<![CDATA[NECN - Politics]]>Copyright 2018https://www.necn.com/news/politics http://media.necn.com/designimages/clear.gif NECN https://www.necn.comen-usWed, 21 Mar 2018 18:51:47 -0400Wed, 21 Mar 2018 18:51:47 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Judge Shelves Extortion Trial for Boston Mayor Aides]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 18:39:54 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/indicted.jpg

A federal judge has canceled the upcoming trial date for two Boston mayor aides charged with extortion as he weighs a bid to dismiss the case.

Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan were supposed to go on trial Monday on charges that they pressured music festival organizers into hiring union workers.

But Judge Leo Sorokin said Wednesday that he's canceling a future hearing and the trial date. The judge said he'll rule on the defense's motion to dismiss the case "promptly."

Attorneys for Brissette and Sullivan have argued the men didn't do anything wrong and that prosecutors overreached.

Prosecutors say the judge's proposed jury's instructions are too restrictive and would prevent them from putting on their case.

The judge this week denied prosecutors' request to change how he plans to instruct the jury.

Photo Credit: FILE PHOTOS]]>
<![CDATA[McCabe Authorized Perjury Investigation Into Sessions]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 18:17:46 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/mccabeandrewfbiacting_1200x675.jpg

Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe previously authorized an investigation into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied to Congress, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The investigation ended without criminal charges, according to Sessions’s lawyer, and was not known to Sessions last week when he made the decision to fire McCabe, according to a Justice Department official.

ABC News was first to report that McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told lawmakers about the probe in a closed-door meeting last year. The inquiry eventually went to special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FBI Chief on McCabe Firing: Politics and the FBI Don't Mix ]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 13:55:36 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/AP_18044558955629-FBI-Director-Christopher-Wray.jpg

FBI Director Christopher Wray would never allow politics to affect how he runs the agency, he told NBC News in an exclusive interview in the wake of last week's controversial termination of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

"I am committed to doing things objectively and independently and by the book," Wray said. "I think that has to extend not just to our investigations, our intelligence analysis, but it also has to extend to personnel decisions and disciplinary decisions."

Noting he was not addressing the details of McCabe's termination, he said he was committed to keeping "political or partisan influence" out of the FBI's decision-making process.

McCabe was fired two days before he was set to retire and become eligible for his full pension, something McCabe said was done "to taint the FBI" following attacks on him from President Donald Trump.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP, File
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<![CDATA[Chicago Voters Support Legalizing Recreational Marijuana]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 10:20:49 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-592213300-marijuana-generic.jpg

It appears Cook County voters are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana use in Illinois.

Tuesday's referendum question asked if Illinois should legalize "the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older."

By Wednesday morning, with 98 percent of precincts reporting, results showed 68 percent of voters were in favor of the idea in the nation's second most populous county.

The question on whether or not to legalize the drug for recreational use was non-binding, so the vote does not mean recreational marijuana use will automatically become legal in Chicago and Cook County's more than 130 municipalities. In the end, it is up to legislators to propose and pass a law.

The referendum's results can, however, now be used to gauge public opinion and determine whether to bring legislation forward in Springfield.

County commissioners voted unanimously last December to put the question on the primary ballot. The state Senate earlier this month passed a measure to put the question on ballots for statewide voters in November, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The full question on primary election ballots read as follows: "Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?"

Supporters of legalization pointed to the increased tax revenue that has come with legalization, taxation and regulation in other states. Opponents often have concerns about social costs and the fact that marijuana use would remain illegal under federal law.

About six in 10 Americans nationally support marijuana legalization, according to a Pew Research Center survey released earlier this year. Support has nearly doubled what it was in 2000. 

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and California. All but Vermont passed the laws in binding ballot questions between 2012 and 2016. 

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott in January signed into law a recreational marijuana legalization bill, the Associated Press reported. Scott's signing made Vermont the first state to legalize the drug through legislature instead of a referendum, which is the route Illinois would have to take.

The rollout has not been immediate for most states, and legalization has yielded different results for different states.

California voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016. The law went into effect in December 2017, but state legislators were already considering lowering the marijuana tax to fight persistent black market sales, the L.A. Times reported Thursday.

On the other end of the spectrum, Colorado brought in nearly $700 million in marijuana tax revenue since its law—which was approved in a 2012 referendum—went into effect in 2014, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Illinois Gov. Primaries Set Stage for Battle of the Billionaires]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 01:18:50 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/rauner+pritzker+victory+speech.png

The stage is set for the already-expensive race for Illinois governor to become the costliest gubernatorial election in U.S. history. 

J.B. Pritzker won the Democratic primary Tuesday while incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner survived a challenge from the right to hold on to the Republican nomination. Both are billionaires who have dug deeply into their own pockets for their respective campaigns, to the tune of a combined $120 million this cycle alone. 

A venture capitalist and heir to the Hyatt fortune, Pritzker is the fifth-richest person in Illinois, according to Forbes, which estimated his net worth to be around $3.5 billion.

Pritzker’s immense personal fortune allowed him to entirely self-fund his campaign, pouring more than $69.5 million into his committee in the months leading up to the primary Election Day.

That cash bought Pritzker a massive field operation and, perhaps most significantly, hours of advertising airtime, inundating television airwaves to tout his endorsements and vowing to “stand up” to President Donald Trump and Rauner, a message that lifted him to primary victory over five other candidates, including businessman Chris Kennedy and State Sen. Daniel Biss. 

Rauner, who spent a record-breaking $65 million on his entire 2014 campaign and reloaded his committee with another $50 million in December 2016, defeated conservative challenger state Rep. Jeanne Ives in the GOP primary Tuesday.

Rauner bought plenty of airtime as well, running ads even before he announced his re-election campaign, then pivoting to attack Pritzker well ahead of primary election voting. 

Now, with the primary behind them, two of Illinois’ wealthiest businessmen-turned-politicians can turn their full attention to one another.

With seemingly endless wealth at their disposal, the gloves will certainly come off in the battle of the billionaires, which may very well surpass the most expensive gubernatiorial race in the nation's history - California’s roughly $280 million campaign in 2010.

<![CDATA[White House Defends Trump's Congratulatory Putin Call]]> Tue, 20 Mar 2018 17:24:44 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/US-WH-Briefing-CRx-152157941726700002.jpg

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defends President Donald Trump's congratulatory call to Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election, noting that then-President Barack Obama made a similar call in 2012.

<![CDATA[Politically Speaking: Celebrities Who Ventured Into Politics]]> Tue, 20 Mar 2018 16:52:58 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/celebs-to-poli-thumb.jpg Donald Trump might be the most notorious celebrity to enter the White House as Commander-in-Chief, but he isn't the first to make the switch from entertainment to politics. See which other actors, hosts and athletes ditched the small screen for office.]]> <![CDATA[Cambridge Analytica Suspends CEO Pending Probe]]> Tue, 20 Mar 2018 16:12:37 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-607814904.jpg

The chief executive of Cambridge Analytica claimed his company ran all the digital operations for the Trump campaign and used a secret email system where messages self-destruct, according to a new report from NBC News' U.K. partner ITN Channel 4 News.

The new article and video were posted Tuesday afternoon. The CEO, Alexander Nix, was suspended with immediate effect, the company said.

In the video posted by Channel 4, Nix is heard saying the company did much of the work behind Trump's campaign, which resulted in a shocking upset victory over Hillary Clinton in November 2016.  Nix also ripped into House Intelligence Committee members who interviewed him as part of their investigation into Russian election meddling, and talked about using "proxy organizations" to "put information into the bloodstream to the internet." 

Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that it was not under investigation and "there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the company."

Photo Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Concordia Summit]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Model Sues to Break Silence on Alleged Trump Affair]]> Tue, 20 Mar 2018 15:29:30 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/trumpplayboy.jpg

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal filed a lawsuit Tuesday to be released from a 2016 legal agreement prohibiting her from discussing an alleged affair with President Donald Trump, NBC News confirmed Tuesday.

The lawsuit was first reported by The New York Times.  

McDougal filed suit against American Media Inc, the company that owns The National Enquirer. According to the New York Times, McDougal was paid $150,000 by the company, whose chief executive is a friend of Trump's, and required to remain silent.

"AMI lied to me, made empty promises, and repeatedly intimidated and manipulated me," McDougal said in a statement. "I just want the opportunity to set the record straight and move on with my life, free from this company, its executives, and its lawyers."

McDougal is the second woman to step forward, along with porn star Stormy Daniels, alleging an intimate relationship with Trump.

Also on Tuesday, NBC News confirmed Daniels had taken a polygraph in 2011 supporting her assertion of an affair with Trump. The polygraph showed Daniels was being truthful when she said she had unprotected sex with Trump around July 2006. She took the polygraph at the request of InTouch magazine, which interviewed her in 2011 but didn't publish the content until this year.  

Polygraph results are not generally admissible in court.

Trump spokespeople have denied that he had a sexual relationship with Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford.

McDougal and Daniels are both arguing their agreements are invalid.

Meanwhile, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled Tuesday that a defamation lawsuit filed by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, can go forward. In 2016, Zervos accused Trump of groping and pressing his groin against her during a 2006 encounter. Trump later suggested she fabricated the incident.

“In Clinton v Jones the United States Supreme Court held that a sitting president is not immune from being sued in federal court for unofficial acts,” Justice Jennifer Schecter wrote in a ruling released Tuesday, citing the sexual harassment suit that led to the 1998 impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton for lying under oath about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

“It left open the question of whether concerns of federalism and comity compel a different conclusion for suits brought in state court. Because they do not, defendant’s motion to dismiss this case or hold it in abeyance is denied,”  Schecter ruled.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Court Rejects Bid to Deny Driver's Licenses to 'Dreamers']]> Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:53:31 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NC_scotus120625_1500x845.jpg
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Arizona's plea to stop issuing drivers licenses to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The plea comes from former Governor Jan Brewer's 2012 executive order to deny licenses to DACA recipients.
<![CDATA[Docs Show Trump Admin.'s War to End Teen Pregnancy Program]]> Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:00:16 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/71656346-Department-of-Health-and-Human-Services.jpg

When the Trump administration abruptly canceled a federal teen pregnancy prevention program last year, it did so over the objections of career experts in the Department of Health and Human Services, according to internal notes and emails obtained by NBC News.

Three political appointees with pro-abstinence beliefs guided the process in spite of the the objections, according to the cache of documents. The notes show that Evelyn Kappeler, the $213 million Teen Pregnancy Program's long time administrator, appears out of the loop on decisions and describes being "so rattled" at one point that her reaction "was to cry."

Many medical professionals credit the program, which had bipartisan support in Congress, with lowering the national teen pregnancy rate to its lowest point. An outside group claims the effort to end it violated a federal law.

The department has claimed the program was ineffective and also did not conform to President Donald Trump's proposed budget. It did not respond to emails or answer questions about who was responsible for ending the program, instead directing NBC News to a fact sheet and announcement on the agency's website that says most of the projects that received funding "had no impact or had a negative impact on teen behavior."

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Security Chief to Leave in Wake of Scandal: Report]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 20:40:49 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-490832273.jpg

Facebook Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos is reportedly leaving after disagreements over how the social media network should handle the spread of disinformation, the New York Times reported.

In a tweet, Stamos said he was still employed, but that his role had changed to "exploring emerging security risks and working on election security."

Stamos has been a strong advocate for disclosing Russian activity on Facebook. 

The Times report said that Stamos's roles had been reassigned in December, but Facebook persuaded him to stay on until August. In a tweet, Reuters independently reported that Stamos would leave in August. 

Facebook did not immediately return CNBC's request for comment.

Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Shares Tumble Following Reports of Data Breach]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:42:03 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+CAMBRIDGE+ANALYTICA+THUMB.jpg

Facebook shares tumbled Monday following reports that user data had been inappropriately obtained. Cambridge Analytica, whose clients included Donald Trump's presidential campaign, reportedly used the data of 50 million Facebook users without their permission.

<![CDATA[Hidden Camera Exposes Cambridge Analytica's Tactics]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:07:11 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-872186612.jpg

In a meeting with the head of Cambridge Analytica — the political data firm used by the Trump campaign in 2016 — reporters from NBC News’ U.K. partner ITN Channel 4 News posed as potential clients interested in changing the outcome of the Sri Lankan elections.

The reporters, who were trying to find out how the company operated, quickly learned about the novel and deceptive methods employed by the company, including bribes, blackmail, and misinformation campaigns. The findings were broadcast by the network on Monday.

On hidden camera, the reporters recorded Alexander Nix, chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, discussing the idea of hypothetically entrapping an opposition leader.

He described how the company could record a person accepting a bribe, "an offer he can't refuse," or "send some girls around to the candidate’s house."

Photo Credit: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lawyer Who Supports Conspiracy Theory Joins Trump's Team ]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 15:54:03 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/diGGettyImages-754597.jpg

President Donald Trump has added a longtime Washington lawyer to his legal team who has publicly promoted a conspiracy theory that officials in the FBI and Justice Department are plotting to frame the president with a "false crime" in the Russia investigation.

Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, recently joined Trump's legal team, Jay Sekulow, one of the president's lawyers, confirmed to NBC News Monday.

"I have worked with Joe for many years and have full confidence that he will be a great asset in our representation of the president," Sekulow said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor Fires Back After Trump Blames Mass. City for NH Opioids]]> Tue, 20 Mar 2018 05:42:30 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Donald+Trump+Dan+Rivera.jpg

President Donald Trump singled out the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, as a significant source of the drugs pouring into New Hampshire during a speech on his new opioid plan Monday.

Speaking at Manchester Community College, Trump said Lawrence is "one of the primary sources of fentanyl in six New Hampshire counties," according to a Dartmouth College study. He tied this to the fact that Lawrence is a so-called sanctuary city, and also cited the recent arrest of 15 MS-13 gang members in Boston.

"Every day, sanctuary cities release illegal immigrants, drug dealers, traffickers, gang members, into our cities," Trump said. "They're protected by these cities, and you say, 'What are they doing?' They're safe havens for just some terrible people, and they're making it very dangerous for our law enforcement officers.

"You see it all the time," he continued. "As the people of New Hampshire have learned firsthand, ending sanctuary cities is crucial to stopping the drug addiction crisis."

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera fired back at Trump later Monday afternoon.

"I've got a lot of emotions running through me right now, because it's not very often that the president takes your city's name in vain. So I'd like to start by saying shame on the president'" Rivera said. "He's trafficking in pain and divisiveness, creating boogiemen where we need solutions."

Furthermore, Rivera argued, Trump's proposed solution is one that has failed in the past.

"I'm a Reagan baby, I'm a kid from the 80s. I remember the crack epidemic. I remember the 'Just Say No' to drugs campaigns. I remember the increased prison time for dealers and users," he said. "But you know what beat the crack epidemic and the cocaine epidemic? It was police practicing community policing, jobs for inner-city kids and treatment, treatment, treatment. Serious, long-term, expensive treatment."

U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the bipartisan Heroin Task Force, agreed that the epidemic should not be combated as a crime.

"Over a decade and a half ago, as Norfolk County district attorney, I started an opioid task force, and what I learned from my experience is that the president has it all wrong," Keating said in a statement. "Back then, I was tasked with the responsibility of approaching it from a criminal side, but I learned this is much more a public health issue. That is why the Centers for Disease Control advocates for an approach of combining medically assisted and behavioral health treatment as the best course."

"Massachusetts has been a leader in treatment and prevention natinwide," Keating added. "While interdiction and law enforcement have a place, the narrow approach that dominated the president's remarks today simply won't work. President Trump is taking us backwards."

Rivera pointed to Trump's earlier criticisms of the Granite State and accused him of politicizing a deadly crisis.

"Talking out of both sides of his mouth today, he went to New Hampshire, smiling in New Hampshire's face, after calling them a 'drug-infested den.' This is not a political problem, this is not a crime problem, this is not an immigration problem. This is a human problem," Rivera said. "This is an American problem, with more than 175 Americans dying every day. And the president continues to treat every problem that faces our country like a campaign rally, and it's not."

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican whom Trump praised in his speech Monday, offered similar criticism of Lawrence a year ago, accusing the city of fueling the Granite State's drug crisis.

Sununu labeled Lawrence as the prime source of fentanyl coming into his state and warned that he was about to "get tough" on dealers across the state border.

Rivera hit back at the time, accusing Sununu of "threatening the sovereignty" of Massachusetts and failing to build enough treatment beds in New Hampshire.

"The opioid crisis is so large that no community is without a problem, and to make it about Lawrence is the trap," Rivera said.

Sununu and Rivera later spoke on the phone, after which Sununu said Lawrence has been "doing a good job" on the opioid issue.

Sununu wasn't the first New England governor to accuse Lawrence, a city of many immigrants, of fueling the region's drug crisis. Maine Gov. Paul LePage said black and Hispanic drug dealers from Lawrence and Lowell were trafficking drugs into his state.

Trump was in New Hampshire on Monday to unveil his plan to combat the country's opioid crisis. His plan calls for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including the death penalty where it's appropriate under the current law.

Trump's three-part plan includes multiple steps to raise awareness, cut the illicit drug flow and expand proven treatment options.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[5 Ways Trump's Tweet on Mueller Stretched the Truth]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 13:10:17 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/trump-mueller-foto-doble-01234.jpg

President Donald Trump made his most direct — and explicit — criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation in a tweet this weekend that contained at least five inaccuracies or distortions, NBC News reported.

Trump wrote: “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!”

In fact, the probe started after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and Mueller was appointed as special counsel by the No. 2 official in Trump’s Justice Department.

The Mueller probe has since charged 19 different individuals with crimes.

Although Trump says there was “no collusion,” Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have concluded they "found no evidence of it." Democrats on the panel disagree.

Both Democrats and Republicans have said the original inquiry began with George Papadopoulos’ conversation with an Australian diplomat about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton, not with information from the Steele dossier Trump referred to as the "Fake Dossier."

Finally, the FISA court order to begin surveillance on Carter Page took place after Page left the campaign.

<![CDATA[Final Battle for Democratic Civil War in Chicago's Suburbs]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:41:48 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/newman-lipinski-split.jpg

Liberal Democrats have used language like "horrible," "shameful" and "one of the worst" to describe one of their own members of Congress, the moderate, anti-abortion Rep. Dan Lipinski, NBC News reported.

The suburban Chicago Democrat is facing a challenge in Tuesday's congressional primary from Marie Newman, a nonprofit executive who has lined up endorsements from Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org, Indivisible, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and well-known former advisers to Barack Obama, among others.

Democratic centrists, including the Blue Dog Coalition, support Lipinski.

"I've done 25 or 30 races over the years, and I've never seen a party turn away from a lawmaker like this," Thom Serafin, a former Democratic consultant who is now an independent political analyst, told NBC News.

Lipinski voted against the Affordable Care Act and declined to endorse Obama's re-election in 2012. A pro-Lipinski mailer featured Obama's image, infuriating Obama administration alums.

The district is considered safe for Democrats in the general election.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Democrats Hold Double-Digit Lead for Midterm Elections: Poll]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 08:25:53 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-912375890.jpg

Democrats have a 10-point advantage over Republicans when registered voters were asked this month who they want controlling Congress, NBC News reported.

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that congressional preference in the 2018 midterm elections was 50 percent for Democrats and 40 percent for Republicans. The difference is four points higher than in January's poll, though the change is within the margin of error.

The poll also found that President Donald Trump's job approval rating ticked up four points since the last poll to 43 percent, while 53 percent of adults disapprove of the president's handling of the job.

"Trumpism may well help Donald Trump in his 2020 election, but the buck stops there — which is a flashing red light for Republicans in 2017 or 2018," said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducted the poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Takes Aim at McCabe and Muller on Twitter]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 07:38:45 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/trump-muller-tweets-th.jpg

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump tweeted his displeasure with special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation.