<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Politics and Political News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usFri, 20 Oct 2017 06:34:45 -0700Fri, 20 Oct 2017 06:34:45 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Obama Returns to the Campaign Trail]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:36:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DIT+OBAMA+CAMPAIGNING+THUMB.jpg

Former President Barack Obama returned to the political spotlight Thursday for the first time since leaving office by campaigning for the Democratic nominees for Governor in New Jersey and Virginia.

<![CDATA[Bipartisan Senate Bill Aims to Prevent Western Wildfires]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:00:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/wildfire.GettyImages-591911058-2.jpg

As wildfires rage across California and the West, Democratic and Republican senators have joined forces to help rural communities better prepare for and prevent catastrophic wildfires.

A bill introduced Thursday by senators from three Northwestern states would authorize more than $100 million to help at-risk communities prevent wildfires and create a pilot program to cut down trees in the most fire-prone areas.

Under a streamlined approval process, forest managers would "thin" pine forests near populated areas and do controlled burns in remote regions. The bill also calls for detailed reviews of any wildfire that burns over 100,000 acres.

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state said the bill would "create new tools to reduce fire risk and help better protect our communities," especially those in the Northwest near fire-prone pine forests.

Cantwell, top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, co-sponsored the bill with Democrats Patty Murray of Washington state, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republicans Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Risch, who also serves on the natural resources panel, said the nation needs to "actively manage our forests to reduce the fuel available for fires to burn."

The bipartisan bill is a compromise between Republicans eager to make it easier for federal land managers to thin overgrown woodlands and Democrats dubious of allowing timber companies greater access to harvest federally owned forests.

The bill comes as lawmakers from both parties push to rework a federal funding formula that makes it hard for officials to budget for extreme wildfire seasons such as the one ravaging the West this year. The formula ties spending to a 10-year average for wildfires even as fires burn longer and hotter each year and forces officials to tap money meant for prevention programs to fight wildfires.

Western lawmakers are seeking to ensure that Congress includes a fix to the "fire borrowing" problem in disaster-aid legislation being considered in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

"Congress must continue to pursue efforts aimed at reducing the risk and severity of wildfires and end the 'fire borrowing' that takes funds from other Forest Service maintenance priorities," Crapo said.

The bipartisan forest-management bill won praise from a range of timber industry, firefighting and conservation groups.

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said the bill "will improve forest health and mitigate fire risks."

Travis Joseph, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group, called the bill "a thoughtful response to our nation's public forest health crisis."

Thomas Jenkins, fire chief in Rogers, Arkansas, and chairman of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said the bill would provide needed resources to protect at-risk communities and assist federal agencies develop preparedness programs.

Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kelly 'Stunned' by Rep.'s Criticism of Trump's Call to Widow]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 20:36:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kelly_FULL-150844371186000002.jpg

White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday he was "stunned" and "broken hearted" by a Florida congresswoman woman's criticism of President Donald Trump's phone call to one of the families of Americans killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago.

<![CDATA['Casual Cruelty' Degrades US Discourse, George W. Bush Warns]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:54:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_17292573775204-George-W.-Bush-Speech.jpg

Former President George W. Bush is warning against the proliferation of cruelty and bigotry in American life that is threatening public discourse and may be harming faith in democracy.

Bush's comments deriding the divisions in the United States came Thursday at an event held by his institute in New York. He will accept an award at West Point.

"Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children," he said, adding later, "bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed."

While Bush took aim at bullying from public figures, a representative said his comments weren't meant to criticize President Donald Trump, who is embroiled in a feud with a Democratic congresswoman over whether he made an insensitive remark to the grieving wife of a fallen soldier.

The speech also comes on the day that a white nationalist is speaking at the University of Florida, with the governor declaring a state of emergency to free up public safety resources for expected demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.

Bush said there are signs that support for democracy is on the wane, especially among young people, who didn't live through the Cold War, and that "casual cruelty" has degraded public discourse. 

He also took a shot at the economic promises that won Trump the White House, though without naming the president.

"We cannot wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution," Bush said, while acknowledging that globalization has caused some pain and anger.

A Bush spokesman told NBC News that the speech wasn't a criticism of President Donald Trump, saying, "These are the same themes President Bush has spoken on for the last two decades."

Photo Credit: Seth Wenig/AP]]>
<![CDATA['Casual Cruelty': Bush Criticizes Current State of Politics ]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 09:33:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GWB_Criticizes_Current_State_of_Politics-150842953611900002.jpg

Former president George W. Bush criticized the current state of American politics and the Trump administration with a pointed speech on the "casual cruelty" common in modern political discussions, as well as references to a tyrannical government, at the George W. Bush Institute on Oct. 19, 2017. 

<![CDATA[Protesters Decry 'Nazi Hate' at While Nationalist's Speech]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 20:27:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-863078442.jpg

Crowds of demonstrators gathered at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville Thursday, holding signs and chanting anti-Nazi slogans in protest of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Hundreds of police officers stood outside the UF Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to prevent violence. 

Anti-Spencer protesters shouted, "Not in our town! Not in our state! We don't want your Nazi hate!"

Inside the venue, dozens of officers in riot gear stood guard around the auditorium. Throughout the event, protesters tried to drown out Spencer's speech, chanting "go home Spencer" and "black lives matter."   

Spencer, who preaches a fiery brand of politics and looks to preserve a white majority in America, was one of the organizers of the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that left one counter demonstrator dead and several others injured when a vehicle plowed into a crowd of people.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials urged people to ignore Spencer and his event. On Tuesday, Scott even declared a state of emergency to direct resources to ensure the community's safety during the event.

"The values of our universities are not shared by Mr. Spencer, the National Policy Institute or his followers," UF President W. Kent Fuchs said in a taped message earlier this week. "Our campuses are places where people from all races, origins and religions are welcome and or treated with love."

Fuchs estimates the school will spend $600,000 on security for Spencer's speech. The school has called in hundreds of law enforcement officers from federal, state, county and city sources. Streets will be blocked off, and movement around the campus tightly controlled.

The president said Spencer is "hijacking" public universities — which are compelled by the First Amendment to provide a speaking forum — and forcing taxpayers to pay the resulting security costs. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government, in this case a public university, cannot charge speakers for security costs.

Earlier in the day, Spencer got into a heated exchange with NBC News reporter Kerry Sanders during a press conference before his speaking event.

Spencer denied Sanders claim that he would "only allow my extremist supporters into the audience" and demanded a retraction.

Sanders reported on the "Today" show Thursday that Spencer had 700 tickets to distribute for the event and would "only give them to those who believe in his extremist beliefs." 

"I have said the exact opposite of that on multiple occasions to many reporters," Spencer said. "So, one of two things happened: You were ignorant of this and you didn't do suitable research, which is understandable, I've certainly made lots of mistakes. Or you lied. So I'm curious, which of those two things happened."

Spencer initially refused to take questions until Sanders retracted his statement, to which the reporter responded, "Let’s try this: Tick tock. People are here to hear you speak."

The school initially said it would not approve an application for the speech from the National Policy Institute before reversing course, saying while they disapprove of Spencer’s message, he has a First Amendment right to speak at the public university.

The leader of the conservative alt-right movement recently spoke of his First Amendment right and his upcoming speech in Gainesville.

"This is where the rubber hits the road, this is where free speech is really meaningful," he said in an alt-right podcast online. "It's not just some abstract concept. I mean every single American citizen, if you ask them, 'Do you support free speech?' 99.9 percent of them say ‘Yes, of course we love free speech.'"

Spencer's National Policy Institute is paying $10,564 to rent space for the speaking event.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[In DNC Shakeup, Perez Ousts Longtime Party Officials]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 19:04:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/perAP_17057091388173.jpg

A shakeup is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

Perez took over as chairman with a pledge earlier this year that he would unite the party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary, NBC News reported.

Complaints began immediately after party officials saw a list of Perez' appointments to DNC committees and his roster of 75 "at-large" members, who are chosen by the chair.

The removal and demotion of a handful of veteran operatives stood out. Among those is Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic chairman and longtime DNC official who ran against Perez for chair before backing Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who lost his spots on the Executive Committee and DNC Rules Committee. 

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Pentagon Sends Team to Niger to Find 'Basic Raw Facts']]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:43:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pentagon-ext.jpg

The U.S. military says it continues to search for answers about what happened in Niger two weeks ago, After four U.S. soldiers were killed during an ambush in Niger tour weeks ago, The Pentagon has sent a team to the country to conduct a "review of the facts," two U.S. defense officials told NBC News.

The inquiry is not being called an "investigation" but that the team needs "to collect some very basic raw facts," one defense official said.

In addition to the Pentagon, a top Senate Republican wants answers. Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain of Arizona told reporters this week that the Trump administration was not being forthcoming about what happened in Niger.

The ambush appears to have been orchestrated by a branch of ISIS. The team wants to know where U.S. forces were when the attack occurred, if they had adequate personal protective equipment, and if they prepared for the attack. Also, was there adequate intelligence in advance of the mission and adequate response to the attack?

Photo Credit: Andy Dunaway/USAF via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[US Rep. Calls Trump a 'Liar,' Niger Attack His 'Benghazi']]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:33:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/AP_171284199158.jpg

Calling Donald Trump a "liar," U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson on Wednesday fiercely defended her statements over his call with a fallen U.S. soldier's widow. She is also demanding answers on the Niger attack in which her constituent and three other soldiers died, saying it will be "Mr. Trump's Benghazi."

Wilson gave several interviews in which she discussed Trump's call and also detailed the exemplary service of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, a Miami Gardens native.

Trump has been under heavy criticism after Wilson recounted her version of the conversation on Tuesday.

"I heard him say 'Well, you know ... I'm sure he knows that this is what he signed up for, but it still hurts,'" Wilson told "The View." "And the saddest part of this, he kept referring to La David as 'your guy.' He never called his name. It was almost as if he forgot his name, and that's what hurt the mother so badly, the wife, she said 'he doesn't even know his name.'"

Wilson said Trump had to be aware that there were multiple people who could have heard the conversation between him and Myeshia Johnson, the pregnant widow.

Wilson, Wilson's driver, the limousine driver, Johnson's aunt and uncle, Myeshia, and a U.S. Army official were all present in the car at the time of the call, Wilson recounted.

When Trump called, Myeshia had recently found out that her husband would not receive an open-casket funeral because of the condition of his body.

Wilson said Myeshia was "grief-stricken."

After hearing Trump's comment, Wilson said she demanded to speak to him.

"And they said 'No ... You can't speak with him. Why did you want to speak with him?' I said 'because I wanted to curse him out,'" Wilson added.

Wilson unapologetically responded when the ladies of "The View" mentioned Trump has denied making the comments.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to state: "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!"

Trump did not elaborate on what proof he could provide.

"President Trump is a liar. If he was taping the conversation, bring it on!" Wilson said.

A White House spokeswoman said later there was no recording of the call.

Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she did hear the conversation and that Trump "did disrespect my son," also corroborating Wilson's account of the conversation.

In demanding answers about the attack that killed Johnson and three other U.S. special forces soldiers, Wilson said she wants to know why it took two days to discover his body, why he was not protected in an armored truck while traveling and why he had weapons weaker than those of the militants that carried out the deadly Oct. 4 ambush.

"This is going to be Mr. Trump's Benghazi because I cannot get the answers. Nobody can get the answers, and until we get those answers ... It is his Benghazi and this whole thing about what he said to the widow is a cover-up," Wilson said.

A GoFundMe page was created Monday in Myeshia's name to benefit her and the sergeant's kids' college funds. As of Wednesday night, it had raised more than $515,000.

On an earlier appearance on MSNBC, Wilson said Myeshia was "crying the whole time, and when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, 'He didn't even remember his name.'"

"He was almost like joking. He said ... something to the fact that 'he knew what he was getting into when he signed up but I guess it hurts anyway," Wilson said. "You know – just matter of factly, that this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die and that's the way we interpreted it. It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy and unnecessary. I was livid."

When asked if she was complicit in politicizing the conversation about the deaths of soldiers, Wilson said she was just answering a question asked by the local press.

"Someone asked me a question. 'Did you hear the call? Tell us what you heard.' I told them what I heard. That's not politicizing anything. That was my constituent," Wilson said.

Wilson also further cemented her position on Wednesday by releasing an official statement.

“Despite President Trump’s suggestion that I have recanted my statement or misstated what he said, I stand firmly by my original account of his conversation with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson," Wilson wrote. "Moreover, this account has been confirmed by family members who also witnessed Mr. Trump’s incredible lack of compassion and sensitivity."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders strongly criticized Wilson's statements.

"The hardest job he has is making calls like that. I think it is appalling what the congresswoman has done in the way she's politicized this issue and the way she is trying to make this about something that it isn't," Sanders said Wednesday.

Photo Credit: AP Images for TV One 2016]]>
<![CDATA[Putin Rival Ties Kushner Meeting to Kremlin Bankers]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:15:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-821582108.jpg

A prominent exiled Russian oligarch said in an exclusive interview with NBC News that he is nearly certain Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign, and that he believes a top Russian banker was not "acting on his own behalf" when he held a controversial meeting with Jared Kushner last December.

The pointed remarks come from a longtime Putin rival, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil executive who was Russia's richest man before he was imprisoned and exiled by the Kremlin.

"I am almost convinced that Putin's people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way," Khodorkovsky told MSNBC’s Ari Melber in his first U.S. television interview since Trump took office.

Khodorkovsky says he believes the likelihood that Putin "personally" tried to cooperate with the Trump campaign to affect the election is a "9 out of 10."

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Trump Adviser Subpoenaed for Russia Investigation]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 10:58:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_16190594804151.jpg

Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page has been subpoenaed as part of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation of Russia's alleged intervention in the 2016 election, a source directly familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The committee expects Page to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions, the source said. Page previously said he would participate in a hearing.

Page, who has repeatedly denied any inappropriate ties to Russia, has drawn scrutiny for meeting with the former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Republican National Convention last year.

On Nov. 1, the committee has scheduled an open hearing with social media giants including Twitter, Facebook and Google.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Governor's Race, Potential Referendum on Trump, Tightens]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 07:34:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/20170613+NorthamGillespie.jpg

With Election Day quickly approaching, the race for Virginia governor is tightening, according to a new tracking poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Democrat Ralph Northam is maintaining his lead over Republican Ed Gillespie, but Gillespie's share has increased slightly.

According to the poll released Tuesday, 48 percent of voters prefer Northam while 44 percent say they would vote for Gillespie. Three percent of voters polled in the survey chose Libertarian Cliff Hyra, and 5 percent said they were  undecided.

The new poll places Northam's lead within the survey's margin of error. 

"With even a weak third-party candidate on the ballot, the winner may not cross the 50 percent mark," said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center. "But there’s plenty of room and time left for Northam to close the deal or for Gillespie to close the gap."

This poll did not include the state's other races.  

Virginia is one of only two states electing governors in 2017, and the contest is getting national attention as a potential early referendum on President Donald Trump's first year. The other gubernatrial race is in New Jersey. 

Gillespie is debating with his advisers whether to ask Trump to campaign with him, The New York Times reported, citing multiple Republican officials. Trump performed well during the presidential election in many rural areas of the state, but not in more populous places like Fairfax County.

Virginia's election will take place Nov. 7. 

<![CDATA[Trump Joked That Pence Wants to 'Hang' Gays: Report]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 18:42:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pence-trump-whispering-EM.jpg

In a profile of Vice President Mike Pence published Monday in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer reported on a meeting among an unnamed legal scholar, President Donald Trump and Pence in which Trump joked that Pence "wants to hang" gay people. 

Mayer also cited two sources who told her Trump routinely enjoys needling the conservative former Indiana governor about his views on abortion and homosexuality, NBC News reported. During the meeting with the legal scholar, Mayer reported Trump "belittled Pence's determination to overturn Roe v. Wade" after the scholar said many states would likely legalize abortion if the Supreme Court were to rule against it.

When the conversation shifted to gay rights, Trump allegedly motioned to Pence and joked, "Don't ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!"

A request for comment from the White House was not immediately returned.

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP (File)]]>