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National Govt & Politics

    If anyone knows what Michael Cohen is up against, his lawyer figures it's John Dean, the former White House counsel who turned on President Richard Nixon and helped run him out of office. Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, told The Associated Press on Monday that he's been talking with Dean over the last few months 'to hear his wisdom, the lessons that he learned and his reflections on what he saw Michael Cohen going through.' Davis' revelation was widely seen as the latest sign that Cohen, who worked as a New York lawyer and fixer for Donald Trump, could be seeking a deal to cooperate against Trump in the Russia probe. It also comes as federal prosecutors appear close to charging Cohen with financial crimes. Two people familiar with the federal investigation into Cohen told the AP on Monday that Cohen could be charged by the end of the month with crimes including bank fraud in his dealings with the taxi industry. Davis has declined to talk about potential charges or a plea deal. Davis, a special counsel to President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, said he's been close with Dean since appearing regularly with him on MSNBC during Clinton's impeachment. 'I gained a lot of wisdom from Mr. Dean, especially how he coped and attempted to defend himself from the vicious campaign to discredit him, orchestrated by the Nixon White House,' Davis said. Through their conversations, Davis said, he and Dean noticed strong parallels between Dean's experience as the Watergate scandal came to a head in 1974 and Cohen's pivot from having unfailing loyalty to Trump — once boasting he would 'take a bullet' for him — to looking out for himself. Dean faced a federal investigation, too, and spent four months in jail after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. Dean, Nixon's White House counsel, and Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, were questioned by Congress and were skewered by people who remained loyal to the presidents they had abandoned. Trump on Sunday tweeted that a New York Times story about White House counsel Don McGahn giving hours of testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller's team implied that 'he must be a John Dean type 'RAT.'' Dean, a vocal Trump critic, responded, 'I doubt you have ANY IDEA what McGahn has told Mueller. Also, Nixon knew I was meeting with prosecutors, b/c I told him. However, he didn't think I would tell them the truth!' Davis said he was seeking factual information, not legal advice, from Dean in their conversations and did not share with him information that would be covered by attorney-client privilege. David noted that Dean has not talked to Cohen directly. Dean, on CNN on Monday, said Davis was seeking to learn more about how Watergate unfolded so he could better 'understand that history.' Davis said he did 'not in any way compare the depth of knowledge and the detail, insider information' that Dean had about Nixon's crimes to what Cohen 'may or may not know.' 'If anything,' he said, 'I'm doing my best to reduce expectations on that comparison, on the level of knowledge.' ___ Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report. ___ Follow Mike Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak
  • The West Virginia Senate set the course Monday for an unprecedented impeachment trial of three Supreme Court justices who have been assailed for spending of more than $3 million on court office renovations at a time when the state was grappling with millions of dollars in budget cuts. Chief Justice Margaret Workman, suspended Justice Allen Loughry and Justice Beth Walker are to be tried separately. No dates have been set and, under rules approved by lawmakers, they do not need to be present for their trials. The House of Delegates on Aug. 13 approved impeachment articles against the three along with Justice Robin Davis. Davis announced her retirement the following day. The Supreme Court has appointed Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell to preside over the Senate trial. Senators will serve as the jury. Six delegates from the House have been appointed as prosecutors, including House Judiciary Chairman John Shott. The Senate approved 34 rules for the trial, including small details such as allowing witnesses to be cross-examined and permitting senators to take notes. One rule stipulates that after closing arguments, senators may deliberate by conference before voting in the chamber whether to sustain one or more of the impeachment articles, which would require a two-thirds majority. A separate vote would be held on the question of removing a justice from office. Loughry faces seven articles of impeachment, Workman three and Walker one. Loughry was suspended over allegations he repeatedly lied about using his office for personal gain. He also has been indicted on 25 federal charges, including a 'scheme to defraud the state of West Virginia and others.' The Senate voted along party lines to defeat two amendments introduced by Democrat Mike Woelfel, including one that would let the Senate, not Farrell, decide the order in which the justices are tried. Woelfel said he was concerned about the timing of Loughry's Oct. 2 federal trial and whether Loughry's team would seek to delay his Senate trial. Republican Charles Trump, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, explained that the Senate would ultimately decide on whether to agree with Farrell on the order of the proceedings. Davis and minority Democratic lawmakers have accused the Republican-led legislature of turning what they said was a legitimate pursuit of charges against Loughry into a blatant attempt to take over the court. Shott, a Republican who oversaw the House Judiciary Committee hearings that drew up the articles of impeachment, has said the court's lavish spending on office renovations earlier this decade came when the state was struggling so hard that it made tens of millions of dollars in budget cuts. Shott said the impeachment articles overall accused the justices of a 'culture of entitlement' that led to that spending and other abuses. Spending by the justices for renovations to their individual offices included $500,000 by Davis, $353,000 by Loughry, $131,000 by Walker and $111,000 by Workman. That includes a $32,000 blue suede leather couch in Loughry's office and his spending of $7,500 for a floor map of West Virginia with a different-colored piece of wood for each county; and Davis' spending of $56,500 for glass countertops and $28,000 for rugs. The Supreme Court essentially sets and controls its own budget under the state constitution. Lawmakers have placed an amendment on the November ballot that would give the Legislature more budgetary control. Opponents say that would infringe on the courts' independence. Some Democrats have criticized the impeachment moves as a power grab by majority Republican lawmakers, strategically timed to allow GOP Gov. Jim Justice to name their temporary replacements. 'It certainly appears to be that way,' Senate Democratic leader Roman Prezioso said Monday. 'There's never been any time in history where one branch of government supposedly controls another branch. And for the governor to be able to appoint people to be replaced, obviously there's that apprehension by a lot of the Democratic senators and House members, too.' Justice Menis Ketchum retired last month. He's agreed with prosecutors to plead guilty in federal court to a charge related to the personal use of a state vehicle and fuel.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump's efforts to strip officials' security clearances (all times local): 5:15 p.m. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee has filed an amendment to spending legislation that would prevent President Donald Trump from arbitrarily revoking security clearances. Trump yanked former CIA Director John Brennan's clearance last week and has threated to pull clearances from his critics and from people who have played a role or a perceived role in the Russia investigation. The amendment filed Monday by Virginia Sen. Mark Warner to a defense appropriations bill would prohibit using government money to strip security clearances, except as outlined by federal procedure. Warner says Trump is using his powers to intimidate and silence his opponents and is politicizing a process that's supposed to be nonpartisan and apolitical. More than 250 former national security officials have chided Trump for his actions. ___ 12:20 a.m. Former CIA Director John Brennan says he is considering taking legal action to try to prevent President Donald Trump from stripping other current and former officials' security clearances. Speaking on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' Brennan said Sunday he's been contacted by a number of lawyers about the possibility of an injunction in the wake of Trump's move to revoke his clearance and threaten nine others who have been critical of the president or are connected to the Russia probe. Brennan, who served in President Barack Obama's administration, said that while he'll fight on behalf of his former CIA colleagues, it's also up to Congress to put aside politics and step in.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump's tribute to federal immigration officials (all times local): 4:25 p.m. President Donald Trump invited a U.S. Border Patrol agent to the podium during a White House event to pay tribute to federal immigration officials and joked that the agent could speak 'perfect English.' Trump asked the agent, Adrian Anzaldua, to discuss his apprehension of a smuggler accused of locking 78 migrants inside a truck near Laredo, Texas, about a week ago. Trump also appeared to refer to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, as CBC during Monday's event. CBC stands for Congressional Black Caucus, among other things. Trump says immigration agents are doing important, necessary work. He lambasted Democrats who have called for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said: 'Most importantly let me extend my gratitude to every law enforcement professional representing ICE and CBC.' ___ 2:50 p.m. President Donald Trump is using a White House event to pay tribute to federal immigration officials, returning to the fight over the U.S. southern border. The president on Monday was honoring employees of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection. The federal agencies have been thrust into the debate over the Trump administration's separation of migrant children from their parents after they illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump has assailed some Democratic lawmakers for seeking to abolish ICE ahead of the November midterm elections. In a letter to state and local leaders, Trump wrote that ICE workers had been subjected to a 'nationwide campaign of smears, insults and attacks' by politicians 'catering to the extreme elements in our society.
  • Campaigning in a north Georgia county where President Donald Trump got 70 percent of the vote, the Democratic nominee for governor recently talked about helping small businesses, expanding access to affordable health care and quality public education, and championing emerging energy markets. Much of Stacey Abrams' pitch could have come from any of the business-friendly Democrats or moderate Republicans who've occupied the Georgia governor's mansion for the last half century. Yet Abrams isn't one of those men: The Yale law graduate and former state legislative leader is a black woman from Atlanta and an unapologetic progressive who Republicans blast as an extremist. 'Most radical liberal to ever run for governor,' one Republican Governors Association ad intones. Her opponent, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, talks of a battle 'literally for the soul of our state' because Abrams, he says, is a tool of 'billionaires and socialists who want to turn Georgia into California.' The outcome of the nation's most closely watched governor's race this November may well turn on which version of Abrams a rapidly diversifying Georgia electorate believes. And, like most campaign caricatures, Abrams' political philosophy and her record in public office is more complicated — something some Georgia Republicans admit. 'She's a brilliant woman ... one of the smartest people I've ever met,' said state Rep. Allen Peake, who backs Kemp but counts Abrams as a friend from their days in the same legislative freshman class. Peake said he's wary about Abrams' policy agenda, but characterized her as 'pragmatic' and avoided broadsides about socialism. 'She did always try to find solutions,' he said, noting the state budget passed nearly unanimously during Abrams' tenure because she corralled her caucus to engage with the GOP majority. Abrams also brought Democrats to the table to help Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, enact a criminal justice overhaul with a distinct focus on juveniles and nonviolent drug offenses. Brian Robinson, a former top aide to Deal, simultaneously skewers and compliments Abrams. She 'has run a campaign as if she's Bernie Sanders,' he said, referring to the democratic socialist senator and failed presidential candidate. But, Robinson added, 'That doesn't match her record in the General Assembly.' Some see racial overtones in labeling a black woman as a radical. Jason Carter, who is white and a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, noted that Republicans attacked him as 'too liberal' but generally stopped short of calling him a 'radical' during his failed 2014 campaign to become governor. The RGA says it has used 'radical' as an attack on five Democratic nominees so far this year, but nearly all of the others hold positions — full-throated advocacy for single-payer health care and abolishing the ICE federal immigration agency — that are further left than what Abrams advocates. The effort to portray Abrams as a radical is also notable because, during the primary, her work in the legislature exposed her to attacks from the left. Former state Rep. Stacey Evans hammered Abrams for helping Republicans scale back a popular college scholarship program. Abrams defended the move, saying she staved off even worse cuts by negotiating with the GOP. She won 76 percent of the primary vote. While some of the Republican dichotomy about Abrams is simply campaign rhetoric, it is true that Abrams is asking voters to move state government to the left, even if not to a 'radical' degree. It's part of a needle-threading strategy: Abrams must maximize turnout among liberals — non-whites and young voters of all demographic groups — but add to them at least some older, white moderates who generally vote Republican. Her Medicaid expansion proposal aligns with at least 17 Republican governors who have widened the government insurance coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Deal was among the Republican governors who said his state couldn't afford Obamacare. Abrams is making the argument about economics, pointing to at least a half-dozen rural Georgia hospitals that have closed under the weight of treating the uninsured. Abrams has talked of Medicaid expansion as a 'starting point' toward universal coverage, but her position falls short of the immediate 'Medicare-for-all' idea that Sanders and several potential Democratic presidential candidates espouse. Abrams opposes 'religious freedom' laws that allow private businesses to refuse service based on religious beliefs, which aligns her with Deal, who vetoed such legislation. She wants to expand Georgia's lottery scholarships, which puts her in company with the late Gov. Zell Miller, the lottery architect and Democrat remembered nationally for endorsing Republican President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election. Her support of abortion rights and LGBT rights is standard Democratic fare. Abrams' call to ban certain weapons essentially reflects the Brady gun law that President Bill Clinton, whose administration was widely seen as centrist, signed in 1993. On immigration, she disagrees with state policy blocking people in the country illegally from getting in-state tuition or even admission at some Georgia campuses. But in conservative Dalton, she explained her reasoning: The state constitution requires K-12 public education for every child in the state, 'and I believe that if you can graduate from a Georgia high school, you deserve to go to any college to which you can gain admission.' In Dalton, Abrams also faced another topic some Republicans use to characterize her as radical: Confederate monuments. One voter asked Abrams why she'd called to remove three Confederate icons from metro Atlanta's Stone Mountain, a relief begun during the Jim Crow era. 'I answered that question in the context of 'what do I believe,'' Abrams said, recalling that the inquiry came in 2017 after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, left a counter-protester dead. Monuments aren't 'top of mind for me' compared to education, health care and economics, Abrams explained, but added that she couldn't apologize for acknowledging a distinction between historically accurate Civil War monuments and Confederate monuments put up during the Jim Crow era 'to terrify African-Americans' like her family. Anyone who wants her to abandon her beliefs and her biography, she said, 'should not want me to be the next governor of Georgia.' Such answers may not fit into 30-second ads. But Peake, Abrams' Republican friend in the legislature, said her willingness to engage should give his party pause. 'If the Republican Party and Brian Kemp and his team underestimate Stacey Abrams in any form or fashion,' Peake said, 'there's a good chance she will win.' ----- Associated Press reporter Ben Nadler contributed to this report. ---- Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP
  • Melania Trump is planning her first big solo international swing with a trip through several African countries in October. The first lady told The Associated Press in a written statement Monday that she's looking forward to learning about the issues that children living on the continent face, as well as appreciating Africa's history and culture. She recently launched a U.S.-based effort focused on the well-being of children. Mrs. Trump plans to travel without President Donald Trump, who was roundly criticized earlier this year after his private comment about 'shithole countries' in Africa was leaked to journalists. Exact dates for the trip and which African countries she will visit remain to be announced. 'This will be my first time traveling to Africa and I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history,' the first lady said in the statement. 'We are a global society and I believe it is through open dialogue and the exchanging of ideas that we have a real opportunity to learn from one another.' She added that she also looks forward to highlighting successful humanitarian work and development programs underway in the African countries. Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said the first lady chose Africa as the destination for her first big solo international trip after she learned about some of the development programs that are underway in many of its countries. Those programs include investments by the U.S. in children's health and education, Grisham said. The swing through Africa will be the farthest Mrs. Trump has traveled on her own since becoming first lady in January 2017. Her only other solo international trip came last September, when she flew to Toronto for a day and joined Britain's Prince Harry for an Olympic-style athletic competition he established for wounded service members and veterans. Mrs. Trump has accompanied the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Brussels, France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Finland, for his recent summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Due to medical restrictions placed on her travel following kidney surgery in May, she did not accompany Trump to Singapore for his one-on-one meeting in June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • President Donald Trump sharply accused congressional Democrats of allowing open borders and crime to fester, using a White House event on Monday to stoke a fall campaign fight over immigration and the U.S. southern border. Predicting that Republicans would do 'very well in the midterms,' Trump said at an event paying tribute to federal immigration officials that immigration would be a potent issue separating the two parties in the November elections. 'I think we're going to have much more of a red wave than what you're going to see as a phony blue wave,' Trump said in the East Room. 'Blue wave means crime, it means open borders. Not good.' The president honored employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, bringing agents to the podium to note their achievements in addressing unlawful border crossings and stemming the flow of illicit drugs. During the event, he referred to the CBP as the 'CBC,' an abbreviation for the Congressional Black Caucus, a group that has been critical of his presidency. He also congratulated the work of border agent Adrian Anzaldua on a smuggling bust in Laredo, Texas, inviting him to make some impromptu remarks. Trump said, 'You're not nervous — speaks perfect English.' The federal agencies overseeing the border and the nation's immigration system have been thrust into a political debate over the Trump administration's separation of migrant children from their parents after they illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump's hard-line rhetoric underscored the White House's interest in making immigration a defining issue in the fall elections as Democrats seek to capture the 23 seats they need to retake the majority in the House and overcome the Republicans' narrow majority in the Senate. Trump said 'step by step' he was building his signature border wall — a staple of his 2016 campaign — but expressed unhappiness with congressional Democrats who have opposed his plan. The president complained of 'a coalition of open borders extremists and to me that means crime, people that don't mind crime. They mind it when it happens to them, they don't mind it when they have to watch it on television.' Trump has assailed some Democratic lawmakers for seeking to abolish ICE. In a letter to state and local leaders before the event, Trump wrote that ICE workers had been subjected to a 'nationwide campaign of smears, insults and attacks' by politicians 'catering to the extreme elements in our society.' While some Democrats in the House and Senate have raised the prospect of eliminating ICE, no top Democrats in the House or Senate have called for such a move. Democrats have blasted Trump's immigration policies along the border, saying they wrongly separate families. 'More than 500 children remain separated from their families as a result of Trump's anti-immigrant agenda. Instead of addressing this humanitarian crisis that he himself created, Trump continues to ignore the lives he has destroyed and communities he has upended,' said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Adrienne Watson. Trump has made border security a key part of his message as he tries to maintain Republican control of Congress. The president has told aides privately that he doesn't plan to pursue a government shutdown before the midterm elections in order to secure more money for his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. But he tweeted during the summer that he doesn't care about 'political ramifications,' pointing to a government shutdown as a 'very small price to pay for a safe and Prosperous America!' Before the president arrived Monday, the White House held a panel discussion on immigration with several state and local officials, who pointed to the role that a secure border plays in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking and questioned calls to abolish ICE. Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, who has worked closely with the administration on immigration legislation, said he struggled to see the point of eliminating the federal agency, likening it to someone saying, 'I want to get rid of the Marines.' 'I just think it's unconscionable, and frankly, I think it's downright unpatriotic and treasonous,' Perdue said.
  • Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, could be charged before the end of the month with bank fraud in his dealings with the taxi industry and with committing other financial crimes, two people familiar with the federal probe said Monday. The people confirmed reports that federal prosecutors in Manhattan were considering charging Cohen after months of speculation over a case that has been a distraction for the White House with the midterm elections approaching. The New York Times reported Sunday, based on anonymous sources, that prosecutors have been focusing on more than $20 million in loans obtained by taxi businesses that Cohen and his family own. As part of the investigation, prosecutors have subpoenaed records from Sterling National Bank, one of the institutions that loaned Cohen money with his ownership in taxi cabs as collateral, one of the people said. The material was sought because it's suspected Cohen falsified some of the paperwork, the person said. The people, who weren't authorized to discuss the case and spoke on Monday on condition of anonymity, refused to answer questions about speculation that Cohen still might strike a plea deal with prosecutors requiring his cooperation. Absent a quick resolution, it's believed that prosecutors would put off a decision on how to go forward with the case until after the election in compliance with an informal Justice Department policy of avoiding bringing prosecutions that could be seen as political and influence voters. Both the U.S. attorney's office and an attorney for Cohen, Lanny Davis, declined to comment Monday. A spokesman for Sterling National Bank declined to comment. Cohen had gained notoriety as Trump's loyal 'fixer' before FBI agents raided his officies and a hotel where he was staying while renovations were being done on his apartment in a Trump-developed building. Prosecutors were initially silent about why Cohen was under investigation. Some details became public after lawyers for Cohen and Trump asked a judge to temporarily prevent investigators from viewing some of the seized material, on the grounds that it was protected by attorney-client privilege. The search of Cohen's files sought bank records, communications with the Trump campaign and information on hush money payments made in 2016 to two women: former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who received $150,000, and the porn actress Stormy Daniels, who got $130,000. At the time, Trump branded the raid 'a witch hunt,' an assault on attorney-client privilege and a politically motivated attack by enemies in the FBI. The president's initial support for Cohen degenerated over the summer into a public feud, prompting speculation that, to save himself, Cohen might be willing to tell prosecutors some of the secrets he'd help Trump keep. Davis, Cohen's lawyer, has been sending signals of his own. First, he went on CNN with a tape of Trump talking about the McDougal payment. Then, over the weekend, he revealed that he's been having conversations with John Dean, the White House lawyer who helped bring down President Richard Nixon. Davis said Monday that he sees major parallels between Cohen and Dean and that he wanted to hear what he'd learned from Watergate and his perspective on what Cohen is going through. Cohen hasn't spoken to Dean, Davis said. ___ Associated Press writers Michael Sisak and Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.
  • The Trump administration is set to roll back the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's efforts to slow global warming, the Clean Power Plan that restricts greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. A plan to be announced in coming days would give states broad authority to determine how to restrict carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The plan by the Environmental Protection Agency also would let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades, according to a summary of the plan and several people familiar with the full proposal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the plan publicly. Combined with a planned rollback of car-mileage standards, the plan represents a significant retreat from Obama-era efforts to fight climate change and would reverse an Obama-era push to shift away from coal and toward less-polluting energy sources such as natural gas, wind and solar power. President Donald Trump has already vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement as he pushes to revive the coal industry. Trump also has directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take steps to bolster struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants to keep them open, warning that impending retirements of 'fuel-secure' power plants that rely on coal and nuclear power are harming the nation's power grid and reducing its resilience. The White House had no immediate comment on the plan, and the EPA didn't respond to requests for comment Monday. A three-page summary being circulated at the White House focuses on boosting efficiency at coal-fired power plants and allowing states to reduce 'wasteful compliance costs' while focusing on improved environmental outcomes. Critics say focusing on improved efficiency would allow utilities to run older, dirtier power plants more often, undercutting potential environmental benefits. The White House rejects that criticism. 'Carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector will continue to fall under this rule, but this will happen legally and with proper respect for the states, unlike' the Clean Power Plan, the summary says. The AP obtained a copy of the summary, which asserts that the Obama-era plan exceeds the EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act. Obama's plan was designed to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states based on power-plant emissions and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions. The Supreme Court put the plan on hold in 2016 following a legal challenge by industry and coal-friendly states, an order that remains in effect. Even so, the Obama plan has been a factor in a wave of retirements of coal-fired plants, which also are being squeezed by lower costs for natural gas and renewable power and state mandates that promote energy conservation. Trump has vowed to end what Republicans call a 'war on coal' waged by Obama, and he is expected to promote the new plan at an appearance in West Virginia on Tuesday. 'This is really a plan to prop up coal plants — or try to,' said David Doniger, a climate expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. The Trump plan 'will make no meaningful reductions' in greenhouse gas emissions 'and it probably will make emissions worse,' Doniger said. Gina McCarthy, who served as EPA administrator when the Clean Power Plan was created in 2015, said that based on draft proposals and news reports, she expects the plan will not set specific federal targets for reducing emissions from coal-fired plants. The plan is expected to address power plants individually rather than across the electric grid as the EPA proposed under Obama. The new plan would give utilities and states more flexibility in achieving emissions reductions, but critics say it could harm public health. 'They are continuing to play to their base and following industry's lead,' McCarthy said of the Trump administration and its new acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist. 'This is all about coal at all costs.' Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a trade group that represents coal producers, called the new rule a marked departure from the 'gross overreach' of the Obama administration and said it should prevent a host of premature coal-plant retirements. 'We agree with those policymakers who have become increasingly concerned that coal retirements are a threat to grid resilience and national security,' she said. ___ Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this story.
  • Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh suggested that attorneys preparing to question President Bill Clinton in 1998 seek graphic details about the president's sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The questions are part of a two-page memo in which Kavanaugh advised Independent Counsel Ken Starr and others not to give the president 'any break' during upcoming questioning unless he resigned, confessed perjury or issued a public apology to Starr. He suggested Clinton be asked whether he had phone sex with Lewinsky and whether he engaged in other specific sexual acts that he vividly described. Kavanaugh worked on Starr's team investigating Clinton. He said it may not be 'our job to impose sanctions on him, but it is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear — piece by painful piece.' The memo was released Monday by the National Archives and Records Administration as lawmakers seek more details about Kavanaugh's credentials to serve on the nation's highest court. In the subject line, Kavanaugh asks, 'Slack for the President?' Kavanaugh goes on to answer the question with a resounding no. He said he had tried to bend over backward to be fair to Clinton and to think of reasonable defenses for his behavior, but in the end, became convinced there were none. 'The idea of going easy on him at the questioning is thus abhorrent to me,' Kavanaugh wrote. He also accused Clinton of committing perjury, turning the Secret Service upside-down, and trying to disgrace Starr and the independent counsel's office with 'a sustained propaganda campaign that would make Nixon blush.' Kavanaugh in the memo states, 'The president has disgraced his Office, the legal system, and the American people by having sex with a 22-year-old intern and turning her life into a shambles.' The release from the Archives comes before confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh, scheduled for the week after Labor Day. Kavanaugh has been making courtesy calls to senators and met Monday for about an hour with the senior Democratic member of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to have Kavanaugh confirmed to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy before the new court session begins Oct. 1. After leaving Starr's investigative team, Kavanaugh went on to serve in the administration of President George W. Bush and as a circuit court judge. He's reflected on various occasions about investigations involving a sitting president. He wrote in a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article that it would be appropriate for Congress to enact a statute that would allow civil lawsuits against a sitting president to be deferred until the president's term ends. He said Congress should consider doing the same with 'respect to criminal investigations and prosecutions of the President.' Democrats have asserted that Trump chose Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court because he would protect him from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Kavanaugh's August 1998 memo to Starr and his legal team is dated two days before the president gave grand jury testimony via closed-circuit television from the White House concerning his relationship with Lewinsky. Kavanaugh said he was mindful of the need to respect the office of the president. But he said the full facts should be gathered 'so that the Congress can decide whether the interests of the Presidency would be best served by having a new President.' Otherwise, he asked, 'Aren't we failing to fulfill our duty to the American people if we willingly 'conspire' with the President in an effort to conceal the true nature of his acts?' He went on to suggest 10 questions for Clinton that go into vivid detail about sexual acts, how often they occurred and whether Lewinksy would be lying if she had recounted those actions. 'I leave the best phrasing to others,' he said. Clinton was impeached in a post-election session of the House, was acquitted in the Senate and remained in office. ____ Reach Kevin Freking at https://twitter.com/APKFreking