Photo shows Michigan congresswoman playing Candy Crush during State of the Union

Published: Saturday, February 03, 2018 @ 2:58 PM

Highlights of President Trump’s First State of the Union Address

A Democratic congresswoman from Michigan was caught playing Candy Crush on her phone during Tuesday's State of the Union address.

A Getty photographer captured U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence playing the game on her iPhone during President Trump's address, the Detroit Free Press reported. Other photographs taken during the address show many legislators using their phones.

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Lawrence is a former mayor of Southfield, Michigan. She was elected to Congress in 2014 to represent Michigan's 14th District and is in her second term, the Free Press reported. Her office did not respond to the Free Press for a request for comment on the photo.

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House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:37 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:37 AM

House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise
House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise

The House has passed a $717 billion defense policy bill that would give the military a 2.6 percent pay hike, the largest in nine years and allow for a major expansion at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The bill OKs a massive $182 million expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at the base, one of the largest expansions in history.

The bipartisan 351-66 vote sends the measure to the Senate, where a key panel completed a companion measure in a closed-door session on Wednesday.

RELATED: Defense gets major increase pay raise for troops in budget plan

The new building would be funded at one time instead of broken into two stages. The Air Force had initially asked for $116 million with another $66 million to be requested in future years.

The annual measure sets policies and a budget outline for the Pentagon that are funded by a subsequent appropriations bill that typically follows its parameters fairly closely.

“To put it in perspective, this building would receive more military construction funding than Wright-Patterson received in military construction funding in the last nine years,” Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs, said earlier this month.

Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces pushed for multiple provisions included in the legislation including the NASIC expansion and expediting hiring of civilians into high-tech fields.

“All of the provisions I included in the National Defense Authorization Act remained in the bill and overwhelmingly passed the House today, bringing our community one step closer to getting $182 million for a new building at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner said in a statement. “I fought for key provisions in this bill to bolster our community, ensure the safety of our men and women in uniform, and keep our country secure.”

RELATED: Top Air Force leader to grads at Wright-Patt: ‘Our nation needs you desperately

The military got a major budget increase under the terms of a bipartisan pact passed earlier this year that the Pentagon's many allies in Washington promise will address shortfalls in military readiness such as pilot training, maintenance of equipment, and procurement of new weapons systems.

Readiness issues contributed to a situation in which almost four times as many military service members died in training accidents as opposed to combat. Just this spring, aviation accidents have claimed 25 lives.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said that the measure puts a particular focus on pilot training and retention.

"The key focus of this bill is restoring readiness to ensure that when our men and women in uniform go out on mission, they have the best equipment, the best training and the best support our nation can provide," Thornberry said.

The measure would block the use of operational military units or military equipment if President Donald Trump carries out plans for a massive military parade in Washington, D.C., if it would hamper military readiness.

Staff writer Barrie Barber and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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“Situation normal” as Trump cancels summit with Kim Jong Un

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 2:58 PM

After days of increasingly bellicose statements from Pyongyang, President Donald Trump on Thursday pulled the plug on a scheduled June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but left the door open to future negotiations over efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

“If and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting,” the President said at the White House.

Mr. Trump’s remarks came several hours after he sent a letter to Kim Jong Un, calling off their summit, as U.S. officials laid the blame directly on the North Koreans.

“While many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead, potentially, I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world,” the President said.

Both in his letter to Kim, and in his public remarks, the President edged back toward some of the tougher rhetoric that had characterized the Kim-Trump relationship of last year, when the two men lobbed threats of possible military action.

“Hopefully, positive things will be taking place with respect to the future of North Korea. But if they don’t, we are more ready than we have ever been before,” Mr. Trump said.

His letter was even more direct.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Mr. Trump wrote, labeling the cancelled summit a ‘missed opportunity.’

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers asked the Secretary of State – who happened to be at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – what would happen next, as Secretary Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would continue with the “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Pyongyang, and wait for the response of Kim Jong Un.

“I am hopeful that we can continue to have conversations so that we can put his back on track,” Pompeo said, though he admitted it was not clear why the North Koreans suddenly went from being willing partners to not answering phone calls.

“I don’t really know I want to speculate why they took those actions, because I don’t think we know,” Pompeo added.

“In some ways, it’s situation normal,” Pompeo said to one question. “The pressure campaign continues.”

Pompeo sparred with several Senate Democrats during the hearing, as he rejected assertions that the U.S. had rushed into a summit with Kim, and wasn’t really prepared to deal with a North Korean leader who is known for sudden course changes.

“Unfortunately, it seems that our chief diplomat is negotiating war,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) of Pompeo.

“From the beginning, when Trump impulsively decided that he would meet with Kim Jong Un, it has been clear that the summit involved very little preparation,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“We cannot return to the name-calling and saber-rattling of the last year,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

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President Trump scraps summit meeting with Kim Jong Un

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 9:58 AM

After days of uncertainty about a planned June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump on Thursday told Kim in a letter that because of hostile statements from the Pyongyang regime in recent days, the summit in Singapore would not take place.

“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is in appropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” the President wrote in his letter to Kim.

The decision came as North Korean officials seemed to back away from public assurances that they would give up on their nuclear weapons program, which had been Mr. Trump’s demand from the start – as the President delivered a clear warning to Kim about a possible conflict.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Here is the President’s letter to Kim Jong Un.

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Trump renews attacks on Russia probe as lawmakers see documents

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 7:03 AM

President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on how investigators dealt with allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and any links to his campaign, as he again charged that top officials at the FBI had committed misconduct, led by former FBI Director James Comey.

“The FBI is a fantastic institution but some of the people at the top were rotten apples,” the President said. “James Comey was one of them.”

“I’ve done a great service for this country by getting rid of him,” the President said in a recorded interview aired on the Fox News morning program, “Fox and Friends.”

Mr. Trump and his allies have been on a public blitz in recent days against the Russia probe, trying to cast the actions of the FBI – and the Obama Administration – as an effort to infiltrate his campaign, in order to dummy up charges of collusion against his campaign and top aides.

Democrats though point out that while the FBI was investigating the Trump Campaign during the 2016 election, news of it never leaked, even as Comey was publicly inserting himself into the campaign with announcements about Hillary Clinton and her email troubles.

On Thursday afternoon, officials at the Justice Department will brief lawmakers in both parties about how the FBI used an informant to check out reports of ties between Russia and the Trump Campaign in 2016.

Originally, only House GOP lawmakers were going to be involved, but protests from Senators forced that to change; the briefings will involve the FBI Director, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence.

Those three officials met earlier this week with President Trump at the White House, as Mr. Trump has charged the FBI basically planted a ‘spy’ in his campaign, an allegation that has so far gained little traction outside a group of more conservative House Republicans.

As for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, his office provided an update of sorts on the investigation while submitting documents to a federal judge handling criminal charges against Paul Manafort, once the head of the Trump Campaign in 2016.

“The Special Counsel’s conduct of the investigation remains ongoing,” the Mueller team reported, saying the probe continues to look at “links and/or coordination between Russia and individuals affiliated with the campaign of President Trump.”



“The investigation is not complete and its details remain non-public,” the Special Counsel’s office stated, in arguing against the public release of search warrants involved in the Manafort case.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Mueller’s office started moving toward the final stages in the guilty plea of one-time foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.

“The parties respectfully request that the Court refer this case for the preparation of a presentence investigation report, and that the parties provide a joint status report within thirty days, no later than June 22, 2018,” the two sides agreed in a court document.

Legal experts said that showed the feds were ready to have Papadopoulos sentenced, and that he likely had no more information to offer to investigators.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October 2017 to lying to investigators, when asked about Russian contacts who had told him they had negative information on Hillary Clinton.

The Special Counsel’s office outlined their indictments and guilty pleas this way in their Manafort case submission:

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