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Trump slams Oprah, hopes to see her 2020 run to ‘expose and defeat’



President Donald Trump went after “very insecure” Oprah Winfrey on Sunday, tweeting that he hopes to see her run for president so “she can be exposed and defeated.”

“Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes,” Trump tweeted Sunday night. “The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!”

Winfrey appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” leading a discussion with 14 people from Grand Rapids, Mich. Half of people from the group voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, the other half did not. The same group was interviewed on the program last year.

“One year into Donald Trump’s presidency, Americans remain divided, often unwilling to listen to what the other side has to say,” Winfrey said.

Winfrey’s potential run for presidency was the subject of speculations following her speech at the Golden Globes last month. Her longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham said, “It’s up to the people” whether she runs, but added that “she would absolutely do it.”

Winfrey, for her part, denied considering a run in 2020. She recently told CBS’ “60 Minutes Overtime” that God has not yet told her to run for president. “If God actually wanted me to run, wouldn’t God kinda tell me? And I haven’t heard that,” Winfrey said.

Trump said last month that if Winfrey runs, he would beat her. “Yeah, I’ll beat Oprah. Oprah would be a lot of fun,” he said, although adding that “I know her very well. I like Oprah. I don’t think she’s going to run.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

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Manchin responds to sexism charges after opposing Neera Tanden’s confirmation



WASHINGTON — A Democratic senator responded Tuesday to accusations of sexism from progressives after opposing Neera Tanden to be President Joe Biden’s budget director, a decision that threw her nomination into uncertainty.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia denied that sexism played a role in his opposition, calling his decision “not personal at all.”

The nomination of Tanden, who would be the first nonwhite woman to lead the Office of Management and Budget, hung by a thread in the afternoon as Republican leaders sought to unify and block it.

Manchin’s opposition means that Tanden needs one Republican to cross the aisle in order to be confirmed.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told his conference during a Tuesday lunch meeting that he wants them to stick together and oppose Tanden, per two Republican sources familiar with his remarks.

Asked immediately after the lunch whether he expected his conference to coalesce against Tanden, McConnell told NBC News: “I hope so. We’ll see.”

The chamber has confirmed numerous nominees of President Joe Biden and hasn’t rejected any yet.

Like Manchin, many GOP senators cite past tweets by Tanden criticizing politicians across the spectrum. In his statement Friday, Manchin said that Tanden’s “overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship” between Congress and the influential White House budget office.

Since then, key Republicans including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio have come out against Tanden, leveling similar concerns.

But some progressive lawmakers and activists saw a double standard between Tanden and some of President Donald Trump’s nominees who were confirmed by the Senate — including frequent Twitter sniper Richard Grenell for Ambassador to Germany, and Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court after his at-times intemperate testimony in response to allegations of attempted sexual assault.

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., questioned whether there was a potential gender or race-based motive to the opposition to nominees like Tanden and Interior nominee Deb Haaland, who would be the first Native American to run the department.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who may be the last Republican senator in play, told reporters Tuesday that she still has time to make a decision on a full Senate vote as Tanden faces two committee confirmation votes Wednesday.

Murkowski said she has spoken to the White House about Tanden, but it wasn’t clear when or with whom specifically, nor did she say how the conversation went.

The White House stood by Tanden’s nomination on Tuesday, saying the administration is still working to find the needed votes.

At his weekly news conference today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized Republicans as hypocritical for basing their opposition to Tanden on mean tweets.

“I’m not gonna get into specifics and names but we’re continuing to look [for votes],” Schumer said. “I think Neera Tanden would be an outstanding OMB nominee. And for Republicans who look the other way with the nastiest of tweets by their president their leader for now to say Neera Tanden shouldn’t get in because of her tweets is a little bit of a contradiction.”

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Senate approves Biden nominees for UN ambassador, Ag secretary



WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s choice to lead U.S. diplomacy at the United Nations on Tuesday.

The vote for Linda Thomas-Greenfield reflected a divide between the Biden administration’s determination to re-engage with the world body and former President Donald Trump’s diplomacy that often left the U.S. isolated internationally.

Senators voted 78-20 to confirm Thomas-Greenfield to the post, which will be a Cabinet-level position.

The Senate also voted 92-7 Tuesday to confirm Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary, his second run at the Cabinet post. The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same department for former President Barack Obama’s entire administration.

Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the foreign service who resigned during the Trump administration, will be the third African-American and second African-American woman to hold the job.

Many Republicans opposed her because they said she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield had rejected those concerns during her confirmation hearing, telling senators that a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute had been a mistake and was not intended to be an endorsement of Chinese government policies

In the speech, she had praised China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road global infrastructure program in Africa and called for “a win-win-win situation” where the U.S. and China would promote good governance and the rule of law.

She told senators that China is a strategic adversary and “their actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life, and they are a threat to their neighbors and they are a threat across the globe.”

Thomas-Greenfield spoke of China’s diplomatic inroads during the Trump administration, which pursued an “America First” policy that weakened international alliances. And she made clear there will be a change under Biden to re-engage internationally and promote American values.

She stressed that American leadership must be rooted in the country’s core values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” And, she said that effective diplomacy means developing “robust relationships,” finding common ground and managing differences, and “doing genuine, old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.”

At her hearing, she recalled going to a segregated high school and then to Louisiana State University “as a consequence of a lawsuit.” She said she was “not the norm” among the Ivy League graduates who also joined the Foreign Service in 1982.

“And yet, I had an extraordinary 35-year career, that culminated as the assistant secretary of state of African affairs,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “To me, that represents the progress, and promise, of America.

In his testimony, Vilsack, 70, heavily endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such as the creation of biofuels, saying “Agriculture is one of our first and best ways to get some wins” on climate change.

He proposed “building a rural economy based on biomanufacturing” and “turning agricultural waste into a variety of products.” He pledged to work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to “spur the industry” on biofuels.

With systemic racial inequity now a nationwide talking point, Vilsack also envisioned creating an “equity taskforce” inside the department. Its job, he said, would be to identify what he called “intentional or unintentional barriers” that prevent or discourage farmers of color from properly accessing federal assistance programs.

Vilsack also heavily backed the SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps — as a key instrument in helping the country’s most vulnerable families survive and recover from the pandemic era. His Trump-era predecessor, Sonny Perdue, had sought to purge hundreds of thousands of people from the SNAP-recipient lists.

He faced minimal opposition throughout the confirmation process.

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French fishermen warned vessels could be BANNED from Jersey waters – ultimatum issued



JERSEY has issued an ultimatum to France warning some vessels could face a complete ban from fishing in their waters in a matter of months.

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