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Mueller report: Trump and Republicans target Adam Schiff as new villain

Mueller report: Trump and Republicans target Adam Schiff as new villainOn television, in Congress and before a crowd of thousands, President Donald Trump and Republicans are mounting a ferocious revenge campaign against one Democrat – representative Adam Schiff.Moments after taking the stage at a Michigan campaign rally on Thursday night, Mr Trump mocked the California lawmaker as "little pencil-neck Adam Schiff." House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, compared Mr Schiff to communist scaremonger Joseph McCarthy. And House whip Steve Scalise, R-La, used a colloquy on the House floor to press majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md, to remove Mr Schiff as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee."There has to be accountability, because it's all lies," Mr Trump said to a crowd booing the mention of Mr Schiff's name. "And they know it's lies – they know it."Together, the attacks levelled in the week since special counsel Robert Mueller III delivered his findings represent an unusually coordinated assault against the leading Democratic voice questioning whether Mr Trump and his associates had conspired with Russia to throw the 2016 election in his favour.Mr Mueller had been Mr Trump's villain for nearly two years, with the president lashing out at the "conflicted prosecutor" and his "angry Dems" investigators engaged in a "phony witch hunt."Now, with attorney general William Barr's four-page summary of Mr Mueller's report indicating no conclusion of a criminal conspiracy, Mr Trump and Republicans have a new target for their vitriol.The Trump campaign circulated a memo to TV producers on Monday questioning Mr Schiff's credibility, citing a litany of pronouncements that it claimed had been rebutted by Mr Mueller. Mr Trump on Thursday called for Mr Schiff to resign his House seat, accusing him of "knowingly and unlawfully lying and leaking," and the nine GOP members of the Intelligence panel signed a letter demanding he step down as chairman, questioning whether he was abusing his position and damaging the panel's integrity.Mr Schiff has stood resolute amid the attacks, maintaining that there is public evidence of collusion – such as Mr Trump's public July 2016 plea to Russia to hack Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton's emails – even if Mr Mueller determined that evidence does not amount to a crime. When Republicans confronted Mr Schiff at an Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, he struck back."You might think that's OK – I don't," Mr Schiff said repeatedly as he recounted a litany of interactions between Trump associates and Russia. "I think it's immoral. I think it's unethical. I think it's unpatriotic. And, yes, I think it's corrupt and evidence of collusion."He has won uniform backing from House Democratic leaders, including speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, who called Republicans "scaredy-cats" for attacking Mr Schiff before the Mueller report is publicly released."What is the president afraid of? Is he afraid of the truth, that he would go after a member … a respected chairman of a committee in the Congress?" she asked. "They just don't know what to do, so they have to make an attack."The GOP's outsize attention on Mr Schiff reflects his two years of omnipresence on Sunday talk shows and weekday cable news programmes. The congressman who represents Hollywood has long been ribbed by Republicans – and privately, even by some Democrats – for his frequent appearances.When Democrats were the minority party in the House, that tactic was intentional. Television was a "tool," Mr Schiff said last year, for "exposing what the majority's doing and often exposing what the majority's not doing."Since taking over as chairman, he has scaled back his appearances, but he has not pulled any punches when it comes to voicing his belief that Trump subordinates' contacts with Russians, their clandestine finances, and the lies they told to lawmakers and federal law enforcement are evidence of likely wrongdoing, even if they do not rise to the level of a crime.That caught Mr Trump's attention, making him a target of presidential derision with jeering nicknames like "liddle," "sleazy," and "Adam Schitt."In recent days, the president tried out the "pencil neck" insult at a White House meeting with House Republicans before using it at Thursday's rally, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations."He's got the smallest, thinnest neck I've ever seen," Mr Trump said. "He is not a long-ball hitter."The official Trump campaign on Friday rolled out a T-shirt with an image of Mr Schiff with a pencil for a neck and a red ball on his nose.For Republicans, the attacks on Mr Schiff are at least partial payback for months of Democratic attacks on the previous committee chairman, representative Devin Nunes, R-Calif, who oversaw a circumscribed probe of Russian ties to the Trump campaign and instead focused on Obama administration decisions that prompted the Justice Department probe."Important context is what happened to Devin Nunes," representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla, said this week, pointing to Democratic pressure in 2017 after lawmakers found out that Mr Nunes made a late-night visit to the Trump White House to view classified materials pertaining to the Russia investigation.When Mr Nunes publicly alleged that Mr Trump's affiliates may have been picked up in a federal wiretap, that prompted allegations that Mr Nunes had disclosed secret surveillance reports, spurring an Ethics Committee investigation that ultimately cleared him. But as the cloud grew, Mr Nunes said in April 2017 that he would recuse himself from the committee's Trump-Russia probe.Later, Democrats accused Mr Nunes of destroying the credibility of the Intelligence panel and trying to use his subpoena power to undermine federal law enforcement as he sought to publicise the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.Mr Schiff said this week it was imperative that lawmakers be able to determine whether Mr Mueller weighed all the evidence they are looking into, especially regarding money laundering and Mr Trump's plans to build a tower in Moscow during his presidential campaign.But for the GOP, the matter is settled – and what goes around comes around."Here you have Mr Schiff, who essentially spent 22 months lying to the country," Mr Gaetz said. "I don't know how he's going to have credibility with the intelligence community."Mr Nunes himself has been largely quiet about Mr Schiff, but his fellow Republicans have not been shy about raising the Democratic attacks on Mr Nunes."Didn't the Mueller report justify exactly what chairman Nunes has said?" Mr McCarthy asked on Thursday amid his attacks on Mr Schiff. "I think chairman Nunes comes out on top. The concerns that he had with what was being said, what was being done was just proven correct."He added, referring to Mr Schiff and Mr Nunes respectively, "One member lied to the American public; one member told the truth and was attacked for it."Mr Schiff knows as well as anyone the political perils of assuming a role as a presidential inquisitor: He won his seat in 2000 by ousting representative James Rogan, R-Calif, who was among the House managers of President Bill Clinton's 1999 impeachment trial. Mr Schiff capitalised on Democratic outrage to raise millions of dollars from donors across the country eager to exact revenge.Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham, R-SC, speaking in a Fox News interview this week, compared Mr Schiff to Jim Garrison, the New Orleans prosecutor who spent decades pursuing an unproven conspiracy to assassinate President John F Kennedy."Adam Schiff has got to make a decision about his political future," he said. "Does he want to be the guy that won't let it go when the authority of the investigation, Mr. Mueller, has concluded there was no collusion?"But there is no indication Mr Schiff's pursuit of Mr Trump has caused him any political trouble in a district that preferred Ms Clinton by 50 percentage points in 2016 and re-elected him to a 10th term last year with 78 per cent of the vote.Mr Schiff, in fact, has emerged as one of the Democratic Party's most talented fundraisers, with $ 4.7m (£3.6m) in his campaign account – more than any other sitting House member. This week, he was named a national finance chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, aimed at holding the party's new majority.House Democrats are not in full agreement about how forcefully they want to continue to pursue the Russia matter now Mr Mueller has completed his report. But they are unanimous in their defence of Mr Schiff and their insistence that Mr Trump is not in the clear until they can see the full extent of the special counsel's findings.As Mr Scalise pressed Democrats to remove Mr Schiff – a decision under the sole control of Ms Pelosi – Mr Hoyer made clear on Thursday he was not going anywhere."Let me assure the gentleman, there is not a person on my side of the aisle that believes that Mr Schiff has done anything but act in the highest interest of our government, of the Intelligence Committee, and of full knowledge for the American people," he said.The Washington Post

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Democratic presidential candidates line up to target Mike Pence after Biden’s ‘decent guy’ comment

Democratic presidential candidates line up to target Mike Pence after Biden’s ‘decent guy’ commentSenator Kamala Harris, D-Calif, said it was “ridiculous” and “outrageous” he is unwilling to meet privately with female staff – prompting a flurry of Twitter refutations from top female administration officials. Mr Pence has found himself thrust unwittingly into the centre of the 2020 presidential debate, becoming a square-jawed punching bag for Democrats and, at times, even some in his own party.

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Israel launches dozens of Gaza strikes after rockets target Tel Aviv

Israel launches dozens of Gaza strikes after rockets target Tel AvivIsrael said Friday its aircraft had struck dozens of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to rockets from the Palestinian enclave, including rare fire toward its economic capital Tel Aviv. The escalation followed weeks of growing tensions and came at an especially sensitive time ahead of Israel’s April 9 elections. As the polls approach, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely believed to want to avoid a fourth war in the Gaza Strip since 2008 — but the exchange of fire again showed the risks.

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Students target colleges in lawsuit over bribery scheme

Students target colleges in lawsuit over bribery schemeSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In one of the first lawsuits to come out of the college bribery scandal, several students are suing Yale, Georgetown, Stanford and other schools involved in the case, saying they and others were denied a fair shot at admission.

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Conservatives target Ocasio-Cortez's 'Green New Deal' in New York billboards

Conservatives target Ocasio-Cortez's 'Green New Deal' in New York billboardsThe digital billboards on the side of a skyscraper in Manhattan’s Times Square are the latest broadside against the 29-year-old liberal known as “AOC,” by the Job Creators Network, founded by billionaire Bernard Marcus, a former chief executive of Home Depot Inc. Representative Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes parts of the New York City boroughs of the Bronx and Queens, has sought to push her party to the left on environmental and economic issues. Ocasio-Cortez had opposed Amazon.com Inc’s plan to create a major New York outpost with nearly $ 3 billion in city and state incentives. When the company last month scrapped plans to build in New York, she called it a big victory for progressive politicians.

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Ivanka Trump could be on next target list from House Democrats: panel chairman

Ivanka Trump could be on next target list from House Democrats: panel chairmanThe list of people from whom Democrats sought documents for a corruption investigation of the president covered a who’s who of Trump family members and associates. Also absent from the list were former senior White House officials, including Chief of Staff John Kelly and economic adviser Gary Cohn. Both spent more than a year in Trump’s inner circle and have featured prominently in books and other published accounts of conditions in the Trump White House.

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AOC Suggests the Media Unfairly Target Her Personal Life

AOC Suggests the Media Unfairly Target Her Personal LifeRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired off a tweet suggesting that the media unfairly target her family and love life in their reporting — and I can’t stop laughing.Here’s the tweet:> You know, when I got to DC I was told that it’s considered “off-limits” to report on a member’s family, love life, etc.> > Unsure why that consideration is suspended for me.> > (Also for those who ask how I learned to handle pressure,try being the only daughter in a Latino household) t.co/M2lgHITz1B> > — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 5, 2019First of all, the article she is referencing about her mom’s view of her relationship includes an interview with her mom. So, if she didn’t want the media reporting on her family life, maybe she should tell her family to stop talking to the media. Seems a little simpler than having to put all that effort into playing the victim, right?Second of all, she’s wrong. She’s not the only one — far from it. In fact, the first thing I thought of when I saw this tweet was “Okay, then why do I know that the president loves Diet Coke more than he loves condoms?” I mean, seriously. The media doesn’t just also sometimes report on President Trump’s personal life; it is actually completely obsessed with President Trump’s personal life!Don’t believe me? Here are some actual headlines from President Trump’s time in office: “Trump’s alleged failure to use condoms with Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal raises questions, concerns” (The Mercury News). “What Melania & Trump's Hand-Holding Struggles Say About Their Marriage, According To Body Language Experts” (Bustle). “Every time Donald and Melania Trump have faked holding hands with each other” (The Independent). “This absurdly uncomfortable video of Donald Trump trying to hold Melania's hand is going viral — here's what a body language expert has to say about it” (Insider). “Reporter asks Melania Trump: Do you love your husband?” (ABC). “Trump doesn't want Barron to play football” (CNN). “Inside Melania Trump and Barron Trump’s Relationship” (The Cheat Sheet). I could go on, but I unfortunately have dinner plans in about five hours, and finding all of the headlines about the Trumps’ personal lives would probably not allow me to eat until approximately 2037.Now, I do realize that she referred specifically to “members,” but that doesn’t make her tweet any less stupid. Other members of Congress have to deal with speculation about their personal lives, too. In 2018, Sen. Lindsey Graham felt the need to come out to the media and say that he’s not gay. Here’s a McClatchy article that gets into the legal troubles of Senator Ted Cruz’s half-sister, who died in 2011. In 2016, The Daily Mail ran a piece titled “EXCLUSIVE: Bernie Sanders' very 1960s love life revealed — his first wife, the woman who had his son, and the sugar shack home where he lived as a 'revolutionary.'” Senator Kamala Harris’s affair with Willie Brown dominated almost an entire news cycle.In other words: If someone really did tell her that politicians’ personal lives are off-limits for the media, then they were, quite clearly, wrong. Politicians, particularly famous stars like Ocasio-Cortez, are always going to face that kind of scrutiny because, well, they’re famous. I’m not saying it’s good; I’m not saying it’s bad; I’m saying it’s life — and pretending to be some kind of unique victim in a situation where you’re not one doesn’t accomplish anything except make you look foolish.

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20 dead as bombs target Sunday Mass in Philippine cathedral

20 dead as bombs target Sunday Mass in Philippine cathedralJOLO, Philippines (AP) — Two bombs minutes apart tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where Muslim militants are active, killing at least 20 people and wounding 111 others during a Sunday Mass, officials said.

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AFP to cut 95 jobs, CEO says, scaling back initial 125 target

AFP to cut 95 jobs, CEO says, scaling back initial 125 targetAgence France-Presse will cut 95 jobs over the next five years, 30 fewer than announced in October, without affecting targeted savings, CEO Fabrice Fries said Monday. Presenting a revised version of his “transformation plan” to employee representatives, Fries said the company would still save 14 million euros ($ 15.9 million) on wage costs and five million euros on other expenses by 2023. To achieve this, management will convert 15 of the current 175 expatriate postings into local jobs and realise savings through replacing senior employees with younger ones.

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New Horizons isn’t done yet, and NASA is searching for its next target

New Horizons isn’t done yet, and NASA is searching for its next targetNew Horizons gave NASA an amazing New Year's gift when it sent back gorgeous images of the distant Solar System object Ultima Thule, which we now know is the very first contact binary every visited by man-made spacecraft. It's been a fantastic few days for the New Horizons team, but the spacecraft is far from finished.

Now, even as NASA scientists prepare to download a massive collection of data collected during the Ultima Thule flyby, the spacecraft's handlers are busy searching for its next target. The probe still has plenty of fuel to play with, and there's no shortage of interesting objects in the Kuiper Belt, which is packed with debris of varying sizes.

As Space News explains, deciding on Ultima Thule took a lot of time and effort, as well as some help from the powerful Hubble Space Telescope. When picking Ultima Thule, the team weighed many different factors, including how interesting the object itself might be and the probability of making a safe pass.

The good news is that New Horizons is equipped with an instrument designed specifically to spot objects that are far away. The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager helped the New Horizons team aim the spacecraft in the ideal direction for a close flyby, but sending back those images take a long time. A new software change could allow the spacecraft to snap many different images, combine them, and then send them back as one, which would save time, but that system is still in its conceptual stage and not ready for prime time.

NASA will continue to search for new objects that would be crossing near the current path of the spacecraft at the right time, but at the moment the future is still shrouded in mystery. For the time being, the New Horizons team will sift through the Ultima Thule data that will continue to trickle in for the next two years or so, but once they have decided on a new object to visit the hype will begin building once again.

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