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10 things you need to know today !

1. Obama rebukes Trump in pointed pre-midterms speech

Hasil gambar untuk Obama gives pointed pre-midterms speech: 'What happened to the Republican Party?'

Former President Barack Obama slammed the Trump administration and urged high voter turnout this year because “our democracy depends on it” while speaking in Illinois Friday. For the first time since leaving office, Obama mentioned President Trump by name, saying he is a “symptom, not a cause” of fear of progress in America.

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He still went on to lambaste Trump’s attacks on the media, pointing out that though he himself complained about Fox News, he never threatened to shut them down, as Trump has done with various networks. He additionally said that the Justice Department should not be used as a “cudgel” to beat political enemies, slamming Trump’s assertion that the DOJ should not have prosecuted two Republicans in order to help the GOP in the midterm elections.

“What happened to the Republican Party?” he asked, blasting the GOP for allowing “politics of division and resentment and paranoia.” “They’re undermining our alliances, cozying up to Russia,” he said, and “actively blocking legislation that would defend our elections.”

Obama also mockingly questioned Trump’s reluctance to condemn white supremacists, asking, “How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?” Trump responded to Obama’s remarks from an event in North Dakota, saying he “fell asleep” while watching. [NBC News, The Week]

2. Kavanaugh confirmation moves toward committee vote

After a fourth and final day of questioning, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh completed the hearings stage of his confirmation process Friday. The next step is a vote within the the Senate Judiciary Committee, which committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has scheduled for this coming Thursday, Sept. 13, followed by a vote on the Senate floor. Though Senate Democrats, who have accused Kavanaugh of dishonesty, may delay the committee vote by up to a week, a party-line ballot could see Kavanaugh seated on the court in time for the start of its next session on Oct. 1.

Senate Republicans currently have a 51-49 majority, with the replacement for the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jon Kyl, having been sworn in on Wednesday, giving McConnell another vote to work with to get Kavanaugh through the Senate.

No Republicans have come out in opposition to Kavanaugh, although Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are coming under intense pressure on the Kavanaugh nomination. These two Republican hold generally pro-abortion rights views. Democrats and their outside allies have targeted Collins and Murkowski following the release of a 2003 email in which Kavanaugh edits an op-ed draft in order to raise doubts over whether the Supreme Court would respect the precedent of abortion rights.

The first three days of Kavanaugh hearings were by marked by intense partisan warfare, leaked documents, and dozens of arrests of anti-Kavanaugh protesters. Friday’s session was much calmer.With Kavanaugh not in attendance, the fourth and final session was largely anti-climactic, although there were some bizarrely fascinating moments, such as the appearance of John Dean, one of the key players from the Watergate scandal 45 years ago.

Another highlight was the testimony from a 17-year-old survivor of the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February, who told senators of the moments when other students around her were murdered.

Hasil gambar untuk Brett Kavanaugh’s / gif

Dean — Richard Nixon’s counsel who helped topple his presidency during the Watergate scandal — warned the Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh could tilt the high court in President Donald Trump’s favor.

“If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, I submit we will have the most pro-presidential powers Supreme Court in the modern era,” said Dean, who served as White House counsel for nearly three years.

“With Judge Kavanaugh on the court, we should anticipate a majority that will find it increasingly difficult to discover any presidential actions which they do not approve.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal — paraphrasing Dean’s famous line to Nixon that there was “a cancer close to the presidency, that’s growing” — suggested Trump now faced the same problem, alluding to Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen implicating the president in campaign finance violations.

“There is now arguably a cancer on the presidency as malignant and metastasizing as there was then [Watergate]. Correct?” Blumenthal asked. “Yes, I would agree with that,” Dean replied.

A parade of former law clerks, friends and other lawyers praised Kavanaugh, throughout the day, including numerous references to his prowess as a basketball player and coach, part of the repeated effort to soften Kavanaugh’s image.

Yet, as with much of what happens in Washington these days, the hearing ended on a strange, unpredictable note, one that has ties to the past and a possible future.

As the session was winding up, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) berated Dean, saying his actions inside the Nixon White House had hurt the country.

“You did the right thing ultimately, but you only did it when you were cornered like a rat,” Kennedy said of Dean’s decision to cooperate with Watergate investigators after he pleaded guilty to covering up the scandal. “It’s hard for me to take your testimony seriously.”

But the now 80-year-old Dean gave as good as he got.

“The president has also called me a rat,” Dean shot back.

[The New York Times, Politico]

3. Trump calls for DOJ investigation of New York Times op-ed

Hasil gambar untuk Trump says Justice Department should investigate anonymous op-ed author

President Trump on Friday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department to find the author of Wednesday’s anonymousNew York Times op-ed about his administration.

Speaking to reporters, Trump warned of a national security imperative to unmasking and punishing the person responsible for the New York Times piece depicting a “two-track presidency” in which some top staffers make up a “resistance” force working to thwart Trump’s “misguided impulses.”

“We’re going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he’s talking about, also where he is right now,” Trump said during a flight from Billings, Mont., to Fargo, N.D., on a fundraising trip for Republican candidates. If the anonymous author has a high-level security clearance, the president emphasized, “and he goes into a high-level meeting concerning China or Russia or North Korea or something, I don’t want him in those meetings.”

Trump’s comments came at the end of a tumultuous week for the White House and on a day when he was eager to engage on a range of topics, seemingly testing which ideas could help him generate headlines and divert attention from questions raised in recent days about whether he is firmly in control of his administration. Along with floating a possible investigation into the author of the op-ed, Trump threatened to escalate his trade war with China, revealed he has been sent what he expects to be a “positive” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and said shutting down the government over funding for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could be a “great political issue.”

But the president’s growing paranoia this week over whether he can trust his underlings was most evident, coming after the back-to-back revelations in the Times’s op-ed and a new book from journalist Bob Woodward filled with anecdotes of senior aides working to set guardrails by withholding information from Trump or ignoring his requests, over purported fears of his competence.

On Friday, senior White House aides and Cabinet officials continued to rush out public denials of some of the allegations and eschew ownership of the op-ed. In her own op-ed in The Washington Post, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the anonymous author’s aims “very dangerous,” because they would sow “mistrust among the thousands of government workers who do their jobs honestly every day.

Speaking aboard Air Force One, the president said the piece raises national security concerns. He called the author a “sick person” and declared the White House is a “well-oiled machine” that is “running beautifully.” CNN reported Friday night White House aides have narrowed the search for the anonymous author to “a few individuals.” Asked on the plane if he trusts his White House staffers, Trump said, “I do, but what I do now is I look around the room. I say, ‘Hey, if I don’t know somebody . . . ’ ” ,Trump himself reportedly thinks the writer is from the national security establishment. [The Washington Post, CNN]  Experts said it was unlikely the Justice Department would have sound legal grounds to get involved over a hunt for the op-ed author, unless the person was a member of the military, who are forbidden to undermine or defame the commander in chief.

But Trump’s preoccupation with the matter threatened to thrust him further into his ever-deepening war against the press corps at a perilous time. It also helped overshadow the release Friday of more positive economic news, which the president complains does not get more widespread attention amid the constant controversies around the White House.

The Labor Department reported Friday morning that August was the 95th straight month that the U.S. economy added jobs, with a robust 201,000 position gains. The new data also show that worker pay is on the rise, an encouraging sign that wages may finally be moving higher after years of sluggish progress.

“This is not called a recovery, this is called a rocket ship,” Trump said at a fundraiser in Fargo, N.D. “Job numbers were great.”

But Trump also told reporters that he was poised to dramatically escalate a trade war with China — implementing tariffs on an additional $267 billion in Chinese goods — that economists said could potentially affect the U.S. economy if a deal is not worked out with the world’s second-largest economy.

And Trump said he was expecting to receive a letter in the coming days from Kim, which would be delivered through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Two weeks ago, the president called off a trip to Pyongyang by Pompeo, citing a lack of progress in the nuclear disarmament talks. Trump noted that Kim said this week that he trusts Trump and hoped to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while he is in office.

“There’s never been a more positive statement,” Trump told reporters.

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Adding to Trump’s list of heavyweight opponents, former president Barack Obama delivered a speech in Illinois on Friday that eviscerated Trump by name over their clashing worldviews, putting the current president on notice that his predecessor has shed his restrained public profile in a bid to directly engage him.

“It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause,” Obama said, calling on Democrats to get out the vote. “He is just capitalizing on resentments our politicians have fanned for years. . . . Appealing to tribe, appealing to fear. That’s an old playbook, as old as time. And in a healthy democracy, it doesn’t work.”

Trump dismissed Obama’s speech, calling it boring.

“I watched it, but I fell asleep,” he said at the fundraiser in Fargo. “I found he’s very good. Very good for sleeping.”

Hasil gambar untuk Former President Barack Obama criticized President Donald Trump /wapo /GIF

Trump’s comment Friday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should investigate who wrote the newspaper op-ed isn’t the first time he has demanded that the FBI or Justice Department look into a disclosure that is embarrassing to the White House.

4. Kim Jong Un wrote Trump a new letter

North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol hands over a letter to Trump, purportedly from Kim.

“I know that a letter is being delivered to me, a personal letter from [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un to me, that was handed at the border — I don’t know if you know that — it was handed at the border yesterday,” President Trump said Friday. The State Department confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did receive a letter for Trump from Kim, one of several such messages the leaders have exchanged in recent months.

Hasil gambar untuk Trump says Justice Department should investigate anonymous op-ed author

Trump predicted the note will be “positive,” noting it is being delivered in “an elegant way,The way it used to be many years ago before we had all the new contraptions that we all use,” Trump said. “But a letter is being delivered to me and I think it’s going to be a positive letter.””

‘Unwavering trust’

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The direct communication comes after the North Korean leader told a South Korean official that he has “unwavering trust for President Trump” and wants to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula before Trump finishes his term.

“This trust, despite some difficulties surfaced during the negotiation process between the US and the North, will continue,” said South Korean special envoy Chung Eun-yong, who met with Kim in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

Chung said Kim told him North Korea “was willing to take more active measures toward denuclearization if his advance steps could be met with matching measures (from the US).”

Kim said he had “never said anything bad about President Trump to anyone,” Chung reported, adding that the North Korean leader expressed a wish to end 70 years of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump tweeted his thanks in response to the relayed statement of confidence.
“Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims ‘unwavering faith in President Trump.’ Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!”

[CNN, The Hill]

5. General: Trump wants ‘military options’ if Assad uses chemical weapons again

Hasil gambar untuk U.S. military drawing up options should Syria use chemical weapons

The Pentagon has prepared options for a military response should Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime again deploy chemical weapons, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday. “We are in a dialogue … with the president to make sure he knows where we are with regard to planning in the event that chemical weapons are used,” Dunford said, adding that President Trump “expects us to have military options.”

Meanwhile, in Syria, U.S. troops conducted a live-fire aerial assault exercise on Friday to warn away Assad regime forces and their Russian allies from an American base.The exercise, involving a company-size unit, came amid rising U.S.-Russia tensions across the Syrian battlespace. The Trump administration has warned both Russia and the Syrian government against a planned offensive in Idlib province in northwest Syria, the largest remaining pocket of rebel fighters who have tried, and failed, over the past seven years to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The White House has warned that the United States and its allies would respond “swiftly and vigorously” if government forces used chemical weapons in Idlib. President Donald Trump has twice bombed Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons, in April 2017 and April 2018.

Hasil gambar untuk U.S. military drawing up options should Syria use chemical weapons

Dunford did not say, one way or the other, what he expected Trump to do should Syria use chemical weapons again.

France’s top military official also said last week his forces were prepared to carry out strikes on Syrian targets if chemical weapons were used in Idlib.

Dunford declined to comment on U.S. intelligence about the possible Syrian preparations of chemical agents.“I wouldn’t comment on intelligence at all, in terms of what we have, what we don’t have,” he said.


Hasil gambar untuk U.S. military drawing up options should Syria use chemical weapons

Idlib is the insurgents’ only remaining major stronghold and a government offensive could be the last decisive battle in a war that has killed more than half a million people and forced 11 million to flee their homes.

The presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia on Friday failed to agree on a ceasefire that would forestall an offensive.

Asked whether there was still a chance the assault on Idlib could be averted, Dunford said: “I don’t know if there’s anything that can stop it.”

“It’s certainly disappointing but perhaps not (surprising) that the Russians, the Turks and the Iranians weren’t able to come up with a solution yesterday,” he said.

Tehran and Moscow have helped Assad turn the course of the war against an array of opponents ranging from Western-backed rebels to the Islamist militants, while Turkey is a leading opposition supporter and has troops in the country.

Turkey says it fears a massacre and it can not accommodate any more refugees flooding over its border.

Hasil gambar untuk U.S. military drawing up options should Syria use chemical weapons

But Russia’s Vladimir Putin said on Friday a ceasefire would be pointless as it would not involve Islamist militant groups it deems terrorists.

Dunford has warned about the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib and instead has recommended more narrowly tailored operations against militants there. “There’s a more effective way to do counterterrorism operations than major conventional operations in Idlib,” he said.

In support of the Idlib operation, Russia has deployed a significant naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean, with weaponry capable of reaching across Syria.

The Marine exercise took place near the U.S. garrison at Tanf, along the Syrian-Iraqi border near Jordan, around which the Americans have long declared a 35-mile deconfliction zone off-limits to others. It followed a Russian notification, and U.S. rejection, of a plan to enter the zone to pursue “terrorists.”

“The United States does not seek to fight the Russians, the government of Syria or any groups that may be providing support to Syria in the Syrian civil war,” Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said in a statement. “However, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend U.S., coalition or partner forces.”

[Reuters, The Washington Post]

6. Ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos sentenced to 14 days in prison

Hasil gambar untuk George Papadopoulos gets 14 days in prison

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was sentenced Friday to 14 days in prison after pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI. Papadopoulos lied about his 2016 communications with a British professor who said Russians could offer the Trump campaign “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

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Though he pleaded guilty, he asked for no jail time, with his lawyers explaining he was merely “misguided” in his effort to remain loyal to his “master.” The judge reportedly found Papadopoulos “remorseful,” opting to give him a short sentence, a $9,500 fine, and 200 hours of community service. [CNN, BuzzFeed News]

7. Tesla shares plunge after Elon Musk smokes pot in live interview

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Tesla stock went into free fall Friday after chief executive Elon Musk smoked marijuana during an interview on comedian Joe Rogan’s live podcast Thursday night. The company’s stocks were already at a record low Wednesday, and two Tesla executives announced their departures Friday.

Hasil gambar untuk Tesla bond hits record low, stock slips as investor worry deepens

One of them, the chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, specifically cited “the level of public attention placed on the company” as a reason for his exit. Musk’s bizarre public behavior of late reportedly has staff and investors concerned about his leadership. [Reuters, The Week]

8. Dallas police officer fatally shoots man after entering wrong apartment

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A Dallas police officer fatally shot a man named Botham Jean late Thursday after she mistakenly entered his apartment, believing it to be her own. The officer, who has not been identified, has not been arrested, but Dallas police are obtaining a warrant on manslaughter charges and have asked the Texas Rangers to lead the investigation for the sake of accountability.

Jean hailed from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. He came to the U.S. for college and worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. “He was really inspiring,” said Jean’s brother, Brandt. “He had a positive mind and vibe.” [CNN, KDFW]

9. Rapper Mac Miller dead at 26

Mac Miller found dead inside his Studio City home; drug overdose suspected

Rapper Mac Miller died Friday of what appears to be an overdose. The 26-year-old rapper, whose real name is Malcolm James McCormick, had released his latest album, Swimming, last month. Miller has been open about his struggles with substance abuse in the past, and he was charged with a DUI after a May car accident. His addiction issues contributed to a breakup with longtime girlfriend Ariana Grande in May, Grande has said. Last month, a Rolling Stone article about the rapper was titled, “Mac Miller wants you to know he’s okay.” [Variety, Los Angeles Times]

10. NFL kickoff weekend continues after Eagles beat Falcons in opener

Hasil gambar untuk NFL Week 1 picks: Cowboys stun Panthers, Browns shock Steelers for first win since 2016

The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons kicked off the NFL season in earnest Thursday, with the defending Super Bowl champions eking out an 18-12 win. The Eagles ran “Philly Philly” in the middle of the third quarter — a trick play very similar to the iconic “Philly Special” call that earned quarterback Nick Foles a touchdown reception in last year’s Super Bowl — with wide receiver Nelson Agholor feeding his signal-caller for a 15-yard gain. Week 1 continues with games Sunday, including Pittsburgh-Cleveland at 1 p.m. ET on CBS and Dallas-Carolina at 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox. [ESPN, CBS Sports]


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