LGBTQ activists hold 'Queer Dance Party' outside Mike Pence's house

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2017 @ 12:44 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2017 @ 12:44 PM

            WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: Vice President-elect Mike Pence delivers remarks at the Chairman's Global Dinner, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on January 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.The invitation-only black-tie event is a chance for Trump to introduce himself and members of his cabinet to foreign diplomats. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: Vice President-elect Mike Pence delivers remarks at the Chairman's Global Dinner, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on January 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.The invitation-only black-tie event is a chance for Trump to introduce himself and members of his cabinet to foreign diplomats. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool)

With biodegradable glitter, rainbow flags and glow sticks in hand, about 200 protesters boogied their way to Vice President-elect Mike Pence's rented home in the Washington, D.C., area on Wednesday night to protest his stance on LGBTQ rights.

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The protest, dubbed the "Queer Dance Party at Mike Pence's House," was organized by the groups WERK for Peace and DisruptJ20.

"Dance is so integral to the queer community as a form of self-expression and a form of asserting our power and our beauty and our love for one another," organizer Firas Nasr, 23, told The Washington Post. "We want to send a strong message to Pence that we're a united queer community. We've always stood united. There's always space to dance."

The group converged on the Friendship Heights Metro Station around 6 p.m. As the pulsing beats of gay icons including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna and Lady Gaga filled the air, protesters shimmied toward Pence's house in the Chevy Chase neighborhood, covering about 1.2 miles, with frequent dance breaks, CNN reported.

The protest was centered on Pence's record on gay and transgender rights. He has consistently opposed same-sex marriage, linking the unions to "societal collapse" in a 2006 speech. He opposed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." He voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007, which would have banned sexual orientation-based discrimination.

"By extending the reach of federal law to cover sexual orientation, employment discrimination protections, in effect, can wage war on the free exercise of religion in the workplace," he said at the time. "We must stand for the right of every American to practice their faith according to the dictates of their conscience, whether it be in the public square or in the workplace."

Pence's Chevy Chase neighbors have flown hundreds of rainbow flags in silent support of gay rights since he arrived in town. Many watched Wednesday night's protest. Some carried snacks, according to CNN.

"I love this," 76-year-old Chevy Chase resident Mary Ann Carmody told The Washington Post. "I love the world. It's wonderful to see people on the street like this. We're lucky we can do this."

A few Donald Trump supporters were also seen near Pence's home, according to CNN, but the dancers did not interact with them.

It was not immediately clear whether Pence knew about the protest. At the time of the dance party, which started to disband around 8:30 p.m., Pence was hosting the vice president-elect's inaugural dinner across town.

Hammering out the details, GOP tries to corral final votes for tax reform

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 4:04 AM

Republicans in Congress on Thursday moved to put the finishing touches on a sweeping reform of the federal tax code, though the effort was endangered as a pair of GOP Senators signaled their opposition to a final child tax credit deal, while the health problems of two other GOP Senators also clouded plans for a final vote next week.

“There is no done deal yet from my perspective,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) about the final tax reform bill. “It is not over.”

GOP aides had made clear to reporters on Wednesday that a tentative deal had been reached – even before the first official meeting of House-Senate negotiators – but it was obvious on Thursday afternoon that the entire tax plan was not yet set in legislative stone.

One of the bigger hot spots was with the details of the child tax credit, as Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) expressed irritation with the terms of the final agreement, as they said it didn’t go far enough to help lower income families. Rubio threatened to vote against the bill.

One tax negotiator saw little chance that Rubio would win any further change in the bill, arguing the Senate had prevailed over the House on that point in the negotiations.

“It was a hard fought victory for us,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “We won everything on that child tax credit.”

Meanwhile, the White House expressed satisfaction with the terms of that deal as well.

“Look, we’re really proud of the work that we’ve done already up until this point, with Senator Rubio, already doubling the child tax credit, taking it to $2,000 per child,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Senator Rubio will be there,” the President told reporters. “We’re doing very well on the tax front.”

In both the House and Senate, GOP vote counters were trying to make sure that enough Republicans would be on board in votes next week.

“I’m waiting to look at the whole bill,” said Rep. John Faso (R-NY), one of a number of Republicans from New York, New Jersey and California who were not pleased with the impact on taxpayers who itemize deductions.

One of the hurdles was the financial juggling act going on inside the GOP bill, as Republicans were arranging time limits on certain tax changes, which would make the overall plan seem less expensive.

“We’re literally trying to squeeze about $2 trillion in tax reform into a $1.5 trillion box and that’s been a problem,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Meanwhile, the health issues of two Senators were also raising concerns among Republicans, as Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) missed every vote in the Senate this week.

With the GOP advantage only 52-48, the absence of just one of those two ailing Senators could cause problems for Republicans on tax reform, especially if more than one Republican decides to vote against the final deal.

Report says House Speaker Paul Ryan may retire in 2018, he says it’s not true

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 12:44 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 4:31 PM

House Speaker Paul Ryan. Getty Images
House Speaker Paul Ryan. Getty Images

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, may retire from Congress after the 2018 midterm elections, according to a report in Politico.

“In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018,” the article by Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade says.

Read the full Politico story here

Ryan denied the report was true in a call with President Donald Trump Thursday.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Ryan “assured the president that those were not accurate reports and that they look forward to working together for a long time.”

Ryan became speaker in October 2015 after former Speaker John Boehner stepped down after five turbulent years.

Republicans rallied behind Rep. Paul Ryan to elect him the House’s 54th speaker on Thursday as a splintered GOP turned to the youthful but battle-tested lawmaker to mend its self-inflicted wounds and craft a conservative message to woo voters in next year’s elections..

RELATED: Paul Ryan becomes speaker after Boehner steps down

RELATED: Jim Jordan, Freedom Caucus not pleased with Speaker Ryan

RELATED: Paul Ryan graduated from Miami University in 1992


How could Democratic win in Alabama impact Ohio in 2018?

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 5:06 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 5:06 PM

Republican candidate for US Senate Roy Moore addresses supporters after a historic loss to Democrat Doug Jones on Dec. 12, 2017 in Montgomery, Ala. (Miguel Juarez Lugo/Zuma Press/TNS)
Miguel Juarez Lugo
Republican candidate for US Senate Roy Moore addresses supporters after a historic loss to Democrat Doug Jones on Dec. 12, 2017 in Montgomery, Ala. (Miguel Juarez Lugo/Zuma Press/TNS)(Miguel Juarez Lugo)

The defeat of Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama Tuesday is not only a sharp rebuke against President Donald Trump but serves as a warning to Republicans such as Josh Mandel of Ohio against fully embracing Trump and the arch-conservative voters who support him.

Mandel, who is seeking next year’s Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, has campaigned as an ardent Trump supporter, backing Trump’s call for a wall along the Mexican border and an end to sanctuary cities where local officials do not cooperate with federal officials on identifying illegal immigrants.

But Democrat Doug Jones’ victory over Moore in the Alabama special election to replace U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has confirmed fears among some Republicans that attaching themselves too closely to Trump could cripple their hopes of holding the Senate and House next year. Once Jones is seated, the Republican majority in the Senate will be 51-49.

Republicans say Moore’s loss had less to do with any overriding national revulsion against Trump. Instead, they contend he was a deeply flawed candidate accused of trying to romance teenage girls, including one 14-year-old, more than three decades ago when he was in his 30s.

“The message is very simple: People don’t vote for pedophiles,” said Corry Bliss, who managed the 2016 re-election campaign of Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Columbus-area Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, who is heading the House GOP re-election campaign, said “candidates and campaigns matter. It wasn’t just that Roy Moore was a flawed candidate. He ran a flawed campaign. He didn’t talk to voters about what they cared about; he talked to voters about what he cared about.”

RELATED: Alabama Senator Shelby says he can’t vote for Moore

But independent analysts dismiss such an explanation. Trump’s job approval rating has tumbled nationally and exit polls from Tuesday’s race showed from among those who voted his approval rating in deeply conservative Alabama was just 48 percent.

“I don’t think the general electorate is looking for Trump clones next year,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Danielle Vinson, a professor of political science and international affairs at Furman University in South Carolina, said if she were “a Republican running in Ohio, I’m staying up at night getting ulcers trying to figure out what do I do. Because I don’t think you can fully embrace him.”

Doug Jones wins Alabama Senate race

“You might be able to win the Republican nomination but I don’t know that you’ll win next year in Ohio if you embrace Trump,” she said. “It just seems to me there are way too many college-educated women, there are minorities; there’s a lot working against you if you decide to adopt that strategy next year.”

Moore’s defeat may also have been a warning against Republicans for relying on their slender congressional majorities to push through a massive tax cut which polls show is deeply unpopular with voters.

By doing so, Republicans are emulating Democrats in 2009 who brushed off an astonishing defeat in a Senate special election in Massachusetts in which the major issue was Democratic plans to overhaul the health-care system. Instead, Democrats approved an unpopular health care bill known as Obamacare, which helped lead to their loss of the House in 2010.

“The most important thing we need to do is demonstrate results that help middle class families and the No.1 way to do that is to cut middle class taxes,” Bliss said. “At the end of day, the tax bill will be very simple. Eight months from now if people see their taxes are cut, they’ll like it. If they see their taxes increase, they won’t like it.”

Yet a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday included an ominous warning: Fifty-five percent of American voters disapprove of the tax plan compared to just 26 percent who support it, while 43 percent would be less likely to support a candidate for the Senate or House who backs the bill.

“They’ve got to pass something,” said James Ruvolo, former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “Their problem is they have a bad bill, but they have no accomplishments.”

RELATED: In Alabama, Democrats are the elephants in the room

Mandel, the state treasurer, and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, who is seeking next year’s GOP gubernatorial nomination, have been the Ohio candidates modeling their campaigns after Trump.

Mandel has gone so far as to mimic Trump’s pattern of making accusations against his likely opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, that simply do not withstand scrutiny. This week Mandel again repeated his claim that Brown air-dropped a tax break for private jet owners into the tax bill, tweeting “get used to seeing it for the next 11 months.”

The drawback is multiple fact-checkers, including, have debunked the claim.

“Trump won Ohio handily in 2016, but Ohio is still more moderate than Alabama,” said Mark Caleb Smith, a professor of political science at Cedarville University. “So, for candidates to mimic Trump would have consequences in Ohio, I think.”

“When you look at successful statewide candidates in Ohio, they are not marked by outlandish behavior or pervasive showmanship,” Smith said. “They are steady, reliable, and can point to a track record.”

Mandel is running against Cleveland banker Mike Gibbons for the Republican nomination to run against Brown next year.

Publicly, Republicans are fuming at the arch conservatives headed by former White House adviser Steve Bannon, who backed Moore in a state primary, even though polls showed he would be a weak candidate in the general election.

They point out that conservative candidates defeated more established Republicans in five key state primaries in 2010 and 2012. But they were far too conservative for the general election and Democrats won all five races – Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, and Delaware.

Jeff Sadosky, a former Portman adviser, said Bannon and other arch-conservatives “will try to shirk any responsibility for yet another blown election” with Moore. But Sadosky said “instead of talking about a near filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Republicans are barely holding on to a one-seat advantage.”

Omarosa says she wasn’t fired; CBS News reports she was

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 11:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Who is Omarosa Manigault Newman

One thing is a fact, Omarosa Manigault Newman no longer works at the White House.

Whether the 1996 Central State University graduate left on her own or was fired is still a question.

This morning she went on ABC’s Good Morning America and said she resigned. She said news reports that she was removed from the White House grounds this week are “100 percent false.”

She said that she witnessed incidents at the White House that made her “uncomfortable,” but didn’t name specifics.

She said she will eventually.

FIRST REPORT: Omarosa leaving White House

“But when I have a chance to tell my story … quite a story to tell, as the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people,” she said. “And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.”

CBS News reports scene at the White House

CBS News White House Correspondent Major Garrett reports that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly gave Manigault Newman until Jan. 20 to leave. But she did not like those terms and tried to renegotiate. Kelly said no. So, she appealed to Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, but she took no action. Newman then found her way to the White House residence, where she tripped the alarms. Kelly became angry, and had her escorted from the building. It is unclear who did the escorting.

A White House official denied this account of Manigault Newman's departure.

Manigault Newman called the report “ridiculous” and “absurd.”


One of Trump’s most prominent African-American supporters, Manigault Newman was an assistant to the president and director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, working on outreach to various constituency groups.

But the office languished under her watch and Kelly had indicated that changes were forthcoming — including her dismissal, according to two White House officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss personnel matters because they were not authorized to speak publicly about them.

Better known by only her first name, Manigault Newman was escorted from the White House complex Tuesday night but was allowed to offer her resignation, according to the two officials. The U.S. Secret Service, which provides security for the president, tweeted Wednesday that it was not involved in her termination or in her escort from the grounds. Some published reports said Secret Service officers had physically removed Manigault Newman from the complex.

The agency confirmed that a pass granting her access to the complex had been deactivated.

Omarosa saw things that made her uncomfortable

“Our only involvement in this matter was to deactivate the individual’s pass which grants access to the complex,” the agency tweeted.

Trump bid her farewell in a tweet late Wednesday. “Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success.”

Her exit comes at the beginning of what’s expected to be a wave of departures. Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell is also leaving early next year.

Manigault Newman, who drew a top salary of $179,700, was one of Trump’s highest-profile supporters during the campaign. She also worked with Trump’s transition team.

EARLIER STORY: Omarosa involved in graduation at CSU

A former contestant on the first season of “The Apprentice,” Trump’s former reality TV show, Manigault Newman had long been unpopular with several senior West Wing officials, including senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Kelly.

Kelly, the retired Marine general who has made it his mission to tighten White House operations and streamline how Trump gets information, has told aides that he wanted to curtail the number of White House officials with ill-defined positions and responsibilities.

Archived video: Omarosa Manigault explains why she loves her alma mater Central State. She was in town May 8, 2015 to get the baccalaureate address for her cousin Shatasia Walker 's graduation from the university. Video by Amelia Robinson and Andrew Smith.

Kelly took away Manigault Newman’s ability to come and go from the Oval Office as she pleased. During the first months of Trump’s administration, aides were known to wander in and out of meetings, a practice Kelly ended across the board. She also drew Kelly’s ire by occasionally going around him to slip news articles to the president.

Manigault Newman enjoyed a close relationship with the president despite the fact that he once uttered the famous “You’re fired!” line to her before dispatching her from the TV show. She held her April wedding at Trump’s hotel blocks from the White House.


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.