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Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 @ 9:55 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 @ 9:55 AM
Days after a 2005 recording of Donald Trump making lewd comments about women surfaced, his wife defended him and characterized the comments as "boy talk," in her first interviews since the presidential nominee faced allegations of sexual misconduct.
Melania Trump sat down for interviews with CNN's Anderson Cooper and Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt this week. She addressed the 2005 "Access Hollywood" video published by The Washington Post Oct. 7 in which her husband can be heard speaking in a vulgar manner about women with the show's co-host, Billy Bush.
Speaking with Cooper, Melania Trump said her husband was egged on "to say dirty and bad stuff."
The comments, she said, were typical of "boys -- the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other, oh, this and that, and talking about girls."
In the 2005 audio, caught on a hot microphone, Donald Trump can be heard talking about kissing and touching women without their consent. Donald Trump has denied his comments describe sexual assault.
"I better use some Tic Tacs in case I start kissing her," he says in the recording, after spotting "Days of Our Lives" actresses Arianne Zucker. "You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women – I just start kissing them, it's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … grab them by the (expletive). You can do anything."
Melania Trump told Earhardt her husband's words were offensive and inappropriate, but insisted they did not reflect Donald Trump's view of women.
"My husband is kind. He's a gentleman. He cares about people. He cares about women," she said. "We heard him on the tapes. He was pushed on."
She also defended her husband's comments to Howard Stern over the years in reference to a slew of recordings unearthed and republished by CNN this month.
"They hook him on," she told Earhardt. "They try to get from him some inappropriate and dirty language."
Since the 2005 video surfaced, multiple women have come forward with claims of sexual assault against Donald Trump. The GOP nominee has denied any wrongdoing and characterized the reports as politically motivated attacks.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 6:11 PM
FAIRFIELD — A Mexican mother of four once living in Fairfield who was deported nine months ago won an appeal on Wednesday , a decision indicating the immigration court that sent her back to Mexico “abused its discretion” and must reconsider her case.
A three-judge panel from the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals found that the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that Maribel Trujillo Diaz failed to demonstrate a case for asylum under the Immigration and Nationality Act “because she failed to show that she would be singled out individually for persecution based on her family membership.”
That immigration appeals court must now reconsider the matter, obeying the Sixth Circuit’s guidance.
The decision is by no means a complete victory meaning she can return to the country, according to one of her lawyers, Kathleen Kersh. It does mean there will be more hearings, and the possibility of a return — if not permanently, perhaps while the legal battles continue. Her family continues to live here.
“They found that the BIA had abused its discretion when it did not sufficiently consider the evidence that we gave in support of our motion to reopen Maribel’s asylum case,” Kersh said.
Trujillo and her supporters had argued she originally fled Mexico because drug cartels targeted her family.
Kersh told this media outlet in April that Trujillo’s asylum request was made after her brother was kidnapped and threatened by a cartel in Mexico, but she had lost that case.
Kersh in April — before the BIA’s ruling — said Trujillo’s father had more recently been kidnapped, which Kersh felt made her asylum case “much stronger.”
“We have recently found some information out from her father that her father had been kidnapped, so there are new facts that came to light in the asylum case that really change things — it makes it much stronger,” she said in April.
When told about Wednesday’s decision, Trujillo was “really happy and excited,” Kersh said.
“She is living in fear every day, and I think she feels vindicated in a way, that somebody is finally recognizing that, and she has really good reasons for her fear of living in Mexico, because of some of the dangers that her family specifically faces,” Kersh said.
“This is indeed good news, but far from a victory,” said the Rev. Father Pucke, who was her pastor at St. Julie Billiart Church, which advocated for her to stay, as did the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
It still is possible her evidence will be considered but that she will be denied the ability to return to this country.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 6:29 PM
WASHINGTON — Richard Cordray may be campaigning for the governor of Ohio, but he still has strong feelings about his former role as the nation’s top consumer watchdog.
In a series of tweets, Cordray lambasted his replacement at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for deciding to reconsider a rule aimed at protecting consumers from abusive payday lending practices.
Cordray had helped craft the rules when he headed the agency and it was one of his last measures before stepping down in November. The bureau confirmed it would reconsider the rules in a statement Tuesday.
“Truly shameful action by the interim pseudo-leaders of the CFPB, announcing their plans to reconsider the payday lending rule just adopted in November,” Cordray tweeted. “Never mind many thousands of people stuck in debt traps all over the country. Consumers be damned!”
The rules would require lenders to determine whether a borrower could afford to repay a loan with full interest within 30 days. The rules would also limit the number of loans lenders could make to a borrower. That and other provisions outraged the payday lending industry, which argued such regulations could drive them out of business. The rules were scheduled to go into effect in August 2019, though Tuesday marked a compliance deadline.
Cordray, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, was replaced by White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who is serving as acting director of the consumer watchdog agency. Mulvaney has been a critic of the rules.
Critics argue that the loans help those who do not have access to other credit and banking products, such as some low income Americans.
But Cordray and other proponents say the rules are needed to protect consumers against predatory loans, some carrying interest of up to 391 percent. Payday loans, they argue, trap people in an unpayable cycle of debt.
The White House referred questions about the rule to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB did not immediately respond to questions.
Dennis Shaul, CEO of the Community Financial Services Association of America, a trade association that represents payday lenders, said the organization was “pleased” that the agency will take a new look at the payday lending rule.
“The bureau’s rule was crafted on a pre-determined, partisan agenda that failed to demonstrate consumer harm from small-dollar loans, ignored unbiased research and data, and relied on flawed information to support its rulemaking,” he said.
Cordray acknowledged that the announcement appears to be limited to pushing back the compliance deadline under the new rule, which was to have become effective on Tuesday. But he also argued that the administration had a more sweeping goal in mind.
In a series of tweets, Cordray called for the religious community to oppose the Trump administration’s decision, quoting the Bible to argue that repealing the rule would hurt the poor. And he referred to those who would repeal the rules as “zealots and toadies.”
“Congress could pursue a… vote to overturn” the rule, he tweeted, “but it seems they don’t have the guts. Instead, hire new bureaucrats to shred years of analysis and kill it off stealthily.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, a backer of the new rule and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, also lined up in opposition to any repeal.
“Rather than focus on keeping the government open, the Trump administration’s top budget expert is busy unraveling important consumer protections for payday borrowers,” the Ohio Democrat said.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 6:26 AM
My father taught me a great lesson many years ago about the Congress, to always be on the lookout for bills that were labeled “technical corrections” or “miscellaneous,” because there was a good chance you might find something interesting – if you took the time to dig into the bill.
So, when the “Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018,” popped up on the House schedule for this week, and was approved Tuesday on a unanimous vote, I had to take a look.
My curiosity was quickly rewarded, as the second section of the bill was about tariff schedule changes for “Frozen, Boiled Glutinous Corn.”
And while it might not be on the front page of your local newspaper, this is a bill that is brimming with stories, fully supported by business groups in the United States.
First, let’s go over what this legislation is all about.
“A Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) is a law that temporarily reduces or suspends the import tariffs paid on particular products imported into the United States,” the Commerce Department explains.
In other words, companies in the U.S. ask the feds to reduce the tariff on certain imported items, to help cut their production costs, theoretically making those businesses more competitive.
And for many lawmakers, it’s a boost to companies back home.
“For businesses in my home state of Washington, the MTB will provide nearly $16 million in cost savings, which they can instead use to invest in their employees and their products,” said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA).
“We have worked hard to deliver on this reform that will lead to millions of dollars being reinvested in North Carolina,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC).
One note – this is the first time a tariff bill has been put together under a new process established in 2016 – it used to be that the Congress was totally in charge of figuring out what items should have a tariff or duty changed.
But now, those requests from businesses go to the U.S. International Trade Commission, which then submits a package of recommendations to the Congress.
A variety of companies made 3,168 petitions to the feds to reduce tariffs on everything from Isosceles triangle wire, to golf drivers with a loft of 9.5 degrees, electric oil popcorn poppers, resin cement, tweezers, cat playgrounds made of wood, camera surfboard mounts, life jackets for pets, and much, much more.
The companies making these requests include well known ones like Specialized Bicycle, Cleveland golf, Whirlpool, PetSmart, Honeywell, and many more you’ve never heard about.
The final bill includes 1,661 tariff reductions, starting with the “Frozen, Boiled Glutinous Corn” and ending with “Vacuum Steel Lined Coffee Servers With Sight Gauge” and “Tripod Camera Mounts.”
The measure weighs in at 505 pages.
And finally, as the headline advertised, what’s a Catty Whack? That’s Section 1450 of the bill, described this way:
“Electromechanical ‘hide and seek’ toys, designed for use by cats or dogs, each with an electrically powered fast-moving feather wand that changes direction randomly; such wand mechanism positioned in a round enclosure of plastics, designed to allow the wand to shoot out; such toys each containing a carpeted scratching area on top.”
The bill now goes to the Senate.
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 6:09 PM
Waving off a push by Democrats to force action this week on a compromise over the future of illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” Republicans in Congress said they wanted to wait for further negotiations on DACA, as House GOP leaders unveiled a short term funding plan that would keep the federal government running into mid-February, but that plan faced immediate resistance from some more conservative Republicans.
“There is no reason why Congress should hold government funding hostage over the issues of illegal immigration,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said a resolution on DACA could wait until February or March.
But even without DACA in the mix, a new temporary funding plan unveiled by House Republican leaders last night got a tepid embrace from GOP lawmakers, frustrated by the lack of an overall budget agreement for 2018.
The biggest red flag came from more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus, who argue the GOP should forge ahead with a plan to fully fund the military for 2018, while leaving all other government operations on a stop gap budget.
After a meeting Tuesday night, Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) made it clear that the group was not ready to endorse the GOP funding plan, which would keep the government running through February 19.
The goal is to use that extra time to reach a broader budget deal with Democrats, allowing the Congress to then approve a larger “Omnibus” funding plan for the 2018 budget year – which began back on October 1, 2017.
It was a replay of a familiar scenario on Capitol Hill, where House Republican infighting might lead to a shutdown at the end of the week.
“It’s a possibility, yes,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), when asked about the chances of a shutdown.
“But I don’t think it’s really going to happen,” Inhofe told reporters. “Nobody really wants it on either side.”
The new GOP stopgap budget unveiled on Tuesday evening included a few sweeteners, as leaders added to the funding plan a provision that reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2023.
“Without immediate action to fund CHIP, millions of low-income children will receive notices in the coming weeks that they might lose their health coverage,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Rep. Mike Burgess (R-TX) in a statement.
While the CHIP extension had been expected, the GOP stopgap budget included something else that was a big surprise – as the bill would suspend three different taxes from the Obama health law.
While Republicans try to find the votes to support that plan, a bipartisan group of Senators will unveil the final details of their DACA compromise on Wednesday, in hopes of stirring more support.
“I don’t know how this movie ends,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who very publicly said he thought the President had signed on to the compromise DACA plan last Thursday, but then had his mind changed by immigration hard liners in the White House, and the Senate.
One of those opponents is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who bluntly told the DACA group of six Senators not to even try to push ahead with their plan.
“Might as well roll it straight into the trash can,” Cotton said of the DACA deal, which he has labeled a mass amnesty.
Meanwhile, Democrats were hoping for a budget impasse, as they argue that a resolution on DACA could still be added into the mix this week.
Many Republicans say they also want action on DACA, but they understand in the current environment – after the blow up over what the President said – or did not say – last week, that no agreement can happen right now.
“Unfortunately, about every time we get close to putting our toes in the water, something happens,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA).
The tentative plan is for the House to try to vote on a stop gap budget on Thursday. The Senate could then pass the same measure before a Friday night shutdown deadline.