American journalist arrested in Venezuela has now been released

WORLD NEWS American journalist arrested in Venezuela has now been released  https://linewsradio.com/american-journalist-arrested-in-venezuela-has-now-been-released/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

ABC News(NEW YORK) — American journalist Cody Weddle, who was arrested in Venezuela’s capital Wednesday morning along with a Venezuelan colleague, has now been released and is being deported, he told ABC News.

Two Venezuelan government officials also told ABC News that Weddle was released and was being deported to the United States.

Military counterintelligence officials raided Weddle’s apartment in Caracas Wednesday morning, taking him into custody along with his assistant, Carlos Camacho, officials with Venezuela’s National Union of Press Workers said in a Twitter post.

The syndicate said late Wednesday afternoon that Weddle and Camacho were being interrogated in the headquarters of Venezuela’s Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence.

Camacho was released after about 12 hours, union officials said late on Wednesday.

Weddle, a freelance reporter based in Caracas, has contributed reporting to a number of news organizations, including ABC News.

“We’re deeply concerned by reports Cody Weddle and his colleague have been detained in Venezuela, and we urge the Venezuelan government to ensure their safety and to release them immediately,” an ABC News spokesperson said in a statement.

 Kimberly Breier, the United States’ Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, tweeted that the State Department was “aware of and deeply concerned with reports that another U.S. journalist has been detained” in Venezuela.

“We demand the journalist’s immediate release, unharmed,” Breier added.

“Being a journalist is not a crime; the world is watching,” a State Department spokesperson told ABC News.

Both U.S. senators from Florida, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, tweeted about Weddle’s case, calling for his release.

With Wednesday’s arrests, the number of journalists and press workers imprisoned this year rose to 36, officials with the Venezuelan press union said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

Michael Cohen shared documents on false statement to Congress with House Intelligence Committee

Political News Michael Cohen shared documents on false statement to Congress with House Intelligence Committee https://linewsradio.com/michael-cohen-shared-documents-on-false-statement-to-congress-with-house-intelligence-committee/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — During a closed-door hearing with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and fixer to President Donald Trump, shared documents and emails with committee members showing what he said were edits to the false statement he provided to Congress in 2017, in an effort to bolster his public testimony last week, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Testifying publicly before the House Oversight Committee last week, Cohen said Trump’s current personal lawyer Jay Sekulow changed the former Trump loyalist’s statement to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees regarding the duration of discussions about the Trump Tower Moscow project before he submitted it to Capitol Hill.

Last week Sekulow denied the claims in a statement to ABC News.

“Today’s testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the President edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false.”

Cohen emerged from Wednesday’s hearing after more than eight hours behind closed doors with House lawmakers, telling reporters gathered that he believes the committee has what they need from him.

“I believe that all of the members were satisfied with the statements and the responses that I gave to them,” Cohen said.

His attorney Lanny Davis, in a statement, said Cohen would “provide additional information in the future, if needed.”

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., described Cohen as fully cooperative during his session with lawmakers – noting that he did provide the committee with additional documents – but did not rule out asking Cohen for more information in the future.

“There may be additional documents he has to offer,” Schiff said.

Cohen’s return on Wednesday marked his fourth appearance before Congress since last week, the highlight of which came during an open hearing before the House Oversight Committee. Cohen publicly described his decade working alongside the president, painting a damning picture of his former boss and accusing him of being a “liar,” “conman,” and “racist.”

Since then, the already tense relationship between House Democrats and the White House has reached a fever pitch.

On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee announced a wide-ranging probe into corruption and obstruction of justice, sending requests for documents to 81 people and entities associated with the president. The chairman of the House Oversight on Tuesday said he’s planning his next steps after the White House failed to comply with the panel’s deadline to submit documents related to “security clearance abuses.”

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee are laying the groundwork for a fight over President Trump’s tax returns, and the House Intelligence Committee, with whom Cohen is meeting Wednesday, announced earlier this week that it hired a former federal prosecutor with experience investigating Russian organized crime to lead their sprawling probe into the president’s alleged ties to Russia.

Pressure from Democrats sparked a vitriolic response from the president, who has sought to diminish the investigations as a “fishing expedition” that amounts to little more than “presidential harassment.”

But as these congressional probes are heating up, another marquee investigation appears to be winding down.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly approaching the conclusion of his nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen’s testimony Wednesday comes two months before he is scheduled to report to prison. A federal judge sentenced him to serve a three-year term for crimes to which he pleaded guilty, including tax and bank fraud, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

Tempers flare in Senate over Green New Deal, climate change

Political News Tempers flare in Senate over Green New Deal, climate change https://linewsradio.com/tempers-flare-in-senate-over-green-new-deal-climate-change/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

ZWEID/iStock(WASHINGTON) — As Senate Republicans took to the floor one by one on Wednesday to lambast the progressives’ “Green New Deal” proposal that would seek to counter climate change, Democrats were ready to pounce.

In a series of speeches, Republicans blasted the Green New Deal as “wildly unrealistic” and a “radical environmental policy.”

“What this is, is an attempt, really a power grab in Washington masked as feel-good environmental policy,” GOP Sen. John Cornyn said on the floor.

He was interrupted by the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, who pointedly asked of Cornyn: “Does he believe that climate change is real? Does he believe it’s caused by humans? And does he believe this body ought to do something about it? I’d appreciate an answer.”

Cornyn replied: “I’d say to my friend from New York, I know what their talking points are now, but I don’t believe that what we ought to do about the environment is impose a travesty like the Green New Deal.”

He went on: “This is a government power grab. It’s unaffordable. It’s unrealistic. And really this reflects the most radical ideology and fringe of the Democratic Party today.”

The Green New Deal is a wide-reaching proposal that calls not just for a massive overhaul of the nation’s energy sector over the next 10 years, but also investments in the country’s education, infrastructure and health care systems and a redesign of the entire U.S. economy.

Republicans, with giant billboards erected behind them, highlighted their price tag of the Green New Deal: $93 trillion – a number Democrats have denounced.

“Do you believe that climate change is real? Will you stand also with the scientific community which believes unanimously, or almost completely unanimously, that climate change is real? And that human activity causes it?” Sen. Dick Blumenthal, D-CT., asked GOP Sen. Todd Young of Indiana.

Young responded: “I believe the climate is changing. I believe that all flora fauna and human beings have some impact on that. I also believe fervently that we can protect our environment without wrecking our economy.”

Senator Ed Markey, D-MA, then interrupted Young: “Would the Senator yield on that $93 trillion bogus number made up by the Koch brothers? That is a made up number by the Koch brothers!”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to bring the Green New Deal to a vote in the coming days, a move Schumer called a “sham” because Republicans already plan to vote against it and haven’t offered any alternative.

In an attempt to redirect the conversation to the issue of climate change, all 47 Democrats in the Senate introduced a new, more basic climate resolution last month.

Like the Green New Deal, the resolution doesn’t carry any legal weight but sends a message climate change is important and Congress should do something about it, without any specific policy attached.

Schumer said Democrats will demand a vote on this resolution if McConnell brings the Green New Deal for a vote, which could move this hypothetical debate on the record for members to vote on the reality of climate change and whether it warrants any action.

Earlier Wednesday, Schumer outlined plans to introduce a new climate change panel.

“I understand my friends on the other side of the aisle don’t like the Green New Deal. Ok, that’s fine. What’s your plan? Maybe a lot of members think they can get away without having to answer that question. They won’t. They won’t, and that’s why we need a committee focused on this, to bring Democrats and Republicans together on an issue that demands progress,” Schumer said.

Adding, “So I will introduce a resolution to create a new committee on climate. Democrats believe this is an issue of surpassing importance. What do our Republican colleagues believe? We hope, sincerely, that our Republican friends will come around and view it the same way.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

American journalist arrested in Venezuela: Union

WORLD NEWS American journalist arrested in Venezuela: Union  https://linewsradio.com/american-journalist-arrested-in-venezuela-union/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

ABC News(NEW YORK) — American journalist Cody Weddle was arrested in Venezuela’s capital Wednesday morning along with a Venezuelan colleague, according to a Venezuelan press union.

Military counterintelligence officials raided Weddle’s apartment in Caracas this morning, taking him into custody along with his assistant, Carlos Camacho, officials with Venezuela’s National Union of Press Workers said in a Twitter post.

 The syndicate said late Wednesday afternoon that Weddle and Camacho were being interrogated in the headquarters of Venezuela’s Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence.

Camacho was released after about 12 hours, union officials said late on Wednesday.

Weddle, a freelance reporter based in Caracas, has contributed reporting to a number of news organizations, including ABC News.

“We’re deeply concerned by reports Cody Weddle and his colleague have been detained in Venezuela, and we urge the Venezuelan government to ensure their safety and to release them immediately,” an ABC News spokesperson said in a statement.

 Kimberly Breier, the United States’ Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, tweeted that the State Department was “aware of and deeply concerned with reports that another U.S. journalist has been detained” in Venezuela.

“We demand the journalist’s immediate release, unharmed,” Breier added.

“Being a journalist is not a crime; the world is watching,” a State Department spokesperson told ABC News.

Both U.S. senators from Florida, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, tweeted about Weddle’s case, calling for his release.

With Wednesday’s arrests, the number of journalists and press workers imprisoned this year rose to 36, officials with the Venezuelan press union said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

Trump said he would be ‘very disappointed’ if North Korea is rebuilding missile site

WORLD NEWS Trump said he would be 'very disappointed' if North Korea is rebuilding missile site  https://linewsradio.com/trump-said-he-would-be-very-disappointed-if-north-korea-is-rebuilding-missile-site/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

ANNECORDON/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would be “very, very disappointed” if it is determined that North Korea is in fact rebuilding its missile launch facility as was disclosed in commercial satellite imagery that was made public Tuesday by a Washington think tank.

“It’s too early to see. We’ll see,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday. “We have to solve a problem. The relationship is good. I would be very disappointed if that were happening.”

The satellite images, taken on March 2, 2019, were acquired by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Beyond Parallel and show new activity at the Sohae (Tongchang-ri) launch facility located in the northwestern part of North Korea. The images showed what appears to be rapid rebuilding at a site that has been inactive since last August.

“It’s a very early report,” Trump said. “We’re the ones that put that out.

“But I would be very, very disappointed in Chairman Kim but I don’t think I will be, but we’ll see what happens,” he continued, expressing optimism that Kim will ultimately be shown to be trustworthy.

The development comes days after Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that did not result in a denuclearlization agreement between the two countries.

The images showed activity to rebuild the launch stand at the location that is the country’s main site for long-range satellite launches and missile-engine testing. The site has not been used for the launch of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are fired from mobile launchers.

However, U.S. officials have said that the civilian satellite launches are a cover for military intercontinental ballistic missile tests since the technologies are so similar.

Activity at the site includes two construction cranes, as well as several vehicles and supplies laying on the ground next to the vertical engine test stand.

The satellite photos also showed activity at the launch pad’s rail-mounted rocket transfer structure.

The covers that typically shroud the site’s umbilical launch tower have now been opened to show the launch pad itself.

The renewed activity at the launch site was detected two days after the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, that failed to reach an agreement to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The Sohae facility has been inactive since Aug. 2018, when North Korea seemed to be following through with a commitment they made to Trump at the Singapore summit that Kim would dismantle a launch facility.

CSIS analysts believe the current activity “is deliberate and purposeful” to show North Korea’s resolve in the wake of the Hanoi meeting.

Though no agreement was reached in Hanoi, Trump told reporters that Kim had committed to continue not to conduct ballistic missile or nuclear tests, as he had following the Singapore summit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek announces he has stage four pancreatic cancer: “I’m gonna fight this”

Entertainment News  "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek announces he has stage four pancreatic cancer: "I'm gonna fight this" https://linewsradio.com/jeopardy-host-alex-trebek-announces-he-has-stage-four-pancreatic-cancer-im-gonna-fight-this/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/

 

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has announced that he’s seriously ill.

In a YouTube video, Trebek said, “Just like 50,000 other people in the United States this year, this week I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.”

“Now, normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging but I’m gonna fight this,” he added. “And I’m gonna keep working and with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers, also, I plan the beat the low-survival-rate statistics of this disease.”

He then joked, “Truth told, I have to!  Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years! So help me!  Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done. Thank you.

Trebek, 78, has hosted the syndicated show for more than 30 years.

This isn’t Trebek’s first serious health issue. In January of 2018, he announced that he’d undergone brain surgery over the Christmas holiday to treat a subdural hematoma — blood clots on the brain — which he suffered as a result of a fall.

He also suffered a mild heart attack in 2012 and underwent knee surgery in 2015.

Jeopardy! debuted as a daytime show in 1964, and ran until 1975. A weekly nighttime syndicated edition aired from 1974-75, and a revival — The All-New Jeopardy! — ran on NBC from 1978-1979. The current version premiered in 1984.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

Lawyers claiming ties to Rudy Giuliani approached Michael Cohen after FBI raids; investigators looking at contacts

Political News Lawyers claiming ties to Rudy Giuliani approached Michael Cohen after FBI raids; investigators looking at contacts https://linewsradio.com/lawyers-claiming-ties-to-rudy-giuliani-approached-michael-cohen-after-fbi-raids-investigators-looking-at-contacts/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In the weeks following the federal raids on former Michael Cohen’s law office and residences last April, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and confidant was contacted by two New York attorneys who claimed to be in close contact with Rudy Giuliani, the current personal attorney to Trump, according to sources with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The outreach came just as Cohen, who spent more than a decade advocating for Trump, was wrangling with the most consequential decision of his life; whether to remain in a joint defense agreement with the president and others, or to flip on the man to whom he had pledged immutable loyalty. The sources described the lawyers’ contact with Cohen as an effort to keep him in the tent.

Cohen generated a bounty of bold-faced headlines during his public testimony before Congress last week. He called the occupant of the Oval Office a racist, a con-man and a cheat and accused the president of committing at least one crime while in office.

MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Michael Cohen says family and country, not President Trump, is his ‘first loyalty’

Yet for all the attention paid to what Cohen was willing to say about the president, his reluctance to answer a question about the last communications he had with Trump or someone acting on his behalf made news on its own. Cohen clammed up and claimed that federal prosecutors were actively probing that very issue.

“Unfortunately, this topic is something that’s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York, and I’ve been asked by them not to discuss and not to talk about these issues,” Cohen said.

The sources familiar with the contacts said the two lawyers first reached out to Cohen late in April of last year and that the discussions continued for about two months. The attorneys, who have no known formal ties to the White House, urged Cohen not to leave the joint defense agreement, the sources told ABC News, and also offered a Plan B. In the event Cohen opted to exit the agreement, they could join his legal team and act as a conduit between Cohen and the president’s lawyers.

At one point in the discussions, one of the attorneys sent Cohen a phone screenshot to prove they were in touch with Giuliani, the sources said.

During the time of the conversations, Cohen and attorneys for the president and the Trump Organization were engaged in a cooperative, court-supervised effort to examine millions of files seized from the Cohen raids looking for items potentially covered by attorney-client privilege.

MORE: Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says Trump knew it was wrong to make hush-money payments during campaign

With that process ongoing, the New York attorneys talked up to Cohen the value of working with them because of their good relationship with Giuliani.

Reached Wednesday by ABC News, Giuliani declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.

“I can’t say anything about it. If I had any conversations with any of his lawyers it would be privileged because it was all under the joint defense agreement,” Giuliani said.

The nature and the propriety of the contacts were a subject of interest when Cohen spoke last year to prosecutors in the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and, more recently, in the Southern District of New York, according to people familiar with the events.

Investigators have been looking into whether these communications were intended to influence Cohen, a potential witness against the president, or to implicitly dangle a potential pardon in front of Cohen, the sources said. It’s unclear if prosecutors regard the contacts as illegal or improper.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

Neither Cohen nor his attorneys responded to requests for comment.

The sources tell ABC News that during the multiple conversations between Cohen and the attorneys, there was no explicit discussion or offer of a presidential pardon for Cohen. But the sources said there was an implicit message that if Cohen hired these lawyers, it could preserve or increase his chances of a pardon down the road, the sources said.

While emphasizing that he was speaking generally, and not in response to any specific allegation, Giuliani told ABC News that any lawyer that has raised to him the issue of a possible pardon has been told the same thing.

“It has always been squelched immediately,” Giuliani said.

“We have unequivocally always said only one thing, and anything else would be entirely false. We have said the president is not going to issue any pardons and is not considering any pardons at this time,” he added.

MORE: Michael Cohen returns to Capitol Hill as Democratic probes into President Trump intensify

Cohen eventually left the joint defense agreement and hired Guy Petrillo, a white-collar defense lawyer in New York, to represent him as he sought to cooperate with Mueller’s probe and other federal and state investigations. The news of Petrillo’s hiring was first reported last June, but it had been rumored for weeks before that.

According to the sources, the attorneys cautioned Cohen that hiring Petrillo, the former head of the criminal division of the Southern District of New York, could effectively end all contact between Cohen and Trump’s legal team. They noted that Petrillo had previously worked with prominent Trump critics, including former FBI Director James Comey and Preet Bharara, the former US Attorney in Manhattan, who had been fired by the president.

As it became clear that Cohen would commit to Petrillo, the attorneys asked Cohen to consider bringing them on board as well, because their purported relationship with Giuliani could serve to keep lines of communication open with President Trump’s legal team. Petrillo apparently opposed the idea of working in tandem, and Cohen ultimately rejected it, the sources said. The two attorneys never formally joined Cohen’s legal team but sent Cohen a bill for legal services, which he did not pay, the sources said.

The charges include fees for at least a half a dozen phone calls between the attorneys and Giuliani, according to two sources who have seen the invoice. One of the final entries is for a late June in-person meeting in New York between at least one of the attorneys and Giuliani. ABC News has not independently reviewed the bill.

The Southern District of New York prosecutors are now in possession of the legal bill along with logs of numerous calls and copies of emails between the attorneys and Cohen, the sources said. During a meeting with Cohen earlier this year, federal prosecutors in New York expressed interest in learning who paid the bill. Cohen said he did not know who, if anyone, did.

Cohen is back in Washington, D.C. again on Wednesday for another private session with the House Intelligence Committee, after spending a full-day with the committee last week. In addition to his marathon public testimony, Cohen spent in total more than a dozen hours behind closed doors last week with the intelligence committees of both chambers of Congress.

In August Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including tax and bank fraud unrelated to his work for Trump and to two campaign finance violations for his role in hush money deals with two women who had claimed past affairs with Trump. He told a federal judge that he had arranged the deals with the women in coordination with and at the direction of then-candidate Trump.

President Trump has denied the allegations of the affairs and has insisted that he never asked or directed Cohen to do anything illegal.

Cohen entered a separate guilty plea in November with the special counsel’s office for false statements to Congress in 2017 about the timing and details of a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.

He was sentenced to three years in prison and must begin serving his time no later than May 6.

The president has repeatedly criticized his former ally, often in starkly personal terms. In a Sunday tweet, President Trump dismissed Cohen’s congressional appearance as “hostile..testimony given by a liar to reduce his prison time.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

Tyrese Gibson in talks to join Jared Leto in ‘Spider-Man’ spin-off ‘Morbius’

Entertainment News  Tyrese Gibson in talks to join Jared Leto in 'Spider-Man' spin-off 'Morbius' https://linewsradio.com/tyrese-gibson-in-talks-to-join-jared-leto-in-spider-man-spin-off-morbius/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/

 

ABC/Jeff Niera(LOS ANGELES) — Tyrese Gibson is booked and busy. After snagging the lead is the forthcoming Teddy Pendergrass biopic, the Fast and Furious star has now in talks to join another epic project.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gibson is in negotiations to join Jared Leto the upcoming Spider-Man spin-off Morbius.

The film, directed by Daniel Espinosa, stars Leto as the titular Morbius, who, in the comics, is a former scientist who develops vampiric abilities after a failed experiment. He started out as an enemy of Spider-Man before becoming more of an anti-hero — much like the title character in Sony Pictures’ recent Spidey-free hit Venom.

THR reports that Gibson will play an, “FBI agent trying to hunt down the living vampire.”

Morbius is set to hit theaters in the summer 2020.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

‘Deadly Class’ star Taylor Hickson teases lead-up to “killer” season finale

Entertainment News  'Deadly Class' star Taylor Hickson teases lead-up to “killer” season finale https://linewsradio.com/deadly-class-star-taylor-hickson-teases-lead-up-to-killer-season-finale/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/

 

Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY(NEW YORK) — With just three more episodes to go, Deadly Class is gearing up for a truly killer season finale.

Taylor Hickson, who stars as goth girl Petra in the Syfy comic book series about high school assassins, teases what fans can expect as the show’s first season winds down.

“Basically the next coming episodes all sort of lead up to the finale and it is killer,” she tells ABC Radio. “It’s so good, it’s so well-written, super action-packed.”

Taylor promises we’ll get to see more of Petra’s growing relationship with fellow classmate Billy, played by Liam James.

“That’s my favorite thing that’s been developing so far and I hope they take that into season two,” she says. “It’s definitely a stronger connection than in the comics and I don’t think they had any romantic interest at all in the graphic novel. …I’m excited to see how audiences take it.”

While on some level, Hickson can relate to Petra’s high school struggles, she is decidedly less goth. The Canadian 21-year-old sports platinum blonde hair in real life, while Petra has a black spiky bob and dark makeup.

“I wasn’t recognized at the premiere. People thought I was an audience member,” she says. “They were like, ‘How’d you enjoy it?’ I was like, ‘Well, I’ve seen it 57 times.'”

Deadly Class — which also stars Lana Condor, Benjamin Wadsworth and Benedict Wong — airs tonight on Syfy at 10 p.m. ET. You can also catch Hickson in the indie flick, Giant Little Ones, out now.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 06 Mar 2019

Democrats fight over anti-Semitism resolution, how to respond to Rep. Ilhan Omar

Political News Democrats fight over anti-Semitism resolution, how to respond to Rep. Ilhan Omar https://linewsradio.com/democrats-fight-over-anti-semitism-resolution-how-to-respond-to-rep-ilhan-omar/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — House Democrats on Wednesday were struggling with the first major internal fight of their new majority, as party leaders tried to negotiate a compromise over how to handle a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, initially crafted with the intent to soothe members offended by Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota who made history as one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress, is facing a new wave of criticism for ostensibly perpetuating stereotypes against Jews.

She refused to answer a series of open-ended questions on the controversy when ABC News caught up with her inside the Capitol on Wednesday morning.

In a week in which House Democrats are celebrating their new power by voting on sweeping anti-corruption legislation, the controversy has continued to dominate the news cycle, testing the patience of leadership.

Although leaders had circulated vanilla text to their members recapping the history of anti-Semitism and concluding that Congress rejects it, and even though the draft resolution did not directly name Omar, in a political environment deeply mired by political incorrectness, some Democrats felt it was inappropriate to single out Omar even indirectly, fighting to amend the text to add language that rejects Islamophobia and racism as well.

“There has been a rise in hatred in so many different directions, and unfortunately a lot of it has been emanating from the White House,” said Rep. Karen Bass, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “There’s also a lot of concern in the caucus over specific threats and death threats that Representative Omar has faced, and so we are very concerned about that and we want that to be paid attention to.”

Bass added that she “absolutely would have a problem” with Omar’s name being added to the resolution, but said that Democrats “want to make clear that we make a stand against all forms of bigotry and hatred.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Congressional Black Caucus co-chair, downplayed divisions within the group, crediting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for facilitating the discussion behind closed doors while ensuring that all forms of unfitting rhetoric are condemned.

“I think we’re looking for more, and I think that Speaker Pelosi has done a great job of trying to walk a number of different lines here, and make sure that we keep caucus unity and make sure that we support all of our colleagues,” Jayapal, D-Wash., said. “And make sure that we recognize that when, you know, that we need to have the same standards of how we look at what people say and what we call out.”

A vote had been anticipated on a resolution rejecting anti-Semitism as early as Wednesday, but after House Democratic leaders reopened the text of the resolution on Tuesday evening and ruled out a vote Wednesday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who tightly controls which pieces of legislation move across the floor for a vote, says he’s unsure when the House will take a vote on the issue.

“We are against hate and bigotry,” Hoyer, D-Md., said. “There’s no division in the caucus on anti-Semitism.”

Hoyer, who said he does not believe Omar is anti-Semitic, added that questioning the loyalty of a member who demonstrates support for Israel “is not a new trope” and was “correctly” perceived as “a particular danger.”

“That’s why we will respond,” Hoyer promised.

Asked when the House might vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, Pelosi bluntly replied, “When we’re ready.”

In the meantime, President Donald Trump poked Democrats for delaying action on the resolution.

 As the saga drags on, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the first Jewish member of Congress elected in the Sunshine State, said it is “pretty outrageous” that Congress has to craft a resolution to “spell out for people across this country what anti-Semitism means.”

“The purpose of a resolution like this is to educate people about what anti-Semitism means, how harmful and hurtful it is,” Wasserman Schultz said. “And because you have some members who either repeatedly or individually continued to use anti-Semitic tropes – and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s unknowing – then apparently we do need to put a resolution on the floor that educates people about how harmful and hurtful anti-Semitism is.”

After amplifying the disagreement through a series of tweets, even tangling publicly with House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, Omar has shunned reporters who have sought to learn more about her position.

The controversy has even spilled over into the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a long floor speech Wednesday morning denouncing Omar’s “crude, hateful, and backward anti-Semitic stereotypes.”

“This Democratic Congresswoman already stoked controversy in mid-February, having publicly proclaimed that Israel’s supporters are only in it for the money. Apparently, she believes the only reason leaders would stand with the Jewish people and the State of Israel is Jewish money,’ he said.

“Well, I think we have all heard that kind of talk before. And we must not tolerate it,” McConnell, R-Ky., said. “This time, she claims that supporters of Israel actually have, quote, ‘an allegiance to a foreign country.’ There’s that ugly, old ‘dual loyalty’ smear. Plain as day.”

While Republicans appear somewhat entertained by the disorder in the Democratic caucus, McConnell acknowledged that Omar’s rhetoric has also “provoked offensive anti-Muslim comments in response.”

“That is hateful and completely inexcusable as well,” McConnell conceded.

Jayapal questioned the need to vote on the resolution, shooting back at Republicans “who just want to use this as a wedge issue but don’t necessarily call out anti-Semitism on their own side.”

“We are so strongly against anti-Semitism. We have said that before. I don’t know how many times we need to continue to say that,” she said. “What is the purpose of this, why are we doing this, and can we make sure that it is broad enough that it also addresses some of the other forms of bigotry and racism that we are seeing.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has aggressively defended Omar through more than 20 tweets on the subject to over 3.4 million followers since Saturday, including one directly challenging one of her Democratic colleague’s tweets. Tuesday, she contended the debate advances white supremacy.

 Rep. Juan Vargas, whose condemnation of Omar’s comments on Twitter prompted an initial tirade of tweets from Ocasio-Cortez, indicated he does not believe there’ll be lasting beef with the new progressive superstar, telling ABC the dustup is “not that big of a deal to me.”

“She could have come down the hall and asked me what my opinion is. That would have been fine,” Vargas, D-Calif., said. “But I mean, I think it’s fine. We have a very different opinion here, I believe. To question someone’s loyalty because they’re Jewish, I think is terrible. I think it’s something we shouldn’t question at all.”

“This dual loyalty charge has led to the mass murder of millions of Jews in history. I’m not sure that everyone understands how grave this issue is, frankly,” Vargas continued. “We have to stand up and fight it each and every time it comes up in the strongest way possible. That’s my belief. If AOC has a different view, she can have a different view. That’s my view and I’ll stand behind that every time.”

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Posted On 06 Mar 2019