Politics & Government

Politics, elections, law, military and veteran's affairs

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on his first official diplomatic visit to Moscow. It comes at a critical time. Both Russia and the White House are talking tough after the U.S. attack on an airbase in Syria last week.

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The White House is a very busy place these days with Syria, health care, the wall. Yet yesterday, some Kansas voters got this message on their phones from President Trump.

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Updated: 6:33 p.m. ET

White House spokesman Sean Spicer warned Russia today that its alliance with Syria is putting it "on the wrong side of history, in a really bad way, really quickly."

The press secretary found himself in the same situation just a moment later, while trying to underscore the horror of Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons.

"You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons," he said, overlooking the millions who were gassed to death in Nazi concentration camps.

We've got one of the best governor races in state history looming for next year. But, Alabamians have had a history of electing governors who have basically had no governmental experience, much less legislative experience...

The Trump administration has accused former President Barack Obama of "weakness and irresolution" for drawing a red line in Syria then failing to enforce it. In the days before and after last week's cruise missile strike, though, Trump's own team has drawn sometimes blurry and conflicting lines. The administration has sent mixed signals about when and why it will use military force, the future of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the role it sees for Russia.

1. Use of military force

Alabama has had its share of what I call "the run for the fun of it" candidates. Our most colorful of these candidates is William Ralph "Shorty" Price...

President Trump is responding to another tough foreign policy crisis with gunboat diplomacy, but the second deployment is likely to look very different from the first.

U.S. Pacific Command has ordered the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its strike group, which includes a cruiser and two destroyers, to "report on station in the Western Pacific Ocean," instead of sailing for Australia as planned.

U.S. presidents have a tradition of entering office and expressing hope for improved relations with Russia. With near perfect symmetry, this is matched by a tradition of presidents leaving office amid friction with Moscow.

Sometimes it takes years for optimism to turn to disillusionment. In the case of President Trump, there are warning signs after just a few months.

"If we could get along with Russia, that's a positive thing," Trump said shortly after his inauguration. "It would be great."

A special election in Kansas on Tuesday has Republicans sounding worried about an enthusiasm gap in the Trump era.

Trump himself was apparently worried enough that he cut a robo call for Republican state party Treasurer Ron Estes.

New York state has passed legislation that would create the largest experiment in the country to offer free tuition at two- and four-year colleges. The Excelsior Scholarship, approved over the weekend as part of the state budget, would cover full-time students in the State University of New York system, which totals 64 campuses and 1.3 million students.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and state education leaders in an event hailing the new program, which would begin this fall and is estimated to cost $163 million per year.

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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley insisted he was not resigning right up until the moment that he resigned.

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As the Trump administration considers steps to implement what the president has called extreme vetting of foreigners at the border, one aspect of security screening has already been amped up.

The number of people who have been asked to hand over their cellphones and passwords by Customs and Border Protection agents has increased nearly threefold in recent years. This is happening to American citizens as well as foreign visitors.

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In a statement last week justifying his change of heart on U.S. military intervention in Syria, President Trump spoke about being moved by images of civilians dying in that apparent chemical weapons attack.

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And now there are nine.

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NEIL GORSUCH: I, Neil M. Gorsuch, do solemnly swear, that I...

Updated at 4:23 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is recommending the White House nominate Washington labor lawyer Eric Dreiband to lead the Justice Department's civil rights division, according to two NPR sources briefed on the hiring process.

The newest member of the Supreme Court celebrated his swearing-in with a public ceremony in the White House Rose Garden Monday morning. Neil Gorsuch will cement the conservative 5-4 majority on the high court, delivering on a key campaign promise of President Trump.

"I've always heard that the most important thing that a president of the United States does is appoint people — hopefully great people like this appointment — to the United States Supreme Court," Trump said. "And I got it done in the first 100 days."

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As this week begins, we have a bipartisan view of the war in Syria. Many lawmakers in both parties praised President Trump for responding to the apparent use of chemical weapons. Trump, as you'll recall, ordered missile strikes on a Syrian airfield.

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This next discussion has a theme sentence - a sentence about the U.S. approach to Syria. It's spoken here by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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A bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was resuscitated just in time for members of Congress to go back to their home districts. House Speaker Paul Ryan said this on Thursday.

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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley insists he will stay in the job.

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ROBERT BENTLEY: I do not plan to resign. I have done nothing illegal.

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