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- 09/12/17--15:31: _Trump meeting with ...
- 09/12/17--15:35: _Rep. Meadows: Trump...
- 09/12/17--15:40: _News Wrap: North Ko...
- 09/12/17--15:45: _Is the island of An...
- 09/12/17--15:47: _Supreme Court will ...
- 09/12/17--15:49: _There have been 4 s...
- 09/12/17--15:50: _Florida begins reco...
- 09/12/17--15:58: _Pelosi, White House...
- 09/13/17--05:30: _Top Democrats say F...
- 09/13/17--05:46: _Trump wants lawmake...
- 09/13/17--06:58: _Will Senate bargain...
- 09/13/17--07:11: _Sanders bill expand...
- 09/13/17--15:30: _Does the Democrats’...
- 09/13/17--15:35: _News Wrap: Trump pu...
- 09/13/17--15:40: _Americans in U.S. V...
- 09/13/17--15:41: _Scott asks Trump to...
- 09/13/17--15:45: _Irma-ravaged Anguil...
- 09/13/17--15:50: _Fate of older Flori...
- 09/13/17--15:51: _Affected by the Equ...
- 09/13/17--15:59: _Justice Department ...
- 09/12/17--15:31: Trump meeting with Malaysian prime minister comes under scrutiny
- 09/12/17--15:40: News Wrap: North Korea warns U.S. over UN sanctions
- 09/12/17--15:45: Is the island of Anguilla getting the Irma aid it needs?
- 09/12/17--15:47: Supreme Court will allow Trump administration ban on most refugees
- 09/12/17--15:50: Florida begins recovery but restoring power poses big challenge
- 09/13/17--05:30: Top Democrats say Flynn left Mideast trip off security clearance
- 09/13/17--05:46: Trump wants lawmakers to ‘move fast’ on taxes
- 09/13/17--06:58: Will Senate bargainers’ deal on children’s health pass?
- 09/13/17--07:11: Sanders bill expands Medicare for all, lacks details on cost
- 09/13/17--15:30: Does the Democrats’ pitch for universal health care have a chance?
- 09/13/17--15:40: Americans in U.S. Virgin Islands feel forgotten in the wake of Irma
- 09/13/17--15:41: Scott asks Trump to be more careful on racial matters
- 09/13/17--15:45: Irma-ravaged Anguillians say they need more help from the UK
- 09/13/17--15:50: Fate of older Floridians brings urgency to Irma recovery
- 09/13/17--15:51: Affected by the Equifax hack? Here’s what to do now
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump praised Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for his country’s financial investments in U.S. companies during a meeting Tuesday at the White House and thanked him for helping to fight Islamic State militants.
Left unsaid by either leader: anything about the massive corruption scandal swirling around Najib’s multibillion-dollar state fund.
Malaysia’s government has said it found no criminal wrongdoing at the fund, called 1MDB and founded by Najib. But it has been at the center of investigations in the U.S. and several countries amid allegations of a global embezzlement and money-laundering scheme.
The U.S. Justice Department says people close to Najib stole billions of dollars, and the federal government is working to seize $1.7 billion it says was taken from the fund to buy assets in the U.S.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later Tuesday that she was “not aware” of the corruption accusation coming up during Trump’s conversations with Najib.
At their meeting, Trump and Najib instead focused on areas of agreement, such as economic development and counterterrorism measures when they spoke during a public appearance in the Cabinet room of the White House.
“Mr. Prime Minister, it’s a great honor to have you in the United States and in the White House,” Trump said.
Flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence, the president crossed his arms and listened raptly as Najib described Malaysia’s purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of aircraft from Chicago-based Boeing. Trump said the deal is worth $10 billion to $20 billion.
Trump also pointed out that Malaysia is a “massive investor in the United States in terms of stocks and bonds.”
“They have to be very happy because we are hitting new highs on almost a weekly basis,” Trump said. “We’re very proud of our stock market, what’s happened since I became president.”
On fighting ISIS, Najib said his country would do its part to “keep our part of the world safe.” And he encouraged Trump to continue building partnerships in the region.
“The key is to support moderate and progressive Muslim regimes and governments around the world because that is the true face of Islam,” Najib said.
Najib has resisted calls to resign, has clamped down on critics and continues to enjoy the unwavering support of most ruling-party members, but his real test will come in general elections due by mid-2018.
Senior opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang said many Malaysians viewed Najib’s White House visit as a “national humiliation and shame” as he is tainted by the 1MDB financial saga.
Analysts said Najib hoped to dispel the corruption scandal and secure political legitimacy with the White House visit.
“He can tell Malaysians that the 1MDB is a non-issue and that the opposition’s message that he is unwelcome by world leaders is not true. He will also try to convey the impression that the U.S. investigation on 1MDB has nothing to do with him,” said James Chin, who heads the Asia Institute in Australia’s University of Tasmania.
Najib’s entourage was spotted several times at the Trump International Hotel, down the street from the White House. Trump stepped away from his global real estate, marketing and property management company when he took office, but he has not cut financial ties with it.
Sanders said Tuesday that the White House had nothing to do with choosing the accommodations of visiting foreign dignitaries. She said she did not believe Najib was trying to curry favor with Trump by staying at his hotel.
Ng reported from Kuala Lumpur.
The post Trump meeting with Malaysian prime minister comes under scrutiny appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JOHN YANG: Divisions within the Republican Party only deepened after President Trump sided with Democrats on a big fiscal deal, angering many on the right.
One of those critics was Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. He was one of 90 House Republicans to vote against raising the debt ceiling, funding the government and passing Hurricane Harvey aid.
I spoke with Representative Meadows a little while ago and asked him if the president’s deal means he will bypass Republicans on the Hill to get things done.
REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-N.C.: Well, I think that any time that you draw that conclusion, you’re extrapolating out perhaps a scenario that is not justified in this particular case.
But the president is going to make a deal, and he’s going to make a deal with anybody who can actually put legislation on his desk. The Republicans have not been exactly stellar in that particular category.
And so for us, I don’t see it as a trend as much as it is a necessary evil on this particular time. We had a debt ceiling that was coming up. Harvey relief had to pass because of the devastation there in Texas, and so, as we see this, I am not to concerned. I think we need to negotiate in good faith.
I talked to the president about not only that vote, but about what he wanted to see for the remaining months here between now and January, and he’s all focused about tax reform. So he was seeing it as clearing the deck for tax reform. We look forward to working with him and even our Democrat colleagues on that measure.
JOHN YANG: Let me ask you about something The Wall Street Journal editorial page wrote last week, and I suspect you know what’s coming.
In an editorial, they said — they described the Freedom Caucus this way: “Claim to be cooperative, to be working constructively toward some legislative compromise, but then at a criminal moment, raise its demand vote no, and blame leadership.”
What’s your response?
REP. MARK MEADOWS: Well, it would be real nice if the editorial board actually talked to me. I have been in Congress over five years.
John, I have now talked to you more than I have talked to the editorial board with The Wall Street Journal. They never called. They never reached out.
So to quote six unnamed sources, to lay out narrative that wasn’t only false, but dreadfully false, I can tell you that we’re there to try to get something on the president’s desk. You might remember that it was Tom MacArthur and myself, working with moderates and conservatives, that actually put forth an amendment that got the bill out of the House and sent over to the Senate on the health care debate.
And so I don’t know that — well, I can just tell you The Wall Street Journal editorial board took great liberties without even giving us a call.
JOHN YANG: Do you support Speaker Ryan?
REP. MARK MEADOWS: Certainly, we support Speaker Ryan.
We have meetings with him on a weekly basis, multiple meetings. It’s all about getting things done. You know, this is not a question about leadership. It’s the lack of results. You know, one of my favorite quotes is, no matter how beautiful the strategy, you must occasionally look at the results.
And I would say that when I was back home in North Carolina during the month of August, there weren’t a whole lot of results that we were getting applauded for, in fact, quite the opposite. So it’s time that we get some things done, put it on the president’s desk, and be serious about this administration’s agenda.
JOHN YANG: Well, let’s talk about results then. You talked about taxes, that that’s what the president is focused on between now and January.
REP. MARK MEADOWS: Right.
JOHN YANG: From your point of view, from the Freedom Caucus point of view, what’s going to define victory on the tax legislation?
REP. MARK MEADOWS: Well, on the tax legislation, we need to make sure that on the personal income side of things, the hardworking American taxpayers, your viewers, that they actually get more of their money in their pocket and they get to keep more of it.
And then so really being very aggressive and making sure that those rates are lower. Additionally, it’s all about making sure that we’re competitive. And the president talks about a growth agenda. So it’s making sure that our companies and our multinationals can compete globally, but also making sure that what we do is make sure that our tax rate is competitive with the rest of the world.
And so it’s being very aggressive. We support — or I have supported a 15 percent to 16 percent corporate rate. It doesn’t appear we are going to be that low, but at the same time we need to be aggressive and make sure that we put Americans back to work.
JOHN YANG: The president has also asked Congress to do something about the dreamers, to protect these young people who were brought into the country illegally when they were children.
REP. MARK MEADOWS: Right. Right.
JOHN YANG: What would you be willing to support in that area?
REP. MARK MEADOWS: You know, we’re working right now on legislature. One of the things, when we deal with the dreamers, or DACA issue, as you might mention, it really all starts with a secure southern border, something that we haven’t had.
Today, we’re talking about some 800,000 dreamers that would qualify under that deferred action plan. But if we don’t secure our southern border, how many are we talking about? A million, two million, five million, what’s the number? So, if we’re going to address it, we need to address it comprehensively.
I spoke to the president yesterday on this very subject. And what it is, is really working with our colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to find a way to not only have a secure border, for national security purposes, as well as immigration, but also to look at how to do it in a fair and compassionate way.
You know, I have challenged my staff as recent as this morning for us to look at it and see how we can work together. So, I think that you will see legislation coming out in the coming months, obviously, well ahead of this six-month deadline that was put forth in his executive order.
JOHN YANG: Does that necessarily mean a wall, when you say border security?
REP. MARK MEADOWS: It could define a wall. I think for a lot of the Trump voters, it does mean a wall. But really it’s more about a secure southern border, how we regulate and monitor who is coming to our country and who is not.
I get the talk to some of my colleagues who are in some of the border states. They have some great ideas, and some of their ideas do not include a wall. So it’s all about making sure that we can do what’s best for the national security of the American people. And, hopefully, we can get there and be prudent, but yet prompt about getting that done.
JOHN YANG: Representative Mark Meadows, thank you very much for joining us.
REP. MARK MEADOWS: Thank you, John. Good to be with you.
The post Rep. Meadows: Trump debt ceiling deal with Democrats was a ‘necessary evil’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JOHN YANG: In the day’s other news: North Korea rejected a new set of U.N. sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs. The Security Council banned the North’s exports of textiles and capped its imports of crude oil. In response, Pyongyang warned today that, “The United States will suffer the greatest pain in its history.”
At a White House meeting with Malaysia’s prime minister, President Trump played down the vote.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don’t know if it has any impact, but certainly it was nice to get a 15-0 vote. But those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.
JOHN YANG: The Trump administration had pressed for much tougher sanctions, including a total oil embargo, but China wouldn’t go that far.
The government of Bangladesh pressed Myanmar today to end the violence against Rohingya Muslims. Some 370,000 have fled across the border in less than three weeks. Today, the prime minister of Bangladesh visited camps sheltering the refugees. She called for an end to atrocities, and said Myanmar should take them back soon.
In Syria, new claims of victory today by allies of the government. Russia’s military reported 85 percent of Syria’s territory has been cleared of rebels and militants. The leader of the Lebanese group Hezbollah went even further. He declared: “We have won in the war in Syria.”
Bashar al-Assad’s regime was on the brink of losing the war before the Russians intervened two years ago.
Back in this country, the Justice Department has decided not to bring charges in the case of Freddie Gray. His death in police custody sparked riots in Baltimore two years ago. Three police officers were acquitted on state charges last year, and charges against three others were dropped.
U.S. household incomes are finally recovering from the great recession. The Census Bureau reports that last year the median household earned just over $59,000. That’s the best since 2007. In addition, the percentage of Americans without health insurance dipped below 9 percent, the lowest on record.
On Wall Street today the Dow Jones industrial average gained 61 points to close at 22118. The Nasdaq rose 22 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.
And two deaths of note.
Gay rights activist Edith Windsor died today in New York. In 2013, her Supreme Court case led to a landmark against the federal ban on same-sex marriage. that led to the 2015 decision that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Edith Windsor was 88 years old.
And one of the great early Disney animators has died. Xavier Atencio helped bring to life two Disney classics, “Pinocchio,” the first animated feature to win a competitive Academy Award, and “Fantasia,” which has been preserved in the National Film Registry.
Later, as a Disney Imagineer, Atencio helped design rides for Disneyland and co-wrote the lyrics to the theme song for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
JOHN YANG: Xavier Atencio was 98 years old.
The post News Wrap: North Korea warns U.S. over UN sanctions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JOHN YANG: Across the Northern Caribbean, the French president and the British foreign secretary visited the region today, as aid from Europe and the United Nations poured into a string of shattered islands.
One of the hardest hit is the British island of Anguilla.
That’s where Alex Thomson of Independent Television News is.
ALEX THOMSON, ITN: With the plane loaded with as much aid as she would carry, we approached Anguilla. Irma’s passing starkly obviously from the moment you hit the tarmac in Anguilla.
Douglas Biggs somehow survived Irma inside this. It was once a house, his house.
You keep smiling. You look happy. Why — after this has happened, why are you happy man?
DOUGLAS BIGGS, Hurricane Victim: Because I am alive. That’s why I’m happy.
ALEX THOMSON: Because you’re alive.
DOUGLAS BIGGS: Yes.
ALEX THOMSON: Suddenly, at the airstrip, an RAF transport arrives out of the blue, raising hope that a serious aid delivery at last is coming to Anguilla.
What you’re seeing behind me in this RAF transport plane is essentially the first major delivery of aid from Britain to Anguilla. And people on this island are asking why it is that it’s taken six days to achieve that.
VICTOR BANKS, Chief Minister, Anguilla: We are not here to spend time talking about responses and times. We are here to start talking about the recovery, making people — making sure that people are taken care of. We can talk about that after. The postmortem can deal with those issues. But for now, we are concerned about getting things started.
ALEX THOMSON: On the streets though, a very different assessment. Long queues at the three functioning petrol stations left here and short shrift for the British response.
MAN: They haven’t done nothing for me as yet. But I’m hoping, and I’m looking out for something to be done.
ALEX THOMSON: What do you need?
MAN: I need a roof.
ALEX THOMSON: Low on water, food, fuel, no electricity and many homeless in heat and humidity. The mood is fragile.
Critics say this whole disaster is a chance to reexamine the island’s relationship with London, because, over there, they say just 18 minutes away by boat, things couldn’t be more different, Saint Martin, behind me, as part of metropolitan France as Bordeaux or Marseille, they get exactly the same from the central government in terms of spending, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of the whole relationship as if they were a part of mainland France.
But if you come back here onto Anguilla, things are totally different.
Are the French getting more, sir, than you’re getting here? Are they getting a better deal from Paris than you’re getting from London?
HUBERT HUGHES, Former Chief Minister, Anguilla: Oh, God, no comparison.
ALEX THOMSON: No comparison?
HUBERT HUGHES: No comparison. The French take full responsibility for their territory across the water.
ALEX THOMSON: And the British don’t?
HUBERT HUGHES: Never. Never does. I think Britain must now wake up to the fact that we are no longer a dependent territory. We are a British overseas territory. We are British, completely British.
ALEX THOMSON: The Anguillians welcome the British foreign secretary to this battered island tomorrow. Across the water today, on Saint Martin, the Dutch monarch, King Alexander, arrived.
And on the French side of the island, they welcomed their president. Back on Anguilla, they await any head of state or government in vain. The electricity system here totally wrecked. The ferry terminal a world away from functioning. Tourism, the mainstay of the economy, of life here, ripped apart.
Dusk falls over the biggest private employer in Anguilla, the Four Seasons resort. They say it will be six months minimum before they reopen.
JOHN YANG: That report from Alex Thomson of Independent Television News.
The post Is the island of Anguilla getting the Irma aid it needs? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to maintain its restrictive policy on refugees.
The justices on Tuesday agreed to an administration request to block a lower court ruling that would have eased the refugee ban and allowed up to 24,000 refugees to enter the country before the end of October.
The order was not the court’s last word on the travel policy that President Donald Trump first rolled out in January. The justices are scheduled to hear arguments on Oct. 10 on the legality of the bans on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries and refugees anywhere in the world.
It’s unclear, though, what will be left for the court to decide. The 90-day travel ban lapses in late September and the 120-day refugee ban will expire a month later.
The administration has yet to say whether it will seek to renew the bans, make them permanent or expand the travel ban to other countries.
Lower courts have ruled that the bans violate the Constitution and federal immigration law. The high court has agreed to review those rulings. Its intervention so far has been to evaluate what parts of the policy can take effect in the meantime.
The justices said in June that the administration could not enforce the bans against people who have a “bona fide” relationship with people or entities in the United States. The justices declined to define the required relationships more precisely.
A panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s order that would have allowed refugees to enter the United States if a resettlement agency in the U.S. had agreed to take them in.
The administration objected, saying the relationship between refugees and resettlement agencies shouldn’t count. The high court’s unsigned, one-sentence order agreed with the administration, at least for now.
The appeals court also upheld another part of the judge’s ruling that applies to the ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Grandparents and cousins of people already in the U.S. can’t be excluded from the country under the travel ban, as the Trump administration had wanted. The administration did not ask the Supreme Court to block that part of the ruling.
The post Supreme Court will allow Trump administration ban on most refugees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma state senator was arrested and a former governor’s aide was charged Tuesday in separate investigations linked to sex scandals. These are the latest allegations to come out about Oklahoma’s ruling Republican lawmakers and others with close ties to GOP leadership in the state Capitol.
Here’s a look at four cases from this year:
STATE SEN. BRYCE MARLATT
Republican state Sen. Bryce Marlatt of the western Oklahoma city of Woodward was booked Tuesday on one felony count of sexual battery. He was released on a $5,000 bond. Marlatt was charged after an Uber driver told police he groped her after she picked him up from an Oklahoma City restaurant June 26. Marlatt has said he was shocked by the allegations. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
A married father of four children from the western Oklahoma city of Woodward, Marlatt was charged after the Uber driver told police he grabbed her head and kissed her neck after she picked him up from an Oklahoma City restaurant June 26. Attorney Scott Anderson said Marlatt submitted his letter of resignation to Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday afternoon.
Anderson said he had no further comment about the allegations against Marlatt.
EX-GOVERNOR’S AIDE TRAVIS BRAUER
Charges were filed Tuesday against a former staffer for Republican Gov. Mary Fallin after authorities say he was investigated on allegations that he took a photo or video up a woman’s skirt at the State Capitol. Travis Goss Brauer faces charges of offering false or fraudulent evidence, a felony, and a misdemeanor charge of destruction of evidence after authorities allege he destroyed or altered a mobile phone and a laptop that were part of an investigation by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Court records do not indicate whether Brauer has an attorney.
EX-STATE SEN. RALPH SHORTEY
Former Republican state Sen. Ralph Shortey of Oklahoma City was charged last week in a four-count federal indictment with child sex trafficking and producing and transporting child pornography. Shortey had resigned in March after being charged in state court with child prostitution after police say they found him in a hotel with a 17-year-old boy. If convicted of the federal charges, Shortey could face up to life in prison. His attorney did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment on the case.
EX-STATE REP. DAN KIRBY
Former GOP state Rep. Dan Kirby of Tulsa resigned in February after being accused of sexually harassing two former legislative assistants. Kirby admitted asking one legislative aide to send him topless photos and accompany him to a strip club, but he maintained the relationship was consensual and he denied sexually harassing anyone. He was not charged criminally but his resignation came just days after a special House committee recommended he be expelled from office.
JOHN YANG: The somber tallies keep mounting tonight in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The death toll has risen to 55. Many thousands are struggling to get back home across Florida, and officials are rushing aid to the state’s hardest-hit sections.
P.J. Tobia begins our coverage.
P.J. TOBIA: Roads leading to the shattered Florida Keys reopened early this morning. People lined up in cars, anxious to return to their homes, or whatever remains of them, and tensions were running high.
MAN: Right now, we don’t know where to go.
P.J. TOBIA: Some found lawns filled with debris, siding ripped off their houses, trailer homes and boats knocked over like toy models.
Governor Rick Scott flew over Florida’s coast on Monday.
GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-Fla: If you were in the Keys, you have seen the pictures. The trailer parks, it’s like everybody just tipped everything over. You’re just praying that everybody is alive. We’re still having — I have been talking to the people down there. We’re still having in the Keys issues with getting the water started back up, sewage and their power back up.
P.J. TOBIA: Scott says the bridges linking the Keys do not appear damaged, but he urged caution, as engineers make inspections.
GOV. RICK SCOTT: Even though you can see that people are traveling, you’re not sure that, on the bridges, they can take any significant weight.
P.J. TOBIA: In Washington, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, gave a somber assessment.
BROCK LONG, Administrator, FEMA: Twenty-five percent of the houses initially have been destroyed and 65 percent have major damage. Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted in some way or another. This is why we asked people to leave.
P.J. TOBIA: All told, 6.5 million Floridians were asked to leave before the storm, one of the largest evacuation orders in U.S. history.
Today, many who were part of the mass exodus sat in lines of traffic on their way back in. Some are returning to beachfront homes beyond repair. Nearly all will find they have no power.
Millions lost electricity during the storm, and Florida’s largest power company says they will have longer to wait before it’s restored.
ROBERT GOULD, Florida Power and Light: The eastern portion of Florida had less damage in some respects than the western side of our state. So along the eastern seaboard, if you will, the eastern portion of our territory, we expect to be essentially restored all customers by the end of this coming weekend. As far as the west coast of Florida, if you will, we expect to have all of our customers essentially restored by Friday, September 22.
P.J. TOBIA: Flooding has compounded the woes, especially in Jacksonville in North Florida. After the Saint Johns River and its tributaries overflowed onto main roads yesterday, parts of the city were still submerged today.
ROBIN PATTON, Jacksonville Resident: I’m a born and raised native of Jacksonville. We have never had anything like this in the park. I survived Hurricane Dora in 1964. We had canoes, people in canoes, going up and down the street, because there was flooding, but never anything like this in our city, ever that I have ever seen.
P.J. TOBIA: Underwater and without electricity, Jacksonville area residents are concerned that the area’s frequent high tides could mean that waters like this will stick around for sometime to come.
Floodwaters inundated neighborhoods in the town of Middleburg today, a half-hour from downtown Jacksonville. Some residents returned to save their pets. Adding to the region’s misery, life without air conditioning, in 80-plus degrees.
WOMAN: It is pretty hot. I think in the next couples days it’s probably going to really test our patience.
P.J. TOBIA: In many places, like Daytona Beach, the water has receded, and homeowners now confront the hard work of recovery.
RAYMOND LANGLOIS, Daytona Beach Resident: And all this was like a river. Everything was like a river. And even my backyard, it was bad. It was probably the worst one I have seen, and I have been here for 15 years.
P.J. TOBIA: Meanwhile, Miami Beach reopened today, despite widespread power outages, and flights resumed at airports across South Florida.
States to the north also face major cleanups and recovery. As Irma passed yesterday, Charleston, South Carolina, saw everything from waterspouts off the coast, to storm surge flooding downtown streets. Flooding and power outages also plagued parts of Georgia, but the governor lifted a coastal evacuation order today.
Here in North Florida, recovery from Hurricane Irma has just begun, but local officials have told me that it could be as long as three days before floodwaters, like those behind me, even begin to recede. Earlier today, President Trump said that he’d be coming to the state on Thursday to survey the damage himself — John.
JOHN YANG: P.J., if the center of the storm went up the west coast of Florida, why is there so much flooding and why was flooding so bad on the east coast where you are?
P.J. TOBIA: That’s a good question.
Yes, I’m about 30 minutes right now southwest of Jacksonville, so, yes, on the eastern part of the state. The way that Irma’s wrath was primarily felt here was as a rain event, although there was quite a bit of wind knocking down power lines, which is the reason so many are without power tonight.
But there was so much rain, many inches, historic highs in some places. So rivers and creeks just burst their banks. This part of Florida, like much of the state, is low country, so folks are used to occasional floods a few times a year. Most of that is tidal flooding. When the tide comes in, there may be floods. When it goes out, the water quickly recedes.
But add in all this rain and you have water that sticks around and sticks around for a long time, as so many officials fear.
JOHN YANG: And, P.J., you’re up near the Georgia border, but you have been running into a lot of people who evacuated from the Florida Keys. What have they been telling you?
P.J. TOBIA: Yes, Central and North Florida were considered a place of refuge for folks from the Keys. We were in Orlando yesterday. Don’t forget, Orlando’s five hours or more from some parts of the Florida Keys. So in the hotels and restaurants while they were open, you would see these folks.
And at first, late last week and over the weekend, they were just happy to be out of the storm’s wrath, better safe than sorry, they told me. But now that they’re seeing the pictures from their hometowns and folks who remained are calling them, I spoke with one who said she’s actually kind of angry.
She heard that her property — she actually owns two homes — her properties were more or less OK and she desperately wants to get back to the Keys to check them out, to clean up any debris, to see if there is any damage, say, to the roof, to prevent any further damage if it rains more.
There’s actually quite a bit of anger that they left and now they may not be able to get in because bridges may be out and roads may be closed.
JOHN YANG: The folks down there in Florida have been on edge about this storm for more than a week now. What’s the mood like? What are people feeling?
P.J. TOBIA: People are definitely getting a bit cranky. The storm came this weekend, so folks have been without power in some cases for a few days.
Only a very few restaurants and gas stations are open. So getting something to eat or filling up that gas tank can often be an hours-long affair. People are pretty tired of eating granola bars and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And so there’s that.
And then in addition, you know, public security officials, disaster rescue, first-responders are exhausted. They have been on call, some of them, for more than a week. Today, we actually encountered a convoy of fan boats and other shallow-water craft coming from neighboring states like Louisiana and Mississippi to help give some relief to those first-responders who have been doing so much to try to help their communities, so they can go home and check on their own homes and their own families, John.
JOHN YANG: A lot of hard work down there, including you, P.J. Tobia and producer Steve Morde (ph).
Thank you very much.
P.J. TOBIA: Thanks so much, John.
JOHN YANG: Officials in Jacksonville have many immediate concerns, but the flooding presents some long-term challenges.
I spoke a little while ago with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.
Mayor Curry, welcome.
Can you tell us, what’s the latest? What’s the latest situation in Jacksonville right now?
MAYOR LENNY CURRY, Jacksonville, Florida: Well, we’re now in recovery mode.
Yesterday turned into rescue day all day. So we knew this was going to be a serious event. I issued mandatory evacuations. In fact, voluntary evacuations started last Wednesday. We told people they would be mandatory by Friday, and we did that.
We knew even though it was moving west, it was still going to be furious. We told our people it was going to be a major event. And what happened yesterday morning is we recognized with new information that we had Category 3 hurricane-type storm surge coming, even though it was a tropical storm that went through.
So we had to move quickly yesterday morning and have people that didn’t evacuate to call us. We asked them to put white flags out on their doors somewhere where we could visibly see them from the road. And our rescue crews went in with the help of state agencies as well, and saved over 300 people yesterday.
JOHN YANG: You say you’re in recovery mode right now. What’s the biggest problem? Is it the water, the floodwaters? Is it the lack of power?
MAYOR LENNY CURRY: The water has started to recede. Power, getting power back up and running, we have an independent power utility here, the JEA.
So, they are working to restore power. Some of their challenges are downed trees blocking roadways. So, there’s cut-and-toss crews that are clearing roads so they can get up and restore that power.
JOHN YANG: What’s your biggest concern right now, and what’s your most pressing need?
MAYOR LENNY CURRY: We have got a lot of needs.
I want to ensure that our people have water in the time of waiting to get their power restored. Most important thing is I want the get people’s electricity back up and running. And then we just have to rebuild. We’re going to have infrastructure issues. But we will get through all of that.
The most important thing is individual lives. And the best of our best stepped up yesterday, first-responders including neighbors that helped each other. And, you know, you recognize the simple things, the ability to have a cup of coffee with someone you care about, or spend some time with them, is what matters.
We want to get power restored and get everyone’s life back to normal.
JOHN YANG: How long is that going to take, to get all the power back?
MAYOR LENNY CURRY: They’re working aggressively. They haven’t put a specific deadline on that.
We did secure nighttime construction lights. I called the governor before the storm for the big lights you see on the interstates when they’re doing roadwork. We secured a number of those before the storm so our crews could work at night. And the utility secured additional assets, additional manpower and trucks in place.
And we’re just going to push them hard, we’re going to push each other hard, grind it out to get people back up and running.
JOHN YANG: Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville, Florida, we wish you well on the road to recovery.
MAYOR LENNY CURRY: Thank you.
JOHN YANG: We now turn from Jacksonville down to the Florida Keys.
Irma devastated that string of islands. I spoke with David Ovalle of The Miami Herald, who was in Key West when the hurricane hit and traveled back along the Keys yesterday.
DAVID OVALLE, Miami Herald: It was very hard to tell the extent of the damage because there was still a lot of areas you could not get to.
But certainly it looked like a war zone. There was downed trees everywhere. There were boats that were flipped up on the road. There were trailer parks that were just completely demolished that looked like they were just smashed by a bomb.
But there was also a lot of neighborhoods, even near the epicenter, even at Cudjoe Key, where the eye wall came across the Florida Keys. There were neighborhoods that were intact. And there were these big concrete structures basically on stilts.
The first level is just designed for the storm surge to pass through. So it’s still hard to see the extent of the damage. Certainly, almost every house in the Keys was damaged, but I think it’s too early to say that they’re actually obliterated.
JOHN YANG: And what were conditions like? Was there water? I doubt there was power.
DAVID OVALLE: There’s definitely no power in the Keys. There’s no cell phone service.
For the perhaps 10,000 people that are still in the Florida Keys, it is going to be a very uncomfortable couple weeks. There are a lot of worried residents who are worried about their homes that are outside of Miami and their families.
So it’s going to be a long, hot slog for a lot of people, and the officials are really telling people not to try to come back too soon because they don’t need any more mouths to feed.
JOHN YANG: Did you have any trouble getting up US-1? The officials have been talking about they’re worried about the conditions of the bridges, which are essentially the entire length of US-1.
DAVID OVALLE: We didn’t have any real trouble getting up. A couple hours after the storm, we couldn’t get past a certain bridge, I believe, after Little Torch Key because there was just too much debris.
But by the morning, they had already started clearing it. So we had to maneuver around a lot of debris. There’s just levels of seagrass that were just clogging up the roads. So we had to be very careful. We ended up bursting a flat as we were going back up.
But we did make it back. You can do it, but certainly they need to make sure it’s 100 percent for all the supplies you’re going to have to bring in.
JOHN YANG: And what were the people who rode out the storm, who stayed in the Keys during the storm, what were they telling you?
DAVID OVALLE: A lot of the people who stayed in the Keys are very independent-minded.
They’re very strong. They don’t want to be away from their businesses. They don’t want to be away from their homes. And they felt they could do it. There’s so many hurricanes that have come past the Keys, and some of them have hit. Most have not.
But I think a lot of them thought, hey, you know what, I’m going to ride this out. And, frankly, there are a lot of people of low economic means, people who are elderly, people on fixed incomes, immigrants who work in the hospitality service, people with dogs. A lot of people just didn’t feel they could get out, and they ended up riding out the storm in those refuges of last resort.
JOHN YANG: David Ovalle of The Miami Herald, thanks so much for sharing your firsthand experience.
DAVID OVALLE: Thank you. Appreciate it.
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WASHINGTON — The top House Democrat and a senior White House official both indicated Tuesday they are open to compromise on border security to expedite legislation to help immigrants brought here illegally as children.
White House legislative director Marc Short said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that despite President Donald Trump’s advocacy for a southern border wall, “I don’t want us to bind ourselves into a construct that makes reaching a conclusion on DACA impossible.”
DACA refers to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by former President Barack Obama, which has extended temporary work permits and deportation protection to nearly 800,000 younger immigrants brought to this country illegally as minors. Trump announced last week he will dismantle the program in six months, and called on Congress to come up with a legislative solution before then.
Separately, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are backing legislation to help the young immigrants and hope to force a vote on it later this month — a maneuver that would require the support of at least two dozen Republicans. Pelosi said she is committed to helping the immigrants at risk and resolutely opposed to construction of a wall, but indicated openness to border security measures of some kind.
“We always want border stuff, so that’s not a problem,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol. She reiterated that Trump told her and others at a White House meeting last week that he would sign legislation to help those commonly referred to as “Dreamers” if it arrived on his desk, adding, “He said, ‘I want some border security.'”
“We’ve been very clear. There is no wall in our DACA future,” Pelosi added.
The comments from Short and Pelosi suggested room for compromise on the sensitive issue of immigration, which has been defeating lawmakers for years. Democrats have been adamant that they will not accept the wall in exchange for protections for “Dreamers,” but have indicated support for border security enhancements short of a wall.
Last Thursday, after an unrelated event on infrastructure, Trump pressed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on whether he would accept the wall as a trade for protections for “Dreamers,” but Schumer refused, according to a person familiar with the exchange who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the private conversation.
On Tuesday, Schumer told reporters, “We’d certainly look at border security that makes sense, border security that’s effective.”
At the Christian Science Monitor event earlier, Short said the president remained committed to construction of a border wall, but not necessarily directly linked to the “Dreamers” issue. Construction of a physical wall along the entire 2,000-mile southern border is not practical or even possible, according to most experts and lawmakers of both parties, but Trump made it a central focus of his campaign for president.
“The president is committed to sticking by his commitment that a physical structure is what is needed to help protect the American people,” Short said. “Whether or not that is specifically part of a DACA package or a different legislative package, I’m not going to pre-judge here today. But he is committed to making sure that wall is built.”
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WASHINGTON — Former business associates of Michael Flynn have told lawmakers that he traveled to the Middle East in 2015 as part of a private proposal to build nuclear power plants across the region, a trip that the former Trump administration national security adviser never disclosed during his security clearance process.
In a letter released Wednesday, two top House Democrats reveal that companies involved in the proposal provided details of Flynn’s trip in June 2015 that suggest he also failed to report contacts with Israeli and Egyptian government officials. The lawmakers — Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York — are now asking the companies and Flynn to provide the names and nationalities of any officials he met with during the trip abroad.
The information released by the lawmakers is the latest evidence that Flynn didn’t fully account for his foreign contacts and business entanglements even though he was liable for possible federal criminal penalties for lying or omitting such information. Security clearance questionnaires specifically ask applicants to report any meetings abroad or contacts with foreign government officials that occurred in the previous seven years. As a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Flynn maintained a security clearance. His last renewal was in early 2016.
Flynn has been dogged by questions about his lack of disclosure of a Turkish lobbying operation and of foreign payments he accepted after leaving the military in 2014. Flynn also was forced to resign his Trump administration post in February after White House officials determined that he had misled them about the nature of diplomatic conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is scrutinizing Flynn’s foreign interactions as part of his probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and any possible coordination with Trump associates. Earlier this year, that investigation incorporated an ongoing federal probe into Flynn’s lobbying for a Turkish businessman during the final months of the presidential campaign.
Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, declined to comment on the letter. Flynn’s legal team has previously said that he’d like to cooperate with Congress but only intended to respond to subpoenas that compel him to do so. As members of the minority party, Cummings, the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Engel, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, do not have subpoena power.
Cummings and Engel first raised concerns in June about Flynn’s 2015 Mideast trip after Newsweek reported that Flynn had worked with companies angling to persuade foreign governments and companies to join in a plan to build a cluster of 40 nuclear plants in the Mideast for civilian power needs. The lawmakers also seized on a comment Flynn made in congressional testimony in the summer of 2015, in which he said that he had just returned from the Middle East.
In their latest letter, Cummings and Engel write that “it appears that General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign contacts from his security clearance renewal application in 2016 and concealing them from security clearance investigators who interviewed him as part of the background check process.”
Because of the potential for a criminal violation, the two lawmakers say they are providing Mueller with the responses from the companies.
According to the letter and documents released by Cummings and Engel, Flynn’s Mideast trip was backed by ACU Strategic Partners, a U.S. firm that sent him to persuade officials to support a plan involving companies from the U.S., Russia, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Ukraine, Israel and several Persian Gulf nations.
Dr. Thomas Cochran, an adviser to ACU Strategic Partners, told the lawmakers that Flynn was expected to press Egyptian and other officials to hold off on accepting a rival offer from Russia to finance and construct a smaller system of four reactors in Egypt and two in Jordan.
Flynn’s Egypt visit “was to convince the government at least to postpone accepting the Russian offer to finance and build four reactors in order to carefully consider the ACU alternative,” Cochran said in his response. Flynn also traveled to Israel where, Cochran said, he sought to assure Israel that the project would be in its interest.
The proposal has never gotten beyond the planning stage. But in his response, Cochran indicated that there could be support from the Trump administration, particularly in its effort to involve both U.S. and Russian interests. “The ACU project gives President Trump and Secretary (Rex) Tillerson a valuable private sector mechanism for helping stabilize and improve relations with Russia as well as helping accelerate U.S.-Russia cooperation in the Middle East,” Cochran said.
In a separate response to the congressmen, ACU Managing Director Alex Copson confirmed that ACU paid Flynn’s travel expenses and wrote him a $25,000 check for “loss of income and business opportunities resulting from this trip.” But Copson told the lawmakers that banks records show Flynn never cashed the check.
Flynn had previously not disclosed his compensation on his government financial disclosure filed earlier this year, but in August, he filed an amended disclosure that listed he had received more than $5,000 from ACU. Flynn also listed that he was a consultant to another company, IronBridge Group, which was connected to the project.
An attorney for retired Rear Adm. Michael Hewitt, the chairman of IronBridge, confirmed to lawmakers that Flynn took the trip, but did not provide details of his foreign contacts.
Thomas Egan, an attorney for ACU, said Tuesday that he had received the lawmakers’ letter, but the company had not yet decided whether it would respond. Michael Summersgill, an attorney for IronBridge, did not respond to a telephone message Tuesday seeking comment.
Since the late 1990s, Copson has promoted a series of international nuclear-related projects that have not come to fruition. The House letter cites an April 2016 email forwarded from Copson to Hewitt and several others showing that Copson initially envisioned the U.S. and Russia as developing the reactor project. But turbulence in Syria and the Iran nuclear deal led Copson to propose bringing in other partners, including China.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is pushing lawmakers to “move fast” on a tax overhaul.
On Twitter Wednesday, Trump said: “The approval process for the biggest Tax Cut & Tax Reform package in the history of our country will soon begin. Move fast Congress!”
Trump had dinner Tuesday with a group of Republican and Democratic senators to talk taxes. The push to overhaul the tax code is a top priority for Trump and Republicans after their effort on health care failed.
At the dinner were Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, as well as Republican Sens. John Thune of North Dakota, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Orrin Hatch, of Utah.
In a statement Wednesday, the White House said the dinner was “highly productive” and will “spur constructive discussion.”
Trump has been pushing for changes to the tax code to cut corporate and individual rates and simplify the system, but has offered few specifics.
White House legislative director Marc Short said Tuesday that principles for the tax overhaul will be released “in a matter of days, not weeks.”
WASHINGTON — Senate bargainers have reached agreement to extend financing for the children’s health insurance program for five years, and approval of the deal would avert an end-of-month cash crunch for the popular initiative.
In a concession to Republicans, the agreement late Tuesday would phase out extra federal dollars that have gone to states since the additional money was mandated as part of former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.
Money for the federal-state program is due to expire at the end of September. The program provides health coverage to around 8 million low-income children and pregnant women.
It was initially unclear how the agreement would fare in the Senate and the House.
But the two negotiators — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and that panel’s top Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon — work closely with party leaders. In addition, having embarrassingly failed in this year’s attempt to repeal Obama’s health law, Republicans and President Donald Trump are eager for an accomplishment and would be unlikely to stymie the continuation of such a widely supported initiative.
It was also unclear if the agreement would advance quickly and by itself through Congress, or become a vehicle for other, less widely backed legislation.
In a written statement, Hatch said “Congress needs to act quickly” to extend the program.
Without providing detail, Hatch said the agreement would give states “increased flexibility” to run the program. He said lawmakers will “continue to advance this agreement in a way that does not add to the deficit,” suggesting that a compromise on how to pay for the extra funds may have not yet been found.
Wyden called the agreement “a great deal for America’s kids.”
The federal government pays around $7 billion annually for the program. States by law pay a small share — until recently, an amount ranging from 15 percent to 35 percent of costs.
But under the health law, states each received an additional 23 percent share from Washington. Many Republicans, particularly conservatives, have chafed at that added amount.
Under the agreement, the full 23 percent share would continue for two more years. It would phase down to 11.5 percent in 2020 and the extra money would disappear completely the following year. The details were provided by a Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because full details weren’t publicly released.
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WASHINGTON — Americans would get health coverage simply by showing a new government-issued card and would no longer owe out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles, according to legislation Sen. Bernie Sanders released Wednesday.
But the Vermont independent’s description of the legislation omitted specifics about how much it would cost and final decisions about how he would pay for it.
Sanders was releasing his bill on the same day Republican senators were rolling out details of a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.
In an interview, Sanders said Tuesday that his measure would likely be paid for in a “progressive way.” Aides said it would likely be financed by income-adjusted premiums people would pay the government, ranging from no premiums for the poorest Americans to high levies on the rich and corporations.
The measure has no chance of becoming law with President Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress. But it embodies a push to universal coverage that eluded Obama’s 2010 law and is a tenet of the Democratic Party’s liberal, activist base.
“I think in a democracy, we should be doing what the American people want,” Sanders said, citing polls showing growing support for the concept.
His bill would expand Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly, to cover all Americans. It would be phased in over four years, and people and businesses would no longer owe premiums to insurers.
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party backs the bill, which would make health care less expensive and less complicated for many people and businesses. It would cover the 28 million Americans remaining uninsured despite Obama’s law.
But some Democrats fear Sanders is exposing them to a lose-lose choice.
Don’t support Sanders’ plan and Democrats risk alienating the party’s liberal, activist voters, volunteers and contributors. Back it and they’ll be accused by Republicans of backing a huge tax increase and government-run health care, and taking away employer-provided coverage for half the country that many people like.
At least 12 other Senate Democrats signed onto Sanders’ bill by late Tuesday, including four potential 2020 presidential contenders besides Sanders: Kamala Harris of California, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
To cover themselves, several Democrats are introducing their own bills that expand coverage without going as far as Sanders, including possible presidential aspirants Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown. Several Democrats facing tough re-elections next year in GOP-leaning states say they want to focus on strengthening Obama’s existing law, including Montana’s Jon Tester and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill.
“We welcome the Democrats’ strategy of moving even further left,” said Katie Martin, spokeswoman for the Senate GOP’s campaign organization.
Seven weeks after the GOP drive to uproot Obama’s 2010 health care law crashed in the Senate, two Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, were releasing their plan for trying again.
They’ve struggled for weeks to round up sufficient support for the package. It would cut and reshape Medicaid, disperse money spent under Obama’s law directly to states and erase Obama’s penalties on people who don’t purchase coverage.
No. 3 Senate GOP leader John Thune of South Dakota said Graham and Cassidy would need “a double-double bank shot” to prevail, a joking reference to an impossible basketball shot.
Like the failed Senate GOP repeal effort in July, the Graham-Cassidy push will get zero Democratic support. That means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will need 50 of the 52 Republican senators, a margin he couldn’t reach in July and is struggling to reach now.
Despite badgering by Trump that he keep trying, McConnell has expressed no interest in staging yet another vote that produces an embarrassing rejection by the GOP-controlled Senate. Conservatives are wary because the bill falls short in erasing Obama’s wide-ranging coverage requirements.
“I don’t think this bill will go anywhere,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
A third effort, a bipartisan attempt to shore up individual insurance markets around the country, is showing early signs that the sides are having problems reaching agreement.
Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., hope to reach a deal on continuing for at least a year the federal payments to insurers that Trump has threatened to halt. Republicans are also insisting on easing the Obama law’s coverage requirements, which Democrats don’t want to do.
Alexander said Tuesday that Republicans want “real state flexibility” to let insurers offer “a larger variety of benefits and payment rules.”
Murray said she worried the GOP wants to “wind up increasing out-of-pocket costs for patients and families.” That’s something Democrats oppose.
McConnell said the Alexander-Murray talks “are underway and we’ll see where they go.”
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to politics, and an intense day of closed-door negotiating in Congress about DACA, the program to protect young people who were brought to this country as children without legal documentation.
Joining us to talk about those developments and more from the Capitol is reporter Yamiche Alcindor of The New York Times.
Yamiche, thank you for being with us.
You have been reporting on this. You had a story this morning in The Times saying there’s been a remarkable lack of progress on this. Where does it stand right now?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, The New York Times: Well, lawmakers have really tied themselves up in knots trying to figure out how to proceed.
The Republicans that I have talked to have even said that this issue is now on the back burner and that they are worried that Congress is losing focus as it tries to deal with tax reform and health care.
But a meeting just wrapped up in Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, just a few feet away from where I’m standing now. And lawmakers tell me in the quick interviews I was able to do in the last 30 minutes that the meeting went great, that there was some progress made.
But, really, at the end of the day, it is going to come down to Democrats wanting to not fund the wall and Republicans wanting to have some sort of border security measure to pass the DREAM Act. And, of course, the DREAM Act has been this legislation that has been in Congress for now 16 years trying to get passed.
And so far, Republicans and Democrats have not been able to get it together.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche, there was a question about whether there was a sense of emergency among Republicans, especially on this issue, but in general. What how do you read that?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: I feel like there’s two things.
On one side, you have Republicans who really do feel as though the dreamers are a special set of immigrants. They feel as though these are people through no fault of their own were brought to this country. They are scared to see them all deported. But on the other side — and I would say that’s the more vocal side and the side that Speaker Paul Ryan is more scared of — that those Republicans are saying that there needs to be a host of other things that need to happen.
I interviewed the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, and he told me that he wants to deal with criminal aliens. He wants to deal with gangs. He wants to deal with agricultural workers’ visas.
He has a whole host of other things he wants to deal with before DACA and he said DACA is at the end of that last. So, I think, in some ways, Republicans are split on this issue, the majority of them wanting to do something, but like I wrote in my story, I think that this is really an issue that has stumbled in Congress so far.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche, I want to ask you about something completely different.
And that is Republican Senator Tim Scott, who is the one African-American Republican in the Senate, went to a one-on-one meeting today at the White House with President Trump. The White House put out a statement, said they had a good conversation about the administration’s relations with African-Americans in this country.
You have been talking to Senator Scott. What did you learn from him?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Senator Scott essentially told me and a couple of other reporters that he lectured President Trump on the history, the long history of racism in this country.
Senator Scott said that he wasn’t ready to say that his moral authority that he had said was compromised is now restored. The senator essentially said that he went there to tell the president that he was very angry about the fact that he seemed to equivocate white supremacist groups with protesters.
So I think that the overall meeting, while the senator told me there wasn’t any tension in that meeting, I think there was, of course, tension in that meeting, and that Senator Scott essentially for 40 minutes talked to the president about how he needs to do better when it comes to race relations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche Alcindor with The New York Times, I know you’re going to continue to follow that. It was striking that the White House put out a photograph of the meeting, the president listening to Senator Scott.
Thank you, Yamiche.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We will see you again soon. Thank you.
And for more on the politics swirling on both end of Pennsylvania Avenue — there’s always a lot — we turn to Karine Jean-Pierre. She’s a senior adviser to MoveOn.org, a contributing editor to Bustle. That’s an online women’s magazine. And she’s a veteran of the Obama administration. And Matt Schlapp, he’s the chairman of the American Conservative Union and the former White House political director under President George W. Bush.
And we should note for the record that Matt’s wife, Mercedes Schlapp, is now a senior communications adviser to President Trump.
Matt, this is something the White House announced today, and we want to put it out on the table.
I’m going to…
MATT SCHLAPP, American Conservative Union: Yes. And I get home and make dinner, so, yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One of you is gainfully employed.
MATT SCHLAPP: Right.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MoveOn.org: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to start.
I was talking to Yamiche Alcindor about DACA. But I want to turn to you now, Karine, and ask you about health care. And Senator Bernie Sanders has been talking for some months about this. Today, he formally rolled out his proposal to have Medicare for all. He has, what, 16 or so Democratic co-sponsors.
What does this look like? How do you read this move by these Democrats and him?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I think it’s a great way forward.
We have a third of the Democratic Caucus essentially in the Senate who have signed on. A lot of them are rumored to be running for 2020. I think this is a great sign for the party forward and also for American people. Health care is a right, not a privilege. And all Americans should have health care from the moment that they’re born until they die.
And I think, you know, people have been asking me, oh, well is this a political play? It’s not going to work.
No, I am glad. I am glad that Democrats are standing for what’s morally right, the right thing to do. And it’s about — it’s about the country, not about the party.
But it does send a strong, unifying message, I believe.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What are the chances, Matt, that Republicans and Democrats can work together in any form or fashion on health care, including this one?
MATT SCHLAPP: This is the problem. It is the right side of the table sees government too large, too intervening, too involved in these markets.
And here you have the Democrats. This is quite shocking. After Obamacare passed not that many years ago, and they didn’t want to have nationalized, centralized health care, they specifically went to set up these state exchanges. This is, in essence, an indictment of Obamacare.
It’s not working. It’s not covering everyone, as they said it would. And they have a new plan. The new plan is an old plan, which is a plan from the 1960s, which is the federal government will pay all the bills and the taxpayers will pick up all those bills. And I think that makes it very hard for the two sides to come together.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There is a sentiment, though — the polls are showing that there is increasing, not only support for Obamacare, but I noticed Bernie Sanders quoted in his poll today that even, I think he said, 45 percent of Republicans like the idea of expanding Medicare.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, it is actually very popular, unlike the Republicans’ version of their health care, which they tried about two, three times that was incredibly unpopular.
But here’s the thing. This is — I don’t think it is a statement against Obamacare. Obamacare actually covered 30 million people. It actually is working, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which is an independent office, which is led by Paul Ryan’s person of that office.
So, I disagree. I think we need to start taking it to the next step. I think this is what single payer is all about, Medicare-for-all is all about. It’s taking it to the next step.
MATT SCHLAPP: The problem is, Obamacare didn’t work, which is why Bernie Sanders is saying he wants to try to cover everyone in a new way.
And the fact is, is that Obamacare has left millions of people not covered. And I think if you look at the numbers, for four successive elections — I will give you Obama’s reelect, which you guys did a great job on — but for four successive elections, this was the number one issue.
And Republicans had the better argument politically. We got our congressional majorities over fighting Obamacare. It’s a false hope to expect that Obamacare is now popular and will take the Democrats to political winning. It just won’t happen.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, just quickly, do the Republicans have the votes to repeal Obamacare?
MATT SCHLAPP: Well, we have seen that they failed. And, by the way, I have been pretty honest with that. Failure to live up to their promise to repeal and replace is disastrous for them politically.
But don’t assume that that means that this nation wants centralized health care for all. That’s a big mistake.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
Matt, I want to turn you to talk about, both of you to talk about tax reform. The administration, the White House saying this is something that they are going to focus on this fall.
What are the prospects? We’re hearing from the treasury secretary today saying that this is going to be revenue-neutral, we’re not going to have — it’s not going to change how much money the government takes in, even if we cut tax taxes for certain middle-income people.
MATT SCHLAPP: They have said so many things at so many different points. They are going to come out with a new set of principles, they say, on the 25th of this month.
And I think we have a chance still to get a tax bill done. I don’t think it will be fully paid for. I actually don’t. I actually think it will aggravate the deficit.
But most Republicans and most conservatives, which dominate the Republican Party, are not so concerned about its effect on the deficit, as they are the — it’s the effect of a tax cut on the economy.
They want to grow this economy and create job and economic opportunities for Americans. That’s the benchmark that conservatives care about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why wouldn’t that be appealing to Democrats?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I think from what we’re hearing really primarily, which is what Democrats — even Democrats are meeting with Donald Trump tonight — which is that it is not actually a tax reform.
It’s a tax cut to the wealthy millionaires and billionaires and corporations. And I think that’s what we do not want. That’s what Democrats will not stand for. And I think that is — that is what we’re hearing.
MATT SCHLAPP: The hard part in that is, is that you have to actually cut the taxes of the people who pay taxes.
And if you want to increase economic and job prospects for Americans, you have got to encourage people to create jobs. Unfortunately, the people who create jobs are people that run small businesses, own small business, are in important positions in corporations.
So, you kind of can’t have it both ways. Do we want to help the American people economically or not?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, but you can’t do it on the backs of middle-class Americans.
MATT SCHLAPP: I totally agree. They should have a tax cut, too.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But what are the prospects, to both of you, for any kind of serious tax reform this fall?
MATT SCHLAPP: I think I would say it has got a 75, 80 percent chance of passing this fall. But there’s hurdles.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re saying it would take — it’s going to take down the deficit — it’s going to raise the deficit and take down revenue.
MATT SCHLAPP: Judy, the fact is, it will — my belief is these tax provisions will not be permanent. They will be temporary in nature. They will not be revenue-neutral.
And I do think we have a chance to pick up some Democratic votes on both the House and Senate, not the eight to go through the regular order. I think it still goes through reconciliation.
I think we will get some Democrats, because #resistance on taxes for Democrats from red states is not a good strategy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Prospects?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, the Democrats from red states are saying they are not going to allow the tax cuts that we’re talking about just for the wealthy.
So, we will see. I think we need to see a lot more of what is going to be coming forth. There is going to be a meeting tonight, a dinner tonight. Let’s see what comes out of that.
MATT SCHLAPP: Yes. They have a seat at the table. Let’s see if they can work it out.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Fascinating that the president is spending more time with Democrats, last week cut the deal with Democrats over…
MATT SCHLAPP: I’m OK with it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Over the debt limit.
MATT SCHLAPP: Guess what? He’s everyone’s president.
Let’s see if he can cut a deal. Let’s see if he can find common ground. This is what presidents should do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They’re just about to sit down as we sit there. We will find out what they said.
MATT SCHLAPP: Maybe there will be some tweets from the dinner.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, gosh. Some pictures, I’m sure, definitely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Karine Jean-Pierre, Matt Schlapp, thank you both.
MATT SCHLAPP: Thank you, Judy.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Judy.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: President Trump said that he will reach across the political aisle again, this time to help pass a tax reform plan. To that end, he invited Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the House and Senate Democratic leaders, to dinner tonight.
He also called in Republican and Democratic lawmakers this afternoon to talk about cutting business and personal income tax rates.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If we can do things in a bipartisan manner, that will be great.
Now, it might not work out, in which case, we will try and do them without. But if you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed, it was done on a bipartisan manner.
And the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan. We’re not — we’re looking for the middle class and we’re looking for jobs, jobs meaning companies.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president also voiced support for a new effort by four Republican senators to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Meanwhile, independent Senator Bernie Sanders announced his Medicare-for-all plan, alongside 16 Democratic co-sponsors. Neither bill is expected to come to a vote.
A man who was a longtime fixture in the U.S. Senate died today. New Mexico Republican Pete Domenici had complications from abdominal surgery. Domenici served for 36 years, until 2009, and became a bipartisan power broker. For much of that time, he worked with now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader: I served for a number of years with Senator Domenici. I came to know him as a smart, hardworking, dedicated and a very strong advocate for his home state of New Mexico.
So, Mr. President, we’re all saddened by this news today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Pete Domenici was 85 years old.
The U.S. and South Korea sent fresh signals to North Korea to back off its nuclear and missile testing. The South’s military announced that it tested a new air-launched cruise missile that can fly 300 miles and evade radar. And The New York Times reported Seoul is assembling a so-called decapitation unit that could target Kim Jong-un in a crisis.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he no longer favors phasing out the U.S. arsenal of long-range ballistic missiles.
Myanmar’s leader will skip this month’s U.N. General Assembly session, amid outrage over the treatment of Rohingya Muslims. Aung San Suu Kyi’s office announced today that she will not attend the meeting. Some 400,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, reporting atrocities by government troops in mostly Buddhist Myanmar.
The U.N. Security Council condemned the violence today.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General, United Nations: Aid activities by U.N. agencies and international nongovernmental organizations have been severely disrupted.
I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law, and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Myanmar claims that it’s only reacting to attacks by Rohingya insurgents.
Back in this country, the Trump administration barred federal agencies from continuing to use computer software made by Kaspersky Lab. The company is Russian-owned and operated, and a federal directive cited concerns about its ties to Russian intelligence. Kaspersky denied that it’s played any role in Russian cyber-hacking.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 39 points to close at 22158. The Nasdaq rose almost six, and the S&P 500 added about two.
The big number in baseball tonight is 21, as in 21 wins in a row for the Cleveland Indians. They beat Detroit today 5-3 to break the American League record. And celebrations broke out on the field.
The old New York Giants in the National League won 26 without a loss in 1916, but that streak included one tie.
Congratulations to the Indians, a lot of celebrating in Cleveland.
And the maestro was a machine in Pisa, Italy, last night. A robot dubbed YuMi directed the Lucca Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the first International Festival of Robotics. It included a performance by world-renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli.
And they can’t replace him with a robot.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We keep our focus on the Caribbean and the havoc Irma unleashed on the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Jordyn Holman of Bloomberg just returned after spending 36 hours in the U.S. territories, where some complain they’re being forgotten. We begin with what she witnessed.
JORDYN HOLMAN, Bloomberg: So, I went to the Virgin Islands, where they were hit by a Category 5 Hurricane Irma last week. So, I went to St. Thomas and St. John, which really got the brunt of the hurricane.
I saw a lot of devastation. It’s a tourist attraction, usually plush, green, beautiful island. It was pretty much barren from the strong winds, a lot of utility poles down, a lot of crushed cars, houses without roofs.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what are the circumstances people are living in now? Do they have — do most people have a place to live?
JORDYN HOLMAN: So, on the islands, electricity is really down. There’s not running water in a lot of homes.
Like I said, roofs are off of homes, so people are living in complete darkness. There’s no A.C. It’s a very hot island. And so people are just trying to find a way out or to figure out how to hunker down and work through the situation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, they have decided to stay, most of the people you talked to?
JORDYN HOLMAN: Some of the people I talked to, some were waiting in line to get on a boat to go to Puerto Rico to get a flight to the mainland.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jordyn, we have been reading about some folks who live down there being angry, upset that they haven’t been getting more help, more support, because these are, after all, the U.S. Virgin Islands. What were they telling you about that?
JORDYN HOLMAN: Yes.
So, when I was in St. Thomas, which is a very touristy attraction, I talked to some residents up there who were on a hill. They felt like they hadn’t gotten enough aid. They would have to walk down the hill to get water or medical assistance. And they just didn’t feel like the attention was put on them like we had coverage for Florida and Texas.
And so some people wanted, you know, to get more federal aid. You know, President Trump has said that he’s planning on coming down within the week, but some people wanted a quicker response.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you see in the way of help when you were there? Who was providing the help?
JORDYN HOLMAN: So, the Coast Guard was there. The U.S. Marines, they were helping out. But a lot of it was volunteers, people who were on St. Croix, another island of the Virgin Islands, who got over on their boats, a two-hour ferry, just to give water, assistance, sometimes hugs, just to tell people like, hey, we are all in this together and we can try to help you get off this island if need be.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know that these islands depend on tourism for their economy. What is the state of their hotels, the tourism system there?
JORDYN HOLMAN: Pretty much everything is closed.
One woman I spoke to, she works in a restaurant and a hotel on the side. Both places are closed. So this means people aren’t getting incomes on top of already losing their homes. They’re not getting the paycheck that they so badly need to maybe evacuate to Puerto Rico or the mainland. So, it’s just everyone’s in a rough spot, especially since their economy is built on tourism.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jordyn, one other thing. We have already read some accounts of some crime taking place, people taking advantage of the situation. Did you see or hear about that at all?
JORDYN HOLMAN: I think the biggest concern people had was with safety.
Because their houses don’t have roofs or there’s no lock on their door, and there’s no electricity at night, people are just in the pitch darkness. And they’re with their children, who just, you know, want to be safe. School’s out, so everyone was really just trying to help out each other. And there is a curfew for people to stay inside during those dark hours. So, I think everyone is just focusing on their personal safety right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it sounds like this is going to take some time to work on.
JORDYN HOLMAN: Yes.
FEMA says this is not a months-long or a weeks-long recovery. It’s going to be a years-long recovery.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we know that we’re all thinking about them, and thank you for sharing what you saw with us.
Jordyn Holman with Bloomberg, thank you.
JORDYN HOLMAN: Thank you.
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WASHINGTON — The Senate’s lone black Republican urged President Donald Trump on Wednesday to avoid inflammatory racial rhetoric such as his statement blaming “many sides” for the violence at a recent white nationalist protest in Virginia.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said he met for roughly a half hour with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House. He said the president tried to explain his comment, and why he said there were “very fine people” among the nationalists and neo-Nazis protesting the possible removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.
“We had three or four centuries of rape, murder and death brought at the hands of the (Ku Klux Klan) and those who believe in a superior race,” Scott told reporters later at the Capitol. “I wanted to make sure we were clear on the delineation between who’s on which side in the history of the nation.”
Scott bluntly criticized Trump for assigning blame in a way that put white supremacist protesters on equal footing with counterdemonstrators who turned out for the Aug. 12 protests, sparked by Charlottesville officials’ decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
That remark, Scott said, compromised Trump’s moral authority as president.
On Wednesday, Trump told Scott that he just meant to convey “that there was an antagonist on the other side” — to which Scott replied, “The real picture has nothing to do with who is on the other side.”
Scott continued: “I shared my thoughts of the last three centuries of challenges from white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, neo-Nazis, so there is no way to find an equilibrium when you have three centuries of history.”
The president said that he got the point, Scott said. Asked if the president can regain his moral authority, Scott responded, “That will take time.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump and Scott had an “in depth” discussion about the Charlottesville comments, “but the focus was primarily on solutions moving forward.”
“That was what both people came to the meeting wanting to discuss,” Sanders said during a White House briefing. “What we can do to bring people together, not talk about divisions within the country.”
Scott said Trump also brought up Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who has accused Las Vegas police of using racially motivated excessive force against him.
Bennett sat on the bench during the national anthem before Sunday’s game at Green Bay, one of several NFL players protesting in support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned after starting the protests last year to bring attention to police brutality against minorities.
“I believe he found it unsettling and challenging,” Scott said.
This came as several athletes, activists and celebrities signed a letter of support for Bennett.
“Michael Bennett has been sitting during the anthem precisely to raise these issues of racist injustice that are now an intimate part of his life. Now we stand with him,” the letter said.
It was signed by Kaepernick; tennis legend Martina Navratilova; academic Cornel West; John Carlos, a U.S. Olympic champion who famously raised his black-gloved fist during a 1968 medal ceremony, and other athletes and activists.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the Northern Caribbean, where island dwellers have spent a week amid smashed ruins, with no power and reports of fighting over food. The president of France visited St. Barts today, after spending the night on a cot on St. Martin.
British foreign secretary Boris Johnson was on Anguilla, and so was Alex Thomson, of Independent Television News.
ALEX THOMSON, ITN: A lot of criticism, Foreign Secretary, that the British have been tardy in their response, compared to the French just over there in St. Martin. What do you say?
BORIS JOHNSON, Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom: Well, I don’t obviously agree with that, because I think if you look at the facts, we have had RAF on the spot, on time.
ALEX THOMSON: But a week gone by and still no substantial aid has come into this place.
BORIS JOHNSON: I can tell you that you have got, on the streets of Anguilla, of the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, you have U.K. armed services personnel. You have got British police officers.
ALEX THOMSON: But they want food, Foreign Secretary. They want water, and they’re not getting it.
BORIS JOHNSON: That very plane I have just arrived on is laden with aid.
ALEX THOMSON: Except that very plane wasn’t laden with food or water aid. We checked. It was laden with British military personnel, their necessary rations and water, aid, of course, in the wide sense, but not the specifics we put to the foreign secretary.
Anguillans say they need fuel, water, electricity, food. And it’s true the Red Cross has been distributing food parcels for some days. The Anguillan Red Cross has been handing out food to islanders here since the day after the hurricane, and that’s impressive.
But the fact is, as fast as the food goes in, they’re giving it out. And for these people behind me, these islanders, they’re waiting from the early morning when this place opens for distribution, several hours later, at noon.
RC VAN HODGE, Anguilla Red Cross: The Anguilla Red Cross, we lost our roof for the offices. We lost our roof for the — for our relief supplies, government relief supplies. The building was torn apart. So in terms of regrouping and getting things together and getting things organized, it was a huge effort.
ALEX THOMSON: You get one ration a day, and everyone we spoke to said it’s not nearly enough.
WOMAN: I came back, and this is what they gave me for a family of five? Now I can just go home and we eat this in no time. And then I’m hearing that we have help, everything is done, everything is OK.
So, in my — I cannot see where everything is OK.
MAN: The island needs help. We need help from Britain. If Britain says that they are responsible for Anguilla and Anguillans, they need to stand up to their word.
ALEX THOMSON: It’s the Anguillans who so far have done an extraordinary job in terms of clear-up, and will continue to shoulder the burden. British marines are making a difference though, lifting and shifting rubble at the hospital this morning, royal engineers royally engineering a new roof, part of what is now Britain’s biggest overseas military deployment since Libya seven years ago.
But the criticism of too little, too late is persistent here, from the street up to the political establishment.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: All across Florida tonight, they’re working to turn the lights back on and repair hurricane damage. And now there’s a new fear. Eight people died today at a nursing home, spotlighting the plight of the elderly caught up in Irma’s aftermath, in a state with four million senior citizens.
Our John Yang begins our coverage.
JOHN YANG: The tragedy struck at this nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. Officials said it had electricity, but the air conditioning wasn’t working.
TOMAS SANCHEZ, Chief, Hollywood Police Department: Our investigation has revealed that it’s extremely hot on the second floor of the facility.
JOHN YANG: Police Chief Tomas Sanchez gave few details.
TOMAS SANCHEZ: We are conducting a criminal investigation inside. We believe at this time it may be related to the loss of power in the storm, but we’re conducting a criminal investigation, not ruling anything out.
JOHN YANG: Authorities evacuated more than a hundred patients to nearby hospitals, many on stretchers and in wheelchairs.
Robert Gould, with the state’s largest power utility, suggested it all could have been prevented.
ROBERT GOULD, Florida Power and Light: It points to the need for having plans in advance when it comes to emergency preparation. This facility wasn’t listed as a top critical infrastructure — top-tier critical infrastructure facility. And that’s what we work with the counties, for them to help identify those facilities.
JOHN YANG: Across Florida, utility crews have been working around the clock to restore power, and there have been other reports of elderly tenants trapped in their homes.
The situation is especially dire in the Keys, home to some 70,000 people. Some areas remain unreachable to all except search-and-rescue teams. The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln is off Key West, a floating base for helicopters delivering aid. Urgent repairs are under way on US-1, the lone highway connecting the islands.
And water service is slowly being restored to those like Shawne Street, who rode out the storm in Cudjoe Key.
SHAWNE STREET, Cudjoe Key Resident: When Katrina hit Louisiana and stuff like that, and you feel sorry for the people and you think, what are they going through? But when it hits home, it’s totally different, you know? And it’s not just us. It’s everybody.
JOHN YANG: Evacuees are slowly trickling back, returning to survey what’s left.
ORLANDO MOJERON, Islamorada Key Resident: I expected some debris, because we knew the direction that the winds were blowing, they were going to carry debris onto our property. It has happened before. We were not expecting to find somebody else’s sailboat on our backyard, and someone else’s dock with a fishing station on our backyard.
JOHN YANG: The economic costs of Irma are mounting. State agencies report an estimated $250 million in storm preparation and recovery expenses so far, and that price tag is expected to soar before it’s over.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.
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Equifax is facing nearly two dozen class-action lawsuits, along with a separate suit from the state of Massachusetts, over a massive data breach that compromised the personal information — names, addresses, birth dates and social security numbers — of more than 143 million people.
For those affected by the breach, the path forward is still unclear. While the credit reporting agency announced the breach last week, the breach actually occurred July 29, which means sensitive data from about half of the U.S. population has been available to hackers for weeks.
Here’s what you should know, and what actions you can take next.
Why did this happen?
No one person is completely positive. Equifax told USA Today the hack was the result of an “Apache Struts” vulnerability. Apache Struts is free, open-source software used to create Java web applications. The credit reporting company is unsure of which Apache Struts vulnerability caused the breach.
A hack of this nature is known as a “zero-day,” meaning that this is the first occurrence of a vulnerability in a commonly used program — like Java — and doesn’t have a fix yet. Zero-day exploits are often trafficked to other hackers willing to pay upwards of $20,000 to gain access to the programming.
How can I find out if I was affected?
This hack is being called the largest credit-card-data hack in American history, and even if you haven’t seen any foreign charges in your account, experts recommend you check your status on Equifax’s website: Equifaxsecurity2017.com. You’ll be prompted to enter your last name and the last six digits of your social security number.
I’ve heard that if I enter my information in Equifax’s website, I lose my right to sue them later. Is this true?
Initially, Equifax had language in their credit monitoring agreement that would waive customers’ right to sue at a later date. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman tweeted Tuesday that “after conversations with my office, Equifax has now made it explicitly clear” that “no one will waive their right to join a class action” lawsuit.
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) September 12, 2017
“Let me be clear: even if you use the free products by Equifax, you will retain your legal rights,” Schneiderman said in a subsequent tweet.
“They’ve made it very explicit at Equifax that you’re not waiving any legal right by signing up for this,” Nick Clements, co-founder of MagnifyMoney, a financial services organization, told the PBS NewsHour’s William Brangham during a livestream Wednesday.
One year of free bureau monitoring is “a nice way to get something in effect right away to give you some comfort on some of the risks,” Clements says.
What could happen to me if I’ve been hacked?
Clements said that a hack of this kind can lead to two types of fraud: account takeover and full identity takeover.
A case of full identity takeover would be when a criminal uses your social security number, birth date, address and name to open one or more new, false accounts in your name.
An account takeover, which can be just as damaging, is when a criminal assumes control of your existing accounts using some of this stolen information to pretend they are you, the account owner. In other cases, by using so-called “social engineering” (where a criminal masquerades as a representative of your bank or credit card company), criminals can persuade people to reveal pin codes or passwords for their accounts, which can then be used to steal your money.
What do I do?
You have a few options, but you must act now and you must follow up, says Clement. First, consider freezing your credit. Freezing your account will completely halt all access to your credit information — but allows you to maintain your credit score — as well as block hackers who may have stolen your information.
A less drastic response is to take Equifax’s offered one-year of free credit monitoring to know if someone is using your information in fraudulent ways. But, Clements warns, the danger doesn’t disappear as soon as you activate credit monitoring or implement an account freeze.
“Social security numbers don’t expire,” he says on the ability of hackers to steal your identity today, tomorrow or 10 years from now. He urges anyone whose data was compromised to follow up year after year to make sure they’re still secure.
Did Equifax do enough to protect its customers?
“Ultimately every company is responsible for it’s own data security,” Clements says. But he also points out that the “convenience of the digital age” is having your information readily available online for the people you want — and don’t want — to easily access it.
“This is the new normal,” he says. “You have to assume that someone somewhere has stolen your info and is trying to use it against you. We have to become our own best advocates.”
Should my social security number remain my first way to authenticate myself?
One of the most critical pieces of data exposed in the hack is social security numbers. Combined with your name and date of birth, it’s a “perfect storm” for hackers, Clements says.
So what do we do? Clements says we need to find a better way to authenticate. He points to two-factor verification, where you must confirm your ID on two devices before logging in, as a step in the right direction.
What is Congress’ role in all of this?
On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee sent Equifax a long list of questions seeking answers about how the hack occurred.
“Equifax is a critical partner of the Internal Revenue Service, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies that are the sources and recipients of the some of the most sensitive information affecting individuals, as well as the targets of the vast majority of identity theft fraud against taxpayers,” the letter said. “If the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and other information of 143 million Americans are now in the hands of cybercriminals, this breach will cause irreparable harm to programs within this Committee’s jurisdiction by way of stolen identity refund fraud, healthcare fraud, and entitlement fraud.”
Clements suggests one way to prevent a hack like this from happening again is setting a minimum standard of security protocol, enforceable by the federal government. But it’s a “constant game of cat and mouse” to develop that kind of legislation, he said, because as lawmakers, the tech community and consumers get more savvy in preventing exposure, criminals get better at finding ways around our solutions.
Where else can I go for help?
Clement says that you can pay for resolution services, which means you provide a firm with power of attorney to handle the dispute and legal response in the case of a hack.
Another is to use government resources like Identifytheft.gov. Here, you’ll begin resolution services, going through the multi-step process to resolve financial damages stemming from a hack.
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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it will not permit two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey to appear privately before a congressional committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had asked in July to interview the two officials, Jim Rybicki and Carl Ghattas, and then agreed to narrow the scope of questioning after the Justice Department initially declined to make the men available.
But in a letter this week obtained by The Associated Press, the Justice Department said it would still not permit the officials to be questioned in order to “protect the integrity” of the investigation being done by special counsel Robert Mueller. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in the letter that the overlapping areas of the committee’s investigation and Mueller’s probe had not yet been sorted out, or “de-conflicted.”
A Judiciary Committee spokesman said Wednesday that neither the Justice Department nor the special counsel’s office had “articulated any legitimate reason for why these witnesses should not cooperate with the committee’s oversight.”
Ghattas is the head of the FBI’s national security branch and Rybicki served as chief of staff to Comey, who was fired in May by President Donald Trump. Comey has said those men were among the FBI officials with whom he shared concerns about Trump’s behavior toward him, in the weeks before he was fired.
The Justice Department’s refusal to make Ghattas and Rybicki available is an indication that Mueller, who is leading the Justice Department’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, sees them as relevant witnesses to the events leading up to Comey’s firing. Comey has said Trump asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and had also asked him over dinner to pledge his loyalty to him.
The July 27 refusal letter from the department, which CNN was first to report, cites the department’s “long-standing policy regarding the confidentiality and sensitivity of information relating to pending matters.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and the Judiciary Committee chairman, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the panel’s top Democrat, subsequently alerted the Justice Department that they would narrow the scope of the questioning. They said they did not intend to ask about the officials’ work with the special counsel’s office but would instead focus on “their independent recollections, as fact witnesses, of events that occurred before and including Director Comey’s removal.”
The Judiciary Committee is one of multiple congressional panels investigating Russian meddling in the election. The committee heard privately last week from Donald Trump Jr. about a June 2016 meeting involving a Russian lawyer and an offer to provide damaging information about his father’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
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