Senate blocks Flake resolution seeking answers on Trump-Putin summit

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Dani Coble

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Senate blocks Flake resolution seeking answers on Trump-Putin summit

WASHINGTON - Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake vowed to try again after the Senate blocked a vote Thursday on his resolution supporting U.S. intelligence agencies and rejecting Russian President Vladimir Putin's claim that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 elections. The bipartisan resolution also called for sanctions on Russia and a congressional investigation into what transpired at the Helsinki summit meeting between Putin and President Donald Trump, who Flake said "let down the free world" by not confronting Putin. "By choosing to reject objective reality in Helsinki, the president let down the free world by giving aid and comfort to an enemy of democracy," Flake said on the Senate floor Thursday. "In so doing, he dimmed the light of freedom ever so slightly in our own country." But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, blocked a vote on the resolution, saying more is needed than the symbolic action it represented. Cornyn said it is "absolutely clear" that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and "I'm confident they will continue until we stop them from doing so." But he said he believed the resolution would do more harm to U.S relations with other countries, and that the Senate would be better served to consider new sanctions beyond those authorized in a 2017 law, which the resolution said should be imposed immediately. The move by Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, appeared to come as a surprise to Flake and his co-sponsor, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware. It came the same day that the Senate unanimously passed another resolution rejecting Russia's request to interview U.S. officials in connection with the elections, a suggestion by Putin that also came out of Monday's summit. "I think it's regrettable that this was objected to. We will bring it back," Flake said on the Senate floor, adding later that he would try again when the Senate meets Tuesday. The resolution is the latest fallout from Monday's summit, where Trump downplayed the possibility that Russia meddled in U.S. elections, saying he believed Putin's "extremely strong and powerful denial" of his country's involvement. Trump called the U.S investigation into possible Russian meddling "foolish" and said that both countries "have made mistakes." -Cronkite News video by Dani Coble Trump's comments came just days after the Justice Department announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence agents in connection with hacking that was "intended to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election." Condemnation of the president was swift, and came from both sides of the aisle, with Flake calling Trump's statements "shameful" and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, calling it "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory." Trump quickly backpedaled, saying Tuesday that he misspoke when asked during the summit about Russian election interference. "I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place," Trump said, adding Wednesday that there's "never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been." The Flake-Coons resolution was meant to show support for U.S. intelligence agencies, commending their work and the work of the Justice Department in the probe and agreeing with their finding that Russia interfered in the election. Besides demanding that Russia be held accountable, the resolution also called for congressional hearings into the actual summit meeting, including "the release of relevant notes and information , to better understand the impact of the recent summit ... on the foreign policy and national security of the United States." After Cornyn said that more than a symbolic action was needed, an angry Flake said that "symbolism is important." "This simply says, in a symbolic way, that we in the Senate don't buy Vladimir Putin's ... denial of election interference," Flake said of the resolution. "We saw earlier this week in Helsinki what was truly an Orwellian moment," Flake said. He called it the result of two years of the administration "calling real things fake and fake things real, as if conditioning others to embrace the same confusion. "Ultimately, you're rendering yourself unable to tell the difference between the two," he said. Read more

Trump Invites Putin to Visit Washington in the Fall

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WASHINGTON — The Latest on President Donald Trump and Russia (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House this fall for a second get-together, even as cleanup from the first continues with no letup.

A White House meeting would be a dramatic extension of legitimacy to the Russian leader, who has long been isolated by the West for activities in Ukraine, Syria and beyond.

No Russian leader has visited the White House in nearly a decade.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump has asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin, and “those discussions are already underway.”

Trump tweeted earlier that he looked forward to “our second meeting” as he defended his performance at Monday’s summit.

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4 p.m.

President Donald Trump has asked national security adviser John Bolton to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington in the fall.

That’s the latest update Thursday from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders following Trump’s meeting with Putin earlier this week in Finland.

Sanders says “those discussions are already underway” for a fall meeting between the two presidents.

It presumably would take place at the White House, but Sanders did not say where Trump and Putin would meet.

In a tweet about Putin earlier Thursday, Trump said, “I look forward to our second meeting.”

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3:20 p.m.

The Senate has overwhelmingly approved a resolution against allowing Russia to question former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul or other U.S. officials. It was a formal rebuke to President Donald Trump, who touted the offer at the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hastily arranged the vote on the nonbinding resolution after Democrats proposed the measure in response to what Trump had called Putin’s “incredible offer.”

Putin offered to allow the U.S. to question 12 Russians accused of interfering in the 2016 election in exchange for permitting Russia to interview Americans the Kremlin accuses of unspecified crimes.

Facing a backlash of bipartisan criticism, the White House on Thursday said Trump “disagrees” with Putin’s offer. That statement came moments before the Senate vote.

Senators voted 98-0, with all Democrats and most Republicans supporting the resolution.

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1:50 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump “disagrees” with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to allow the U.S. access to Russians accused of interfering in the 2016 election, in exchange for interviews of Americans the Kremlin accuses of unspecified crimes.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the proposal was “made in sincerity” by Putin but Trump “disagrees with it.” She says the U.S. still hopes Putin will have the 12 Russians indicted on charges brought by the Justice Department “come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

Putin made what Trump called an “incredible offer” during their summit Monday in Helsinki.

The White House had said Wednesday that offer was under consideration, even though the State Department called Russia’s allegations against the Americans “absurd.”

Last week, the Justice Department announced indictments against 12 Russian military intelligence officers for their role in hacking Democratic groups during the 2016 campaign.

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12:50 p.m.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says she has not seen evidence that the Russians meddled in the 2016 election to help elect Trump, countering the U.S. intelligence agencies assessment on the issue.

Intelligence agencies concluded in early 2017 that President Vladimir Putin ordered “an influence campaign” aimed at helping the Trump campaign and harming his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Nielsen said: “I haven’t seen any evidence that the attempts to interfere in our election infrastructure was to favor a particular party.”

And yet Nielsen still says she stands behind the intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia meddled in the election. She added that Russia’s influence operations were aimed at causing chaos on both sides.

Nielsen spoke Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

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12:30 p.m.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote Thursday on a resolution opposing the questioning of U.S. diplomats and other American officials by a foreign government.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer sponsored the resolution. Russian President Vladimir Putin (POO’-tihn) has suggested that he wants to interview Americans accused by the Kremlin of unspecified crimes. The White House says President Donald Trump is weighing the offer.

Russian officials have said they want to interview Kremlin critics Bill Browder and Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

Republicans blocked two other resolutions Thursday backing intelligence community findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and calling for other responses to the meddling. One was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.

The resolutions come in the wake of Trump’s meeting with Putin.

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12:20 p.m.

A Republican senator has blocked a symbolic Democratic effort to have the Senate protect U.S. elections systems from Russian interference.

The resolution from Sen. Bernie Sanders also said President Donald Trump had to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. And Sanders wanted to put the Senate on record as standing by U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia intervened in the election that put Trump in the White House.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul says “Trump derangement syndrome has fully come to the Senate.” He’s accusing Sanders and Democrats of acting on “hatred of the president” to block Russian diplomacy.

Sanders was trying to advance his proposal by unanimous consent, but that means it takes only one senator’s objection can block it.

Sanders’ resolution comes in the wake of comments by Trump questioning the extent of Russian interference.

___

11:30 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has asked two committees to hold hearings on Russian sanctions in the wake of President Donald Trump’s questioning of the extent of Moscow’s interference in U.S. elections.

McConnell says the hearings are part of congressional efforts to respond to meddling by Russia or others in the upcoming November elections.

U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that Russians will strike back in 2018 after interfering in 2016.

On Wednesday, Trump appeared to question that, but the White House later said that he does believe that Russia may try it again.

McConnell says intelligence assessments are clear that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign.”

McConnell says the Senate committees would consider sanctions and recommend additional measures to deter Russian interference.

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11:25 a.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats will offer a nonbinding resolution that would put the Senate on record as opposing giving foreign governments the ability to question U.S. diplomats and other American officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (POO’-tihn) has suggested that he wants Russian interviews of Americans who are accused by the Kremlin of unspecified crimes. The White House says Trump is weighing the offer.

Russian officials have said they want to interview Kremlin critics Bill Browder and Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

Schumer calls it “bewildering” that Trump would even consider such a request.

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11:20 a.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is introducing a resolution that calls on the Senate to protect U.S. elections systems and would require President Donald Trump to cooperate with the special counsel investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.

The nonbinding resolution also says the Senate stands by the assessment of the U.S. intelligence agencies on Russia and says the Senate won’t accept any interference with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Lawmakers are pushing several responses to Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the White House’s shifting commentary about it.

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11 a.m.

A top GOP senator says President Donald Trump needs to understand that he’s “misjudging” Russian leader Vladimir Putin (POO’-tihn).

Sen. Lindsey Graham says Trump’s had a “bad week” when it comes to Russia in the wake of the Trump-Putin summit Monday in Helsinki.

Here’s what the South Carolina lawmaker says about Trump: “I think it’s imperative that he understand that he’s misjudging Putin. I don’t think he was prepared as well as he should have been.”

Trump has come under heavy criticism since the Putin meeting, where he declined to challenge Putin on Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Graham says Trump is right to criticize previous American administrations for their handling of Russia. But he says Trump “is not making the problem better. He’s making it worse.”

He adds that Trump “has the potential to make it better, and I hope he will.”

___

10:50 a.m.

The Republican-controlled House is moving ahead with a spending bill that eliminates new money for election security grants to states.

That’s drawing from protests by Democrats who say Republicans aren’t doing enough to prevent Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois says “Russians attacked our democracy. They will be back. The president is not willing to meet this challenge. We must be willing to meet the challenge.”

Congress approved $380 million in the current budget for a grant program overseen by the federal Election Assistance Commission. Democrats want to continue the money through 2019, but Republicans say there’s still money available to states and new spending isn’t needed.

A Democratic amendment to extend the money has come up short — with 182 yes votes and 232 no votes.

___

7:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump is claiming that the “Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war.”

Here’s what Trump has tweeted: “They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump adds that “We are doing MUCH better than any other country!”

It’s his latest tweet to push back against criticism following his meeting with Putin in Finland on Monday. Trump has given shifting statements on whether he believes Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election — which is what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded.

Trump has said the meeting with Putin will result in improved U.S.-Russia relations.

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12:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is taking a tougher tone on Russia. He says in an interview with CBS that he told Vladimir Putin to stay out of America’s elections.

That’s a change from Trump’s initial upbeat description of his meeting with Russia’s president. The shifting stance came Wednesday as Trump spent more time managing the fallout from his widely criticized summit with Putin in Helsinki.

Trump backtracked on whether Russia is currently targeting U.S. elections. When asked the question Wednesday, he answered “no,” a reply that put him sharply at odds with recent public warnings from his own intelligence chief.

Hours later, the White House stepped in to say Trump’s answer wasn’t what it appeared.

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March for Our Lives taking push for gun-law reforms, voter registration on the road

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Amanda Fahey and Jordan Dafnis

Thursday, July 19, 2018

March for Our Lives taking push for gun-law reforms, voter registration on the road

PHOENIX – March for Our Lives, the student-led movement for sensible gun-law reforms, hosted a “Breakfast for Our Lives” on Thursday and announced a summer bus tour to educate and register young voters. This summer, March for Our Lives launched a 20-state bus tour, but because it does not include Arizona, local activists started their own. The breakfast also served as a fundraiser to pay for bus rentals and drivers. Students are using the tour as an opportunity to promote voter outreach and start new chapters across the state. The idea is to elect representatives who support public demands for effective gun laws. Toni St John, the Hamilton High School student who organized an unauthorized walkout by 600 students on April 20 – the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting – told the breakfast how she was galvanized by the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “It came out of this place of anger and sadness and want for change” she said. Her actions resulted in a week of detention, an experience she was unfamiliar with, but the mission to stop gun violence outweighed the consequences, she said. March for Our Lives gained momentum after an enormous demonstration March 24 in Washington, D.C., and cities across the country. [caption id="attachment_94343" align="alignright" width="300"] Students are using the tour as an opportunity to promote voter outreach and start new chapters across the state. (Photo by Jordan Dafnis/Cronkite News)[/caption] The movement’s Arizona leaders complain Gov. Doug Ducey has not met to discuss their issues, but Cronkite News reporter Jordan Dafnis reached out for comment and received this response from a spokesman: “The governor has made school safety a priority. He proactively met with students, parents, teachers, law enforcement officials, and mental-health experts to craft a school-safety plan. It’s disappointing this common-sense plan did not pass last session, but he will continue working to get it done.” Gerry Hills, who founded Arizonans for Gun Safety in 1995, told those at Thursday’s breakfast she was encouraged to see young people involved, noting that she’s a “weary warrior” after so many years of activism with few tangible successes. “No, we don't have to accept this as our future, and we don’t accept this as our reality. There is a different way,” Hills said. “We’re going to make sure this different way is going to be taken.” Arizonans for Gun Safety is a fiscal sponsor of March for Our Lives. “If our legislators wont seriously look at those common sense reforms, then we’re going to elect people that will,” Hills said. Follow us on Twitter. Read more

Phoenix works with community to replace aging public-housing complex

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Ellen O’Brien

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Phoenix works with community to replace aging public-housing complex

PHOENIX – As new apartment buildings crowd the downtown skyline and rents rise across Phoenix, low-income residents continue to rely on decades-old public housing. But that’s beginning to change: In June, the city announced that the A.L. Krohn East apartments in central Phoenix will be completely replaced with new units. Access to affordable housing is a chronic problem for low-income residents, including Imelda Hartley, who has lived at A.L. Krohn East for close to two years. “Before I was able to move here, I was living for years in a one-bedroom apartment with eight children,” said Hartley, who’s the CEO of Happy Tamales, a catering service. “So, for me to be able to live in affordable housing, a five bedroom for me is just ... I'm in heaven.” [caption id="attachment_94322" align="alignright" width="300"] Imelda Hartley has lived at A.L. Krohn East for close to two years. The mother of 14 owns Happy Tamales, a catering business that benefits victims of domestic abuse. (Photo by Ellen O'Brien/Cronkite News)[/caption] A.L. Krohn East, tucked among historic single-family homes and new construction near Eastlake Park at Jefferson and 16th streets, is an inconspicuous mix of mustard-color walls, red roofs and scruffy patches of Bermuda grass between sidewalks. The apartments were built in the early 1960s; the last improvement was a decade ago, when air-conditioning replaced the swamp coolers common in other public-housing complexes. In June, Phoenix announced that it received Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the Arizona Department of Housing to redevelop the property. The tax credit will help Phoenix attract an investor to finance the construction, said Angela Duncan, the deputy director of the city’s Housing Department. “We're going to be looking at bringing in an investor or a tax credit syndicator who will invest in the development of this affordable-housing project,” she said. “They provide the equity to build the project in exchange for tax credits over a 10-year period.” The city has tentatively scheduled demolition to begin in May 2019, with new apartments completed the end of 2020. [caption id="attachment_94321" align="alignright" width="300"] The A.L. Krohn apartments have washers and air-conditioning, but no dryers, and residents hang their laundry out on clotheslines in the courtyard. (Photo by Ellen O'Brien/Cronkite News)[/caption] “We're excited to be able to do this, to provide a brand-new community for existing residents as well as add additional units,” Duncan said. “It'll just improve the conditions for the neighborhood, improve the conditions for our residents by rebuilding this housing.” The construction will replace the current 38 units with 78 updated units, with added amenities, such as playgrounds and community meeting space. According to a 2017 report from the National Housing Preservation Database, there are 49,416 publicly supported rental homes in Arizona, with 168,367 additional rental homes needed for low-income residents. “It's not just going to be the apartments,” Hartley said, “what they're going to look like and they're going to be brand new, but also the other amenities, you know, they're going to have more community rooms, embedded playgrounds and all of that. I'm truly excited.” Residents will have to move out of Krohn East during demolition and constructions, but Duncan says the city is helping residents look for alternative public housing, and current residents will be first in line to move back in. “We’re including residents at every step, not just on the relocation which directly affects them, but also design and amenities,” Duncan said. “We want to hear from residents: What do they want to see in their communities?” [caption id="attachment_94320" align="alignright" width="300"] Imelda Hartley stands next to a "vision board" in her living room that lists family values and goals for the year. Hartley said that she and her children put the board together each year. (Photo by Ellen O'Brien/Cronkite News)[/caption] Some of the improvements that Hartley wants to see are as simple as a garbage disposer in the kitchen sink or a dryer. She said her neighbors, who she has encouraged to be involved in the redevelopment process, also are looking forward to living in the new units. “I was very excited to be part of this. It wasn’t just someone doing something for me, but hey, what are the things that you would like to be put in?” Hartley said. “I think that was very important, and we felt that we were valued.” The next community meeting for residents, where they will learn more about the scheduled redevelopment and their options for relocation during the construction, is scheduled for July 31. The redevelopment also is taking place under the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which shifts units from the traditional public-housing program, in which properties are owned and managed directly by the city, to the Section 8 housing program, a voucher program in which residents pay subsidized rent to a private landlord. The complex is named for Rabbi Abraham Lincoln Krohn, who was involved with Phoenix Elementary School Board, the Phoenix Public Library and the Arizona Mental Health Association. He died in 1958. Follow us on Twitter. Read more

Excessive Heat Warning for Tucson issued this Monday and Tuesday

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Rogue Navajo Officials Attempt to Buy Remington Gun Company

Read more of this story here from CENSORED NEWS by Brenda Norrell.

. Dine' protested outside the Navajo Nation Council on Wednesday opposing the attempted rogue purchase of Remington gun company and attempts to keep the dirty coal fired power plant, Navajo Generating Station, operating. Photo Dine' CARE The Budget and Finance Committee (Seth Damon) going rogue – bid for Remington. Thank goodness it was rejected! The Navajo Nation offered up to $525 million Read more