Politics & Government

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Friday News Roundup - International

Nov 3, 2017

A terror attack ended the lives of six international tourists who were visiting New York this week. The suspect, a 29-year-old man from Uzbekistan, is in custody and authorities are working to learn more about why he may have carried out this act of deadly violence.

Since the day he took office, President Trump's critics have been seeking more information about his company's lease to operate a hotel inside a taxpayer-owned building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

They have tried asking for records but have gotten nowhere.

Will a federal jury in New Jersey view a powerful U.S. senator and his wealthy friend as the yin and yang of a corrupt bribery scheme?

Or will they see Sen. Bob Menendez and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen as two longtime friends who exchanged gifts and took vacations together?

That tension was at the center of closing arguments that attorneys made on Thursday in federal court in Newark as the wide-ranging corruption trial of both men came to a close.

Updated on Nov. 3 at 11:04 a.m. E.D.T.

President Donald Trump said "I don't remember much" about a March 2016 meeting at which a foreign policy adviser proposed setting up a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It was a very unimportant meeting, took place a long time ago," Trump told reporters at the White House before he boarded a helicopter for his trip to Asia.

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President Trump says: "I'm the only one that matters" in setting U.S. foreign policy, thus downplaying the importance of high-level jobs such as the assistant secretary of state, which is currently vacant.

"Let me tell you, the one that matters is me," Trump said in an interview that aired on Fox News on Thursday night. "I'm the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that's what the policy is going to be. You've seen that, you've seen it strongly."

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It wasn't long ago that President Donald Trump, was asked by a reporter if he was aware of campaign contacts with Russia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So you're not aware of any contacts...

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

With news from the special counsel's probe into Russian interference in the presidential election still swirling in Washington, President Trump is leaving Friday on his longest foreign trip to date.

The Asian odyssey will take him to five countries and two international summits. Trade issues and North Korea's nuclear threat are likely to dominate the discussions. Here's a quick primer on what to watch for at each stop:

Japan

This week, Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller picked up the public pace of his team's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Indictments were unsealed, and a potentially important plea agreement revealed.

Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in this week's New York terrorist attack, is a native of Uzbekistan who came to the U.S. through the diversity visa lottery. It's a system for people from countries that have sent relatively few immigrants to the United States in the past five years.

Now, the attack that killed eight has brought heightened scrutiny to the program and prompted calls to end it.

House Republicans selling their new tax plan have a great sales pitch: It will simplify taxes so much you'll be able to file your return on a postcard! GOP leaders brandished just such a prop in their rollout of the overhaul Thursday and gave a couple to President Trump at their meeting with him at the White House.

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It wasn't long ago that President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter if he was aware of campaign contacts with Russia.

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And here is how the president responded to that question back in February.

Updated at 5:10 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton's campaign gained significant control over the Democratic National Committee's finances and strategy more than a year before the election in exchange for helping the party retire lingering debt from the 2012 presidential campaign, according to a new book by a former party chairwoman.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, the first woman to hold that position, won't have the opportunity to serve four more years as leader of the nation's central bank. But she leaves the Fed's top post having largely achieved its mandate to engineer full employment while keeping inflation at a level that fosters growth.

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

Wealthy donor Robert Mercer, whose money helped elect President Trump, is stepping down from the giant hedge fund he co-heads and is selling his stake in the conservative website Breitbart News to his daughters.

In a letter sent Thursday to his investors at Renaissance Technologies LLC, Mercer, 71, defended his brand of libertarian politics, but also expressed regret for his support of controversial former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his business associate Rick Gates to remain under home confinement and GPS monitoring for now.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson decided to keep in place the restrictions that were put on the two men at their initial court appearance on Monday. Jackson said the unsecured bonds set earlier this week — $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates — may not be enough to ensure the two men remain in the court's jurisdiction. She set a bail hearing for Monday.

Updated on Nov. 15 at 6:00 p.m. ET

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Let's drill down further on one part of that tax bill unveiled today - the elimination of state and local tax deductions. That is a prospect that has drawn criticism from lawmakers from states with high taxes, among them Republican Leonard Lance of New Jersey.

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President Trump on Thursday named Jerome Powell to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve, the first time in decades that a president hasn't reappointed a chief of the central bank for a second term.

If confirmed by the Senate, Powell, 64, will succeed Janet Yellen — the first woman to head the Fed — whose term expires in February. Powell, a current member of the Fed's board of governors, is expected to pursue policies largely in line with the gradual interest rate hikes of the Yellen-led Fed.

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National Parks … For A Price

Nov 2, 2017

America’s national parks are treasured territory, to say the least. But how much are they worth to see?

Entry fees at some of the most visited parks like Rocky Mountain and Joshua Tree could go up during the 2018 peak season — as high as $70 per family car.

A former Trump campaign official has withdrawn from consideration for a job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture after being pulled into the imbroglio over Russia's interference efforts against the U.S. in the 2016 presidential race.

Sam Clovis said on Thursday that he would not go forward in trying to become the USDA's undersecretary for research, education and economics.

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Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET

House Republicans unveiled a draft tax bill on Thursday, calling for deep cuts in both individual and corporate tax rates.

"With this bill, we will grow our economy by delivering more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks to Americans of all walks of life," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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