<![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-usTue, 17 Jan 2017 05:05:31 -0800Tue, 17 Jan 2017 05:05:31 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Clinton Supporters Stuck with Pricey Hotels for Inauguration]]> Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:08:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/0116-2017-Craigslist.jpg

Many Hillary Clinton supporters who thought they would be witnessing history on Friday are finding themselves locked into non-refundable hotel rooms they booked well in advance of the November election results.

Morgan Hill-resident Jordan Kamperman is one of those Clinton supporters facing the possibility of losing thousands of dollars on a Washington, D.C. hotel for Friday's inauguration of Donald Trump.

Kamperman, who paid $3,000 for two hotel rooms for three nights, has posted on Craigslist asking anyone to take the rooms off her hands. She is not alone.

There are many other listings by Clinton supporters looking to rid themselves of hotel rooms they booked..

"Now we have the fun task of offloading two pretty expensive hotel rooms for inauguration weekend," said. "And we're just not having any luck doing that."

Chad Norcia and his partner, Juan Hernandez, actively campaigned for Donald Trump and reserved their hotel room months ago in Arlington.

As a thank you for working the campaign., they were recently invited to the inauguration.

"We're one of only two people in all of Santa Clara County to even receive these tickets and this invitation," Norcia said.

Meanwhile, Kamperman said a potential $3,000 bill for two unused hotel rooms in painful. But in the grand scheme of things, it is the election outcome that bothers her more.

"It was really, really important for us as a family as we were going to make this women's pilgrimate to DC," she said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tweeter-in-Chief? Trump Will Keep Personal Handle]]> Tue, 17 Jan 2017 04:51:52 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_16354528098870-donald-trump-mar-a-lago.jpg

President-elect Donald Trump will maintain his personal Twitter account and other social media after his inauguration on Friday, transition officials told NBC News.

The move comes amid uncertainty over how Trump's administration will use White House-certified handles, including @POTUS and @FLOTUS.

Also unclear is how Trump's presidential communications will be saved, as required by law.



Photo Credit: Evan Vucci, AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Memorable Lines From Presidential Inaugurations ]]> Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:24:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/LeadPhoto-Prez.jpg

Abraham Lincoln's speech at his second inauguration ranks among the most famous inaugural addresses, delivered as the Civil War was ending and only a month before his assassination.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in," he said.

In the midst of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt told the country that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Fifty years later, President Ronald Reagan said that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Inaugural addresses date to the country's first president, George Washington, who delivered his first in 1789 before a joint session of Congress in New York City's Federal Hall. He spoke about the importance of government's duty to the public, and according to the Smithsonian, he seemed almost hesitant to take on the newly created role.

"I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good," he said.

President-elect Donald Trump, a man known for a more extemporaneous style, will deliver his address on Friday. 

What must he try to accomplish?

Listeners of every inaugural address want to know how much of the campaign's promises will become administration policy and how much will be forgotten, said Henry W. Brands, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin.  

"This is the really big question regarding Donald Trump," Brands said. "Did he really mean all of those things that he said during the campaign?"

Inaugural addresses signal what an administration hopes to accomplish, and often how it will be different from the outgoing one, he said. 

What makes an address memorable is what happens afterward, he said. 

Lincoln did not celebrate victory but looked forward to bringing the Confederacy back into the Union.

Roosevelt's line is remembered because he went on to fulfill his promise of a "New Deal" for the American people, Brands said. He acted to stabilize the economy and create jobs programs for millions of unemployed Americans. 

"He says, 'government is the solution to our problems,'" Brands said.

Reagan, in his address, told the American people that the era of Franklin Roosevelt was over and he turned the country toward a more conservative time.

Other famous speeches: President John F. Kennedy, who succeeded President Dwight Eisenhower, told the country that "the torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century," a line he delivered on a cold day without a top coat or a hat.

He wanted to show that the young generation was vigorous and "there's Old Ike shivering in that heavy overcoat," Brands said.

And President Barack Obama referred to his historic election: "a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

Below are excerpts of some of the inaugural speeches that were televised.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Crowd Sings 'We Shall Overcome' at MLK Memorial]]> Mon, 16 Jan 2017 08:51:36 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000017418217_1200x675_855830083795.jpg Thousands of people across the country paid homage Monday to Martin Luther King Jr. At a wreath-laying ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the crowd sang "We Shall Overcome" after walking the wreath to an area in front of the statue. ]]> <![CDATA[Trump Signals ‘Insurance for Everybody’]]> Sun, 15 Jan 2017 22:56:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/trumpAP_163490817185542.jpg

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President-elect Donald Trump said he is working on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that would seek to provide "insurance for everybody," The Washington Post reported Sunday night, according to NBC News.

Trump made the comments in a telephone interview late Saturday, The Post said. He gave no details of his replacement plan.

The Post reported that Trump also said he would force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices of prescriptions covered under Medicare and Medicaid.

"They're politically protected but not anymore," he said, according to The Post.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Quickly Recalling Ambassadors Is ‘Risky Move’: Experts]]> Sun, 15 Jan 2017 20:35:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/011317+donald+trump+miami.jpg

A plan by Donald Trump to toss out dozens of ambassadors on the day he takes office risks months of uncertainty in some of the most sensitive parts of the world, according to several experts, NBC News reported.

The president-elect's stance that all politically appointed ambassadors must, with no exceptions, be gone from Day One risks cutting off nations' direct line to the president while Congress wades through the lengthy process of approving their successors, analysts said.

This could be especially pertinent because of Trump's penchant for making candid foreign policy statements from his Twitter account; a good ambassador might be able to provide their host government with reassurances and explanation perhaps absent from the president-elect's forthright 140-character messages.

"You do not want to have a situation where countries are left without a direct link to the president for that long," said Julianne Smith, director of the Strategy and Statecraft Program at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.



Photo Credit: Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MLK Marchers Brave Rain, Cold in DC]]> Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:14:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MLK+March1.jpg

Despite rain and cold weather, marchers filled several blocks in Washington on Saturday as they rallied in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march that was at times also a rally against President-elect Donald Trump.

Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton had organized Saturday's "We Shall Not Be Moved" march and rally ahead of Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. But Trump, whose inauguration will take place in less than a week, was also on marchers' minds.

Holding umbrellas and bundled against temperatures in the mid-30s the crowd chanted "No justice, no peace" and "We will not be moved" but also "We will not be Trumped" and "Love Trumps hate." They cheered when one speaker referenced the comments of Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who has said he will not attend Trump's inauguration and, an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" set to air Sunday, that he doesn't consider Trump a "legitimate president."

"We come not to appeal to Donald Trump, because he's made it clear what his policies are and what his nominations are. We come to say to the Democrats in the Senate and in the House and to the moderate Republicans to `Get some backbone. Get some guts.' We didn't send you down here to be weak-kneed," Sharpton told marchers at a rally after they walked from the Washington Monument to a park near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

Sharpton called on marchers to oppose Trump's nominee for Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, and asked the crowd if they were willing to visit their senators' offices to oppose the nomination. He told them: "We need to make some house calls. We need to stay a little while.'' He later told The Associated Press those visits, involving a number of groups, would begin within the next 10 days.

Joining Sharpton were family members of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Walter Scott, black men whose names have become rallying cries following their deaths.

"When we leave here we have work to do," said Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 on Staten Island, New York, after a white officer placed him in a chokehold.

Carr and Sharpton talked about voting rights, criminal justice reform, health care and "a living wage" as issues marchers should care about.

Sybrina Fulton, whose son Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012, asked marchers to "stand up and make a difference in your community."

Marchers themselves expressed a range of emotions about Trump. Debra Conyers of East Orange, New Jersey, said she was a toddler in 1963 when Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. She said Obama "helped Wall Street" and "helped Main Street." As for Trump: "I'm waiting to see how it unfolds," she said.

Alicia James, a 48-year-old marketing consultant from New York City, said eight years ago she stood with her then 12-year-old son on the National Mall for Obama's first inauguration. She said she doesn't want to see Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act or undo other parts of Obama's legacy, but, she said, if it happens: "You can't erase the impact he has had on this country."



Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Harvey Meets With Trump]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:08:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TrumpHarvey.jpg

Steve Harvey was invited by the Obama and Trump transition teams to meet with President-Elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower earlier Friday.

"Well, you know, it's not my jump into politics. I'm not gonna pass a background check. But it's just me following orders from my friend, President Obama, who says, 'Steve, you gotta,' as he told everybody, get out from behind your computer, stop tweeting and texting, and get out there and sit down and talk," Harvey told reporters following the meeting. "So I stepped from behind my microphone and I came and talked to the guy that's gonna be the 45th president of the United States. I did what I was supposed to do."

At the meeting, Trump introduced Harvey to Dr. Ben Carson, Trump's pick for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, over the phone. They discussed housing and mentoring programs for inner cities youths. Harvey wants to "bring about some positive in the inner cities," which he felt was his "only agenda."

Harvey and Carson say they want to make a difference in cities like Chicago and Detroit. "Carson expressed that cause, quite naturally, he's from Detroit," said Harvey.

"I walked away feeling like I had just talked with a man who genuinely wants to make a difference in this area," said Harvey in a tweet posted after the meeting.

"It's an honor to be invited to talk and I think that's the only way that we're gonna unify our country. We gotta talk, you know. President Obama said, 'You gotta sit down and talk,'" Harvey told a reporter.

When asked about Trump's pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who has been criticized for his work against civil rights, Harvey said "I don't really like commenting on stuff I don't really understand or know about."

Harvey, who turns 60 on Jan. 17, told reporters he would not be attending Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20 because, he deadpanned, his wife informed him they would not be attending.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer
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<![CDATA[Washington's Bible, Lincoln's Hair: Inauguration Symbolism]]> Tue, 17 Jan 2017 03:55:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Presidentsthree.jpg

President Barack Obama used Abraham Lincoln’s and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bibles at his swearing in ceremony in 2013, two presidents used a chair George Washington sat in at his inaugural and George W. Bush wore his father's cufflinks at the ceremony.

A week before the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, it was still not clear if Donald Trump would also include such nods to history and symbolism on the historic day.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee's director of communications declined to provide details about what Bible Trump will use or what poem will be read at the 58th presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. 

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Boris Epshteyn assured, however, the inauguration will be “full of symbols.” For example, he said Wednesday, Jan. 11, the parade will be shorter than in years prior because Trump wants to get to work as soon as possible. Trump plans to attend three balls, in contrast with Obama who went to 10 balls in 2009 and former President George W. Bush who attended eight balls to celebrate his first inauguration. Epshteyn said a shorter parade and a smaller numbers of balls — one of the three will salute the armed forces and first responders — symbolize Trump’s commitment to the American people and “getting to work” right away.

“The President-elect is representative of the people, Epshteyn said. "This inaugural is all about the people and the armed forces ball will be saluting the first responders so the EMTs, the firemen, the police, who help save lives in this country every single day. So that’s symbolic about thinking and honoring those responders across the country.”

He later added, “This inaugural is of the people by the people and for the people.”

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Jim Bendat, one of the nation's leading experts on presidential inauguration history and author of “Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013” said “it’s pretty hard to predict what Trump” will say in his speech or if he’ll use objects with links to the past at his inaugural.

"We’ll just have to see," he said.

Bendat added that including objects of historical importance in the inauguration is symbolic of how our country has evolved but also illustrates what traditions we want to continue. 

Take a look at examples of symbolism from past inaugurations:

1: George Washington’s Bible: The Bible used by the nation’s first president during his oath in 1789 has been kept at the archives of the St. John’s Masonic Lodge in New York City. That Bible is still on display and four other presidents have used it during their swearing in: Warren Harding in 1921, Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, Jimmy Carter in 1977 and George H. W. Bush in 1989. George W. Bush also wanted to use that Bible in 2001, and it was brought in from New York to D.C. the day before the ceremony. But the inauguration day was cold and rainy and the St. John’s members who transported the Bible from New York would not allow for it to be brought outside in those weather conditions. So George W. Bush used a family Bible, instead. “It’s a link to the past," Bendat said of the president's use of a Bible.

2. Washington's Chair: George Washington sat in a particular chair during the 1789 inauguration and that exact chair was preserved and then used in later inaugurations. Ulysses S. Grant used it in 1873 and James Garfield sat in it, too, at the 1881 ceremony.

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3. Bible Not Required: There’s no requirement that a Bible be used during a presidential swearing in. John Quincy Adams, who was a lawyer, placed his hand upon a book of constitutional law when he took the oath in 1825. There were also some sudden inaugurations after the death of a president where no Bible or other book was used. Chester Arthur was sworn in 1881 in his own home following the death of James Garfield and there was no Bible at the house. When Theodore Roosevelt became president after William McKinley’s assassination in 1901, the oath was administered at a friend’s home where no Bible could be found. After Warren Harding died in 1923, Calvin Coolidge was sworn in without placing his hand on a Bible, though a Bible was on the table in his father’s home where the ceremony took place.

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 4. Lincoln’s Hair: In 1905, Teddy Roosevelt was sworn in as president and close to him was a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair. John Hay, Roosevelt’s secretary of state who worked under Lincoln 40 years earlier, sent him a locket that contained the former president’s hair. Roosevelt had been a great admirer of Lincoln and was so inspired by Hay’s gesture that he took the locket with him to the ceremony.

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5. Open White House: Andrew Jackson, considered the first real Washington outsider to become president in 1829, took the term "open house" seriously on inauguration day. He invited the public to the White House and his supporters strolled in wearing muddy boots. They ruined the carpets, tore down the curtains and trashed the residence. The story goes that someone put a tub of whiskey out onto the White House lawn and the drunken party slowly left the White House. Opening up the White House was a pretty common occurrence in the 19th century, Bendat said. On Abraham Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1865, it was estimated the president shook hands with about 6,000 people in just 3 hours. Among them was Frederick Douglass, who told Lincoln that his speech, trying to bring the country together at the end of the Civil War, was "a sacred effort." According to Bendat, "That was the first time in U.S. history that the president had greeted and sought the opinion of a free, black man inside the White House."



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[John Lewis Doesn't See Trump as 'a Legitimate President']]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:32:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-157149351.jpg

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Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., does not believe Donald Trump was legitimately elected, telling NBC News in an exclusive interview Friday that he believes Russians "participated in helping this man get elected" and "helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton."

Lewis, a leader in the fight for civil rights, said so after being asked in an interview for "Meet the Press" whether he would try to forge a relationship with the president-elect.

Lewis said he believes in forgiveness and working with people, but added, "it's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."

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Lewis also said that he doesn't plan on attending Trump's inauguration, the first time he'll miss one in his 30-year career in Congress.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Smithsonian Mag, File
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<![CDATA[Obama's Legacy]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 09:26:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ap-obama-legacy-thumb.jpg

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<![CDATA[Donald Trump's Inauguration: If You Are Going]]> Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:14:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-624646258.jpg

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<![CDATA[Donald Trump's Inauguration: Full Coverage]]> Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:11:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-624646258.jpg

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<![CDATA[Donald Trump's Transition to the Presidency: Full Coverage]]> Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:04:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-624646258.jpg

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<![CDATA[Ambitious Dems Seize Spotlight During Trump Cabinet Hearings]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 04:58:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-159551978.jpg

Donald Trump's inauguration is still a week away, but opposing the president-elect is good politics for any ambitious Democrat with eyes on a White House bid, NBC News reported.

That could be why some of the most outspoken opposition to Trump's cabinet appointees during this week's confirmation hearings has come from Democrats widely seen as potential presidential contenders four years from now. 

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was the most brazen in using the confirmation hearings to raise his personal profile, breaking precedent to become the first senator in history testify against a fellow member of the chamber. He was swarmed by reporters as he left the hearing room where he spoke out against Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick for Attorney General.

But other up-and-coming senators often mentioned in Democrats' 2020 fantasy draft picks leveraged the spotlight on their committees' hearings to press their issues and demonstrate their rhetorical chops.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Extra]]>
<![CDATA[Comey Told Trump About Dossier After Briefing]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:40:41 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Trump_Comey.jpg

President-elect Donald Trump was informed about the existence of the unverified allegations against him about Russian ties after last Friday's intelligence briefing at Trump Tower on alleged Russian hacking, U.S. officials told NBC News.

A senior U.S. official said that it was FBI Director James Comey himself who pulled Trump aside after the briefing and spoke with him one-on-one about the so-called "dossier," 35 pages of memos prepared by a former British spy for an anti-Trump client prior to last year's election.

As NBC News has previously reported, Trump was not informed on the contents of the dossier during the formal briefing.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Awards Biden Presidential Medal of Freedom]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 03:44:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-631564170.jpg

President Barack Obama awarded a teary-eyed Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday, praising the vice president as an "extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service."

Obama said he's bestowing Biden, who appeared visibly stunned, with the nation's highest civilian honor for "faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and a lifetime of service that will endure through the generations."

"For the first and only time in my presidency, I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, an honor my three most recent successors have reserved for only three others: Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Gen. Colin Powell," Obama said at a White House ceremony billed as a tribute dedicated to honoring the outgoing vice president.

Taking the podium, a surprised Biden said he had "no inkling." 

The vice president said he doesn't deserve the honor, but knows "it came from the president's heart."

Biden praised his wife and children for their support throughout his career, and praised the Obama family for their dedication to country and service.

"I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things," Biden said.

With Biden by his side, Obama says the tribute will give the Internet one last chance to joke about the "bromance" the two share.

He honored Biden’s lifetime of public service, including his decades in the Senate and eight years as president, from the Violence Against Women Act, diplomacy, his “cancer moonshot,” and “It’s On Us” campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

Obama says his choice of Biden was the "best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people."

Listing the influences in Biden's life, from the nuns who taught him in grade school, to his Senate colleagues, to his parents, the president commended the "Biden heart."

"His work does not capture the full measure of Joe Biden, I haven’t even mentioned Amtrak, aviators, and 'literally,'” he quipped.

Noting that Biden's career is "nowhere close to finished," Obama says his vice president will go on to have an impact domestically and internationally.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers 'Just Lost San Diego': Mayor]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 12:06:48 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Bye-Chargers-0.jpg

It’s official. After 50 years, the Chargers organization is relocating to Los Angeles. Now what?

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, calling the move a "bad decision", said team owners would soon regret it.

“San Diego didn’t lose the Chargers,” Faulconer said. “The Chargers just lost San Diego.”

Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced his decision to leave San Diego through a letter posted to the team website and social media just after 8 a.m.

"After much deliberation, I have made the decision to relocate the Chargers to Los Angeles, beginning with the 2017 NFL season," Spanos said.

Faulconer told reporters he learned the news from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday night but didn't hear from Spanos until after the team announced the move online. 

Goodell had been supportive of efforts to solve the stadium stalemate in San Diego, the second largest city in the state of California and home to a loyal football fan base.

The commissioner said Spanos and the Chargers had "worked tirelessly" to find a solution with city officials.

However, Faulconer and other leaders from the city and county said the team was not willing to work with the city.

“At the end of the day, the Chargers wanted a lot more taxpayer money than we could ever agree to,” he said.

"The ownership of this team’s handshake and their word has meant nothing through this entire process,” City Councilmember Scott Sherman said. “We diligently put effort after effort through this entire process only to be told that’s not going to work, ‘It’s our way or the highway.’”

County Supervisor Ron Roberts used words like “spiteful, “one-sided” and “strong arm” to describe the negotiations.

“We have a lot of great memories but when it comes to the public treasury there are limits to what you’re willing to do,” Roberts said. “We must and we will move on without the Chargers.”

City Councilmember Chris Ward issued a statement in writing and echoed those of his colleagues.

"It is a sad day for fans and unfortunate that the Chargers commitment to our city was ultimately contingent on receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, but now we can finally move forward as a community," Ward said. "We face real challenges with housing affordability, strained neighborhood services, and a growing homeless crisis and I remain committed and focused on addressing these issues for all San Diegans."



Photo Credit: Artie Ojeda]]>
<![CDATA[World Reacts to Trump's Post-Election Press Conference]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:38:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/AP_17011610067565-news.jpg

Americans weren't the only ones tuning into Donald Trump's first press conference since being elected president — people around the world watched for clues on how the new administration would impact their lives.

"We don't care [about Trump], as long as life's good in Russia," Irina Smirnova, a 39-year old Moscow resident, told NBC News. 

"I had to grin several times," a professor of American Studies at Heidelberg University in Germany told NBC News' partner ZDF. "But in regard to the power of the office you choke on the laughter. Trump's speech reminded of a sitcom, which at the end was more like a horror comedy."

Click through for more reaction from other countries. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Read Pompeo's Prepared Remarks for CIA Chief Hearing]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 07:18:59 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pompeo1.jpg

Statement for the Record before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
The Honorable Mike Pompeo
January 12, 2017

Senator Dole, thank you for your kind words. But more importantly, thank you for the great service you have performed for Kansas and for America both in your life as an elected official, as a soldier in WWII and as a patriot who worked so hard to build the memorial to honor those who fought in that war. Every Kansan—and I think it’s safe to say, all of your former colleagues here in the Senate—know that they have benefitted from your wit, your patriotism and your kindness. I know that I have.

Senator Roberts, thank you too for your kind introduction. I am especially grateful for your guidance over the years, not simply because you are the Dean of our Kansas Congressional delegation, but due to your insights as the former Chairman of this committee. As Chairman, you provided critical leadership during a pivotal and challenging period of American history – during the early years of the Global War on Terrorism and the Iraq War – and I hope I can continue to count on your advice and counsel.

Chairman Burr, Vice-Chairman Warner, Senators – I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today as the nominee for the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Should I be fortunate enough to be confirmed by the Senate, I hope to visit you more often from Langley than I have from across the Capitol. I mean this not as a criticism of relations between the two Houses of Congress, but a recognition of how much value I would place on relations between the CIA and its Congressional overseers.

I want to thank the members and staff of this Committee for their attention to my nomination over the last few weeks. Since I first joined the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in the 112th Congress, I have felt a special appreciation for the hard work that goes into Congressional oversight. The tremendous honor we have in overseeing the intelligence community is only tempered by the sobering burden of grappling in secret with the many national security challenges facing our country.

I would like to thank President-elect Trump for nominating me to serve in this role and for the faith he has shown in me. It is an honor to be selected as the next steward of the premier intelligence agency that is the CIA. I look forward to working with Senator Dan Coats, nominee for the Director of National Intelligence, and supporting him in his critical role, if we are both confirmed.

I want to thank my patient and patriotic wife Susan, and my son Nicholas, each whom I love dearly. They are both supporting me here this morning. The two of you have been so selfless in allowing me to return to public service— first as a member of Congress and, now, if confirmed, back working with warriors who keep America safe. I cannot tell you how much it means to have you sitting with me today.

I am also grateful to the people of the 4th Congressional District of Kansas, who have entrusted me to represent them in the House of Representatives since 2011. I am proud to have earned and kept their trust, and have cherished every minute of service to my constituents.

That said, having been a Member of the House Intelligence Committee and an overseer of our nation’s intelligence enterprise, I understand full well that my job, if confirmed, will be to change roles from policymaker to information provider. My job will be to stay clearly on the side of intelligence collection and objective analysis of our national security challenges—presenting factual intelligence and sound judgments to policymakers, including this Committee. I have spent the majority of my life outside the realm of politics – as a cavalry officer in the United States Army, then as a litigator, and then running two manufacturing businesses. Returning to duty requiring hard work and unerring candor is something that is in my bones.

***

Today, I would like to first briefly sketch some of the specific challenges facing the U.S.; second, address trends in intelligence I have seen from my post on HPSCI; and finally, describe what I see as the CIA’s role in addressing these challenges.

Threat Environment

First, as many have noted, this is the most complicated threat environment the U.S. has faced in recent memory. The litany is now familiar:

 

  • As Director Clapper acknowledged at the beginning of 2016: “there are now more Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens than at any time in history.”
  • ISIS remains a resilient movement, has metastasized, and shockingly has controlled major urban centers in the Middle East for well over two years. Whereas a few years ago, we focused on stemming the flow of foreign fighters going to Syria and Iraq, today, the concern is making sure they, and those they inspire, are prevented from expanding their reach, returning home, or slaughtering more innocent people.
  •  Syria is a failed state and has become one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the 21st century. This conflict has led to the rise of extremism, sectarianism, instability in the region and Europe, and the worst refugee crisis the world has faced in recent memory.

 

 

  • Iran – the leading state sponsor of terror – has become an emboldened, disruptive player in the Middle East, fueling tension with our Sunni allies.
  • Russia has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction of ISIS.
  • As China flexes its muscles and expands its military and economic reach, its activities in the South and East China Seas and in cyberspace are pushing new boundaries and creating real tension.
  • North Korea has dangerously accelerated its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, with little regard for international pressure.
  • In an increasingly inter-connected world, the cyber domain presents new and growing challenges. Using evolving cyber tools, state and non-state actors continue to probe U.S. systems, exploit vulnerabilities, and challenge our interests.

 

Intelligence Trends

Intelligence is vital to every national security issue facing the United States. As some have said, it is the “lifeblood” of national security and is more in demand than ever.

 

  • Intelligence enables better-informed decisions by reducing uncertainty; it is critical in seeking to avoid strategic or tactical surprise, and to giving our armed forces superior domain awareness.
  • We rely on intelligence from around the globe to keep danger from our shores. High quality precision intelligence enables our military efforts.

 

More and more, intelligence is critical to making effective other elements of national power including sanctions against weapons proliferators, cyber criminals, perpetrators of war crimes, and terrorist financiers.

 

  • We share capabilities and intelligence to improve relationships in furtherance of our national security objectives. Foreign governments and liaison services are vital partners in preventing attacks and providing crucial intelligence. It is important that we thank our foreign partners for standing with us.

 

As we face a deteriorating global picture, the U.S. needs to redouble its efforts by ensuring we have more intelligence, not less. Indeed, senior Intelligence Community leaders worry that recent budget cuts will have a silent, corrosive effect—weakening the fabric of the intelligence community. If confirmed, as Director, I intend to be an advocate for a strong and vibrant intelligence community and for CIA’s centrality in that community.

There are at least five long term trends making the urgency of recognizing and supporting intelligence critically important.

 

  • First, the Intelligence Community finds itself a potential victim of a longer term negative budgetary trend. Given the vital role of intelligence in national security, and given the increasing threats we face, this makes little sense.
  • Second, technological advancement across the globe, even by non-hostile countries, is challenging the U.S. advantage, as commercial technologies spread into the hands of those who wish us harm. The world is gaining on the U.S.
  • We have long seen this dynamic with the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missile technology, but increasingly in the cyber domain, countries thought to be unsophisticated, such as North Korea, have overcome what appear to be low technological barriers of entry to engage in offensive cyber operations. The U.S. must continue to invest wisely to maintain a decisive advantage.
  • The effects of dislocation, lack of governance, and the rise of non-state actors threaten our national security and present critical challenges to the Intelligence Community. This is creating new targets for CIA’s intelligence collection and analysis that compete for attention with the usual state suspects and bad actors.
  • Finally, the insider threat problem has grown exponentially in the digital age. Counterintelligence is a perennial issue and we must be increasingly aware that those within our agencies have access to millions of files. By the same token, the use of digital assets by foreign actors creates intelligence opportunities.

 

7

CIA’s Role

I want to talk in more detail about today’s challenges. The greatest threats to our national security have always been the CIA’s top priorities. And the CIA has always been at the forefront of America’s comprehensive efforts to meet these threats. Since September 11, 2001, the CIA’s activities have been extraordinary. As the tip of the spear in the war on terrorism, the CIA has put tremendous pressure on our enemies, reducing their freedom to plan, communicate and travel.

The CIA has always played integral roles in America’s fight against radical Islamic terror. It sounded warning bells before 9/11 of al Qaeda’s growing global reach. CIA officers were the first into Afghanistan to lay the groundwork for the military effort that struck a major blow to al Qaeda and drove the Taliban from power. From understanding and tearing apart al Qaeda in Iraq networks, to the hunt for bin Laden, the CIA has been at the forefront of the fight every step of the way.

My outline above of hard targets and challenges merely skims the surface of the potential threats facing the United States. If confirmed, it will be the CIA’s mission to bring other pressing problems, risks, and challenges from regions and countries that don’t always make the front page to the attention of senior policymakers. Indeed, if we are doing our job, we will help U.S. policymakers act early to prevent such problems from becoming front page news.

 

  • It will also be the CIA’s mission, and my own, to ensure the Agency remains the best in the world at its core mission: discovering the truth and searching out information. 
  • In this complex threat environment, we must gather intelligence from the most elusive targets and in the most difficult environments. We will need to rely on liaison services and new relationships, which are critical to gathering information around the world. Even so, U.S. intelligence must continue to expand its global coverage to keep up with these threats. While intelligence sharing relationships with our friends and allies are important, they cannot replace our own unilateral recruiting and operations. To protect America, the CIA must continue to be the world’s premier espionage service.
  • One obvious emerging area for increased focus – both unilaterally and in conjunction with our partners – is the cyber domain. The internet – and the connectivity of our world, systems, and devices – is a borderless, global environment, easily and frequently exploited by sophisticated adversaries like China and Russia, as well as by less sophisticated adversaries like Iran and North Korea, non-state actors, terrorist groups, criminal organizations, and hackers. While NSA and Cyber Command play leading roles, cyber has become critical to virtually every intelligence operation and CIA must continue to operate at the forefront on this issue.
  • As the President-elect has made clear, one of my top priorities, if confirmed, is to assist in defeating ISIS. Radical Islamic terrorism is both a symptom and a catalyst of the terrible conflicts raging in the Middle East that have created both a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. The enduring capability of al Qaeda and its affiliates, the rise and resilience of ISIS and Islamic extremists in Libya and across the Middle East, and the brutality of al Shabaab and Boko Haram, should remind us of the need to maintain an aggressive counterterrorism posture. It is also critical to address what manifestations of this threat and ideology emerge – beyond ISIS and al Qaeda.

 

 

  • We must also be rigorously fair and objective in assessing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As the deal permits domestic enrichment and other nuclear research and development, U.S. policymakers will need increased intelligence collection and insightful analysis. While as a Member of Congress I opposed the Iran deal, if confirmed, my role will change. It will be to drive the Agency to aggressively pursue collection operations and ensure analysts have the time, political space, and resources to make objective and methodologically sound judgments. If confirmed, I will present their judgments to policymakers.
  • The same goes for Russia. It is a policy decision as to what to do with Russia, but I understand it will be essential that the Agency provide policymakers with accurate intelligence and clear-eyed analysis of Russian activities.
  • The Agency must also serve as the nation’s sentinel for new and emerging threats and trends, monitoring the convergence of rogue actors and capabilities, and sources of instability that can spread across the globe and undermine U.S. national security. This means that the Agency needs the means, capabilities, reach, and awareness to understand and convey where threats are emerging and how U.S. interests may be vulnerable. This requires constant innovation, analytic rigor, and operational flexibility – hallmarks of the CIA.

 

As a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I fully appreciate the need for transparency with the Congressional oversight committees. If the Intelligence Community does not secure the support of the appropriate Congressional authorities for its activities, the legislative backlash from controversial intelligence failures and controversies can be severe and counterproductive.

We owe it to our constituents to get to the bottom of intelligence failures – as this Committee did with the pre-war Iraq intelligence. But we owe it to the brave Americans of the intelligence community not to shirk our responsibility when unauthorized disclosures to the media expose controversial intelligence activities, or when Edward Snowden, from the comfort of his Moscow safe house, misleads the American people about the NSA’s surveillance activities.

I cannot stress strongly enough how proud of the CIA’s workforce Americans would be if they could peek behind the curtains, as the Committee gets to do, to see them in action. The incredible talent, bravery, and ingenuity these patriots put on the line every day in defense of our country are constant inspirations to me.

On my first visit out to the CIA headquarters a few years ago, I was walking through an analytical targeting cell. I saw a woman who appeared as though she had not slept for weeks, poring over a data set on her screen. I stopped, introduced myself and asked her what she was working on. She said she thought she was just hours away from solving a riddle about the location of a particularly bad character that she had been pursuing for months. She was not about to abandon her post. She had her mission and its completion would make America safer. A true patriot. In the past years, I have come to know that there are countless men and women just like her working to crush our adversaries with world class intelligence operations.

As these quiet professionals grapple with an overwhelming series of challenges in this increasingly uncertain world, they deserve our support and our respect. When we ask them to do difficult things, they should not have to wonder whether we will stand beside them if things go sideways. We should have their backs. Full stop.

When there are intelligence failures, operations that go off the rails, or controversial disclosures, if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I pledge to come to the Committee in a timely fashion – and be as forthcoming as possible. But I believe that leaders of the Intelligence Community and Congress owe it to the young men and women who risk their lives for us to do our utmost to keep mistakes from being politicized.

This past weekend, I visited Arlington National Cemetery. I’ve done this many times, but on this visit, I paid special attention to the markers that commemorate CIA officers who have perished ensuring our freedom and working to meet America’s intelligence demands. From Afghanistan to Korea and from Lebanon to Africa, and in so many places most Americans will never know, Agency officers put their lives at risk. Too often, because of the nature of their work, we know little about these men and women and what they do. What we do know, is that they were prepared to give so much for each of us. We know the sacrifices of the families of each CIA officer as well. As I walked among these heroes, I was reminded of the sacred trust that will be granted to me if I am confirmed. I will never fail it.

I am honored to have been nominated to lead the finest intelligence agency the world has ever known—working to keep safe the people of the greatest nation in the history of civilization. If confirmed, I will be sworn to defend the United States Constitution for the third time in my life – first as a soldier, then as a member of the House of Representatives, and, now, to work for the President and with each of you.

I look forward to your questions today.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Heiress PAC Discloses Trump Money]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 16:39:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/AP_17011610067565-news.jpg

President-elect Donald Trump spoke out against a social media campaign encouraging shoppers to boycott Maine-based retailer L.L.Bean.

The founder's granddaughter, Linda Bean, contributed to a pro-Trump PAC, but New England shoppers said that won't stop them from supporting the company.

"It isn't fair that we make a judgment about what someone's personal decision was because they're attached to a company," said Mark Murphy.

"I think that it's a New England company, and I think we should stand by LL Bean," said Denny McNeice.

Last week, the Associated Press reported that Bean donated $60,000 to Make America Great Again, LLC, a PAC supporting the president-elect.

"I think she probably made a mistake and sending it to the wrong place," said McNeice.

Trump thanked Bean Thursday morning with a tweet speaking out against the proposed boycott.

"Thank you to Linda Bean of LL Bean for your great support and courage," Trump tweeted. "People will support you even more now. Buy LL Bean."

"It's good to appreciate what people do for you," said Murphy. "Somebody does something nice for me, I say saying 'thank you' is a pretty good idea."

"L.L.Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters, or make political contributions," the company said in a statement. "Simply put, we stay out of politics. To be included in this boycott campaign is simply misguided."

Trump's tweet Thursday morning came after Bean's appearance on Fox News. She said the campaign to boycott is a bullying tactic toward her and the company.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Former UK Spy Wrote Explosive Trump Memo]]> Thu, 12 Jan 2017 04:09:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/misixfeuerherd.jpg

An explosive 35-page memo on Donald Trump's relationship with Russia, which contains unverified allegations and which Trump called a "complete fabrication," was written by a former British intelligence officer working for Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Separately, Rohit Kachroo, security editor for NBC News British partner ITV News, reported that his name is Christopher David Steele, a former officer with MI6 who was posted to Moscow in 1990.

The memo was originally generated on behalf of Republican opponents of Trump but was later shopped to the media by Democrats.

Orbis director Christopher Burrows told the Wall Street Journal he wouldn't "confirm or deny" that Orbis had produced the report, and a neighbor of Steele's told the newspaper Steele would be away for a few days.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fact Check: Trump Repeats False Claims at Press Conference ]]> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:32:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-631477478.jpg

In his first press conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump repeated some false and misleading claims on jobs, health care and his tax returns.

  • Trump falsely claimed that there are “96 million really wanting a job and they can’t get [one].” There are roughly 96 million people not in the labor force, but that includes retirees, students and others who don’t want jobs. Only 5.5 million of them want work.
  • Trump said that “you learn very little” from a tax return. But experts told us there’s plenty of information to be gleaned from tax returns — such as potential conflicts of interest, charitable giving habits and effective tax rates.
  • Trump claimed that “some states” have seen health insurance coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges increase by 100 percent. Only Arizona has an average increase that high, and 84 percent with marketplace coverage in 2016 received tax credits to purchase insurance.
  • Trump continues to oversimplify the rise of the Islamic State by blaming President Obama for “leaving at the wrong time” from Iraq. President George W. Bush set the withdrawal date. More important, there were numerous factors in the rise of the terrorist group.
  • Trump claimed that “nobody even talked about it” when hacked emails showed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign got debate questions in advance. Actually, there was plenty of press coverage when it was revealed that former CNN contributor Donna Brazile shared questions with Clinton’s campaign.

Trump hasn’t held a press conference since July 27, 2016, during the Democratic National Convention. The purpose was to discuss how he would arrange to handle his business affairs while he is president. Trump will take the oath of office on Jan. 20.

But the Republican president-elect was asked a variety of questions on a host of issues, including Russian hacking, the Affordable Care Act and his cabinet appointments. In several cases, Trump repeated some of the same claims that he had made during the campaign.

Trump on Jobs

Trump wrongly claimed, once again, that there are “96 million really wanting a job and they can’t get [one].” There are roughly 96 million people “not in the labor force,” but only 5.5 million of them “currently want a job,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Trump cited the statistic in the context of a border tax on “these companies that are leaving [the U.S.] and getting away with murder.”

Trump, Jan. 11: And if our politicians had what it takes, they would have done this years ago. And you’d have millions more workers right now in the United States that are — 96 million really wanting a job and they can’t get. You know that story. The real number — that’s the real number.

According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 95.8 million people “not in the labor force” in December. But Trump is wrong to lump them all in as “really wanting a job.” According to BLS, only 5.5 million of them “currently want a job.” Those not looking for a job include millions of retirees, teenagers and stay-at-home parents. For example, there were 18.3 million people age 75 and older who were not in the workforce in December, BLS says.

Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump argued that the “real” unemployment rate was higher than the official one, because he said it did not include those so frustrated by the labor market that they simply gave up looking for work. Indeed, the labor force participation rate has been on the decline, and the Congressional Budget Office attributed some of that recent decline to workers so discouraged by the slow recovery from the recession that they stopped looking for work. But CBO estimated about half of the decline was due to long-term structural trends, mainly aging baby boomers reaching retirement age.

The Tax Returns, Again

Trump said that “you learn very little” from a tax return and that “the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters.”

But experts told us there’s plenty of information to be gleaned from tax returns — such as potential conflicts of interest, charitable giving habits and effective tax rates. And polls show that a majority of Americans say Trump should release his tax returns.

Trump was asked if he would release his tax returns to prove that he has no business dealings in Russia. He responded: “I’m not releasing the tax returns because as you know, they’re under audit.” That was Trump’s stance during the campaign as well.

Also during the campaign, when he was facing questions about releasing his returns — something many 2016 presidential candidates and every major party nominee since the late 1970s had done — Trump claimed that “there’s nothing to learn” from his tax returns. He repeated a version of that claim in his press conference, claiming, “you learn very little [from] a tax return.”

When we wrote about this in May, experts cited several details voters could learn from a candidate’s tax returns, including sources of income, deductions taken, potential conflicts, overseas income and how a candidate’s tax proposals could affect his or her personal tax situation.

Joseph J. Thorndike, director of the Tax Analysts’ Tax History Project, wrote in a May 12 blog post on taxnotes.com that “[r]eturns can shed light on the way a candidate lives his life. It can tell us about charitable giving as well as personal borrowing and investment activity. Returns can also illuminate the complicated business arrangements that often provide the bulk of a candidate’s income, especially for a real estate mogul like Trump.”

And the returns “tell us a lot about how candidates conduct themselves in the gray areas of the tax law,” Thorndike wrote.

Trump also claimed in his press conference that reporters were the only ones that cared about his tax returns. A reporter followed up: “You don’t think the American public is concerned about it?”

Trump replied: “No I don’t think so. I won, when I became president. No, I don’t think they care at all. I don’t think they care at all.”

Polls show that, in fact, the American public does care. A Pew Research Center poll, conducted Jan. 4-9, found 60 percent of respondents said Trump has a responsibility to release his tax returns.

Those who identified as Democrats or leaning Democratic more strongly supported this view: Seventy-nine percent said Trump had a responsibility to release the returns, while 38 percent of Republicans or those learning Republican had that view.

Other polls have shown similar results. A CBS News poll conducted Dec. 9-13, 2016, asked whether it was “necessary” for Trump to release his tax returns. Sixty percent responded that it was necessary. A Quinnipiac University poll taken Aug. 18-24, 2016, asked likely voters: “Do you think Donald Trump should publicly release his tax returns, or not?” Seventy-four percent said he should release them, including a majority (62 percent) of Republicans.

Premium Cherry-Picking

Trump claimed that under the Affordable Care Act, “some states have over a hundred percent increase” in premiums. Actually, only one state has an average increase in exchange premiums that high: Arizona.

Premiums on the ACA exchanges — for individuals who buy their own insurance — have jumped up an average 25 percent from 2016 to 2017 among the 38 HealthCare.gov states, and that’s substantially higher than the 7.2 percent average increase from 2015 to 2016.

The variation in the change in premiums among states, and even within states from county to county, is also substantial, with Arizona, at the high end, seeing a 116 percent average increase, while Indiana, at the other extreme, has an average 3 percent decrease. The median increase is 16 percent.

These figures, which do not include subsidies available to lower-income individuals, are for the average second lowest-cost silver “benchmark” plans for a 27-year-old, and they’re part of a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services in October.

As the chart below shows, some states had average premium changes in the single digits, others in double digits, and Arizona had the distinction of a triple-digit average increase. As we wrote before, the wide disparity on the numbers makes the report ripe for cherry-picking.

At least one county had a nearly 100 percent increase (see Table 13 of the report). In Medina County, Texas, the average increase is 99 percent, from an average $201 monthly premium to $399. Texas overall, however, had an 18 percent average increase.

Massachusetts, which has a state-based exchange (not the federally run HealthCare.gov), saw an average 3 percent decrease, while Minnesota’s state-based exchange had an average 59 percent increase — again, showing the contrast across the country. Adding in four state-based marketplaces plus the District of Columbia’s — for which HHS had data — brings the nationwide average increase down to 22 percent.

The vast majority of Americans who buy coverage through the exchanges get tax credits, which shelter them from these premium increases. The credits cap the amount a person must contribute toward a benchmark plan based on income. The HHS report says 84 percent of the 10.4 million Americans with marketplace coverage in the first half of 2016 received tax credits, and that 77 percent of current enrollees can find plans for $100 or less, after factoring in tax credits. An estimated 7 million Americans buy their own insurance but do so outside of the exchanges.

Trump on Obama Creating ISIS

Trump continues to oversimplify the situation by placing the entirety of the blame for the creation of ISIS on Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Trump, Jan. 11: I mean if you look, this administration created ISIS by leaving at the wrong time. The void was created, ISIS was formed.

This is yet another variation on Trump’s campaign claim that Obama “founded ISIS,” and Clinton was a “co-founder.”

Back when we wrote about that false claim in August, experts told us the expansion of the Islamic State can’t be pinned on the troop withdrawal alone — if at all. Blaming Obama for the timing of the troop withdrawal also ignores that President George W. Bush had signed the agreement and set the date for that withdrawal.

Trump himself supported withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as 2007, telling CNN in a March 16, 2007, interview that the U.S. should “declare victory and leave, because I’ll tell you, this country is just going to get further bogged down. … [T]his is a total catastrophe and you might as well get out now, because you just are wasting time.”

Experts have pointed to a variety of actions that could have contributed to the rise of ISIS, including: the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003; the decisions by the U.S.-led provisional coalition government in 2003 to disband the Iraqi army and dissolve and ban the Baath Party, which drove Sunnis into militant groups; the rule of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose Shia government further ostracized Sunnis; the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011; the weakening of the Iraqi army, which abandoned posts in 2014 rather than fight ISIS; and the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011.

Debate Questions

Trump claimed that “nobody even talked about it” when WikiLeaks released emails from the Clinton campaign showing that “Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn’t report it.”

Not so. There was plenty of press coverage in October when emails allegedly obtained from the account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, revealed that former CNN contributor Donna Brazile shared several town hall and debate questions with members of Clinton’s campaign.

According to the emails, Brazile sent multiple questions to the Clinton campaign before a CNN town hall in mid-March last year, and she sent at least one question to Clinton’s campaign prior to a Democratic debate earlier that month.

However, there is no evidence that Clinton herself received any questions.

Trump: We talk about the hacking and hacking’s bad and it shouldn’t be done. But look at the things that were hacked, look at what was learned from that hacking.

That Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn’t report it? That’s a horrible thing. That’s a horrible thing.

Can you imagine that if Donald Trump got the questions to the debate — it would’ve been the biggest story in the history of stories. And they would’ve said immediately, “You have to get out of the race.” Nobody even talked about it. It’s a very terrible thing.

Politico and others reported that the hacked emails showed that Brazile sent an email on March 12, 2016, to Clinton campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri with the subject line, “From time to time, I get the questions in advance.”

In the email, Brazile wrote “here’s one that worries me about HRC,” referring to Clinton. She then provided the text of a question about the death penalty. Clinton was later asked a similar question by an audience member introduced by TV One host Roland Martin, who was the co-moderator of the CNN town hall on March 13.

The emails show that Brazile wrote that she would “send a few more” questions to the campaign, which she did. According to Politico, an additional email shows that Brazile forwarded the campaign at least two more town hall questions — one about unions and another about income inequality. Clinton was asked the question about unions, and Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked about income inequality in the town hall.

There were also multiple news reports on another instance of Brazile tipping off the Clinton campaign to a potential question the day before a Democratic debate between Clinton and Sanders on March 6 in Flint, Michigan. In that email, Brazile tells Podesta and Palmieri that “one of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.” Brazile added: “She will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint.”

During the debate, Lee-Anne Walters, whose children experienced health problems after exposure to contaminated water in Flint, asked Clinton and Sanders “will you make a personal promise to me right now that, as president, in your first 100 days in office, you will make it a requirement that all public water systems must remove all lead service lines throughout the entire United States, and notification made to the — the citizens that have said service lines.”

What we don’t know is whether Clinton, herself, was ever made aware of the questions, as Trump claimed.

In her reply to Brazile’s email about the question on the death penalty, Palmieri indicated that that was a question that Clinton was already prepared to answer because she had heard it before.

“Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it,” Palmieri wrote. She then asked another campaign official to forward to Brazile Clinton’s standard response on the death penalty.

CNN cut all ties with Brazile, the acting DNC director, on Oct. 14, three days after the first press reports on the controversy.

“We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor,” a CNN spokeswoman said in a statement.

FactCheck.org is a non-partisan non-profit organization that will hold candidates and key figures accountable during the 2016 presidential campaign. FactCheck.org will check facts of speeches, advertisements and more for NBC.



Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images]]>