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White House lawyer allegedly asked Steve Bannon to cite executive privilege

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WASHINGTON -- Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist for President Donald Trump, was asked formally by a White House lawyer to cite executive privilege in declining to discuss conversations with key administration officials, triggering a battle with House investigators that is stretching into its second day.

Separately, Bannon agreed to meet...Read more

Trump deals Haiti another blow, ending participation in guest worker program

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MIAMI -- The Trump administration has slapped Haiti again.

As of Thursday, Haitian farmers and other laborers seeking to come to the United States as temporary, seasonal workers under the federal H-2A and H-2B guest worker program will no longer be eligible.

The temporary workers' visa has for decades allowed hundreds of U.S. farmers, ...Read more

Trump announces winners of 'Fake News Awards'

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President Donald Trump announced the recipients of his "Fake News Awards" on Wednesday night.

Trump tweeted a link to the winners list, which was hosted on GOP.com. The web page promptly went offline.

The "award" recipients included a mix of reporters for The New York Times, ABC News and The Washington Post, as well as reports published by CNN...Read more

Trump wants to kill two immigration programs, but doesn't seem to know how they work

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WASHINGTON -- As television cameras were allowed to roll during a lengthy immigration meeting at the White House last week, President Donald Trump groused to lawmakers about how 50,000 people each year get coveted green cards through a visa program he wants to kill.

Countries "put names in a hopper," Trump said. Then American officials "put ...Read more

Kelly tells lawmakers that Trump's campaign promises over border wall were 'uninformed'

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WASHINGTON -- White House chief of staff John F. Kelly complicated immigration negotiations Wednesday ahead of a possible government shutdown, telling lawmakers that President Donald Trump's border wall was an "uninformed" campaign promise and not likely to be funded by Mexico.

Kelly stunned Congressional Hispanic Caucus members by also ...Read more

Romania targets longer-lasting government with new premier pick

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BUCHAREST, Romania -- Romania's political leaders quickly agreed on a new prime minister after this week's shock government collapse, picking one who may last longer than her predecessors as the Black Sea nation gears up for the rotating European Union presidency and navigates a slowdown in its booming economy.

Viorica Dancila is set to become ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Lawmakers demand response to sex harassment allegations at State and Defense departments

WASHINGTON -- Ten Democratic senators on Wednesday demanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior administration officials respond to allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the government's national security establishment.

The ...Read more

Tillerson says US military should stay in Syria, vows diplomatic push to end civil war

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WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday it was "crucial" for the United States to maintain an open-ended military and diplomatic presence in Syria to prevent Islamic State militants from regrouping, to thwart Iranian influence and ultimately to see the exit of President Bashar Assad.

Tillerson outlined what he described as...Read more

Villaraigosa leads among Latino voters in new poll, but a significant number are undecided

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LOS ANGELES -- Latino voters in California strongly support Antonio Villaraigosa in the governor's race, but a significant number remain undecided, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, was backed by 31 percent of Latino registered voters in a Latino Community Foundation poll, while Lt. Gov. ...Read more

Senators threaten legislation over social media firms' content

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WASHINGTON -- Big social media companies made a case against new legislative mandates by emphasizing their voluntary efforts to root out terrorism-related material and other objectionable content on their sites during a Senate hearing Wednesday.

But senators from both parties warned representatives of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter of ...Read more

Overshadowed in shutdown showdown: The likely blowback from federal employees

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WASHINGTON -- Many Democrats and Republicans say they are willing to shut down the government if they don't get a spending deal that suits their demands on immigration and other issues. But engaged in brinkmanship, lawmakers must also weigh the consequences to a key constituency -- 2 million federal employees.

A government shutdown would ...Read more

FBI chief of staff to talk with Congress as House GOP presses Clinton probe

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WASHINGTON -- House Republicans will interview the FBI director's chief of staff Thursday as part of a congressional probe into the agency's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Chief of staff Jim Rybicki will meet behind closed doors with staffers from the House Judiciary and...Read more

Mulvaney takes first step toward overhauling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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WASHINGTON -- Mick Mulvaney once called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a "joke ... in a sad, sick kind of way."

Now, as its acting director, he's in a position to change it.

On Wednesday, Mulvaney announced he was launching a review of the entire operation of the consumer watchdog agency created in the wake of the 2008 financial ...Read more

As SpaceX and Boeing prepare to fly their new capsules, Congress emphasizes crew safety

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If all goes according to plan, this year could mark the first time since 2011 that U.S. astronauts will blast off to the International Space Station in an American-made spacecraft.

It's been a long process to get to this point. Schedule delays have pushed back the first crewed tests of the new astronaut transport capsules being built separately...Read more

Study examines how weight gain changes your whole body

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Weight gain isn't just a number on your bathroom scale.

A new Stanford study has found that the entire body undergoes changes for the worse when people pack on the pounds.

Even just a modest weight gain of about 6 pounds causes bacterial populations to change, immune responses to shift and changes in the molecular pathways associated with ...Read more

Bob Dole, praised by Trump and Democrats, receives Congressional Gold Medal

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WASHINGTON -- Bob Dole, longtime Senate Republican leader and the GOP's 1996 presidential nominee, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday for his service in war and government.

The 94-year-old World War II veteran's achievements were praised by Democrats and Republicans alike as he received the medal in a ceremony at the Capitol's ...Read more

Still no answers in case of woman found outside Baltimore hospital in gown and socks

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BALTIMORE -- More than a week after a woman was left outside a Baltimore hospital on a cold night wearing only a patient gown and socks, no answers have been provided about how or why the incident occurred.

Officials at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown said they still are investigating why the woman was escorted out of the ...Read more

Lawmakers demand response to sex harassment allegations at State and Defense departments

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WASHINGTON -- Ten Democratic senators on Wednesday demanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior administration officials respond to allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the government's national security establishment.

The lawmakers cited an open letter published in late November that was signed by more than 200 ...Read more

After Trump says no to his immigration plan, Lindsey Graham goes his own way

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lindsey Graham for months touted his close relationship with President Donald Trump, a bond that promised success in crafting deals on the day's toughest issues -- such as immigration.

Now the bond appears to be eroding, with the South Carolina Republican's status as the "Trump whisperer" in some question.

Graham, Trump's ...Read more

Trump blames Russia for helping North Korea evade sanctions

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WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump blamed Russia on Wednesday for helping North Korea evade U.N. sanctions, saying Moscow is mitigating the impact of China's increased efforts to restrict the flow of resources to Kim Jong Un's government.

"Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea," Trump said in an interview with Reuters. "What China ...Read more