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    Jane Fonda is joining a group of Hollywood power players to host a fundraiser for presidential candidate Steve Bullock on Thursday, a show of support that could lend credibility among Democratic donors to the little-known Montana governor. The Academy Award-winning actress, activist and fitness guru is among a handful of Los Angeles agents, producers and lawyers hosting the event at the home of model and professional golfer Anna Chervin and her talent-agent husband, Ted, according to an invitation obtained by The Associated Press. Bullock, a cowboy-boot-wearing executive from a rural state won by President Donald Trump, may seem like an unusual benefactor of campaign cash from members of the Hollywood elite often associated with far-left causes. But his success enacting some progressive priorities such as expanding Medicaid, combined with his distinction as the only White House contender to get reelected at the same time his state broke for Trump, has led some donors to take a closer look. 'A progressive governor from a Trump state has a great story to tell,' said Rose Kapolczynski, a veteran Democratic strategist in California. As for Fonda, Kapolczynski says she 'is a great person to land as a host because she is known by absolutely everyone in the donor community and has decades of credibility.' A Fonda representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The fundraiser comes as Bullock is in a tiff with the Democratic National Committee, which established polling and fundraising benchmarks to qualify for next week's debates in Miami that Bullock didn't reach after getting a late start with his campaign. Although Bullock's campaign says he will qualify for the upcoming July debate in Detroit, subsequent ones will have an even higher requirement threshold, underscoring the necessity for Bullock to line up donor support. Fonda is not the only top celebrity or donor to show interest in Bullock. Jeff Bridges, the Academy Award-winning actor known for his role as 'The Dude' in the cult classic 'The Big Lebowski,' has donated to his campaign. Country musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen helped with a fundraiser in the past. And DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, a massive player in the Hollywood money game, cut a check to Bullock's political action committee for $5,000 last year, Federal Election Commission records show. Bullock also had an event co-hosted for him last month by Democratic megadonor Steve Rattner, according to an event invitation obtained by the AP Thursday's fundraiser is also co-hosted by talent agent Carter Cohn, TV producer Aaron Meyerson and 'Empire' producer Matt Pyken. ___ Follow Slodysko on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BrianSlodysko
  • President Donald Trump's participation in the nation's annual Fourth of July celebration will include a Trump speech honoring America's armed forces, along with music, military demonstrations and flyovers, the administration announced Wednesday, about two weeks before the patriotic holiday. Federal lawmakers, local officials and others have voiced concerns that Trump could alter the tone of what traditionally is a nonpartisan celebration of America's founding by delivering an overtly political speech after he added himself to an event that typically has not included the president. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Wednesday that Trump will use the speech, which the president promised in a February tweet, to honor the military. Trump teased his event, which he is calling 'Salute to America,' during his reelection kick-off rally Tuesday night in Florida. 'And by the way on July 4 in Washington, D.C., come on down. We're going to have a big day. Bring your flags, bring those flags, bring those American flags,' the president said. 'We're going to have hundreds of thousands of people. We're going to celebrate America.' Bernhardt, who supervises the National Mall, which is the backdrop for one of the nation's largest July 4 celebrations, also said the World War II Memorial and areas around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool will be opened to the public for the first time in recent memory for viewing the annual fireworks display. As part of Trump's addition to the Washington schedule of July 4 events, the fireworks show is being moved west to West Potomac Park, closer to the Lincoln Memorial, from the area around the Washington Monument. Independence Day usually draws tens of thousands of people to the National Mall for the celebration. Regular events this year include the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue, a concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn of the Capitol and the fireworks display. After losing out on his wish for a military parade in Washington , Trump tweeted in February for people to 'HOLD THE DATE!' for the 'Salute to America' event, which he said would be held at the Lincoln Memorial and feature a major fireworks display, entertainment 'and an address by your favorite President, me!' Some groups are organizing anti-Trump protests. Democratic Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Chris Van Hollen, all members of the Appropriations Committee, requested details about plans and funding for the event in a letter this week to Bernhardt. They asked Bernhardt to carefully manage taxpayer funds and ensure that Trump's event 'remains a nonpartisan event focused on national unity and pride.' The lawmakers set a June 28 deadline for Bernhardt to reply. The White House said Trump's event was not meant to detract from the other events on the schedule. White House officials also declined to discuss the specific military aircraft that are expected to execute the flyovers. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • The debate over reparations catapulted from the campaign trail to Congress on Wednesday as lawmakers heard impassioned testimony for and against the idea of providing compensation for America's history of slavery and racial discrimination. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, the sponsor of a resolution to study reparations, put a fine point on the discussion: 'I just simply ask: Why not and why not now?' It was Congress' first hearing on reparations in more than a decade, and came amid a growing conversation both in the Democratic Party and the country at large about lingering racial disparities in the United States. Once considered a fringe topic, mostly pushed aside in Congress, the possibility of reparations was treated with seriousness by the witnesses and lawmakers alike, though Republicans made clear their opposition. One of the most striking moments came as writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author of a widely read 2014 essay making the case for reparations, challenged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's assertion that no one alive today is responsible for the past treatment of black Americans. 'It's impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery,' Coates told the House Judiciary panel. 'For a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror,' Coates said. 'Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they'd love a word with the majority leader.' McConnell, R-Ky., said on Tuesday he doesn't think 'reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea.' Wednesday's hearing coincided with Juneteenth, a cultural holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved black people in the United States, and it attracted a crowd. More than a hundred people were lined up to try and get a seat in the hearing room. Those inside frequently reacted to testimony and comments from members of Congress with cheers and boos. At one point, an audience member shouted 'You lie!' at Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert when he urged that Americans know their history and 'not punish people today for the sins of their predecessors in the Democratic Party.' Coates was among eight witnesses who testified for more than three hours on the topic of House Resolution 40, aimed at creating a commission to study reparations. Actor and activist Danny Glover, a longtime advocate of reparations, urged passage of the resolution. 'A national reparations policy is a moral, democratic and economic imperative,' said Glover, noting that his great-grandmother was a former slave he met as a young boy. 'This hearing is yet another important step in the long and historic struggle of African Americans to secure reparations for the damage that has been inflicted by slavery and Jim Crow.' Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a presidential contender, testified that the U.S has 'yet to truly acknowledge and grapple with the racism and white supremacy that tainted this country's founding and continues to cause persistent and deep racial disparities and inequality.' But another witness, Coleman Hughes, who at times testified over boos from the audience, said black people don't need 'another apology,' but safer neighborhoods, better schools, a less punitive criminal justice system and better health care. 'None of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery,' said Hughes, a writer and student at Columbia University who said he is the descendant of blacks enslaved at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The Democratic legislation, which would set up a bipartisan commission to study the issue, spotlights a national conversation over the legacy of slavery. Several of the party's presidential candidates have endorsed looking at the idea, though they have stopped short of endorsing direct payouts for African Americans. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Wednesday called reparations a 'serious issue' and said he expects the resolution will see a vote in the House. While reparations has been moving toward the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the idea remains far from wide acceptance. And the panelists themselves, mostly black, differed on what reparations should look like and who should benefit from them. In a Point Taken-Marist poll conducted in 2016, 68 percent of Americans said the country should not pay cash reparations to African American descendants of slaves to make up for the harm caused by slavery and racial discrimination. About 8 in 10 white Americans said they were opposed to reparations, while about 6 in 10 black Americans said they were in favor. Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the top Republican on the panel, said he respects the beliefs of those who support reparations. He called America's history with slavery 'regrettable and shameful.' But he said paying monetary reparations for the 'sins of a small subset of Americans from many generations ago' would be unfair, difficult to carry out in practice and, in his view, likely unconstitutional. The Republican witnesses for the hearing were Hughes and Burgess Owens, a former Oakland Raiders football player and Super Bowl champion, who recently wrote a Wall Street Journal editorial eschewing reparations. The debate over reparations for black Americans began not long after the end of the Civil War. A resolution to study the issue was first proposed in 1989 by Conyers of Michigan, who put it forward year after year until his retirement in 2017. His portrait hangs in the room where the hearing was held. ___ Whack is The Associated Press' national writer on race and ethnicity. Follow her work on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous .
  • Comic Jon Stewart used his buddy Stephen Colbert's late-night show to keep the heat on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for passage of legislation to replenish a victims' fund for first responders to the 9/11 attacks. Stewart mocked McConnell on Colbert's 'Late Show' Monday night, even though the Senate leader had said earlier Monday that the issue would be addressed. Stewart demanded greater urgency. A longtime advocate for police and firefighters who worked after the attacks, Stewart is taking a biting lobbying effort to platforms that McConnell isn't necessarily used to. The former host of 'The Daily Show' testified last week at a public hearing on a bill that would ensure the fund can pay benefits for 70 years. He scolded legislators who had not shown up. He turned his attention to McConnell, appearing over the weekend with Chris Wallace on Fox. 'Many things in Congress happen at the last minute,' McConnell said Monday on Fox News Channel. 'We've never failed to address this issue and we will address it again ... I don't know why he's bent out of shape.' Stewart accused McConnell of slow-walking the legislation and using it as a political pawn to get other things done. 'If you're busy I get it,' Stewart said. 'Just understand that the next time we have war, or you're being robbed, or your house is on fire and you make that desperate call for help, don't get bent out of shape if they show up at the last minute with fewer people than you thought would pay attention and don't actually put it out. Just leave it there smoldering for another five years.' He urged McConnell to meet right away with 9/11 survivors and 'don't make them beg.' More than 40,000 people have applied to the fund, which covers illnesses potentially related to rescue work at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania. More than $5 billion in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.4 billion fund, with about 21,000 claims pending. Asked again about it on Tuesday, McConnell said, 'I don't know how many times I can say, we've never left the 9/11 victims behind and we won't again.' The legislation must pass the House first, where the Democrats have promised a vote before their August recess. ____ Associated Press writer Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local): 10:20 p.m. President Donald Trump has kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally that focused more on settling scores than on laying out his agenda for a second term. On Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida, Trump complained that he had been 'under assault from the very first day' of his presidency by a 'fake news media' and 'illegal witch hunt' that had tried to keep him and his supporters down. He also painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, telling the crowd that Democrats 'want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.' The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump's 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his 2016 run. ___ 10:15 p.m. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says President Donald Trump is 'a man way out of touch with the needs of ordinary people and a man who must be defeated.' Speaking after Trump's 2020 campaign kickoff event in Florida on Tuesday night, Sanders said Trump's rally was 'an hour and a half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense.' The Vermont senator was the only candidate among the nearly two dozen Democrats seeking the presidency to offer a live rebuttal immediately following the speech. Vice President Joe Biden's campaign released a statement nearly an hour before Trump was scheduled to speak. Biden's deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said that the country faces a choice, 'we can make Trump an aberration or let him fundamentally and forever alter the character of this nation.' ___ 10:05 p.m. President Donald Trump is promising to eradicate AIDS in America and to come up with cures to many diseases, 'including cancer and others,' during his second term. The president made the promise Tuesday at his 2020 campaign kickoff rally in Florida. It came shortly after Trump's eldest son mocked former Vice President Joe Biden for laying out the same goal on cancer. Donald Trump Jr. said earlier Tuesday before his father spoke: 'Why the hell didn't you do that over the last 50 years, Joe?' Former President Barack Obama had tasked Biden with developing a 'moonshot' to accelerate the fight against cancer. The effort resulted in Congress passing a bill to speed the development of cures in the final weeks of Obama's presidency. Biden's son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died from brain cancer in 2015. ___ 9:35 p.m. President Donald Trump is decrying 'illegal mass migration' as he tries to fire up supporters at his kickoff rally for the 2020 election. Trump made border security a focus of his first presidential run and returned to the topic frequently on Tuesday in Florida. Trump says millions of low-wage workers who come to the U.S. illegally compete for wages and opportunities against the most vulnerable Americans. Trump is also claiming that schoolchildren across the country are being threatened by MS-13 gang members and blames 'Democratic policies.' He says if Democratic officials 'had to send their children to those overcrowded, overburdened schools, they would not tolerate it for one minute.' ___ 9 p.m. President Donald Trump is returning to a familiar theme of attacking old trade deals as he tries to appeal to working-class voters in his campaign kickoff for 2020. Trump said Tuesday in Orlando, Florida, that the U.S. is taking in billions of dollars in tariffs and that companies are leaving China as a result of the 25 percent tariffs he has imposed on $250 billion in Chinese imports. Trump is preparing to target $300 billion in Chinese imports that he hasn't already hit with tariffs. Trump says the U.S. helped rebuild China, and 'they took us for suckers, and that includes Obama and Biden.' Trump tells supporters he's fighting for them. He says, 'I have news for Democrats who want to return us to the bitter failures and betrayals of the past: We are not going back.' ___ 8:45 p.m. President Donald Trump is telling supporters in Florida that he has taken on the 'political machine' during his presidency and 'that is why the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently.' Trump formally kicked off his 2020 campaign on Tuesday by complaining that 'for the last 2½ years we have been under siege.' Despite that, Trump claims that he has accomplished more than any other president during his first 2½ years in office. Trump is complaining about special counsel Robert Muller's investigation into Russian meddling in 2016, stating, 'We went through the greatest witch hunt in political history.' He is proclaiming that his opponents have been given a 'free pass' and is telling supporters: 'They are really going after you. That's what this is all about.' ___ 8:10 p.m. Vice President Mike Pence says America needs four more years of President Donald Trump. At a 2020 campaign kickoff rally Tuesday in the critical swing state of Florida, Pence told a crowd of thousands: 'It's on everybody. Time for Round 2.' Pence says Trump promised to make America great again, 'and that's exactly what we've done.' Pence says the president has made unprecedented investments in securing the U.S. border with Mexico. The crowd chanted, 'Build that wall!' — one of Trump's catchphrases. He is also crediting Trump with delivering 5.8 million jobs since the last election and says four more years means more jobs and judges. He says: 'It's going to take at least four more years to drain that swamp.' He says, 'As the campaign begins, I encourage you: Bring all your enthusiasm and have faith.' ___ 6:40 p.m. President Donald Trump has arrived in Orlando, Florida, where he is set to kick off his reelection campaign with a rally. Campaign advisers say Trump will seek to connect his first term to the goals he hopes to achieve with four more years as president. They say his brash version of populism, combined with his mantra to 'Drain the Swamp,' still resonates, despite his administration's cozy ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family's apparent efforts to profit off the presidency. Trump supporters began arriving as early as Monday for the Tuesday night campaign rally, braving downpours and listening to a cover band playing Southern rock standards. Democrats say Trump won't be credible running again as an outsider, and they claim that he's made life harder for people after two years in office. ___ 6:30 p.m. Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated near the Orlando, Florida, arena where President Donald Trump was set to formally launch his reelection campaign It wasn't the only helium-filled balloon outside Tuesday's rally. Lane Blackwell, who owns a clothing and swimwear store in Orlando, had manufactured 200 small balloons with Trump in a diaper. At least twice, groups of men wearing black Proud Boy T-shirts tried to enter the street where the anti-Trump protest was being held. They were stopped by groups of police officers and deputies. Shaun Noble says his mother was at the Trump rally while he was at the anti-Trump protest. He says, 'It's really caused a divide in our relationship.' But he says it's his right to believe what he wants and his mother's right to believe what she wants. ___ 2 p.m. A boisterous crowd of thousands of supporters has gathered in front of the Amway Center arena in Orlando, Florida, hours before President Donald Trump will hold a rally to formally launch his reelection campaign. A cover band on a stage played Southern rock standards such as Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Sweet Home, Alabama.' Vendors for blocks around sold water, as well as pins, hats and T-shirts with slogans including 'Trump 2020' and 'ICE ICE Baby.' In the summer heat, some women wore 'Make America Great Again' bathing suits. Fifty-six-year-old Margaret McDeed says she came from Tampa and supports Trump because 'his policies are for the American people.' She adds that, as a tax accountant, she's seen savings from the Republican-backed tax cuts. Thirty-three year old Alex Fuentes wore a shirt that said 'Make Democrats cry again.' The rally is set to begin at 8 p.m. local time. ___ 8:30 a.m. 'Wild' like a rock concert. That's how President Donald Trump envisions his campaign kickoff rally in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday night. To Trump, Republican enthusiasm is at an all-time high. But the political event is also drawing protesters. Trump says his re-election launch will be a political spectacle. In a tweet, he says: 'People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild — See you later!' Some supporters started lining up Monday to attend the event. Opponents are launching their protests at a gay bar in Orlando. The city is home to a large Puerto Rican population and it's also where a shooting at a gay nightclub killed 49 people three years ago. ___ 12:15 a.m. President Donald Trump is set to kick off his re-election campaign with a rally Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida. Campaign advisers say Trump will seek to connect his first term to the goals he hopes to achieve with four more years as president. Democrats say Trump won't be credible running again as an outsider and they claim that he's made life harder for people after just two years in office.
  • Jabbing at the press and poking the eye of the political establishment he ran against in 2016, President Donald Trump officially kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday with a grievance-filled Florida rally that focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a second term. Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando's Amway Center, Trump complained he had been 'under assault from the very first day' of his presidency by a 'fake news media' and 'illegal witch hunt' that had tried to keep him and his supporters down. And he painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of 'un-American conduct' and telling the crowd that Democrats 'want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.' 'A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,' he said, ripping 'radical' and 'unhinged' Democrats even as he made only passing mention of any of the men and women running to replace him. The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump's 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his improbably successful run three years ago. While Trump's campaign has tried to professionalize, with shiny office space and a large and growing staff, and despite two-and-a-half years occupying the Oval Office as America's commander-in-chief, Trump nonetheless remained focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington. And he appeared eager for a rerun of 2016, spending considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, whose name elicited 'Lock her up!' chants, than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot. A boisterous crowd of thousands of Trump supporters, many in red hats, began gathering outside the arena on Monday and spent Tuesday braving downpours and listening to a cover band as part of a '45 Fest' the campaign organized to energize the crowd. 'Trump has been the best president we've ever had,' said Ron Freitas, a retired Merchant Marine and registered Democrat from Orlando. Close by, hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot (6-meter) blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated. Some members of the far-right hate group Proud Boys were also spotted marching in Orlando outside the rally. Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the bombastic reality television star and New York tabloid fixture launched his longshot campaign for president with a famous escalator ride in front of a crowd that included paid actors. Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 run, calling it 'a defining moment in American history.' And he said that, in the years since, he had fundamentally upended Washington, staring down 'a corrupt and broken political establishment' and restoring a government 'of, for and by the people.' Of course, Trump never really stopped running. He officially filed for re-election on January 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne, Florida. He has continued holding his signature 'Make America Great Again' rallies in the months since. Still, he gave lip service to the hype, telling the Orlando crowd he was standing 'before you to officially launch my campaign for a second time.' He asked the crowd whether he should stick with 'Make America Great Again' or upgrade. His new campaign slogan — 'Keep America Great' — was greeted with boisterous cheers. Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to capture the Republican Party and then the presidency in 2016 as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. Back then, he successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. And he has no intention of abandoning that mantle, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt. He underscored that on the eve of the rally in the must-win swing state of Florida, returning to the hard-line immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that, next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement 'will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.' That promise, which came with no details and sparked Democratic condemnation, seemed to offer a peek into a campaign that will largely be fought along the same lines as his first bid, with very few new policy proposals for a second term. Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Tuesday that Trump's politics are 'all about dividing us' in ways that are 'dangerous — truly, truly dangerous.' Another leading Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Trump had delivered 'an hour-and-a-half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense.' But those involved in the president's reelection effort believe that his brash version of populism, combined with his mantra to 'Drain the Swamp,' still resonates, despite his administration's cozy ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family's apparent efforts to profit off the presidency. Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that, despite more than two years in office, he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: the bomb-throwing political rebel. Trump tried to make the case that he had made good on his 2016 promises, including cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting jobs. Near the end of the rally, Trump ran through a list of promises for a second term, pledging a new immigration system, new trade deals, a health care overhaul and a cure for cancer and 'many diseases,' including the eradication of AIDS in America. Florida is considered a near-must-win state for Trump to hold onto the White House, and both parties have been mobilizing for a fierce and expensive battle in a state that Trump has visited as president more often than any other. While Trump bested Clinton there in 2016, a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found Biden leading Trump 50%-41%, and Sanders besting him 48%-42%. ___ Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Josh Replogle, Zeke Miller and Juana Summers contributed to this report.
  • California's liberal Legislature wants to give poor people a lot more money in their state tax refunds each year, including an extra $1,000 for people who earn less than $30,000 a year and have at least one child under 6. But to do it, they'll have to agree — at least partially — with Republican President Donald Trump. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's spending plan would triple how much the state spends on its earned income tax credit to $1.2 billion, making about 1 million more households eligible to get it. To pay for it, California would have to adopt some of Trump's 2017 tax overhaul that was despised by Democrats, especially in California, because it capped the amount of state and local tax deductions in a move they say disproportionately hit high-income, high-taxed states. State lawmakers last week sent a $214.8 billion operating budget to Newsom's desk that included the expansion of the state's earned income tax credit. But they have yet to adopt the tax changes to pay for it, leaving a hole in the budget and prompting intense negotiation. The state Senate could approve the proposal on Monday. But there is trouble in the Assembly, whose members are up for re-election every two years in a state where Trump remains unpopular. 'You have a federal tax law that was passed with the intention, in our opinion, to harm California. They don't like who we are, they don't like our politics, they don't like what we represent,' said Assemblyman Ian Calderon, a Democrat from Whittier and the Assembly Majority Leader. 'It's been difficult for us to kind of get to a position where we are comfortable with conforming to a law that really, in its conception, was meant to harm us as a state.' Newsom's plan would not adopt all of the federal government's changes. Instead, it would focus on the ones that mostly affect business income. Some changes would lower taxes and others would increase them. Taken together, the changes in the governor's plan would generate an additional $1.8 billion for the state, according to the California Department of Finance. 'The Trump administration got rid of these loopholes at the federal level to be able to provide a deeper tax cut to corporate America,' said Mike Herald, director of policy advocacy for the Western Center on Law and Poverty. 'We're flipping that on its head. Instead, we're going to use the same money ... to help people who need it the most. I think most of the progressive liberal members of the Legislature are completely comfortable with that.' Leaders who support the change include Sen. Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat who is the Senate's top leader. Atkins said Thursday the tax changes are 'really important' and that 'my colleagues want to see this done.' 'Sometimes taking the political perspective is not practical for what you need to do on the ground,' she said. 'When someone tells me this can support small businesses in the state of California, you know, I'm all for it.' Things are less certain in the Assembly, where Calderon said lawmakers rejected the Newsom administration's presentation of the tax changes as an 'easy vote.' Newsom's proposal included eliminating some fringe benefit deductions for businesses, including things like entertainment, food and transportation expenses. In May, Newsom told reporters the change would mean lawmakers could no longer write off their courtside seats at Sacramento Kings games. But Calderon said Assembly members are concerned eliminating the deduction would hurt small businesses that use it. 'There is zero trust in just conforming blindly to anything in their proposal without thoroughly understanding what exactly we know we're signing onto,' he said. State law required lawmakers to approve an operating budget by midnight on June 15 or else lose their pay. The operating budget divvies up $214.8 billion in state and federal tax dollars. But lawmakers are still working out key details about how to spend that money in more than two dozen 'trailer bills.' The bills allow budget negotiations to continue past the deadline. Not approving the tax changes could cause some budget problems. H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Newsom administration's Department of Finance, compared the state budget to a building with the tax changes as a crucial part of the architecture. Without it, there would be no funding for the tax credit and lawmakers would have to recalculate the funding formula for public schools. 'If you take out a couple of the load-bearing beams, then you've got problems,' Palmer said. But Calderon said if lawmakers ultimately did not adopt the changes, the tax credit program would continue to exist. However, it would not be expanded in include more money and cover an additional 1 million households.
  • Julian Castro is the latest Democratic presidential contender to follow the trend of criticizing Fox News Channel while appearing on the network for a town hall. The former Housing secretary's scolding of Fox on Thursday for its coverage of Hillary Clinton was mild compared to recent attacks by Pete Buttigieg and Kirsten Gillibrand. But it drew an answer from moderator Bret Baier. The exchange illustrated the strong feelings Fox generates among many Democrats for its commentators' support of President Donald Trump, and the pressures faced by candidates who choose to engage with the network. The Democratic National Committee has said it won't sponsor a debate on Fox, and Elizabeth Warren has refused an invitation to appear there. She called Fox News a 'hate-for-profit racket.' Despite that, five candidates — including Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar — have recognized Fox's reach and accepted invitations. Sanders' April 15 appearance on Fox was seen by 2.55 million people, the largest audience for a town hall or extended interview so far this campaign. That's nearly twice the number of people who watched him on CNN on Feb. 25. 'I certainly understand the reservations many people have about the Fox News organization,' Castro told The Associated Press. 'At the same time, I'm determined to be a president for everyone, and that means campaigning in front of everyone, including people who don't agree with me.' The topic of Trump's statement to ABC News about potentially accepting foreign help for his 2020 campaign was broached with Castro Thursday when Baier compared Trump's comments to those of a former Clinton campaign spokesman who suggested he'd be interested in spreading around a dossier of information on Trump compiled by a former British intelligence officer. Baier wondered if a double standard was at work. 'I don't understand why this network and in so many conservative circles, people are still talking about Hillary Clinton,' Castro said. 'Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot. Those of us who are running are on the ballot. And I can tell you ... those of us who are running want to focus on the issues that are important to Americans and their families.' Baier noted that there is an active investigation into how information about Trump began circulating. It didn't quite match the fireworks generated on June 2 when Gillibrand talked about the 'red herring' discussion on Fox about infanticide shortly before Trump gave his State of the Union speech, where she was interrupted by moderator Chris Wallace. 'I understand that maybe to make your credentials with Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News, you're going to attack us,' Wallace said. 'I'm not sure, frankly, that it's very polite. We've invited you to be here.' Responded Gillibrand: 'I will do it in a polite way.' Two weeks earlier, Buttigieg noted that many people in his party opposed his appearance on Fox News. He criticized the network's opinion hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham for remarks they had made about immigration in recent months. 'There is a reason why anybody has to swallow hard and think twice about participating in this media ecosystem,' Buttigieg said. He drew pushback the next day from Fox personalities. Brian Kilmeade of 'Fox & Friends' said he shouldn't badmouth the network's hosts. 'If you feel that negative about it, don't come.' Fox has no further town halls scheduled presently, as attention turns to the first debate later this month in Miami, to be televised on NBC News. The network had no additional comment on the candidate critiques. Whether to engage with or ignore Fox is a still-unresolved argument among Democratic candidates. The candidates who choose to engage undoubtedly hope it shows they're willing to go unexpected places to seek votes, Democratic strategist Karen Finney said. Talking tough about the network's practices illustrates they're aware of what the network puts on its air. 'Part of the hope is that it says to viewers that 'I believe you're important and it's important to hear the other side,'' said Finney, a former Democratic National Committee spokeswoman. The liberal watchdog Media Matters for America has urged Democratic candidates to stay away from Fox, arguing the appearances helped the network at a time it was vulnerable following the Democrats' decision not to hold any of its debate on the network. 'When they go there and criticize the network, they're actually legitimizing the validity of our core critique,' said Angelo Carusone, Media Matters president. If candidates want to reach out to Fox viewers, criticizing the network doesn't help, he said. Neither do the attacks Fox personalities will heap on them after they leave the studio, he said. Some numbers are hard for candidates to ignore: Klobuchar reached 1.61 million viewers for her Fox town hall and 1.15 million for one of CNN, the Nielsen company said. Gillibrand's audience was 834,000 on Fox and 507,000 on CNN. Buttigieg's audience was slightly larger on CNN — 1.18 million versus 1.11 million on Fox. ____ Associated Press writer Jonathan Cooper in Phoenix, Arizona contributed to this report.
  • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner took in as much as $135 million in revenue during their second year as aides to President Donald Trump, generated from their vast real estate holdings, stocks and bonds and even a book deal, according to their financial disclosures released Friday. Ivanka Trump's stake in her family's Washington, D.C., hotel down the street from the Oval Office generated $3.95 million in revenue in 2018, barely changed from a year earlier. The hotel, a favorite gathering spot for foreign diplomats and lobbyists, is at the center of two federal lawsuits claiming Donald Trump is violating the Constitution's ban on foreign government payments to the president. Another big Ivanka Trump holding, a trust that includes her personal business selling handbags, shoes and accessories, generated at least $1 million in revenue in 2018, down from at least $5 million the year before. Ivanka Trump announced in July of last year that she planned to close her fashion company to focus on her work as a White House adviser for her father. The disclosure for her husband, Jared Kushner, shows that he took in hundreds of thousands of dollars from his holdings of New York City apartments and that he owns a stake in the real estate investment firm Cadre worth at least $25 million. The disclosures released by the White House and filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics show minimum revenue for the couple of $28 million last year generated from assets valued at more than $180 million. The disclosures filed by federal government officials each year show revenue, assets and debts in broad ranges between low and high estimates, making it difficult to precisely chart the rise and fall of business and financial holdings. Among the dozens of sources of income for Ivanka Trump was a $263,500 book advance for 'Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success,' published in 2017. Trump has pledged to donate royalties to her charitable fund. Kushner's holdings of apartment buildings through his family real estate firm, Kushner Cos., were the source of much of his income. Westminster Management, the family business overseeing its rental buildings, generated $1.5 million. Separately, one of the family's marquee holdings, the iconic Puck Building in the Soho section of Manhattan, generated as much as $6 million in rent. Among other properties cited in the disclosure was a former warehouse-turned-luxury-condominium in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn that brought in more than $350,000 in sale proceeds and rent. Former and current tenants in the building have filed a suit against the Kushner Cos. alleging it used noisy, dusty construction to make living conditions unbearable in an effort to push them out so their apartments could be sold. The Kushner Cos. has said the suit is without merit. Cadre has also drawn conflict-of-interest questions. It launched a fund to take advantage of massive tax breaks by investing in downtrodden areas designated 'Opportunity Zones,' a Trump administration program pushed by both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Also, this month the Guardian newspaper reported that Cadre received $90 million in foreign funding from an opaque offshore vehicle since Kushner entered the White House. Kushner lawyer Abbe Lowell did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment. Kushner appears to have cut his debt. He had loans and lines of credit worth at least $27 million at the end of last year, down from a minimum value of $40 million the previous year. His lenders include Bank of America, Citi Group and Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank is also a major lender to President Trump's company and has been subpoenaed by congressional investigators looking into his finances. Both Kushner and his wife took steps to distance themselves from their businesses before taking on their roles as unpaid White House advisers. Kushner stepped down as CEO of Kushner Cos. and sold stakes in many holdings, while Ivanka Trump similarly stepped away from executive roles at her companies.
  • President Donald Trump says his wife, first lady Melania Trump, is an icon on the same order of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Trump made the comparison Friday as he defended his decision to change the iconic Air Force One paint job devised under the former first lady's watch in the 1960s on the next version of the presidential aircraft due to enter service in 2024. Trump tells 'Fox & Friends,' ''You know the baby blue doesn't fit with us,' noting he plans to replace it with a darker navy and the gold stripe along the aircraft with one in red. He says: 'That was Jackie O and that's good, but we have our own Jackie O today, it's called Melania.' Trump added, 'We'll call it Melania T.

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  • A California police officer has died after a shooting in Sacramento, multiple news outlets reported early Thursday. According to The Associated Press, Sacramento police Officer Tara O'Sullivan, 26, was shot about 6 p.m. Wednesday when a gunman opened fire during a domestic dispute call involving a man and a woman. O'Sullvian, who was seriously injured, was taken to a nearby hospital and later died, authorities said. >> Read more trending news Police said O'Sullivan, who was in training, had been helping the woman gather her things from a Redwood Avenue home when the shots rang out.  Hours later, the gunman was still firing shots. As of late Wednesday, officers were unable to contact him, the AP reported. Residents of the neighborhood have been evacuated to a nearby elementary school, KTXL reported. Early Thursday, the Police Department tweeted that officers are 'devastated' about O'Sullivan's death. 'Our hearts are with Tara's family, whose pain can hardly be imagined,' the department tweeted. 'Please hold her family in your thoughts and prayers.' Read more here or here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The smell of smoke and the sounds of fire alarms are still in the air in Mandarin early Thursday morning after smoke from an a/c duct prompted 32 residents to be moved from their homes at The Terrace of Jacksonville senior living facility. A representative from the facility says no one was injured in the incident on Old St. Augustine Road near Hood Road and they are currently in the process of returning residents back into their rooms.  The representative says Jacksonville Fire Rescue has checked air quality and everything is safe for the people who live at the facility.   
  • Months after an armed home invasion robbery in Fernandina Beach that injured two people, investigators say they've now arrested a third suspect in connection. The Fernandina Beach Police Department has announced the arrest of 24-year-old Cedrice Brown. They say he was taken into custody early Wednesday morning, not far from the University of North Carolina.  Police tell us when he was arrested he was in possession of two stolen guns and booked on various North Carolina charges. A hold has been placed on Brown to have him extradited to Florida, where he faces armed robbery and armed burglary charges.  Police say since the December 22, 2018, incident at a home on Manatee Avenue, they've determined that the robbery was pre-planned due to one of the suspects involved having knowledge of where certain items were.  At the time of the robbery, police 15 people were inside. The victims reported seeing several suspects wearing masks and carrying various weapons, rifles, handguns and knives.  Two people were injured during the robbery, after being hit in the head with guns.  WOKV told you that one suspect was arrested while attempting to flee. A second suspect was arrested at a later time.  Police say they're continuing to work on identifying the remaining suspects, who they believe are from outside the Nassau County-area.
  • Authorities arrested an 11th person Tuesday in connection with the ambush shooting last week of former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic. >> Read more trending news  In a press briefing Wednesday evening, the Dominican Republic’s lead prosecutor said that Ortiz was not the target of a shooting.  Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said the target was another man, dressed similarly to Ortiz, who was seated next to him the night of June 9. Rodríguez said the shooting was orchestrated by a member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, who remains on the run. He did not immediately describe a motive. An unidentified official told The Associated Press that Franklin Junior Merán was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of renting one of the cars used in the June 9 shooting in Santo Domingo. Ten other suspects have already been ordered to spend a year in preventive detention as the investigation continues, including the accused shooter. Authorities say they are looking for at least three other suspects, including the man they believe paid the hit men. Ortiz continued recovering Wednesday in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany Ortiz, said doctors upgraded Ortiz’s condition to good Tuesday. “We remain grateful to everyone who has helped David through this ordeal, both in the Dominican Republic and here in Boston,” Tiffany Ortiz said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “David’s journey to good health has been bolstered by the many expressions of love that have come to us from across the globe. Your support has lifted his spirits tremendously during this challenging time.” Authorities continue to investigate. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A man said his fiancee put eye drops into his soft drink Saturday at their Rowan County home. >> Read more trending news  The man told authorities he confronted his fiancee, Jaymee Cruz, after he said he watched her put the drops in his Coca-Cola. He then locked himself and their baby in the bathroom and called 911. Deputies said when they arrived at the scene, Cruz at first denied putting eye drops in the drink, but later said she did it to make the man sick. Cruz said she got the idea from the movie 'Wedding Crashers' and did it because she wanted to move out of the home with their daughter, authorities said. Consuming eye drops is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. The main ingredient reduces redness in the eyes, but when ingested it can rapidly reach the blood and central nervous systems. It's not the first time a person has been accused of using eye drops to poison their significant other. Last year, York County investigators charged Lana Clayton in her husband’s death after she said she put eye drops in his water, WSOC-TV reported. Stephen Clayton’s toxicology report showed he had poisonous levels of the key ingredient in eye drops.

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