Donald Trump to Russia: Uncover, release deleted Hillary Clinton emails

Donald Trump encouraged Russia on Wednesday to find and make public missing emails deleted by his presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, setting off an instant debate over hacking and his urging of a foreign government to meddle in American politics.

Shortly after Trump’s extraordinary remarks, his Republican running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, took a different tack and warned of “serious consequences” if Russia interfered in the election.

Democrats — and some Republicans — quickly condemned the remarks by the Republican presidential standard-bearer.

They came as the Democrats met on the third day of their national convention in Philadelphia, where Clinton will accept the presidential nomination Thursday night to face Republican Trump in November.

Trump’s comments raised the question of whether he was condoning foreign government hacking of U.S. computers and the public release of information stolen from political adversaries — actions that are at least publicly frowned upon across the globe. His brief remarks managed to divert attention from an embarrassing leak of other hacked emails that exposed sensitive internal political communications that had divided Democrats.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. He was referring to emails on Clinton’s private server that she said she deleted — because they were private — before turning other messages over to the State Department. The Justice Department declined to prosecute Clinton over her email practices, but FBI Director James Comey called her “extremely careless” in handling classified information as President Barack Obama‘s secretary of state.

The Clinton campaign called Trump’s statement the “first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against a political opponent.”

At a news conference in Doral, Florida, after Trump’s initial remarks, he was asked whether he had any qualms about asking a foreign government to hack into computers in the United States. Trump did not directly respond except to say, “That’s up to the president. Let the president talk to them.”

He later added: “If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.”

Trump’s invitation was immediately contradicted by his running mate. Pence condemned any possible cyberespionage, breaking from Trump for the first time since being selected to run with him.

“If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences,” Pence said in a statement.

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said bluntly: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”

A Trump campaign communications adviser, Jason Miller, sought to clarify Trump’s statements, saying on Twitter that Trump never urged or invited Russia to hack Clinton’s emails. Instead, he said, Trump was “clearly saying” that if Russia or anyone else already had Clinton’s deleted emails they should share them with the FBI.

Trump never mentioned the FBI in his comments.

It was not immediately clear where or how Clinton’s deleted emails might be recovered, unless an adversary had previously hacked the computer server she operated in the basement of her home in Chappaqua, New York, before she had deleted the messages.

The Associated Press, which discovered the basement server’s existence in March 2015, previously reported that it was connected to the internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers. The FBI concluded it was possible hackers broke into her server but found no direct evidence.

Wednesday’s exchange occurred hours after Obama identified Russia as almost certainly responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee in a different case. WikiLeaks published on its website last week more than 19,000 internal emails stolen from the DNC earlier this year. The emails showed DNC staffers supporting Clinton when they were publicly promising to remain neutral during the primary elections between Sen. Bernie Sanders and her.

The head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, resigned over the disclosures.

Trump cast doubt on whether Russia was behind that hack. He said blaming Russia was deflecting attention from the embarrassing material in the emails.

“Russia has no respect for our country, if it is Russia,” Trump said. “It could be China. It could be someone sitting in his bedroom. It’s probably not Russia. Nobody knows if it’s Russia.”

Obama traditionally avoids commenting on active FBI investigations, but he told NBC News on Tuesday that outside experts have blamed Russia for the leak. Obama also appeared to embrace the notion that President Vladimir Putin might have been responsible because of what he described as Trump’s affinity for Putin. Trump said he has no relationship with Putin.

In Moscow on Wednesday, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia would never interfere in another country’s election.

“What the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that, I can’t say directly,” Obama said. “What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin.”

Obama said he was basing his assessment on Trump’s own comments and the fact that Trump has “gotten pretty favorable coverage back in Russia.” He added that the U.S. knows that “Russians hack our systems — not just government systems, but private systems.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday on CNN that “a lot more” material was coming.

Trump’s comments were not the first time he urged hackers to release information to damage a political opponent.

He tweeted in September 2014 about one of his favorite topics— Obama’s birthplace.

“Attention all hackers: You are hacking everything else so please hack Obama’s college records (destroyed?) and check ‘place of birth,'” Trump wrote.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 7.21.16 — Ted Cruz’s courage

One of the biggest surprises of how the Republican primary season played out to this reporter was how successful Ted Cruz was. When you looked at the panoply of candidates who had serious potential to go all the way in 2016, he was never at the front of my list (neither, of course, was Donald Trump).

But Cruz emerged over the much more hyped Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, et al. He’s a true believer, what Paul Ryan likes to call a “movement conservative.”

Trump is definitely not, which is one reason why the Republican Party as a whole has never, and will never, completely embrace the NYC business mogul.

Cruz is very conservative — too conservative to lead the country, some might suspect. Trump is not as conservative, which is why he could very well defeat Hillary Clinton this fall.

So while I suppose I sort of guess I understand the anger expressed by Republicans toward Cruz last night at the RNC for failing to endorse Trump, I sort of don’t. There was not one report from anyone beforehand that Cruz was going to endorse. Not one. Trump certainly knew that when he allowed Cruz to speak at his convention.

I actually think it was courageous of the Texas Senator to stick to his principles, and have the audacity to do so in front of thousands in the Q and millions worldwide.

Rubio has been all over the place in terms of whether he’d support Trump or not. He ended going halfway, sending an incredibly brief video saying Republicans should back Trump (Interesting, by the way, that Rubio is conducting a statewide campaign tour this week — a tour that could have been planned for next week, but gives him the cover that he’s too busy campaigning to actually travel to Cleveland).

True, Bush and John Kasich, two other major Republicans who don’t support Trump, have made sure to far, far war from the convention hall. But this is Ted Cruz, folks. There’s a reason he’s the most loathed member of the senate.

They say he (and Rubio) are already running for 2020. Some say he’s thrown that all away after last night. I’m not so sure.

It was Florida night on the stage Wednesday, with Rubio, Rick Scott and Pam Bondi getting airtime. Actually, Bondi’s speech wasn’t carried by any of the cable networks, but was captured in its entirety on C-SPAN. Including the part where she seemed to enjoy the refrain of the week regarding Hillary: “Lock her up.”

Meanwhile, if you want to watch the final night of the RNC with a group of Republicans, the Hillsborough County REC hosts a gathering at a South Tampa craft brewery.

In other news …

Hillary Clinton speaks at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa in the second of three Florida appearances before heading to Philadelphia to receive the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party.

The Hillsborough County Commission actually hung the Gay Pride flag from their building in tribute to the fallen victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last month, but don’t expect them to ever do that again.

We finally heard back from the head of the Tampa Firefighters Union regarding their endorsement of Luis Veira. Steve Suarez says Veira received their endorsement because he was the only one who asked, and he had no interest in the other candidates running.

Mark Kelly & Gabby Giffords‘ super PAC on gun safety is backing Patrick Murphy for senate. Neither Kelly or Murphy had much to say positive about Rubio’s record on guns.

Eric Lynn & Ben Diamond announce more endorsements in their HD 68 race.

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Joe Henderson: RNC Day 2 – starting to get the message

OK, I think we get the message.

Republicans spent the first two days of their convention in Cleveland trying to get one point across: They hate Hillary Clinton. Check that. To them, she is Satan in a pants suit, but without the charm.

To break it down, they believe she is a godless, soulless, flesh-eating monster who is responsible for every bad thing that has happened on earth, probably starting at the Garden of Eden. We’re still trying to confirm that last item, but I think I heard it on a far right-wing talk radio show and that’s good enough. Either that, or Ben Carson said it.

More on that later.

We will, of course, hear the same stuff directed at Donald Trump next week at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. I don’t know about you, but I will be glued to Twitter all week just to catch The Donald’s response to all the things they will say about him.

Being a bit of a policy wonk, though, I would imagine Hillary and her supporters will lay out more specifics about what she wants to do if elected. I’m still waiting to find out what Trump would actually do to Make America Great Again!!

We are only halfway through the convention, though, so there is still time. Meanwhile, here are some takeaways from Day 2 of the GOPfest along Lake Erie.

RYAN (SORT OF) GETS ON BOARD:  I wonder how many in the audience were secretly wishing that the speech House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered Tuesday would have been his acceptance of the presidential nomination.

Agree with him or not, but Ryan was forceful, articulate and clearly spelled out a GOP vision. That skill has thus far eluded many other Republicans. His attacks on Clinton were more policy-based, and I guess you could say he endorsed Trump – tepidly.

But, take it however you can get it.

A JOB FOR CHRISTIE: If Trump wins, I think New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wrapped up the job of Attorney General. His rousing prosecution of Clinton was manna for the hungry hordes inside the convention hall – although the repeated chants of “Lock Her Up” are starting to sound more than a little creepy.

Hatred, stoked to the level we have seen in this convention, can do the nation no good going forward. By the way, Democrats, that means you, too.

NOT SO GENTLE BEN: When Ben Carson was a candidate for president, I was far from the only one who though he was this generation’s Chauncey Gardner – the memorable, bumbling character played so well by Peter Sellers in the 1979 movie “Being There.”

Like Gardner, Carson says things that sound deep but upon examination make no sense. He hasn’t stopped. In his speech Tuesday, he went “there” – connecting dots between a thesis that the then-Hillary Rodham wrote while in college about author Saul Alinsky.

Alinsky was an anti-establishment rebel who believed in social change. He had a single reference to Lucifer in his book “Rules for Radicals” where he referred to the demonic one as the original radical. He also hat-tipped Thomas Paine, by the way.

The New York Times read Clinton’s paper and concluded that while she agreed with Alinsky’s very-Republican ideal that antipoverty programs tend to be ineffective and bureaucratic, she said one of his core ideals “ran counter to the notion of change within the system.”

No matter.

That, Carson told the crowd, meant Clinton had in essence endorsed Satan.

“So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?” he asked.

Good grief.

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Donald Trump triumphs as GOP nominee, completing stunning climb

United for a night, Republicans nominated Donald Trump Tuesday as their presidential standard-bearer, capping the billionaire businessman’s stunning takeover of the GOP and propelling him into a November faceoff with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“I will work hard and never let you down!” Trump quickly wrote on Twitter following the roll call vote.

Trump’s campaign hoped the formal nomination would both end the discord surging through the Republican Party and overshadow the convention’s chaotic kickoff, including a plagiarism charge involving Melania Trump‘s address on opening night.

There were flurries of dissent on the convention floor as states that Trump did not win recorded their votes, but he far outdistanced his primary rivals. His vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was also formally nominated.

Trump was put over the top by his home state of New York. Four of his children joined the state’s delegation on the convention floor for the historic moment and appeared overwhelmed with emotion.

“Congratulations, Dad, we love you,” declared Donald Trump Jr.

Some delegates emphasized a need for a televised display of unity after the deeply divisive GOP primary. “United we stand, divided we fall,” said Johnny McMahan, a Trump delegate from Arkansas.

But Colorado’s Kendal Unruh, a leader of the anti-Trump forces, called the convention a “sham” and warned party leaders that their efforts to silence opposition would keep some Republicans on the sidelines in the fall campaign against Clinton.

This week’s four-day convention is Trump’s highest-profile opportunity to convince voters that he’s better suited for the presidency than Clinton, who will be nominated at next week’s Democratic gathering. A parade of Trump’s campaign rivals and Republican leaders lukewarm about his nomination were taking the stage Tuesday night to vouch for the real estate mogul, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Still, the plagiarism controversy and other unforced errors by the campaign cast a shadow over the convention and raised fresh questions about Trump’s oversight of his campaign, which gives voters a window into how a candidate might handle the pressures of the presidency.

The plagiarism accusations follow Monday night’s speech by Trump’s wife. Two passages from her address — each 30 words or longer — matched a 2008 Democratic convention address by Michelle Obama nearly word-for-word.

Trump’s campaign failed to quell the controversy on Day 2 of the convention by insisting there was no evidence of plagiarism, while offering no explanation for how the strikingly similar passages wound up in Mrs. Trump’s address. The matter consumed news coverage from Cleveland until the evening vote, obscuring Mrs. Trump’s broader effort to show her husband’s softer side.

Clinton pounced on the tumult, saying the Republican gathering had so far been “surreal,” comparing it to the classic fantasy film “Wizard of Oz.”

“When you pull back the curtain, it was just Donald Trump with nothing to offer to the American people,” Clinton said during a speech in Las Vegas.

Top Trump adviser Paul Manafort said the matter had been “totally blown out of proportion.”

“They’re not even sentences. They’re literally phrases,” Manafort told The Associated Press.

Conventions are massive organizational undertakings, with thousands of attendees to manage and dozens of speakers to oversee. But the weeklong gathering pales in comparison to the scope of a president’s responsibilities as head of the U.S. government.

It was unclear whether there would be much if any effect on how voters view Trump. The businessman has survived numerous politically perilous moments that might have doomed other candidates.

Manafort, a longtime Republican operative, has been a central figure in Trump’s Cleveland operations. He led efforts to successfully tamp down a rebellion on the convention floor Monday, though the campaign still had to contend with angry outbursts from anti-Trump delegates.

The campaign chairman also upended Republicans’ unity message by slamming Ohio Gov. John Kasich in his home state. He called Kasich “petulant” and “embarrassing” for not endorsing Trump or attending the convention, drawing quick condemnation from other GOP leaders worried about angering the popular governor of one of the most important election states.

Trump’s campaign hoped the convention would also highlight a kinder, gentler side of the brash candidate. Mrs. Trump was the first in a series of family members and friends who were taking the stage to vouch for the man they know.

Mrs. Trump was widely praised for her success in doing just that, despite the plagiarism charges. She spoke of her husband’s “simple goodness” and his loyalty and love of family — while noting the “drama” that comes with Trump in politics.

Tiffany Trump, the candidate’s 22-year-old daughter from his marriage to Marla Maples, and Donald Jr., his eldest son and an executive vice president at The Trump Organization, were to speak about their father Tuesday night.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Former rivals, military leaders, actors to take stage at RNC

Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio — the latter by video link — are among those set to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Military leaders, members of Congress, actors, faith leaders and family members of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump are also set to speak in what the Republican National Committee calls “an unconventional lineup” that will challenge the status quo and press for Trump’s agenda.

Speaker highlights at the four-day convention, which begins Monday at the Quicken Loans Arena.

MONDAY

Theme: Make America Safe Again

Headliners: Trump’s wife, Melania; Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, U.S. Army; Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.

Others: Willie Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty”; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Marcus Luttrell, retired U.S. Navy SEAL; Scott Baio, actor; Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, killed in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya; Mark “Oz” Geist, member of a security team that fought in Benghazi; John Tiegen, member of Benghazi security team and co-author of the book “13 Hours,” an account of the attacks; Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis, siblings of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent whose shooting death revealed the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling operation; Antonio Sabato Jr., actor; Mary Ann Mendoza, Sabine Durden and Jamiel Shaw, immigration reform advocates; Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis.; Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.; Rachel Campos-Duffy, LIBRE Initiative for Hispanic economic empowerment; Darryl Glenn, Senate candidate in Colorado; Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Karen Vaughn, mother of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan; Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Jason Beardsley of Concerned Veterans for America.

___

TUESDAY

Theme: Make America Work Again

Headliners: Tiffany Trump, candidate’s daughter; Kerry Woolard, general manager, Trump Winery in Virginia; Donald Trump Jr.; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson; and actress Kimberlin Brown.

Others: Sharon Day, co-chairwoman of Republican National Committee; Dana White, president, Ultimate Fighting Championship; Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge; former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Andy Wist, founder of Standard Waterproofing Co.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Chris Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action; golfer Natalie Gulbis; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

___

WEDNESDAY

Theme: Make America First Again

Headliners: Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; Eric Trump, son of the candidate; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s pick to be vice president.

Others: radio host Laura Ingraham; Phil Ruffin, businessman with interests in real estate, lodging, manufacturing and energy; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; retired astronaut Eileen Collins; Michelle Van Etten, small business owner; Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado Jr.; Darrell Scott, senior pastor and co-founder of New Spirit Revival Center Ministries, Cleveland; Harold Hamm, oil executive; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Lynne Patton, vice president, Eric Trump Foundation; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (by video); Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Callista Gingrich, wife of Newt Gingrich.

___

THURSDAY

Theme: Make America One Again

Headliners: Peter Thiel, co-founder PayPal; Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital; Ivanka Trump, daughter of the candidate; and Donald Trump, GOP nominee for president.

Others: Brock Mealer, motivational speaker; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Dr. Lisa Shin, owner of Los Alamos Family Eyecare in New Mexico; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and evangelical leader.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Running mate Mike Pence: Conservative but not angry about it

As a conservative talk-radio host in the 1990s, Mike Pence described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.”

Two decades later, Pence is the unflappable conservative governor of Indiana who’s being plucked by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump as his running mate.

Where Trump is impulsive, Pence is cool-headed. Where Trump makes conservatives suspicious, Pence has credibility. And where Trump struggles to draw evangelical Christians, Pence is well-regarded by them.

A favorite quote highlights how Pence might smooth some of the sharp corners of the Trump campaign and its supporters.

“I’m a conservative,” Pence says. “But I’m not angry about it.”

The former congressman also is a proven fundraiser with close ties to billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch and their network of wealthy donors, many of whom have been dismissive of Trump.

“One thing you can say about Mike Pence is he’s got a very calm, steady demeanor that in some ways is a little Reaganesque,” said Christine Mathews, a Republican pollster for former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. “He’s a counterbalance to Trump in that way.”

Trump announced on Twitter Friday morning that he’s selected Pence as his running mate, capping a wild 24 hours of speculation interrupted by the truck attack in Nice, France, that left scores dead.

Not so long ago, their relationship was a little awkward. Trump met privately with Pence before Indiana’s primaries, seeking his endorsement. Instead, Pence, under pressure from national conservatives, tepidly endorsed Trump’s rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, while still lavishing praise on Trump. Trump won that primary. Before the night was over, Cruz had quit the race.

For Pence, a former six-term congressman, Trump’s selection offers a return to national politics after his embrace as governor of conservative social issues sidelined his own presidential ambitions. Pence describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” In 2015 he provoked a national backlash after signing a law that critics said would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons.

Even some Indiana Republicans have questioned his decisions, suggesting Pence has at times seemed more interested in appealing to national conservatives than doing what’s best for the state. Pence’s support of the state’s religious objections law led to a revolt from the business community, which joined gay rights advocates in successfully pushing for changes to the law.

Raised in Columbus, Indiana, in an Irish-Catholic family, Pence revered the Kennedys growing up and has said he voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980. He later identified as an evangelical Christian and was inspired to join the Republican Party by former President Ronald Reagan, whose “happy warrior” rhetorical style Pence has since tried to emulate.

After attending Hanover College, Pence graduated from Indiana University Law School in 1986. He met his wife, Karen, around the same time and twice unsuccessfully ran for Congress before taking a job at Indiana Policy Review, a conservative think-tank. In a 1991 essay titled “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner,” Pence swore off harsh political tactics he used in “one of the most divisive and negative campaigns in Indiana’s modern congressional history” while calling for “basic human decency.”

“That means your First Amendment rights end at the tip of your opponent’s nose — even in the matter of political rhetoric,” Pence wrote, though he backtracked in the face of a difficult re-election campaign in Indiana.

In Congress, Pence sponsored a few bills that became law as amendments in other legislation. But he built a national following among conservatives for his willingness to buck his own party after opposing President George W. Bush‘s Medicare expansion and the No Child Left Behind education overhaul. During the early years of President Barack Obama‘s administration, Pence helped lead the opposition to the Democrat’s agenda.

“He has a particularly strong talent, a gift if you will, for being able to stick to principle while making his political opponents or those who disagree with him feel like they are being heard and respected,” said Ryan Streeter, a former Pence aide and George W. Bush staffer who is now a public affairs professor at the University of Texas.

Pence’s congressional experience is one trait that Trump, who has never held public office, wanted in a running mate.

Marc Short, a former Pence aide and top Koch brothers operative, elaborated: “He’s worked with (House Speaker) Paul Ryan. He’s worked with the team in House leadership. He’s somebody who has deep relationships in the evangelical movement, and he’s somebody who has foreign affairs experience.”

Pence’s one term as governor has drawn mixed reaction, and he has managed to alienate moderate Republicans over social issues.

Groups threatened boycotts over last year’s religious objections law and late-night television hosts mocked the policy, leading lawmakers to approve changes.

This year Pence clashed with the local Catholic archdiocese by opposing the settlement of Syrian refugees in Indianapolis.

Pence was also slammed for the planned 2015 launch of “JustIN,” a state-operated news service that was ditched after critics panned it as “Pravda on the Plains.”

But he has also presided over Indiana’s improving economy and plummeting unemployment rate, which Republicans credit to the state’s low taxes, limited regulation and pro-business climate.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Guns, immigration and Zika top agenda as Congress returns

Gun control, immigration and money to combat the Zika virus top the congressional agenda as lawmakers sprint toward the political conventions this month and a seven-week summer recess.

Amid all that, Republicans plan to squeeze in a meeting with Donald Trump on Thursday.

The House and Senate have just eight legislative days before their break, and lawmakers have scheduled a handful of politically charged votes with implications for incumbents in November’s election. In the House, legislation to fight terrorism and a gun control measure that already failed in the Senate are planned for this week.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said a GOP plan to keep suspected terrorists from obtaining firearms would do so “without compromising a citizen’s basic bill of rights,” including the rights to bear arms and receive due process under the law.

In the Senate, immigration bills and legislation to impose labeling on genetically modified food are on tap. Unclear is whether Republicans and Democrats can resolve the dispute over funds for the mosquito-borne Zika virus now that summer is in full swing, or whether the matter will have to wait until September when Congress returns.

A look at the issues:

___

ZIKA

Back in February, President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency money to fight Zika, which causes grave birth defects and has infected 287 pregnant women in the United States and 250 in U.S. territories, according to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

Congress has failed to fund the request as the issue has been caught up in partisan fights and the typical dysfunction. House Republicans rammed through a bill that would provide $1.1 billion by cutting money from other government agencies. The legislation, to the anger of Democrats, would bar new funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico and allow pesticide spraying that environmentalists argue would be harmful.

Senate Democrats have blocked the bill and another vote is expected this week, although progress is unlikely.

___

GUN CONTROL

Bowing to election-year pressure from Democrats, Ryan, R-Wis., says the House will vote on a GOP proposal aimed at keeping suspected terrorists from obtaining firearms, a measure backed by the National Rifle Association.

Democrats want to vote on their own gun control bills, and they haven’t ruled out a return to disruptive tactics if they’re rebuffed. Ryan indicated on Tuesday that Democrats are unlikely to get a vote.

Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor that lasted nearly 26 hours last month to call attention to their demand for gun-control votes.

The sit-in followed the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people and heightened attention on the national toll taken by firearms.

The GOP bill would let the government block firearms purchases for suspected terrorists, but only if prosecutors can prove in court that the buyer is involved in terrorism. It would also establish a new office within the Department of Homeland Security to focus on preventing extremist groups from recruiting followers.

Democrats say the Republican bill is too weak. They want votes on one measure expanding background check requirements for gun buyers, and a second banning firearms sales to terror suspects without requiring prosecutors to first prove the buyer was embarking on terrorism.

___

FAA REAUTHORIZATION

Key House and Senate lawmakers are close to a deal on a bill to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s programs and policies, which are due to expire on July 15. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has agreed to temporarily drop his contentious plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system in order to allow a bill to move forward.

Negotiations have focused on what policy provisions to include in the extension. There is strong support in both chambers to include an array of proposals to enhance airports security in light of recent airport attacks in Istanbul and Brussels. Proposals to extend new protections to airline consumers, relax medical requirements for private pilots and lift some restrictions on commercial drone flights are also under discussion.

___

TRUMP

House and Senate Republicans are slated to meet with the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee less than two weeks before the party convention in Cleveland. Among those expected to attend the separate sessions are Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Joni Ernst of Iowa, all of whom have been mentioned as possible running mates for the blustery billionaire.

Trump’s short list of possible vice presidential candidates is heavy with Washington insiders who could help usher his agenda through Congress.

____

IMMIGRATION

Senate Democrats are expected to block a GOP bill that would withhold congressional funding from so-called sanctuary cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. Republicans also are proposing a bill to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for any person who illegally re-enters the country after being removed.

Republicans have pushed for action since last year when 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was shot in San Francisco. The man charged in the killing was in the country illegally despite a long criminal record and multiple prior deportations. He had been released by San Francisco authorities despite a request from federal immigration authorities to keep him detained.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 6.23.16 – Another story on Patrick Murphy enhancing his resume

Forgive us for not being too coherent, having stayed up until the early morning hours today watching the Hillsborough County MPO’s discussion of the TBX project until 2:20 a.m.this morning. You can read our account here.

Although the huge news in Florida Politics yesterday morning was Marco Rubio‘s re-entry into a Senate race he said he would never get back into; you have to believe Rubio feels like he can handle his competition pretty handily.

The Democratic Party, both statewide and nationally, have gone whole hog with Patrick Murphy as being the man who can take the seat (forget the polls that show Alan Grayson to do virtually as well against every Republican, including Rubio).

What about Murphy today, after CBS Miami aired a very damaging report on Murphy’s claims about his role as a small-business man and as a CPA. Some of this had already been reported by the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald‘s Kristen Clark. But it’s damaging.

Check out Jim DeFede‘s story here.

In other news …

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson — the two top Democratic Senate candidates who would lose to Rubio according to a new poll, predictably blasted the Republican for his flip-flop back into the race. Murphy later said on a conference call that the fact that Rubio won’t preclude staying in the Senate for the full six years to run for president again was “shocking” and “unacceptable.”

It’s hard to read Carlos Lopez-Cantera “thank” Rubio for getting into the race. It just is.

Moments after the news became official, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham (a Ron DeSantis supporter), blasted Rubio, saying it’s exactly why people are cynical about politics.

Tampa Bay area Democratic Representative Kathy Castor was part of a group of dozens of Democrats holding a sit-in on the House floor, demanding that House Speaker Paul Ryan give them a vote on two different gun-control measures.

St. Petersburg-based trial attorney Augie Ribeiro will reportedly enter the SD 19 race.

Andrew Warren, running to beat Mark Ober for Hillsborough State Attorney, has unveiled a set of ethics reforms for the office.

Stanley Gray explains why he’s the best choice in the Hillsborough County School Board’s District 7 race.

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Kathy Castor part of House delegation continuing sit-in to demand votes on gun control legislation

Dozens of House Democrats continue to stage a sit-in on the floor of the House chamber Wednesday afternoon, demanding the House Speaker Paul Ryan hold a vote on gun-control legislation in the days leading up to a weeklong congressional break that begins this Friday.

Many members of the Florida delegation were part of the action, with even Senator Bill Nelson sitting down with Tallahassee Representative Gwen Graham for awhile.

The sit-in started with remarks by Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who called out, “Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, San Bernardino, Orlando. What is the tipping point, Mr. Speaker?”

The legislation that Democrats want a vote on would be for expanded background checks and legislation preventing gun sales to suspected terrorists.

“My neighbors are still reeling from the Orlando massacre just over a week ago,” said Tampa Bay area Representative Kathy Castor. “There have been too many tragedies like the Orlando massacre. The House doesn’t need more moments of silence; it needs to speak up instead. We need commonsense solutions on gun safety aimed at protecting our country, communities, families and especially our children,” U.S. Rep. Castor said. “My home state of Florida has some of the weakest gun laws; we lack expanded background checks that would prevent individuals on the terrorist watch list, criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing guns – the so-called no fly/no buy law we are sitting in for would clearly help fill a big gap in my state.”

“Since Florida’s Republican legislature has refused to stand up to the powerful gun lobby, we must act to keep high-capacity, military-style weapons away from terrorists and others with violent pasts,” Castor added.

“The message is simple – we demand a vote, and number two, we want to close the terrorist gun loophole at a minimum,” said Jupiter Representative and Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, speaking to reporters on a conference call after leaving the House floor.

At one point in the afternoon, Pinellas County Republican Congressman David Jolly visited the House chambers.  Before he did that, Jolly appeared on CNN, where he said he disagreed with the tactics of the Democrats, but agreed with them that GOP House leaders should allow for debate on gun control measures, including his proposal, HR5544, that would ensure there is a no-fly no-buy policy while also ensuring due process and protecting the Second Amendment.

“My fear is that the politics of blame play well in November, and the architects see currency in this in November,” Jolly told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, adding that it wasn’t actually that hard to pass such legislation. Baldwin questioned that statement, it, saying if it was so easy, why did it require the House Democrats to make such a dramatic gesture.

Jolly said that if the Democrats would agree to the due process portions of his legislation, a bill could pass, but also pleaded with his GOP colleagues “to do something. Act in the wake of Orlando. Let’s not play politics with this; it’s heartbreaking.”

Kentucky Democratic Representative John Yarmuth said he agreed with Jolly that it could be an easy fix. “Let’s have the debate. Let’s have the vote. And let the will of the Congress be done.”

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Patrick Murphy introduces bill to provide resources to local governments to fight the spread of Zika

Jupiter Democratic Representative and U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy has introduced the Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health (SMASH) Act that would provide resources to state and local governments to help fight the spread of the Zika virus.

The bill reauthorizes a lapsed 2003 mosquito-control program and provides $130 million each year for mosquito surveillance efforts. It also reauthorizes epidemiology laboratory capacity grants to support the work of state and local health departments to treat infections diseases like Zika.

The bill is a House companion to legislation introduced in the Senate last week by Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr and Maine Independent Angus King.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked the Zika virus to serious health conditions, including birth defects in infants such as microcephaly as well as neurological disorders.

“With more than 1,900 cases of Zika already in the United States and its territories and a vaccine at least several months away, effective mosquito control programs are what will make the difference between a few cases and an epidemic. To do that, Congress must provide the resources necessary for states and local partners to implement and maintain world-leading mosquito control programs and control the spread of mosquito-borne diseases,” Murphy said. “Time is of the essence to get out in front of this growing threat to public health, and I hope both chambers will quickly act on this much-needed legislation, as well as provide the full funding necessary to protect Americans from Zika.”

Murphy has been outspoken in calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote on H.R. 5044, legislation that would provide the full $1.9 billion emergency Zika funding requested by President Obama earlier this year. He’s also co-sponsored a legislative package with Bonita Springs Republican Congressman Curt Clawson that includes a 10 percent research tax credit for any company developing a vaccine for the Zika virus and a $200 million grant program to fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

Congressional negotiators are currently reconciling a measure passed in the Senate that would provide $1.1 billion in emergency funds, and the House approved legislation that would reallocate $622 million from existing programs.

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