 billion, according to a new study released Monday, and longtime residents talk incredulously about the transformation they’ve seen.

“Oh gosh, it’s huge,” Paul Leopoulos, a friend of Bill Clinton’s since elementary school, who had just reunited with the former president to celebrate the library’s anniversary, recalled Saturday morning at the sunlit office of his arts education foundation in North Little Rock.

“When they finally announced they were going to build it everything started to change. Businesses and hotels opened up immediately, and this was two years before the thing was even built,” Leopoulos said.

And for Richard Davies, the executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, the library was the “shot in the arm” the city needed.

For those on the Billgrimage in Little Rock, there are five must-see historic sites. These are the Governor’s Mansion, a former house of Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Capitol Building, the Old State House Museum where Clinton gave his election night speeches and, lastly, the library, which looks like a big box (or as one Billgrimage blogger described it, a trailer house), that sits prominently along the Arkansas River and houses nearly 100,000 archival documents from Clinton’s eight years in the White House.

For Joe Purvis, another childhood friend of Bill’s, a Billgrimage is not complete without indulging in the local cuisine.

“I love to eat,” Purvis said, looking down upon his belly from the high-rise of his law practice in downtown Little Rock, “And I can ensure that before his heart attack, the president liked to eat as well.”

The spot to go is Doe’s Eat Place, a local favorite known for its tamales and 3-pound steaks.

“Bill Clinton, in his prime, would certainly go to Doe’s,” Purvis quipped, but questioned whether his new diet would allow him to make the visit.

A waitress there, however, said Bill Clinton still comes in to the restaurant roughly once a year, but did concede that now as a vegan, there’s little on the menu that he can eat.

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Will Obama Use His Veto Pen for a Third Time?

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — If the Senate approves legislation on the Keystone XL pipeline, and if the president vetoes the bill as he has hinted he will, it will be a very rare move in the Obama presidency.

President Obama has issued fewer vetoes than any president since James Garfield, more than 130 years ago.

The grand total so far? Just two.

In 2009, Obama vetoed a short-term spending measure that became irrelevant after Congress subsequently passed another appropriations bill.

The following year, he vetoed the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act, which would have helped banks speed home foreclosures.

For comparison, George W. Bush issued 12 vetoes, Bill Clinton issued 37 and George H.W. Bush issued 44.

Obama’s low veto count partly results from the fact that a divided Congress overall hasn’t passed that many bills. Also, because Democrats started his first term in full control in Congress — and for the past four years maintained control in the Senate — so they have been able to favorably shape the types of bills that hit Obama’s desk.

That dynamic will change come January, when Republicans take full control of Congress.

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The Spy Who Infiltrated Congress: Meet Rep.-Elect Will Hurd

Will Hurd for Congress(WASHINGTON) — As a CIA undercover officer, Will Hurd made it his business to go unnoticed. But as a newly-elected member of Congress, this spy has thoroughly blown his former cover.

On his first trip to Washington since being elected, the Texas Republican — the first black Republican elected from that state since Reconstruction — told The Fine Print how his years working in the CIA inspired him to come out of the shadows and into the political spotlight.

“One of the other things I had to do was brief members of Congress, and when I was in the agency I was shocked by the caliber of some of our elected officials and decided to do something about it,” Hurd said. “My mamma said, ‘You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution,’ and so I decided to run.”

What shocked Hurd most, he said, was that many members didn’t even know the basic difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims while the U.S. was engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That’s okay for my brother not to know that, because he sells cable for Grande Communications, but for someone who’s making decisions on spending our billions of dollars of hard earned taxpayer dollars, that’s unacceptable,” Hurd said. “For people that are sending our boys and girls to some place like Iraq or Afghanistan, that’s unacceptable.”

Hurd hopes to put his background in intelligence and national security to good use on Capitol Hill, noting that “of the 435 members up here, nobody has my background in intelligence, national security or foreign policy.”

He warned about the need to snuff out ISIS now before they can pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland.

“They pose a real threat and we need to do everything we possibly can to eliminate them,” he said. “I think bombing them in Syria and Iraq is a good thing. I think we need to work more with our local partners, because ISIS is a threat to the Saudis, ISIS is a threat to the Jordanians, ISIS is a threat to the Turks, ISIS is a threat to the Emirates.”

Fresh off the campaign trail, Hurd said he and the other newly-elected Congressional freshmen bring with them a mandate for action.

“We all need to govern,” Hurd said. “There’s about 40 folks like me that are coming in from this past cycle and what we heard in my district and across the country is people are ready for us to get things done. I think that is the momentum that we saw from these campaigns and that I hope we bring to this body.”

And with that, Hurd said, is an expectation that Congress can turn the page on conflicts of Congresses past, such as last year’s government shutdown.

“I think it’s a new day,” Hurd said. “I don’t think we’re going to go down that road. I think passing a budget is important. I think we’re going to have the cooperation from both sides of the House to make sure that gets done.”

But for all the optimism Hurd has for the new session of Congress, his expectations are far more moderate when it comes to the physical office space he’ll receive as a low-seniority member.

“My expectations are muted to probably say the best,” he said. “We just need a place to sit and do work. And we’ll take whatever comes our way.”

For more of the interview with Hurd, and to hear about his first elected office as the student body president of Texas A&M, check out this episode of The Fine Print.

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Senate to Hold Keystone XL Vote

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate will vote Tuesday evening on the Keystone XL pipeline. There will be only one referendum on final passage, which requires 60 votes.

As of Monday’s whip count, supporters only had 59 votes, but Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., insists she has 60 — maybe even more.

Monday night, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., the lead Republican co-sponsor of the Keystone pipeline bill, was a bit more cautious, saying there are a few maybes they hope to switch to “yes.”

Two senators to keep an eye on will be Angus King of Maine and Chris Coons of Delaware, who told ABC he currently thinks it should be the president’s decision, but he is listening to the arguments of members of his caucus and his home state.

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