Trump asks Kelly to remain chief of staff until 2020
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has asked White House chief of staff John Kelly to remain in the post through the 2020 presidential election and Kelly has agreed to do so, said a person familiar with the discussion.
The commitment would provide stability at the top for a White House staff that has seen high turnover, unless either Trump or Kelly changes his mind.
Kelly came under fire earlier in the year for the White House’s handling of security clearances after domestic violence allegations surfaced against former staff secretary Rob Porter. Porter was fired, and amid the fallout, other aides said Kelly lost some of his clout with the president. Since then, Kelly has been the subject of persistent rumors that he is about to be ousted.
A retired four-star Marine Corps general who served as Trump’s first Homeland Security secretary, Kelly entered the White House last July with a level of authority aides say his predecessor, Reince Priebus, never possessed. He moved quickly to impose order — most notably by restricting access to the Oval Office for subordinates as well as the president’s many friends, unofficial advisers and confidants.
— Bloomberg News
Latino voters angry at Trump but not mobilized, Democratic report finds
WASHINGTON — Democrats have a chance to win big in this year’s midterms by channeling Latino voters’ anger at President Donald Trump’s immigration and health care agenda, according to the findings of a Democratic-funded study released Tuesday.
But first, they’ll have to convince Latinos their vote will mean something.
The study found “significant challenges for Democrats” in convincing Latino voters that a Democrat-controlled Congress would affect important changes. But there is “also an immense opportunity” for Democrats to mobilize Latinos who oppose the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric, the authors said.
Political polling firm Latino Decisions conducted the research, which was commissioned by three top Democratic fundraising groups: the House Majority PAC, Priorities USA and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Bold PAC.
Latino Decisions analyzed opinion data from focus groups and a poll of 1,000 Latino registered voters. They found Latino voters are “exceedingly angry at the state of politics today,” particularly regarding the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policies and health care rollback efforts.
The administration’s separation of migrant families at the border angered 87 percent of Latino voters polled for the study. Respondents overwhelmingly opposed the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and Trump’s own rhetoric regarding undocumented immigrants.
The same percentage also said the Republican health care plan angered them. Latinos are more likely than other voters to lack insurance, the study said, and they received greater gains in coverage from the Affordable Care Act than other populations.
However, Democrats cannot necessarily count on Latino support to carry them in 2018, the study said.
“Participants understand the importance of voting, but candidates and parties do not communicate a clear agenda to Latinos,” the authors wrote.
— CQ Roll Call
Franken says he hasn’t decided on running for office again
WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Al Franken said he has not ruled out the possibility of running for office again in his first sit-down interview since leaving his seat amid a sexual harassment scandal.
In an interview with a Minnesota CBS affiliate, the Democrat from Minnesota said he missed working in the Senate.
“I miss the whole job. I loved that job, I loved the job as senator. … It was very meaningful for me and bittersweet. I would like to still be there,” he said.
Franken resigned in January after multiple reports of inappropriate sexual conduct with women both before and during his tenure in the Senate.
Franken was attending the dedication of a new high school on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. One father said Franken repeatedly visited the school that was replaced and said he wanted Franken to return to public life.
Sen. Tina Smith replaced Franken and is running in 2018 in the same cycle as Minnesota’s senior Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Franken’s wife, Franni, said leaving the Senate was hard for both of them.
“It has been a challenge, but we do get to spend more time together, and I think there are times that both us would like spend less time together,” she said.
When asked if he would run for office again, Franken did not explicitly say either way.
“Well, see, if I say anything there you will put it in the story,” he said. “I don’t know. I haven’t ruled it out, and I haven’t ruled it in.”
— CQ Roll Call
Judge in George Zimmerman stalking case: ‘I hate to keep saying that name out loud’
ORLANDO, Fla. — George Zimmerman’s misdemeanor stalking case returned to court Tuesday in Seminole County for a pretrial hearing.
During the hearing, Circuit Judge Mark Herr again warned the parties involved to not dredge up Zimmerman’s history with the Trayvon Martin case, in which he was acquitted of second-degree murder in 2013.
“We are not going back five years,” Herr said. “We’re not going back to the first time we heard this man’s name in the county.”
Referring to Zimmerman, Herr also said, “I hate to keep saying that name out loud.”
In the stalking case, Zimmerman is accused of harassing a private investigator involved in a documentary about the shooting.
The private investigator, Dennis Warren, told deputies that over the course of nine days in December, he had received 55 phone calls, 67 text messages, 36 voicemails and 27 emails from Zimmerman.
Authorities said Zimmerman also threatened to feed Warren to an alligator — a threat he also made against the rapper Jay-Z, who is producing the docuseries. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty.
Warren was supposed to take part in a deposition on July 25. As part of that deposition, Zimmerman’s lawyer, Zahra Umansky, subpoenaed Warren to bring all documents and other materials relating to “Warren’s investigation of George Zimmerman.”
Warren objected to that subpoena, saying he “did not conduct an investigation of George Zimmerman,” and was simply trying to find sources for the documentary.
Zimmerman was not in court Tuesday, but Warren was.
“What (Zimmerman’s defense) are asking for, I don’t think it has anything to do with the crime that was committed,” Warren said.
The next hearing in the case is expected to take place Sept. 5.
— Orlando Sentinel
NC man who tried to impress woman by posing as Army general, picking her up in helicopter is sentenced
RALEIGH, N.C. — Christian Desgroux, the Raleigh auto mechanic who posed as a U.S. Army general and piloted a helicopter to the SAS campus in Cary to impress a woman, received a six-month sentence in federal prison Tuesday, federal prosecutors said.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle handed down the sentence in Raleigh after Desgroux’s guilty plea in June. The 58-year-old was also sentenced to a year of supervised release.
He had faced a maximum sentence of three years and a $250,000 fine.
In February, an agent with the Department of Homeland Security testified Desgroux took a helicopter to SAS headquarters in November, wearing a battle dress uniform and identifying himself as an Army general. He told security officers that he was picking up a female employee on orders of President Donald Trump.
While at the SAS campus in Cary, Desgroux told security officers that he had come to take the woman to a classified meeting at Fort Bragg, then flew away with her for approximately 30 minutes before returning to Cary, agent Tony Bell said.
When he later interviewed the employee, Bell testified, she said she assumed Desgroux, then 57, was trying to impress her and start a romantic relationship.
“She said they did nothing,” Bell said in February. “They flew around for 30 minutes. She had no idea he was flying a helicopter to pick her up.”
— The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Mexico arrests drug cartel leader in the disappearance of 3 Italian men
MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities have arrested a man in connection to the disappearance earlier this year of three Italian men in the western state of Jalisco, a case that triggered angry street demonstrations in Italy denouncing Mexican police.
Prosecutors said Monday that they arrested Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez Castillo, an alleged member of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, over the weekend in the city of Guadalajara.
They accuse Rodriguez of paying police in the small Jalisco town of Tecalitlan to turn the three men over to the Jalisco drug cartel.
The victims, 60-year-old Raffaele Russo, his 25-year-old son Antonio Russo and his 29-year-old nephew Vincenzo Cimmino, were apparently in Mexico selling electric generators and other imports. Raffaele Russo disappeared first on Jan. 31, according to his family back in Naples, after he went to Tecalitlan by himself to try to make some business deals.
When they didn’t hear from him, Raffaele Russo’s son and nephew went to the town and tried to locate him by tracing his car’s GPS, the family said. They said the pair were quickly surrounded by local police and taken into custody. The men have not been heard from since.
The case has sparked outrage in Naples, with residents marching in the streets and the city’s beloved Napoli soccer team unfurling a large banner in its stadium that read “Free the Neapolitans in Mexico.”
— Los Angeles Times