The Georgia lawmaker who exposed himself and yelled racial slurs during an episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Showtime series is resigning his seat in the state Legislature, according to House Speaker David Ralston’s office.
State Rep. Jason Spencer faced increasing pressure to step down shortly after the episode of “Who is America?” aired Sunday night, and some politicians were urging a special session to oust him if he refused. He will step down at the end of the month, Ralston spokesman Kaleb McMichen said late Tuesday.
Spencer apologized for the “ridiculously ugly episode,” but initially refused to resign. Although he lost the GOP primary in May, he could have remained in public office through the November general election.
“Sacha Baron Cohen and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked,” said Spencer, who added that he was told the techniques would deter “what I believed was an inevitable attack.”
If he refused to step down, he faced potential repercussions: Georgia Republican leaders were researching ways to reprimand him, and two legislative leaders discussed filing a joint ethics complaint targeting Spencer’s behavior.
But he also had financial incentive to stay. If he had remained in office through January, he would have logged eight years of service and become eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance for life.
The episode shows Cohen, who portrayed himself as an Israeli military expert, at a gym persuading Spencer to take part in what he was told was a counterterrorism video.
Cohen gets Spencer to yell racial epithets, make offensive remarks about Chinese tourists and pull down his pants and shimmy his naked buttocks toward purported attackers while yelling “USA” and “America.” He was told these tactics ward off homophobic militants.
In another clip after the show’s credits, Spencer returns to the camera with a “message to the terrorists.” He then repeats a racial slur and stabs a knife into the groin area of a dummy clad in a black burqa before shoving another item into the dummy’s mouth.
At the end of the segment, Spencer reminds the audience he’s an elected official serving in the Georgia Legislature. It ends with the Georgia peach logo flashing on screen.
It was the most humiliating yet to air on Cohen’s new show, which last week featured several Republican lawmakers and gun rights supporters backing a fictitious program to teach kindergartners to use firearms.
Spencer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that he was considering legal action against the show’s producers, and he claimed they “took advantage of my fears that I would be attacked by someone” to persuade him to appear.
“They exploited my state of mind for profit and notoriety,” said Spencer, who said he was denied the chance to have final approval over what will air. “This media company’s deceptive and fraudulent behavior is exactly why President Donald Trump was elected.”
Spencer has declined to comment further and couldn’t be reached late Tuesday. Showtime has denied that Cohen or the show’s producers acted improperly.
Spencer was defeated by Republican challenger Steven Sainz after four terms representing a conservative southeast Georgia district, where he grabbed headlines that enraged lawmakers from both parties.
He faced calls for resignation late last year after he warned a black former state legislator that she won’t be “met with torches but something a lot more definitive” if she continued to advocate for the removal of Confederate statues in South Georgia.
This year, he shifted his focus toward a bill that would have allowed adult survivors of child sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits. The bill didn’t pass amid powerful opposition from the Boy Scouts and some other nonprofit organizations.
Openly carrying a firearm in public for self-defense is protected under the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
According to The Associated Press, the ruling issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Hawaii man George Young's Second Amendment rights were violated when officials refused to grant him an open-carry permit. Previously, a lower court had ruled that "the amendment only applied to guns kept in homes," the AP reported.
In the ruling, Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote that the court didn't take gun violence lightly, "but, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense."
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Spencer, a Republican from the southeast Georgia town of Woodbine, is facing calls to resign after he shouted racial slurs and exposed his rear-end in an episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s TV series, “Who is America?”
Spencer warned a Democrat in the Georgia House not to seek the removal of Confederate statues. Spencer told Rep. LaDawn Jones last year that if she came to his area, she wouldn’t be “met with torches but something a lot more definitive.”Sexual assault
Spencer championed a bill that would have allowed adult survivors of child sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits against their abusers. The bill didn’t pass this year amid opposition from the Boy Scouts and some other nonprofit organizations.Outer space
The idea of building a spaceport on Georgia’s southern coast was a key issue for Spencer, who said it would boost the state’s economy. Spencer wanted to bring high-paying aerospace jobs to a commercial launching pad in the region.
Spencer proposed legislation in 2016 that would have placed limits on where women could wear burqas in Georgia. The bill would have prevented anyone from wearing a burqa while driving or in driver’s license photos. Spencer said at the time the bill would have curtailed “radical elements that could pose a threat to public safety,” but he withdrew it following widespread opposition.Ousted from office
Even if Spencer doesn’t resign, he has already lost re-election. Spencer, who was first elected in 2010, was defeated in the Republican primary election in May by a 58-42 margin. Spencer lost to Steven Sainz, the executive director of a community planning agency. There’s no Democratic candidate in the race.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter late Sunday to issue a fiery, all-caps warning to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who told Trump hours earlier to stop "playing with the lion's tail ... or else you will regret it."
"To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE," Trump wrote in the 11:24 p.m. tweet. "WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!"
Update 3 p.m. EDT July 23: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news briefing Monday that the president’s statement on Twitter earlier in the day was consistent with the president’s previous comments to Iran.
“The president's been, I think, pretty strong since day 1 in his language toward Iran,” she said. “He was responding to comments made from them, and he's going to continue to focus on the safety and security of the American people.”
Original report: Iranian state media called Trump's tweet "passive" and said he was just imitating previous remarks from Iranian leaders, The Associated Press reported.
Trump's comments came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech slamming Iran, comparing its government to the mafia and accusing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, of having "his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion."
"Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitized to the regime’s authoritarianism at home and its campaigns of violence abroad, but the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government’s many abuses – and the United States under President Trump will not stay silent, either," Pompeo said Sunday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, California. "In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny, I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you; the United States supports you; the United States is with you."
Pompeo's official Twitter account later shared several quotes from the speech.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston demanded that state Rep. Jason Spencer resign after he yelled racial slurs and exposed himself in an episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Showtime series that aired late Sunday.
In a statement shortly after the episode aired, Ralston said Spencer’s actions and language in the video are “reprehensible.”
“Rep. Spencer has disgraced himself and should resign immediately,” Ralston said. “Georgia is better than this.”
Although Spencer was defeated in the Republican primary in May, he remains a state legislator until newly elected lawmakers take office after the November election.
Cohen, who played an Israeli military expert, persuaded Spencer to take part in what he was told was a counterterrorism video. Cohen gets him to yell racial epithets and shimmy his exposed rear-end toward purported attackers screaming “USA” and “America” by saying it will ward off terrorists.
In the show’s closing minutes, Spencer returns to the screen with a “message to the terrorists.”
He then repeats a racial slur, this time threatening to cut off an attacker’s genitals. Then it shows him stabbing a knife into the groin area of a dummy clad in a black hijab and shoving another item in the dummy’s mouth. The segment ends with him reminding the audience he’s an elected official – and a Georgia peach logo.
The New York Times called the segment the “most humiliating yet to air” on Cohen’s show, which last week featured several Republican lawmakers and gun rights supporters backing a fictitious program to teach kindergartners to use firearms.
Spencer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that the show’s producers “took advantage of my fears that I would be attacked by someone” to convince him to appear on the program.
“They exploited my state of mind for profit and notoriety,” said Spencer, who said he was denied the chance to have final approval over what will air. “This media company’s deceptive and fraudulent behavior is exactly why President Donald Trump was elected.”
Spencer has declined further comment and could not immediately be reached late Sunday about Ralston’s demand for his resignation. Showtime has denied that Cohen or the show’s producers acted improperly.
Spencer was defeated by a Republican challenger after four terms representing a southeast Georgia district, where he grabbed headlines that enraged lawmakers from both parties.
He faced calls for resignation late last year after he warned a black former state legislator that she won’t be “met with torches but something a lot more definitive” if she continued to call for the removal of Confederate statues in South Georgia.
This year, he shifted his focus toward a bill that would have allowed adult survivors of child sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits. The bill didn’t pass amid stiff opposition from the Boy Scouts and some other nonprofit organizations.
As word spread about the footage early Monday, other groups echoed Ralston’s demand for Spencer’s resignation. Among them was the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has long tangled with Spencer.
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the director of the group’s Georgia chapter, said “enough is enough.”
“The ignorance and malice behind Islamophobia has led Mr. Spencer to not only pursue bad policy,” he said, “but engage in humiliating and hateful behavior unbecoming of anyone – especially a state legislator.”
Update 5:30 EDT July 18: The charges against the two strippers arrested with adult film star Stormy Daniels last week in Columbus, Ohio, have been dropped, according to BuzzFeed News.
Brittany Walters and Miranda Panda were taken into custody along with Daniels early last Thursday at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club.
Daniels, who was charged with three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business, was released hours later, but the other two remained jailed on charges related to a 2007 state law that prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude performer, according to The Associated Press.
In Daniels’ case, officials noted in a motion to dismiss the charges that the law applies only to regular performers.
Police said at the time that the arrests of Daniels, Walters and Panda were "part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice-related violations,” but a Columbus judge, in dismissing the charges against Daniels, said her arrest was a “mistake.”
The charges against Walters and Panda were dropped Wednesday because the facts of the case "do not meet the elements required to prosecute under this law," Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement.
Prosecutors dropped charges against adult film star Stormy Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, after she was arrested early Thursday on accusations of inappropriate touching while performing at a strip club in Columbus.
Here are the latest updates:
Update 7:30 p.m. EDT July 12: Stormy Daniels has changed her plans and won’t return for an encore performance at a strip club in Columbus where she was arrested early Thursday.
Her lawyer Michael Avenatti says the adult performer is looking for another club in the area where she can perform.
Daniels was arrested early Thursday on charges she let customers at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club touch her inappropriately, which is against the law in Ohio at an adult club.
Update 7:00 p.m. EDT July 12: The show must go on. Stormy Daniels is returning to the Sirens Gentleman’s Club in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday night for a follow-up show.
The adult film star was arrested after a performance at the club early Thursday on three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexual oriented activity. The charges were later dropped.
“I'll be going onstage tonight at Sirens in Columbus to perform for my fans and register voters as planned. Can't stop the storm,” Daniels tweeted Thursday afternoon.
She also said she’ll donate her tips from Thursday night’s performance to two other dancers who were also arrested, but are still facing charges in the case.
Update 3:10 p.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press that his client was “traumatized and rattled” after her arrest. He earlier told MSNBC that female undercover police officers asked if they could put their faces between Daniels’ breasts while she was performing on-stage at Sirens Gentleman’s Club in Columbus.
Avenatti told the AP that Daniels was in her tour bus after Wednesday night’s performance when officers knocked on her door. She was arrested on three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business, but the charges were later dropped after prosecutors determined she was working as a guest at the club and not a regular performer. State law prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude regular dancer at adult establishments, according to The Associated Press.
Update 1:30 p.m. EDT July 12: Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein confirmed in a statement Thursday that charges have been dismissed against Daniels following her arrest at Sirens Gentleman’s Club.
Daniels was arrested on three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business. Two other performers, identified by police as Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters, were also arrested.
“I’ve determined that these crimes were not committed, based on the fact that Ms. Clifford has not made regular appearances at this establishment as required under the law,” Klein said. “We’ll do the same inquiry for the other defendants involved, as well.”
Update 12:55 p.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney confirmed Thursday afternoon that charges were dropped against his client.
Police arrested Daniels early Thursday while she was appearing at Sirens Gentleman's Club in Columbus. She was arrested after she inappropriately touched undercover officers who were at the strip club as part of a long-term sting operation unrelated to Daniels, according to police. She was charged with three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business.
The charges were based on a 2007 Ohio law that prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude dancer, according to The Associated Press. However, officials noted in a motion to dismiss the case that the law applies only to regular performers
"In this case, there has been no evidence provided to the State that Defendant appears or has appeared regularly at Sirens," Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein wrote in the state's motion to dismiss.
Daniels was scheduled to appear twice at Sirens, on Wednesday and Thursday night. However, Avenatti announced her second scheduled appearance had been canceled in light of her arrest.
Update 11:10 a.m. EDT July 12: The state law used early Thursday to justify the arrest of Daniels and two other performers at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, has been used 88 times in Franklin County since 2008, WCMH reported.
The 2007 law was introduced by a conservative religious group and bars dancers from touching customers and vice versa, save for immediate family members, The Associated Press reported. Police said Daniels was charged with three counts of illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business as part of a long-term investigation of alleged human trafficking and prostitution in Columbus.
A spokeswoman for Columbus’ city attorney told the AP that the charges carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine per count, should Daniels be convicted.
Update 10:45 a.m. EDT July 12: Police said they arrested Daniels and two other performers early Thursday at Sirens in Columbus "as part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice related violations."
In a news release Thursday, officials said Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, was arrested along with Miranda Panda, of Marion, Ohio, and Brittany Walters, of Pickering, Ohio.
Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said she will plead not guilty to three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business. In an appearance Thursday morning on MSNBC, Avenatti characterized his client’s arrest as being part of a “sting operation.”
Update 10 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told MSNBC on Thursday that female undercover officers asked his client to allow them to put their faces between her breasts before her arrest in Columbus early on Thursday.
“Unbeknownst to her, the police had set up a sting operation in the strip club with multiple officers,” Avenatti said. “I think it’s an absurd use of law enforcement resources.”
Update 7:38 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels issued a statement saying her Thursday performance in Columbus has been canceled.
Meanwhile, WSYX’s Mike McCarthy tweeted that police also arrested two other performers on illegal touching charges at the Sirens strip club overnight.
Update 6:52 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted that his client will plead “not guilty” to the charges.
Update 6:41 a.m. EDT July 12: WSYX’s Mike McCarthy reports that Daniels was released from jail on $6,000 bond.
WCMH reporter Matt Edwards tweeted that “Daniels was picked up minutes ago by a sedan with WV plates.”
Update 6:03 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH reporter Hattie Hawks tweeted that Daniels’ “bond has been posted by Denver Nicks.”
Update 5:49 a.m. EDT July 12: The charging documents reveal more information about the allegations against Daniels.
>> See an image of the complaint here (WARNING: Discretion advised.)
According to WBNS, Daniels fondled patrons and undercover officers, police said.
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told WBNS that his client’s arrest “was politically motivated.”
He added: “There's no question these officers were undercover at that strip club. They knew my client would be performing there, and I find this to be a complete waste of resources.”
WBNS reporter Tino Ramos also shared a video of Daniels walking into the Jackson Pike Correctional Facility.
Update 4:33 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH’s Matt Edwards just tweeted a photo that appears to show officers leading Daniels into the jail.
Update 4:22 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH is reporting that Daniels’ arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning at Franklin County Municipal Court.
Daniels is being charged with “illegally sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business,” a first-degree misdemeanor, according to WCMH’s Olivia Fecteau.
Meanwhile, comedian Kathy Griffin took to Twitter to call out Columbus area law enforcement.
Update 3:28 a.m. EDT July 12: According to WCMH reporter Olivia Fecteau, Daniels “has not yet been booked into jail.” Jail workers said Daniels will be booked at the Franklin County Correctional Facility II on Jackson Pike, Fecteau tweeted.
Update 2:52 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels was performing at a club called Sirens when she was arrested, WCMH reporter Olivia Fecteau tweeted early Thursday. When Fecteau called the club, the person on the line declined to comment, she said.
According to Fecteau, “Ohio Revised Code 2907.40 outlines charges against either a patron who touches an employee (or vice versa) who is nude or semi-nude. Depending on what happened, the charge can be a first- or fourth-degree misdemeanor.”
Original report: Porn star Stormy Daniels has been arrested in Columbus, Ohio, her attorney tweeted early Thursday.
“Just rcvd word that my client @StormyDaniels was arrested in Columbus Ohio [while] performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs,” wrote Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer. “This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges. #Basta.”
In a second tweet, he added: “She was arrested for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a non sexual manner! Are you kidding me? They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities!!! #SetUp #Basta.”
He continued: “We expect her to be released on bail shortly. We also expect that she will be charged with a misdemeanor for allowing ‘touching.’ We will vehemently contest all charges. #Basta.”
Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, claims that she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006, more than a decade before he became president. Daniels is now suing Trump and his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen reportedly paid her $130,000 after she signed the agreement.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first official meeting meeting Monday at a highly anticipated summit in Helsinki, Finland.
>> COMPLETE COVERAGE: Trump-Putin summit: What people are saying about Trump's comments | Jamie Dupree: With Putin, Trump calls Russia probe a ‘disaster’ | Photos | Jamie Dupree: Russia probe looms over Trump-Putin summit meeting | Trump-Putin summit: What time do they meet, where, what will they be talking about? | 12 Russians indicted: Military officials accused of hacking DNC, stealing voter info | More trending news
Here are the latest updates:
Update 11:00 p.m. EDT July 16: President Donald Trump sat down with Fox News’ Sean Hannity after his meeting Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland. Fox aired the interview Monday night as Trump was arriving home from his week-long European tour.
Trump caused an uproar after telling telling journalists at a joint press conference with Putin that he didn’t believe his own intelligence leaders’ conclusion that Russia interfered the 2016 presidential election
"I thought that President Putin was very, very strong,” Trump said. “It was a very good meeting."
Update 9:15 p.m. EDT July 16: President Donald Trump has returned to Washington after a meeting with European allies and a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin that has been widely criticized by both parties after Trump said he didn’t believe the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Air Force One touched down at Joint Base Andrews Air around 9 p.m. after a 7-plus hour flight from Helsinki.
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter under former President Barack Obama is weighing in on Trump’s comments in Helsinki about Russian election interference.
“I never saw or imagined so uneven a handover of American security interests and principles with nothing in return at a meeting. It was like watching the destruction of a cathedral,” Carter said, according to Politico.
Update 7:10 p.m. EDT July 16: Russian President Vladimir Putin again denied any involvement in meddling in the 2016 presidential election in an interview with Fox News following the Helsinki summit with President Donald Trump.
Trump said during a joint press conference with Putin that he believed the Russian leader when he said Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election, despite the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that it did and that it is still trying to interfere in the upcoming midterms.
Update 5:55 p.m. EDT July 16: Members of President Donald Trump’s own party and even close allies of the president’s have expressed shock and disappointment over Trump’s comments about the U.S. intelligence community and its conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump called into question that conclusion at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin after a two hour meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
“I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," Trump said, appearing to take Russia’s side in the matter.
Putin also denied his country meddled in the 2016 election, but he did admit he wanted Trump to win the election.
"Russia has never interfered in and is not going to interfere in U.S. internal affairs, including the elections," Putin insisted. He even offered to work with the U.S. in an investigation of the election interference.
Close Trump ally and longtime supporter former House Speaker Newt Gingrinch called the president’s comments in Helsinki “a serious mistake” and called on Trump to “clarify” his statements and to correct them “immediately.”
Update 5:40 p.m. EDT July 16: Former Democratic presidential nominee and continued Trump target Hillary Clinton first tweeted a question about the president’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?”
Then she answered the question.
“Well, now we know.”
Clinton responding there to the press conference after the summit in which Trump seemingly sided with Putin over the U.S. intelligence community, which has blamed Russia for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Update 5:35 p.m. EDT July 16: Former FBI director James Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump last year, called on “patriots” to “reject the behavior of this president,” following Trump’s comments about the U.S. intelligence community after a summit with Russian President Valdimir Putin.
Comey has been a vocal critic of Trump since his firing.
Update 5:25 p.m. EDT July 16: In a press conference earlier today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called President Donald Trump comments about the U.S. intelligence community during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin “shameful.”
“For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak. The president is putting himself over our country,” Schumer said in a tweet.
“In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way @realDonaldTrump has supported President Putin,” he said.
Schumer also suggested that Trump’s comments and his seeming support of Russia are a result of Putin holding “damaging information over President Trump.”
Update 5:05 p.m. EDT July 16: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a statement on President Donald Trump’s comments about believing Vladimir Putin when he said Russia had nothing to do with interfering in the 2016 presidential election, despite the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community.
Like his Senate counterpart, McCarthy also said he stands behind the findings of the intelligence community, The Washington Post reported, citing a statement .
“The intelligence community, including the House Intelligence Committee, has looked extensively into Russian election meddling in the United States. I fully support their findings and their work to hold those responsible to account.”
Update 4:45 p.m. EDT July 16: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just responded to President Donald Trump’s denial of the U.S. intelligence community’s findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election
“I’ve said a number of times and I’ll say it again. The Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community,” McConnell said, according to NBC News.
Update 4:30 p.m. EDT July 16: President Donald Trump tried to walk back his comments about the U.S. intelligence community Monday at a press conference in Helsinki after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump refused to agree with the U.S. government’s position that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign, instead saying he didn’t “see any reason why” Russia would be involved, despite the indictments handed down Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers for interference in the election.
Trump tweeted on his way home from the meeting that he has “GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.”
He also tried to explain his comments by saying, again in a tweet, that he was “taking a risk in pursuit of peace.”
Update 3:22 p.m. EDT July 16: The Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, said via statement that the intelligence community has “been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”
However, Coats’ statement apparently was not cleared by the administration.
An unidentified White House official told CNN that it was not approved by the White House before Coats released the statement.
Update 1:58 p.m. EDT July 16: House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement after today’s summit and resulting press conference between Trump and Putin.
In the statement, Ryan said, “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” USA Today reported.
Update 1:02 p.m. EDT July 16: Trump is en route to the airport to board the flight back to Washington, D.C. He spoke with Fox News before departing Helsinki. Fox News also spoke with Putin and will air the interview Monday.
Update 11:50 a.m. EDT July 16: When asked to denounce Russian interference in the election, Trump questioned the investigation and where former Secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s computer servers and emails were, instead of condemning Russia.
Putin said that when it comes to the investigation, the only determination of what happened can come from the courts in the democracy, not law enforcement. He also said that he knows how dossiers are made from when he worked in intelligence. He said he will send a formal response to a formal request and hopes that the U.S. will reciprocate.
When Putin was questioned about compromising material the Russian government collected on not only Trump, but also his family, Putin said, that he had heard that the country had allegedly collected compromising material when Trump traveled to Moscow for business.
Putin said that Trump was in Moscow as a private individual and a businessman and claimed that he didn’t know Trump was in the country.
He then questioned reporters, hypothetically, if they thought he compiled compromising material on every businessman who was there for the economic meetings in 1987.
Trump added that if Russia had any compromising information, it would have been out long ago.
Update 11:35 a.m. EDT July 16: Trump reiterated his stance that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russians, saying that the investigation has strained relationship between the two countries.
Putin also said that the investigation needs to be guided by facts but not rumors. As for the 12 Russians who were indicted last week, Putin said his country will look into the case.
He did cite an extradition treaty that is in full effect since 1999. He said the treaty has specific procedures and that they will have a commission use it as a foundation to question the individuals and send the results to the United States. They can permit official representatives of the United States and allow them to be present at the questioning. They would hope that the U.S. would allow Russian officials question members of U.S. law enforcement and others in other cases.
Putin admitted, “I wanted Trump to win because he spoke about normalizing Russian relations,” the Guardian reported.
Update 11:22 a.m. EDT July 16: Trump spoke following Putin’s statement. He says that the relationship between Russia and the U.S. has never been worse up until today’s summit
“Even during the tensions of the Cold War, when the world looked much different than it does today, Russia and the US were able to maintain a strong dialogue.”
He said he would rather take a political risk instead of jeopardizing peace.
Trump said asked Putin about Russian involvement in hacking the U.S. elections. Trump said that Putin had an “interesting idea” as to what had happened, but did not go into detail.
Trump said that he and Putin will be meeting again in the future and said it will be often.
Update 11:12 a.m. EDT July 16: Putin started the news conference with a statement of where the two sides stand in the ever-changing world political structure.
Putin said the bilateral relationship is going though a complicated stage. He said that the Cold War is the thing of the past.
“Today both Russia and the United States face a whole new set of challenges,” the Guardian reported.
Today’s meeting and the negotiations they worked on are the “first steps for improving this relationship and to restore an acceptable level of trust,” Putin said.
Putin lauded Trump and his administration’s work on easing tensions with North Korea.
Update 11:07 a.m. EDT July 16: A man who claimed he was a journalist representing the publication, “The Nation,” was removed from the room that is the location of an upcoming news conference between Trump and Putin, CNN reported. It appears that the man was displaying a sign and he was forcibly removed from the room.
The man was later identified as Sam Husseini, an op-ed writer for “The Nation,” CNBC reported. Husseini is also the communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy. The group is a non-profit that suggests using progressive experts as alternative sources for reporters, CNBC reported.
He had been given credentials by “The Nation,” The Hill reported.
Husseini held up a sign that read “Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty” which was reportedly considered by Russian authorities as a “malicious item,” CNBC reported.
Husseini had been asked earlier to leave the press conference. He had but returned before being dragged out, Mirror reported.
Update 9:34 a.m. EDT July 16: The one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin is apparently over. As CNN releases video of the two sitting down to a meal accompanied by their aides, the Guardian reported. CNN characterized on-air that it as a working lunch between the two leaders and their aides.
The one-on-one was expected to last 90 minutes, but ended up going on for more than two hours. Trump said it was a good start to the summit, The Associated Press reported.
The first meeting between the two went longer than scheduled also when they talked for more than two hours. At one point first lady Melania Trump interrupted the meeting to try to get them back on schedule. After that interruption, the meeting went on for another hour, The AP reported.
Update 8:56 a.m. EDT July 16: The Russian embassy in the U.S. says Putin wanted to talk about “ways to normalise bilateral relations, as well as current international issues, primarily the situation in Ukraine, Syria and the Korean Peninsula, and the fight against terrorism.”
Update 8:39 a.m. EDT July 16: The White House told reporters, including The Guardian, that there will be another bilateral meeting and a joint press conference. It is expected to happen around 4:50 p.m. local time, or around 9:50 a.m. EDT.
Those expected to be in the room during the meeting are: U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman; U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, national security adviser, John Bolton, adviser Fiona Hill and interpreter Marina Gross, The Guardian reported.
Update 7:51 a.m. EDT July 16: Trump and Putin are now meeting one-on-one, with translators.
Update 7:11 a.m. EDT July 16: Trump and Putin have begun their meeting. Trump opened by congratulating Putin on the World Cup.
Update 6:58 a.m. EDT July 16: Trump has arrived at the Presidential Palace.
Update 6:43 a.m. EDT July 16: According to the Guardian, Trump “appears to be trying to make Putin wait.” Trump was supposed to leave his hotel over an hour ago but held off because Putin was running late. Multiple news outlets are speculating that the two leaders are pushing back the schedule as part of a power play.
Update 6 a.m. EDT July 16: Putin’s plane landed in Helsinki just before 6 a.m. EDT, nearly an hour behind schedule.
Update 5:32 a.m. EDT July 16: Putin is running about 45 minutes behind schedule and is due to land in Helsinki about 5:47 a.m. EDT, CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell reports.
Update 4:22 a.m. EDT July 16: During his breakfast meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Trump said NATO “has never been stronger,” the Guardian reports.
“It was a little bit tough at the beginning, but it turned out to be love,” Trump said.
Trump also said of his upcoming meeting with Putin: “We’ll be just fine.”
After the breakfast meeting ended, Trump and first lady Melania Trump left the Mäntyniemi Residence.
Update 3:11 a.m. EDT July 16: Trump is meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the Mäntyniemi Residence in Helsinki. The two leaders and their advisers reportedly are participating in a “working breakfast.”
Update 2:26 a.m. EDT July 16: Hours ahead of Monday’s summit, Trump took to Twitter to sound off about the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“President Obama thought that Crooked Hillary was going to win the election, so when he was informed by the FBI about Russian Meddling, he said it couldn’t happen, was no big deal, & did NOTHING about it,” Trump tweeted. “When I won it became a big deal and the Rigged Witch Hunt headed by [FBI agent Peter] Strzok!”
Trump added: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”
The tweets come days after 12 Russian military officers were indicted for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump wasn’t the only person tweeting about the summit. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ran against Trump in the 2016 presidential election, lashed out at Trump in a tweet Sunday night.
“Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?” she wrote.
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are having their first stand-alone meeting Monday at a highly anticipated summit in Helsinki.
The Boston City Council on Tuesday afternoon discussed the possibility of allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in local elections.
In an extensive debate, testimonies were heard from city and state organizations, as well as members of the public.
"Voting is probably one of the most important things we can do," said Kim Janey, a member of the Boston City Council.
Some Boston leaders want to extend the right to vote to all legal residents – citizen or not.
“We are only talking about the possibility of voting in local elections, not state or federal elections," said Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell.
Granting non-citizens the right to vote is very rare.
One of the few cities that allows it is Tacoma Park, Maryland. Not only are legal residents allowed to vote, but also undocumented residents, and they can also run for local office.
There are about 300 non-citizens in Tacoma Park compared to Boston, where the non-citizen population is estimated to be at 48,000.
"We have received a lot of input from residents through email and calls and much of it has been very nasty and negative," said Janey.
Councilors all expressed their support to promote civil engagement in immigrant populations, but many said voting rights aren't up for debate.
“I do feel like the right to vote is a privilege reserved for U.S. citizens – I believe it’s a unique privilege reserved for those who have gone through the extensive citizenship application process," said Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn.
Leena Duerte told the council she's been going through the citizenship process for the past 10 years.
"I have been fighting very hard to become an American citizen," said Duerte.
She says, in the meantime, she'd like to be able to vote.
“I don’t have a voice. I pay taxes, I own property and I think that at the end of the day that should give me a certain level of ability to have a voice and help dictate what direction Boston moves in the future,” said Duerte.
On Tuesday night, there was no voting, only a discussion. It is still unclear if any of the counselors are planning on pursuing the issue further.
A house in Washington state is getting attention for a controversial sign posted outside.
It shows a countdown to the end of the first term for Donald Trump's presidency.
KIRO-TV found out it was the former owner of the home in Seattle's Leschi neighborhood who made the countdown clock shortly after Trump's inauguration.
He even made an Instagram account, where he’s gotten support and criticism for his piece of political expression.
That house was recently sold to Lily Onnen and her husband.
She said it was in the contract for the couple to maintain the sign, and they are happy to do so.
“It’s a message of hope,” Onnen said. “For me the more the number shrinks, the more hopeful I get."
Zawdie Terry, who lives next door, said he finds the sign amusing and not something that people would find offensive.
“Even if you support the current president, it’s just a countdown,” Terry said.
Onnen and her husband will continue flipping the numbers on the sign every day, and they are even prepared for a potential second term.
“We would reset the clock. We would start all over,” Onnen said.
The former owner of the house has moved to the Magnolia neighborhood and said he has already put up a similar countdown clock at his new home.
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