2 attorneys general to subpoena Trump Organization, Treasury
WASHINGTON — The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland plan to file subpoenas Tuesday seeking records from the Trump Organization, the Treasury Department and dozens of other entities as part of a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump of profiting off the presidency.
The flurry of subpoenas came a day after U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte approved a brisk schedule for discovery in the case alleging that foreign and domestic government spending at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel amounts to gifts to the president in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
The subpoenas target 37 entities, including 13 Trump-linked entities and the federal agency that oversees the lease for Trump’s Washington hotel. Subpoenas were also being sent to the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture, all of which have spent taxpayer dollars at the hotel or have information on Trump’s finances relevant to the case.
Other Trump entities that officials plan to subpoena include those related to his Washington hotel and its management. Eighteen private entities including restaurants, venues and hotels that compete with the Trump hotel are also being subpoenaed to “illuminate the unfair nature of that competition,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh.
“We’re seeking to confirm the information that everybody already knows: Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” Frosh said. “He’s received numerous payments from foreign governments and state governments and they’ve been funneled, at least in part, through the Trump (hotel) in D.C.”
After CIA briefing, senators lay blame on Saudi crown prince
WASHINGTON — Breaking with President Donald Trump, senators leaving a briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday said they are even more convinced that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he believes if the crown prince were put on trial, a jury would find him guilty in “about 30 minutes.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who demanded the briefing with Haspel, said there is “zero chance” the crown prince wasn’t involved in Khashoggi’s death.
“There’s not a smoking gun. There’s a smoking saw,” Graham said, referring to reports from the Turkish government that said Saudi agents used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi after he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Graham said “you have to be willfully blind” not to conclude that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the crown prince’s command.
Trump has equivocated over who is to blame for the killing, frustrating senators who are now looking for ways to punish the longtime Middle East ally. The Senate overwhelmingly voted last week to move forward on a resolution curtailing U.S. backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Cuba to begin full internet access for mobile phones
HAVANA — Cuba says its citizens will be offered full internet access on mobile phones beginning Thursday, becoming one of the last nations to do so.
Mayra Arevich is president of the Cuban state telecom monopoly. She announced on national television Tuesday evening that Cubans can begin contracting 3G service for the first time Thursday.
Until now, Cubans have had access only to state-run email accounts on their phones.
The communist-governed island has one of the world’s lowest rates of internet use but that has been expanding rapidly since Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro declared detente in 2014. Expansion has not slowed with President Donald Trump’s rollback of relations.
Cuba authorized home internet in 2017 and hundreds of public Wi-Fi connection points have opened in parks and plazas around the country.
1st baby born using uterus transplanted from deceased donor
LONDON — Brazilian doctors are reporting the world’s first baby born to a woman with a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor.
Eleven previous births have used a transplanted womb but from a living donor, usually a relative or friend.
Experts said using uteruses from women who have died could make more transplants possible. Ten previous attempts using deceased donors in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the U.S. have failed.
The baby girl was delivered last December by a woman born without a uterus because of a rare syndrome. The woman — a 32-year-old psychologist — was initially apprehensive about the transplant, said Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, the transplant team’s lead doctor at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine.
“This was the most important thing in her life,” he said. “Now she comes in to show us the baby and she is so happy,”
Walker shouted down over GOP attempt to weaken his successor
MADISON, Wis. — Demonstrators booed outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday during a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, at times drowning out a high school choir with their own songs in protest of a Republican effort to gut the powers of his Democratic successor.
The governor, wearing a Santa tie, appeared unfazed as he flipped the switch while one protester shouted “Hey Walker! Go home!” He left without taking questions from reporters about the bills being considered in the rare lame-duck legislative session. Walker, who has signaled support for the measures, later tweeted that he “can handle the shouts,” but he urged protesters to “leave the kids alone.”
Stung by their election loss last month, Republicans treated the lame-duck session as a final opportunity to use their political clout to weaken the next governor before time runs out. Democrats, who won every statewide constitutional office after nearly a decade-long GOP hold on power, derided the session as a cynical attempt to preserve the party’s waning strength.
“If he wanted to put a stop to this, he could,” said Russ Hahn, a 53-year-old attorney holding a sign that said “GOP Grinch Steals Democracy.”
The fact that Walker was making no attempt to halt the effort “clearly indicates he wants to be able to control things outside the governor’s office for the next four or eight years,” Hahn said.
House GOP campaign arm targeted by ‘unknown entity’ in 2018
WASHINGTON — Thousands of emails were stolen from aides to the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2018 midterm campaign, a major breach exposing vulnerabilities that have kept cybersecurity experts on edge since the 2016 presidential race.
The email accounts were compromised during a series of intrusions that had been spread over several months and discovered in April, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. At least four different party aides had their emails surveilled by hackers, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the details publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The committee said an “unknown entity” was behind the hack but provided few other details. A cybersecurity firm and the FBI have been investigating the matter, the committee said. The FBI declined to comment.
Politically motivated cyberespionage is commonplace across the world, but Americans have become particularly alert to the possibility of digital interference since Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. The theft of Democrats’ emails is still fresh in the minds of many political operatives and lawmakers, who have stepped up defensive measures but still struggle to protect themselves.
Foreign spies routinely try to hack into politicians’ emails to gain insight, ferret out weaknesses and win a diplomatic edge. But hackers often launch sweeping spear-phishing campaigns to gain access to a variety accounts — with no political motivation. With no immediate suspects and few technical details, it’s unclear what the significance of this latest incursion is.
Ballot fraud investigation muddies North Carolina election
RALEIGH, N.C. — Allegations of flagrant absentee ballot fraud in a North Carolina district have thrown the Election Day results of one of the nation’s last unresolved midterm congressional races into question.
Unofficial ballot totals showed Republican Mark Harris ahead of Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the 9th Congressional District. But the state elections board refused to certify the results last week in view of “claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities” involving mail-in ballots in the district.
The elections board has subpoenaed documents from the Harris campaign, a campaign attorney confirmed Tuesday. Investigators seem to be concentrating on activities linked to a longtime political operative from Bladen County, where allegations about mail-in absentee ballots also surfaced two years ago during a tight election for governor.
In affidavits offered by the state Democratic Party, voters described a woman coming to their homes to collect their absentee ballots, whether or not they had been completed properly. State law bars this kind of “harvesting” of absentee ballots, which must be submitted by mail or in person by the voter or a close family member.
If the allegations are accurate, “this is the biggest absentee fraud in a generation or two in North Carolina,” said Gerry Cohen, an election law expert and former longtime legislative staff attorney. “North Carolina has a long history of this kind of thing, particularly in rural areas.”
Actor-comedian Kevin Hart will host 2019 Oscars
LOS ANGELES — Kevin Hart will be the host of the 2019 Academy Awards, fulfilling a lifelong dream for the actor-comedian.
Hart announced his selection for the 91st Oscars in an Instagram statement Tuesday. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences followed up with a tweet that welcomed him “to the family.”
The announcement came hours after trade publication The Hollywood Reporter posted a story calling the Oscars host position “the least wanted job in Hollywood.”
Hart clearly doesn’t feel that way, writing on Instagram that it has been on his list of dream jobs for years. The 2019 Oscars will be broadcast Feb. 24 on ABC.
“I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time…To be able to join the legendary list of host that have graced this stage is unbelievable,” Hart wrote. “I know my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now.”