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White House devises new guidelines for security background checks

The Washingon Times + 158 other

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly announced an overhaul Friday of the government’s system for managing security-clearance investigations, after the embarrassing case of a top aide to President Trump who kept working amid domestic-abuse allegations. In a five-page memo, Mr. Kelly acknowledged mistakes and put the responsibility on the FBI and Justice Department to hand-deliver updates on background investigations. “The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted — especially those who work closely with the president or handle sensitive national security information,” Mr. Kelly wrote. “We should — and in the future, must — do better.” Copies of the memo went to White House counsel Don McGahn, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray. The new procedures come a little more than a week after the resignation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter. He had been working under temporary security clearance with access to highly classified material for months after claims of emotional and physical abuse by his two ex-wives were reported to the FBI. Mr. Kelly said in the memo, “recent events have exposed some remaining shortcoming.” “Now is the time to take a hard loo…

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David Shulkin, VA secretary, misused agency resources on July 2017 European trip: Report

The Washingon Times + 2 other

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin misused agency resources and improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets on an overseas trip last year that cost the department at least $122,000, the agency’s inspector general said in a report issued Wednesday. Mr. Shulkin’s chief of staff also misrepresented the nature of the trip to a VA ethics official, allowing Mr. Shulkin’s wife to travel overseas at the agency’s expense, the report found. Mr. Shulkin strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement that the report is an “assault” on his wife, his character a…

Legal landmines could complicate Trump lawyer's $130,000 payment to a porn star

NBC News + 1 other

Legal analysis Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, says that a month before the 2016 presidential election he paid $130,000 of his own money to porn star Stormy Daniels, who has in the past alleged she had a sexual encounter with Trump. There is already a pending complaint filed before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by the group Common Cause, alleging that a hush money payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Cliffords, by the Trump campaign would violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Common Cause also forwarded a copy of its complaint …

Florida shooting revives debate over gun age requirement

The Washingon Times + 1 other

Just months after his 18th birthday, Nikolas Cruz went to a Florida gun store to buy a weapon. But there were limits on what he could purchase at his age. Cruz wasn’t old enough to buy any of the handguns at the store. But there’s no such restriction for rifles, shotguns or the AR-15 that police say he used to carry out the nation’s deadliest school shooting in more than five years. The young age of the man accused in the Florida high school shooting that killed 17 people has revived the debate over age requirements for gun purchases in a country where a patchwork of laws and…

Inside the Beltway: Democrats in search of a brand

The Washingon Times + 2 other

Maybe the Democratic Party is worried about their money and their message. Maybe an identity crisis is in progress as the midterm elections loom. Whatever the cause, many Americans appear to be associating Democrats with obstruction and fury rather than productivity and good will. Rivals are noticing this trend, and are only too happy to craft a message around it. “Voters have no love for Democrats right now. Congressional polls are tightening, and President Trump is polling higher than President Obama did at the same point in his presidency,” says Mike Reed, deputy communications …

Florida congressional candidates were among the biggest recipients of NRA money in 2016

CNBC + 1 other

Getty Images Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) leaves the stage after speaking during the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting Leadership Forum on April 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The National Rifle Association's political activity and spending is once again under scrutiny following the shooting massacre at a South Florida school. div > > p:first-child"> Of the tens of millions of dollars the NRA has spent over the years in support of gun rights, a relatively small share goes directly to individual members of Congress, according to Federal Election Commission data …

The Latest: Senate President wants arrested senator to quit

The Washingon Times + 1 other

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Latest on the arrest of a Rhode island state senator charges of video voyeurism and extortion (all times local): 4:15 p.m. Rhode Island’s Senate president is calling on a lawmaker to resign after he was arrested on charges of video voyeurism and extortion. Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio says in a written statement Friday that based on what is known at this time, Republican Sen. Nicholas Kettle should resign immediately. Ruggerio says “it is deeply troubling that a member of the Senate has been indicted on charges of video voyeurism and ex…

Warren denies using Native American heritage claim to advance career

CNBC + 2 other

Paul Zimmerman | EMILY's List | Getty Images Senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren Sen. Elizabeth Warren says President Donald Trump disrespects Native Americans by referring to her as "Pocahontas," and she says that while she's not enrolled in any tribe, "I never used my family tree to get a break or ... advance my career." The Massachusetts Democrat told the National Congress of American Indians that her mother's family was part Native American and her father's parents "were bitterly opposed to their relationship." Warren says her parents marr…