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    Attorney General William Barr has told people close to him he’s considering quitting his post after President Donald Trump wouldn’t heed his warning to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases, an administration official told The Associated Press. The revelation came days after Barr took a public swipe at the president, saying in a television interview that Trump’s tweets about Justice Department cases and staffers make it “impossible” for him to do his job. The next day, Trump ignored Barr’s request and insisted that he has the “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases and sidestep the Justice Department’s historical independence. Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he’s considering suing those involved in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and opined that his confidant Roger Stone deserved a new trial after being convicted of witness tampering and obstruction. Barr, serving in his second stint as attorney general, sought to paint himself as an independent leader who would not bow to political pressure. But Democrats have repeatedly accused Barr of acting more like the president’s personal attorney than the attorney general. Barr proved to be a largely reliable Trump ally and defender of presidential power. In recent days, a stream of Trump allies, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, have issued statements expressing their full confidence in the attorney general. But Trump has a low tolerance for criticism, especially public criticism, from his allies and often fires back in kind.
  • AP source: Attorney General William Barr has told people close to him he’s considering quitting over Trump's tweets.
  • U.S. authorities have arrested a Mexican citizen they say was hired by a Russian government official to locate the vehicle of a U.S. government source in the Miami area and inform the Russian of its location. A Justice Department statement issued Tuesday on the arrest of Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes did not indicate why a member of the Russian government sought such information. The U.S. government source, who might be better described as an informant, was not identified. Fuentes was arrested and charged with acting within the United States on behalf of a foreign government – in this case, Russia – without notifying the U.S. attorney general, and conspiracy to do the same, according to the Justice Department. A pretrial detention hearing was set for Friday in U.S. magistrate court in Miami and arraignment for March 3 in the same court. The case involved the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as an assistant attorney general for national security and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. According to the Justice Department, a Russian government official recruited Fuentes, a resident of Singapore, in 2019. The Russian official later directed Fuentes to rent a specific property in Miami-Dade County, Florida, but not in his own name, the Justice Department said. Fuentes traveled twice to Moscow to meet with the official, the Justice Department said, and during the second meeting received a physical description of the U.S. government source’s vehicle. The Russian official told Fuentes to locate the car, obtain the source’s vehicle license plate number, and note the physical location of the source’s vehicle with the goal of providing that information in April or May. The Justice Department said Fuentes, having traveled from Mexico City to Miami last Thursday, attracted the attention of a security guard where the U.S. government source resided because his rental car entered the premises while tailgating another vehicle. A person with Fuentes then photographed the source’s vehicle and license plate, the Justice Department said. Customs and Border Protection stopped Fuentes and his companion when they appeared at Miami’s airport Sunday night to return to Mexico City. Fuentes admitted to law enforcement officers that he was directed by a Russian government official to conduct the operation, the Justice Department said.
  • Mike Bloomberg will confront the greatest test of his presidential campaign on Wednesday when he faces five Democratic rivals in a debate in Las Vegas that could fundamentally change the direction of the party’s 2020 nomination fight. The debate debut for the billionaire former mayor of New York is poised to offer fresh insight into whether his unconventional campaign strategy — bypassing early voting states such as Nevada and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to spread his message on the airwaves — is sustainable. The debate comes at a pivotal point in the campaign as moderate voters are struggling to unify, with some increasingly looking to Bloomberg to become the clear alternative to progressive Bernie Sanders. And lest there be any doubt, all the participants expect a hostile reception for Bloomberg, who formally registered as a Democrat in 2018 and has faced relatively little national scrutiny so far in his surprisingly swift rise from nonpartisan megadonor to top-tier presidential contender. “He is going to have a giant target on his back from all sides,” said Democratic strategist Brian Brokaw. “It’ll either all come together brilliantly or could fall apart very quickly. ... The stakes are just incredibly high for him.” The stakes are high for others as well just days before Nevada’s next-up presidential caucuses, the third contest in the Democrats’ chaotic 2020 primary season. After more than a year of campaigning, there is little clarity in their urgent search for a nominee to run against President Donald Trump in November. Longtime establishment favorite Joe Biden, a former two-term vice president, is fighting to breathe new life into his flailing campaign, which enters the night at the bottom of a moderate muddle with former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Sanders, a Vermont senator, has emerged as the progressive wing’s clear preference after two contests as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is struggling to regain energy around her campaign. Some Democrats fear that the conditions are ripe for a bare-knuckles brawl on national television that could carve new scars into a divided Democratic Party that must ultimately come together this fall if it hopes to deny Trump a second term. Bloomberg’s rivals have already indicated they will lean into his explosive comments on race and gender in addition to their charge that he’s using a fortune earned from a career on Wall Street to buy the presidency. Bloomberg’s rise in national polls has been fueled almost exclusively by an unprecedented national advertising campaign, carefully controlled campaign events and a sprawling national organization that has likely already cost him more than half a billion dollars. Alexandra Rojas, executive director of the Sanders-allied Justice Democrats, called Wednesday Bloomberg’s first “public moment of accountability.” “It’s going to be a chance to finally bring scrutiny to Bloomberg’s record as a Republican plutocrat,” she said. Bloomberg has been preparing for the debate behind closed doors for weeks, including prep sessions that feature senior aides playing his leading competitors. They expect him to come under attack early and often from multiple rivals. His team was working to lower expectations ahead of his performance, suggesting his debate skills are rusty after more than a decade since his last election. Bloomberg hasn’t been on a debate stage since 2009. His team notes he never faced more than one rival at a time over three elections for New York City mayor. Despite the challenges, senior adviser Tim O’Brien signaled that Bloomberg welcomed a fight against Sanders, whom the campaign perceives to be the race’s clear front-runner. “I think you’re going to see us go toe-to-toe with Bernie Sanders on important issues,” O’Brien said in an interview, raising questions about Sanders’ personal wealth, record on criminal justice and gun control. Sanders welcomed the fight as well. The Vermont senator railed against Bloomberg and “a system that allows billionaires to buy elections,” while campaigning in Nevada on the eve of the debate. “Here is the message: Anyone here worth $60 billion, you can run for president, and you can buy the airwaves. My friends, that is called oligarchy, not democracy.” While the same age and race, Bloomberg and Sanders are ideological opposites. Bloomberg is one of the world’s richest men, having generated a net worth estimated at $60 billion after a career on Wall Street. He has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to combat climate change and gun violence and promote immigration reform in recent years, yet he takes a decidedly pragmatic approach that celebrates incremental improvement backed by data. Sanders has a net worth estimated at $2.5 million thanks to book sales and the value of his home, but he has spent a lifetime in politics as an uncompromising democratic socialist demanding a political revolution to transform the nation’s politics and economy. He measures his success largely by the impact he’s had on the public debate, which has warmed to his calls for a $15 minimum wage, universal health care and sweeping action on climate change. Voters will not formally judge Bloomberg’s performance until next month. He is not technically competing in Nevada’s Saturday caucuses or any of the four primary contests scheduled for this month, preferring to invest his time and resources in the delegate-rich states that begin voting in March. In the modern era, such a strategy has never worked. Yet it's never been attempted by someone as wealthy as Bloomberg, who has already invested more than $400 million into a national advertising campaign and hired more than 2,000 campaign staffers. The focus on Bloomberg on the debate stage, of course, means there will be less oxygen for others at a critical moment. Buttigieg essentially tied in Iowa with Sanders and was a narrow second-place finisher in New Hampshire, yet many establishment leaders remain skeptical of the 38-year-old’s limited experience and ability to assemble a multiracial coalition to defeat Trump. Buttigieg needs a strong performance to help blunt Bloomberg’s momentum. Klobuchar surged into the top tier of the race with a strong debate performance in New Hampshire. But with a significantly smaller national brand, she faces lingering questions about the strength of her organization and appeal among minority voters. Warren may have the most to gain Wednesday night, having been pushed from the top tier after a bad performance in New Hampshire’s primary last week. She remains popular with her party’s far-left wing, though it's unclear if or when she will win a primary contest. And Biden is betting everything on a comeback fueled by minority support in Nevada and South Carolina in the next two weeks. A top Biden official described the former vice president as eager to confront Bloomberg on the debate stage. But Biden is also targeting Sanders. He previewed one line of attack over the weekend, seizing on Sanders’ support for a 2005 law that granted gun makers civil immunity. Biden also hammered his strength with the powerful Culinary Union, which hasn't endorsed a candidate but claimed that Sanders' 'Medicare for All' proposal would threaten their current health care coverage. Amid the infighting, Democratic National Committee member Robert Zimmerman fears that his party may lose sight of its chief mission in 2020: defeating Trump. “It’s going to get much nastier,” Zimmerman said of Wednesday’s debate. “The candidates have an obligation to unite the party, and they’re not going to get there by throwing around charges of racism and personal slurs.” ___ Associated Press writers Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, Calif., and Alexandra Jaffe in Washington contributed to this report. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign plans to ask for a partial recount of the Iowa caucus results after the state Democratic Party released results of its recanvass late Tuesday that show Sanders and Pete Buttigieg in an effective tie. Sanders campaign senior adviser Jeff Weaver told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the campaign has had a representative in contact with the Iowa Democratic Party throughout the recanvass process. 'Based on what we understand to be the results, we intend to ask for a recount,' he said. A Sanders spokesman confirmed that the campaign still planned to pursue a recount after the party released its updated results. In the new results, released by the Iowa Democratic Party, Buttigieg has 563.207 state delegate equivalents and Sanders has 563.127 state delegate equivalents out of 2,152 counted. That is a margin of 0.004 percentage points. The AP remains unable to declare a winner based on the available information, as the results may still not be fully accurate and are still subject to the recount. The caucuses were roiled by significant issues in collecting and reporting data from individual precincts on caucus night. There were also errors in the complicated mathematical equations used to calculate the results in individual caucus sites that became evident as the party began to release caucus data throughout the week. The Iowa Democratic Party had previously said publicly that the only opportunity to correct the math would be a recount, but after a vote by its state central committee, the party changed that policy. It agreed to change some mathematical errors during the recanvass, in instances where “the rules were misapplied in the awarding of delegates' to viable candidates. That changed the results of the caucuses slightly, but resulted only in a slimmer margin separating the two front-runners. The state party corrected 29 precincts overall in the recanvass, 26 of those because of mathematical errors and 3 because of reporting errors. In a recount, party officials use the preference cards that caucusgoers filled out outlining their first and second choices in the room on caucus night and rerun all the math in each individual precinct. The Iowa Democratic Party states in its Recount and Recanvass manual that 'only evidence suggesting errors that would change the allocation of one or more National Delegates will be considered an adequate justification for a recount.' That means the errors must be significant enough to change the outcome of the overall caucus. Iowa awards 41 national delegates in its caucuses. As it stands, Buttigieg has 13 and Sanders has 12. Trailing behind are Elizabeth Warren with eight, Joe Biden with six and Amy Klobuchar with one. The 41st and final delegate from Iowa will go to the overall winner. The caucus won’t formally come to an end until the recount is completed. In its recanvass request, the Sanders campaign outlined 25 precincts and three satellite caucuses where it believes correcting faulty math could swing the delegate allocation in Sanders’ favor and deliver him, not Buttigieg, that final delegate. Until this year, the only results reported from that process was a tally of the number of state convention delegates — or “state delegate equivalents” — awarded to each candidate. For the first time, the party in 2020 released three sets of results from its caucuses: adding the “first alignment” and “final alignment” of caucusgoers to the number of “state delegate equivalents” each candidate received. During the caucuses, voters arriving at their caucus site filled out a card that listed their first choice; those results determined the “first alignment.” Caucusgoers whose first-choice candidate failed to get at least 15% of the vote at their caucus site could switch their support to a different candidate. After they had done so, the results were tabulated again to determine the caucus site’s “final alignment.” The AP has always declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses based on state delegate equivalents, which are calculated from the final alignment votes. That’s because Democrats choose their overall nominee based on delegates. While the first alignment and final alignment provide insight into the process, state delegate equivalents have the most direct bearing on the metric Democrats use to pick their nominee — delegates to the party's national convention. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • Some were big names who grabbed national headlines while others were lesser known but also faced serious charges and prison. A look at who was granted clemency Tuesday by President Donald Trump and an overview of their criminal cases: PARDONS Edward DeBartolo, Jr. was the owner of the San Francisco 49ers when the team won five Super Bowls in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony when he paid $400,000 to Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in exchange for a riverboat gambling license. DeBartolo served probation for his offense, but the crime effectively ended his time as an NFL owner. Michael Milken was a well-known figure on Wall Street as the head of the junk bonds department at the now-defunct firm Drexel Burnham Lambert. He served two year s in prison in the early 1990s after pleading guilty to violating U.S. securities laws. Ari Friedler, the CEO of Virginia-based Symplicity Corp., pleaded guilty to hacking his competitors' computers in 2014. He served two months in prison. Bernard Kerik, once New York City's police commissioner, served three years in prison for tax fraud and for making false statements after lying to the George W. Bush White House while being interviewed to serve as Homeland Security secretary. Paul Pogue, founder of a Texas construction company, was given three years' probation after pleading guilty to filing false income tax statements. David Safavian, once a high-ranking official at the General Services Administration, was convicted of making false statements and of obstructing an investigation tied to the probe into the activities of disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Angela Stanton, a best-selling author and television personality, was sentenced to six months of home confinement for her part in a stolen vehicle ring. COMMUTATIONS Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor, spent more than eight years in prison for his failed attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat that was made vacant after Barack Obama's 2008 election sent him to the White House. Blagojevich, after he was impeached and removed from office, appeared on NBC's 'The Apprentice,' a reality TV show hosted by Trump. Tynice Nichole Hall served nearly 14 years of an 18-year sentence for allowing her Lubbock, Texas, apartment to be used as a stash house. Crystal Munoz was convicted in 2007 of conspiring to distribute more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana and later sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison. Munoz claimed in court filings that her only role was drawing a map others allegedly used in moving marijuana from Mexico to Texas. She said her lawyer failed to adequately defend her at trial. Judith Negron had served eight years of a 35-year sentence in a Florida prison for health care fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
  • Mike Bloomberg would sell the financial data and media company he created in the 1980s — which bears his name and made him a multibillionaire — if he is elected U.S. president, a top adviser said Tuesday. Bloomberg would put Bloomberg LP into a blind trust, and the trustee would then sell the company, adviser Tim O'Brien said. Proceeds from the sale would go to Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable giving arm that funds causes from climate change to public health and grants for American cities. The only restriction Bloomberg would put on the sale is that it not be sold to a foreign buyer or a private equity company, O'Brien said. Bloomberg, a Democrat, is currently chief executive of the company. “We want to be 180 degrees apart from Donald Trump around financial conflicts of interest,” O'Brien told The Associated Press. “We think it's one of the biggest stains on the presidency, and Trump's record is his refusal to disengage himself in his own financial interests. And we want to be very transparent and clean and clear with voters about where Mike is on these things.” Indeed, as one of the world's wealthiest people, Bloomberg would have an extraordinarily complicated financial picture to untangle if he wins the presidency. His commitment to selling the company stands in stark contrast to the Republican Trump, who refused to fully divest from his business, instead putting his assets in a trust controlled by his two adult sons and a senior company executive. He has continued to make money from his properties. Bloomberg said in 2018, when he was considering a presidential run, that he would consider selling his business if elected. The company is not currently for sale. He retained ownership in the company when he served as New York City mayor from 2002 to 2013, but gave up his title of chief executive. O'Brien's comment comes amid increasing scrutiny of Bloomberg's wealth and business holdings from his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. He'll face them on the debate stage for the first time on Wednesday in Las Vegas. If he won the White House, the exact timeline for a sale isn't clear, O'Brien said. There's also been no decision on what would happen to Bloomberg Philanthropies. Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, said such an action would need to follow complex rules and be approved by the ethics office. The administer of the blind trust would need to be an institution, not a person, and it's not clear how a trustee would navigate confidentiality requirements when trying to sell off a private company, Shaub said. There are no comparable examples of any executive branch official putting a large private company into a blind trust and up for sale, he said. He said it would be smart for every candidate to set up meetings with the office now to begin discussing potential conflicts of interest. “Bottom line: It could be a costly mistake for any candidates to make firm commitments to establish qualified blind trusts without first having their attorneys meet with OGE's Director and legal staff,” Shaub tweeted. Bloomberg created his own company in 1981, after he was fired from the investment bank Salomon Brothers with a $10 million severance payment. His new venture created the Bloomberg Terminal, a dedicated computer with proprietary software that allowed Wall Street traders, buyers and sellers to see financial transaction data in real time. The terminal quickly became a must-have product around the financial world and has been used by entities including the World Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank. Bloomberg then grew the business to include a financial news arm, which has morphed into a major news wire service. The outlet has faced criticism for allowing its reporters to cover the campaign but blocking them from reporting in-depth investigations into Bloomberg or his Democratic rivals. Newsroom leaders didn't impose similar restrictions on reporting regarding Trump. Bloomberg has also faced renewed scrutiny over lawsuits filed by women at his company alleging discrimination or hostile treatment. Bloomberg has said he won't release women from any nondisclosure agreements they've signed with the company. Bloomberg entered the presidential race in November and has been steadily climbing in national polls, buoyed by $400 million in advertising. Worth an estimated $60 billion, he is entirely self-funding his campaign. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • President Donald Trump says that India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expecting to turn out massive crowds for the president when he visits next week. Trump will be in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat to attend an event called “Namaste Trump,” which translates to “Greetings, Trump,” at a cricket stadium. Trump pivoted on a question about trade with India to say how much he likes Modi, adding that the prime minister expects some 7 million people to turn out for him between the airport and the cricket stadium. “The stadium I understand is sort of semi under construction, but it’s going to be the largest stadium in the world, so it’s going to be very exciting,” Trump told reporters. In preparation for Trump’s visit, a half-kilometer (1,640-foot) brick wall has been hastily erected, with critics saying it was built to block the view of a slum area inhabited by more than 2,000 people. Senior government official Bijal Patel said the wall was built “for security reasons” and not to conceal the slum. As for trade, Trump played down expectations for any major breakthroughs next week, saying, “I’m really saving the big deal for later on. I don’t know if it will be done before the election, but we’ll have a very big deal with India.” Trade tensions between the two countries have escalated since the Trump administration levied tariffs on steel and aluminum from India. India responded with higher tariffs on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices, prompting the U.S. to retaliate by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program. The U.S. runs a trade deficit with India of about $25 billion, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. India has relatively high tariff rates, especially in agriculture, and the Trump administration has been critical of that deficit, accusing India of unfair trading practices.
  • Hoisting the spoils of victories in California’s hard-fought water wars, President Donald Trump is directing more of the state’s precious water to wealthy farmers and other agriculture interests when he visits their Republican Central Valley stronghold Wednesday. Changes by the Trump administration are altering how federal authorities decide who gets water, and how much, in California, the U.S. state with the biggest population and economy and most lucrative farm output. Climate change promises to only worsen the state's droughts and water shortages, raising the stakes. Campaigning in the Central Valley farm hub of Fresno in 2016, Trump pledged then he’d be “opening up the water” for farmers. Candidate Trump denounced “insane” environmental rules meant to ensure that enough fresh water stayed in rivers and the San Francisco Bay to sustain more than a dozen endangered fish and other native species, which are struggling as agriculture and development diverts more water and land from wildlife. Visiting Bakersfield in the Central Valley on Wednesday, Trump is expected to ceremoniously sign his administration’s reworking of those environmental rules. Environmental advocates and the state say the changes will allow federal authorities to pump more water from California's wetter north southward to its biggest cities and farms. The Trump administration, Republican lawmakers, and farm and water agencies say the changes will allow for more flexibility in water deliveries. In California's heavily engineered water system, giant state and federal water projects made up of hundreds of miles of pipes, canals, pumps and dams, carry runoff from rain and Sierra Nevada snow melt from north to south — and serve as field of battle for lawsuits and regional political fights over competing demands for water. Environmental groups say the changes will speed the disappearance of endangered winter-run salmon and other native fish, and make life tougher for whales and other creatures in the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. After an initial study by federal scientists found the rule changes would harm salmon and whales, the Trump administration ordered a new round of review, California news organizations reported last year. The overall effort “ensured the highest quality' of evaluation of the rule changes, Paul Souza, Pacific Southwest director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, which is under the Interior Department, said in a statement Tuesday. “We strongly disagree that the proposal will reduce protections for endangered species,' Souza said. Beyond operational changes in the federal Central Valley Project water system, the administration's changes allow for more habitat restoration, upgrades in fish hatcheries and the water system itself, monitoring of species and other improvements, Souza said. Careers of California politicians can rise and fall on water issues. It's often rancorous, as when Republican Rep. Devin Nunes in 2017 celebrated passage of a House resolution weakening environmental protections by tweeting a photo of cupcakes decorated with Delta smelt, a Northern California fish nearing extinction. Trump mocked environmental limits on water deliveries in California in his 2016 campaign visit, saying they were all about “a certain kind of 3-inch fish,' the smelt. Conservation groups have promised new rounds of water lawsuits to try to block the redone environmental rules. “The species really are in much worse shape” than in earlier years, Doug Obegi with the Natural Resources Defense Council said. “We are at the point where we may watch them wink out ... potentially in the next few years.” Another big change alarming conservation groups and some water agencies outside of Southern California is the pending award of a permanent federal contract from the Bureau of Reclamation to Westlands Water District, a Central Valley-based water agency that is the nation's largest irrigation water district. The Bureau of Reclamation is under the Interior Department, led by Secretary David Bernhardt, who was a lobbyist of Westlands Water District in Washington through 2016. Trump nominated Bernhardt to join the Interior Department, initially as deputy secretary, the next year. The then-Republican-led Congress in 2016 approved legislation allowing California water agencies to pay to make their federal water contracts permanent. Westlands has jumped toward the front of the line, closing its public comment period last month. Interior officials said Westlands still owes around $200 million from the initial cost of nearly a half-billion dollars. Conservation groups and some Northern California water agencies fear Westlands' permanent contract — and political power — will help it claim a bigger share of water when drought and over-demand reduce supplies, said Patricia Schifferle, an California water-law expert and activist. In December, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration said it planned to sue the Trump administration over their proposed new rules, saying they do not do enough to protect endangered species. That lawsuit still has not been filed. Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, said state officials are still negotiating with the Trump administration about whether they would change the proposed rules to address the state’s environmental concerns. “From our perspective, if we can resolve our concerns and ensure adequate protection of these endangered species, then we think it would be important to do so and we could avoid probably years of litigation,” Crowfoot said. —- Beam contributed from Sacramento.
  • President Donald Trump on Tuesday veered into politics during a briefing on preparations for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, criticizing the city's political leadership for failing to curtail its homelessness epidemic. Trump said if Los Angeles doesn't “clean it up fast,” he will intervene. 'If they can’t do it themselves, we’re going to do it,” Trump said. “The federal government is going to take it over, we're going to do it.“ Trump has battled with California's Democratic leaders throughout his three years in office, with state Attorney General Xavier Becerra filing dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration over environmental regulations, immigration issues and other White House policies. The president also has repeatedly lashed out against the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents a San Francisco district, over the homeless issues in those cities. The president in the past has referred to the crisis in the two California cities as “disgusting” and a “disgrace to our country.” Trump made the comments as he met with the Los Angeles Olympic committee to get an update on preparations for the Summer Games, the first Olympics to be hosted by the U.S. since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. He promised his administration would help the city prepare for the games. “This is a big deal,” said Trump, who signed an agreement pledging the federal government’s support of the Los Angeles committee. He claimed his predecessor, President Barack Obama, was less than supportive of the bid. “We're going to give them tremendous support,” he said. 'You need the support of the federal government to make it really work.” Trump is at the start of a four-day visit to Western states that is expected to be a mixing of policy and politics. The official Olympic event, conducted alongside a high-dollar fundraiser at the Montage Beverly Hills, helps defray the cost to Trump's campaign for the cross-country trip. It's a common scheduling technique by presidents of both parties to have the government shoulder the burden of some of their political travel. Trump's trip will be packed with big-dollar fundraisers, a trio of campaign rallies meant to energize his base and a sprinkle of official presidential events where he can showcase administration actions while offsetting some of his travel costs. The trip to California, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado is an unusually long domestic trip for Trump, who prefers to sleep in his own bed but is stepping up his political travel now that his impeachment trial is over. He was expected to raise $14 million at two California campaign fundraisers, according to a Republican official familiar with the planning of the events. That money will be split among his campaign, the Republican National Committee and 22 Republican state parties. Trump will spend the nights in Las Vegas, just as Democrats have descended on the state ahead of a debate there Wednesday and Nevada’s Democratic caucuses on Saturday. The rallies will take him to two states with vulnerable Republican senators — Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona. Both stood by Trump during the Senate's impeachment trial. Trump also announced that he will soon head to South Carolina to campaign, likely the day before Democrats in the state hold their primary on Feb. 29. “Look — we have a big voice, and we might as well use it,” Trump told reporters before departing Washington. At the Olympic committee event, he took a shot at former President Barack Obama's administration, suggesting that his White House has shown more commitment to bringing the international event back to the U.S. “The Olympic committee, really wanted the government, they just wanted some support and they were not getting it at all from the past administration,” Trump said. “We're going to give them tremendous support. You need the support of the federal government to make it really work.” The official event, conducted alongside a high-dollar fundraiser at the Montage Beverly Hills, helps defray the cost to Trump's campaign for the cross-country trip. It's a common scheduling technique by presidents of both parties to have the government shoulder the burden of some of their political travel. He is scheduled to travel to Las Vegas late Tuesday evening, where he is expected to stay at his private hotel just off the Las Vegas Strip. On Wednesday, Trump will fly to Rancho Mirage, California, to billionaire Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison's estate, which includes a private golf club, where his campaign is hosting a golf outing and fundraiser. Ellison previously hosted Obama at the course, which, like others in the arid Coachella Valley, has faced scrutiny for high water usage. Trump will then visit Bakersfield, California, the hometown of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, “to speak with hardworking farmers in the Central Valley about efforts to dramatically improve the supply and delivery of water in California and other Western states,” the White House said. Trump will then hold a rally in Phoenix before returning to Las Vegas. On Thursday, Trump will speak at the Hope for Prisoners Graduation Ceremony held at the Las Vegas police headquarters, the White House said, adding that the president intends to focus on efforts 'to provide previously incarcerated Americans with second chances.' He will hold another rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before flying back to Las Vegas. He will hold a final rally in Las Vegas on Friday.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Doctors at Baptist Health say in general, adults and children can sometimes wait months to see a counselor for their mental health needs. “There’s not enough behavioral heath providers in the community,” Dr. Terrie Andrews said.  That’s why Baptist is rolling out a new Acute Care Clinic. A $25,000 grant from CVS Health is helping them offer families same-day access to mental health services.  “If you have a cold or you're experiencing flu symptoms, you can be seen immediately in primary care. That’s what we’re wanting to build at Baptist Behavioral Health,” Dr. Andrews said.  Dr. Andrews said one in five adults and kids need mental health counseling at some point in their life.  “Something happened, maybe they’re going through a divorce they weren’t expecting,' she said. 'We’re trying to get them quick access, help to be able to stabilize them.'  She said the new clinic will also serve patients who need a prescription for their medication but can’t get an appointment with their psychiatrist.  The grant from CVS is helping to fund telehealth technology that allows doctors and patients to video chat.  Right now, the program is serving adults out of Baptist's downtown campus. Dr. Andrews says they hope to have the pediatric side of the clinic up and running by the fall.  'We know if we can intervene earlier, then their trajectory is much greater for success,' she said.  The bottom line – they want families to be able to get the help they need faster.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is investigating after human remains were found in North Jacksonville. A construction worker was pushing dirt with a bulldozer and found bones within a dirt mound, JSO said.  The Sheriff’s Office said the medical examiner was on site and confirmed the bones are human. The bones will be collected and taken to the medical examiner’s office where the medical examiner will work to make an identification. The identification process could take weeks, according to the Sheriff’s Office.  The dirt came from another site off Eastport Road and was brought to this site near I-295 and Main Street where workers are building a ramp.  JSO said the bones may be years, even decades old.
  • After decades of searching, a local Jacksonville man has finally found the family he never knew existed. This story dates back to the 1980s with a shocking plot twist.  Right now, Steven Flowe lives in Jacksonville. His parents, Joyce and Steven Flowe Sr. raised him in Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite having a great childhood, Steven Jr. felt like a piece of him was missing.  “Learning from my cousin that I was adopted started the curiosity,” Steven Flowe Jr., said. “I was desperately looking, you know, asking anybody, ‘Hey I was born in this area do you know’ and I told my story.”  His story started back in 1984, when a baby was found in a cardboard box on the porch of a dry cleaners in Charlotte.  The original broadcast report from our sister station, WSOC in Charlotte, explains that an employee saw a box with a big splotch of blood on top of it.  “I eased the sheet back and I saw the baby’s head,” a man said in that report.”  The baby was Steven Jr.  His story was all over the news and in newspapers too.  “It was ten days later that we picked him up and brought him home.” Joyce Flowe, Steven’s adoptive mother, said. “He's been with ever since.”  The Flowes were trying to have children, and Steven was their miracle child.  “From the first moment I looked at him and I believe I saw his eyes and he made eye contact with me, I said ‘This is my son,’ and it’s been that way ever since,” Steven Flowe Sr. said.  As Steven Jr. got older, he had questions about where he came from. He even took to the local newspaper to find his biological family.  “I think it’s my personality -- that I just have to know. I have to know the answer,” Steven Flowe, Jr. said.  His questions remained unanswered for decades. Steven moved to Jacksonville with his wife and created their own family. It wasn’t until September 2019 that his curiosity re-lit a fire inside of him, and he decided to take a DNA test. His expectations were low.  “I got my results back and it showed that I had a half sibling,” Steven Jr. said. “I was like ‘Whoa wait a minute.’ I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting a fifth or sixth cousin but not a sibling.“  Soon after Steven Jr. got his results, Karen Perry got a Twitter message saying “we may be related.”  “He sent me a picture.” Perry said. “I was like, ‘oh my God he looks like me and my family.’“ That wasn’t even the craziest part. “He told me he lived in Jacksonville. I said I live in Jacksonville.”  The two lived less than a mile apart from each other in the Bartram Park community—just a quick four minute drive down the road.  Despite being separated for decades, it was as if the two knew each other forever.  “When I saw him in person, I felt that I knew that this was my brother,” Perry said. “I knew it was my brother.”  “When I hugged her, it was just like everything went away, and it was like this is my sister,' Steven Jr. said.  Perry eventually led Steven Jr. to his biological mother, who he said he has forgiven.  “She knew that she needed ... that I needed to be with another family.” Steven Jr. said. “I needed to be with another family.”  His family has finally come full circle.
  • Shirley Colter is a Navy veteran who lives in Orange Park. Colter uses VA Video Connect to chat with her VA health care providers. It’s new technology that lets her talk to her doctor using a smartphone, computer or tablet.  More than 1,600 veterans are using this technology.  One of the advantages is you don’t have to physically be in the VA hospital or clinic. The user can be anywhere and meet with their doctor face-to-face.  “To me it’s just as good as being in person,” Colter said.  VA Video Connect reaches patients from southern Georgia all the way down to the villages in Florida.  Dr. Melinda Screws, the chief medical officer for the Jacksonville Outpatient VA Clinic, said it’s more convenient for many patients.  “Sometimes it’s really just a relatively simple question that they need answered. Maybe they have a rash and they think they may have shingles and they can show that to me on camera and we can, ‘Yes, I think that it is shingles, or no maybe you got into some poison ivy,’” Screws said.  Colter said the technology can also help other veterans like her who may live in rural communities and can’t make the drive to a VA clinic.  “I think it’s just going to be pretty awesome, especially for those veterans that live pretty distance away from the clinic,” Colter said.  The VA says this technology will mainly be used for follow-up appointments, like speaking to patients about medications or test results.  If you would like a demonstration you can visit the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic on Jefferson Street. in the Primary Care Lobby on Feb. 26 and 27.  To learn more about VA Video Connect you can head to mobile.va.gov/appstore.
  • UPDATE: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says 10-year-old Sam Booker has been found safe. ORIGINAL STORY: The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is asking for the community's help finding a missing 10-year-old.  JSO says Sam Booker was last seen walking out from his classroom at Long Branch Elementary on Franklin Street around 1:00 PM Tuesday. Due to the circumstances involved, police say they want to make sure he's safe.  Booker is described as being 4'6'' tall, 60 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. Police say he was wearing a red hoodie, blue jeans, and red and white shoes.  If you've seen him or know where he is, you're urged to call the sheriff's office at (904) 630-0500.

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