CNN files lawsuit against the Trump administration

WASHINGTON (SBG) – CNN has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, the news outlet said in a press release.

The company claims that by revoking Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials, the administration has violated the First Amendment and the right to freedom of the press. They also allege that the Fifth Amendment right to due process was infringed.

CNN is also seeking an immediate restraining order for the return of the press credentials to Acosta.

 

“CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration this morning in DC District Court. It demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process. While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone. If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”

On Tuesday, the White House released their own statement calling the lawsuit”grandstanding,” and they plan to vigorously defend the claims mad against them.

“CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment. After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions—each of which the President answered—he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters,” the White House stated. “The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional. The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business,”

Acosta had his press credentials to the White House revoked after a contentious exchange with the president during a news conference in the East Room following the midterm elections. The reporter pressed the president about using the term “invasion” when referring to the Central American migrant caravan headed to the U-S Mexico border.

When the president tried to move on from Acosta’s follow up question, a White House staffer attempted to remove the microphone from his hands. Acosta continued to press the president for an answer. He eventually handed the microphone to the staffer, and the president moved on to another reporter.

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Trump tweets he wishes he picked ‘somebody else’ to be his attorney general

WASHINGTON (Circa) – President Donald Trump said on Twitter Wednesday he wished he picked someone else then Jeff Sessions to serve as attorney general.

The president’s tweet comes after The New York Times published a report claiming that President Trump asked Sessions to rescind his recusal from the investigation into Russia’s interference from the 2016 presidential election.

The Times report also stated that Sessions flew to Florida to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in March 2017 and it was during their dinner that Trump asked Sessions to rescind the recusal. The attorney general refused Trump’s request, according to The New York Times.

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NORAD: Russian bombers intercepted off the coast of Alaska

WASHINGTON (SBG) – North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed on Twitter that Russian bombers and fighter jets were intercepted off the coast of Alaska Monday.

Two Russian Tu-95s bombers were intercepted by two U.S. F-22 fighter jets after the Russian aircraft entered the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), or area that serves as a national defense boundary for incoming aircraft intrusions. If an aircraft enters this zone without permission, they could be designated as a threat or intercepted by U.S. aircraft, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Later, the second group of Russian bombers this time traveling with Russian Su-35s air-defense fighter jets were intercepted again by U.S. fighter jets.

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Trump to CNN’s Acosta: ‘You are a rude and terrible person’

WASHINGTON (SBG) – During a news conference at the White House Wednesday, a White House staffer attempted several times to pull a microphone away from CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

The spar between the two ended with President Donald Trump calling the reporter “a rude, terrible person.”

The exchange began when Acosta questioned the president on his characterization of the migrant caravan, calling the group an “invasion.”

Trump stated that he stood by his remarks and views the group traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border as an “invasion,” adding that he would prefer if the migrants came into the country legally.

Acosta then asked the president about the controversial ad his campaign produced showing migrants climbing over a border fence.

“Well, they weren’t actors,” Trump said.

As the president gave his response to the CNN reporter, a woman in a red dress can be seen moving up the aisle. She then crouched beside Acosta as the exchange continued.

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New Smithsonian exhibit explores pandemics and infectious diseases

WASHINGTON (Circa) – The new Smithsonian exhibit called “Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World,” will explore the ecology of epidemics.

In particular, how pathogens might move from nature and wildlife to humans and tracking those outbreaks over a period of time.
The exhibit opens nearly 100 years after the Great Influenza pandemic, which took the lives of roughly 3 and 5 percent of the population, according to the Smithsonian.
“Exploring pandemic risks in this ecological context is part of our mission as a museum to understand the natural world and the place of humans within it,” said Kirk Johnson, the Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History in a statement.
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Senators strive to simplify the federal student loans process

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – Senators met Thursday to evaluate ways to improve and simplify student loans for higher education.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor & Pensions met to specifically address the Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. The act was first signed into law in 1965 by Lyndon B. Johnson and required providing federal assistance for students pursuing post-secondary and higher education.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) “manages the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965,” according to their website.

However, for years lawmakers and politicians from both sides of the aisle have sharply criticized the need to simplify the application process and provide transparency for the system in place.

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Lawmakers demand answers from Boeing, SpaceX over delays in space program

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group)- Lawmakers on Capitol Hill gathered Wednesday to evaluate the progress National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Boeing and SpaceX have made in developing a spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond.

Since the end of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011, the space agency has sent their astronauts to the ISS via Russian Soyuz rockets. The price tag for a round-trip ticket per astronaut is more than $80 million, according to a Government Accountability Office Report. However, the contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscocosmos) may lead to a gap in presence of United States astronauts on the ISS.

“NASA’s contract with Roscosmos permits it to delay the use of the final seat by up to 6 months to late spring 2019, with a return flight approximately 6 months later. NASA has not yet developed a contingency plan to ensure an uninterrupted presence on the ISS should the Commercial Crew Program experience further delays,” the report stated.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Space invited witnesses from Boeing Space Exploration, NASA, SpaceX and the U.S. Government Accountability Office to Wednesday’s hearing. This was the subcommittee’s second hearing in three months to follow up on projects devoted to the future of human spaceflight. In Nov. 2017, the subcommittee met and discussed the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion crew vehicle, and improvements to ground infrastructure for those projects.

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Senators re-evaluate how to achieve democracy in Syria

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee met Thursday to evaluate the United States’ approach to policy in Syria.

In April 2017, President Donald Trump launched a military strike on a Syrian government air base in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians — including young children. Before then, airstrikes in the region were targeted primarily toward the Islamic State group and not Syrian Government. The Islamic State group’s presence in Syria had diminished by the end of 2017.

The United States along with Russia and Jordan signed a memorandum of principles in Nov. 2017 to maintain administrative arrangements in opposition areas, primarily the southwestern portion of the country.

The committee met Thursday to discuss how the U.S. can continue to help in securing the region from terrorist groups and help the Syrian people establish a fair and democratic process for governing.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R- Tenn., blamed President Bashar Assad’s regime for its involvement in the country’s ongoing unrest and instability.

“More than 12 million people, roughly half of all Syrians are displaced and the Assad regime bears overwhelming responsibility for this destruction and extremism it has spawned,” Corker said. With the support of the U.S. and collation partners, the Syria democratic forces succeeded in sweeping ISIS out of the capital of Raqqa in October.”

The chairman said that while the territory was lost in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State group is still a major threat to the regional stability.

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Congress takes deeper look at enforcing sanctions

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – Members of the House Foreign Affair Committee met Wednesday to discuss the enforcement of United States sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions safeguarding the U.S. against foreign countries, regimes, terrorists and other entities engaged in malicious activity.

The hearing focused primarily on sanctions on North Korea, Russia and Iran. Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R- Calif., said that the committee would use Wednesday’s hearing to explore if sanctions enacted by Congress have been fully implemented to the best of their ability.

“We’ve used America’s economic might to help stop terrorists, counter Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs, and respond to Russian aggression and the degradation of democracy in Venezuela,” Royce said. “No matter how tough the language of our sanctions bills, they are only as strong as their enforcement. That’s why we must work together to ensure the Executive Branch not only has the political will, but also the growing resources and expertise needed to implement strong sanctions.”

The chairman brought to the committee’s attention the fast-approaching deadline for the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The legislation imposed sanctions on North Korea, Russia and Iran. Royce said the committee expects key elements of the act to be met by the end of January 2018.

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Lawmakers investigate mysterious attacks on US diplomats in Cuba

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) – Lawmakers on Capitol Hill met Tuesday to further investigate the attacks on United States diplomats and their families in Cuba.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues met to evaluate oversight and response about the attacks in Cuba that may have begun as early as November 2016.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations established in 1961, diplomats are provided certain protections when posted within a receiving, or host, country.

“The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity,” the documents stated.

The agreement also covers the space in which the diplomat lives.

“The private residence of a diplomatic agent shall enjoy the same inviolability and protection as the premises of the mission,” the accord states.

According to State Department officials, the first reports of strange sounds began in late 2016 — possibly as early as November. By mid-February 2017, there was a pattern of similar symptoms in reported incidents. U.S. government officials asked Cuba to adhere to the Vienna Convention and provide protection to diplomats in Cuba. The Cuban government denied any involvement and opened a separate investigation into the incidents.

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