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Inspector general recommends criminal investigation of Andrew McCabe

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe 26 hours before he was to retire, concluding that he approved an “unauthorized disclosure to the news media” and, when asked about it, “lacked candor, including under oath, on multiple occasions.”

McCabe’s lawyer had no comment Thursday, but has said repeatedly that McCabe had full authority to authorize the release of information to the reporter, never misled investigators, and corrected the record about his answers.

The inspector general’s report concluded that McCabe authorized two FBI officials to tell a reporter from The Wall Street Journal that, contrary to what the reporter claimed to have heard, the FBI was not trying to delay an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

The question arose because when McCabe’s wife ran as a Democrat for the Virginia Senate in 2015, her campaign received a contribution from a political action committee controlled by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton friend.

The report said McCabe authorized the release of the information to protect his own image, not to enhance public understanding of the FBI’s work. When asked about the leak, the report said, McCabe repeatedly denied being the source. Among those he misled, the inspector general said, was James Comey, who was the FBI director, and his boss, at the time.

In an appearance this week on “The View,” Comey said, “I still believe Andrew McCabe is a good person, but the inspector general found that he lied, and there’s severe consequences in the Justice Department for lying — as there should be throughout the government.”

The inspector general’s referral of the case to the Justice Department for possible prosecution does not mean that McCabe will be charged.

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Battleground voters not buying Trump’s tough talk on China, new poll shows

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WASHINGTON — With President Donald Trump casting himself as the only candidate strong enough to take on China, voters in key battleground states don’t share his view of Beijing as an urgent threat to the U.S., a new poll finds. Just 1 in 5 call standing up to China a top security issue influencing their votes.

Terrorism — long top of mind in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — has faded as a predominant concern. It has been usurped by worry about global pandemics, according to a survey by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin of voters in 12 states most likely to determine control of the White House and the Senate.

In March, just 25 percent of likely voters said they prioritized protecting the U.S. from pandemics, but the number has almost doubled, jumping to 45 percent, according to the survey. Only 29 percent in the battleground states listed terrorism as a top concern as they decide their votes in the election, including just 41 percent of Republicans.

“The fact that terrorism’s been replaced in this way, at least for this election, by keeping Americans safe from pandemics is a very significant development,” said Garin, who conducted the poll for National Security Action, an advocacy group that opposes Trump.

Traditionally, national security has taken a back seat to the economy, health care and other closer-to-home issues as top issues driving voters’ decisions.

This year, the usual lines between foreign and domestic policy are blurrier, with a deadly virus spreading without regard to borders and disrupting the global supply chain. Americans’ confidence in the integrity of their democracy, shaken once by Russian meddling in 2016, is again in question, as U.S. spy agencies warn that several countries are actively seeking to interfere this year.

Covid-19 and the election’s integrity are among the topics Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will be grilled about when they meet in Cleveland for the first presidential debate Tuesday.

In the poll, 6 in 10 voters said Trump has made America less respected globally, while half say his leadership has made the U.S. less safe and increased the likelihood of a war. But Biden fares about the same on those questions, with 49 percent saying he would make America more respected as president and 46 percent saying he would make the U.S. safer.

Still, the findings suggest that Trump’s campaign may face difficultly framing the choice and stakes in the election in the way Trump has presented them. In Trump’s telling, fault for the pandemic lies squarely with a malevolent China, which he says would “own” America and its jobs if Biden were elected.

Trump has insisted that China — not Russia — poses the biggest threat to the election while rebranding the coronavirus as the “China virus” to shift blame. At the same time, the president and his allies have sought to paint Biden as too weak to stand up to China, pointing to his record on trade policies and his son’s business dealings in the country.

“Joe Biden’s agenda is made in China. My agenda is made in the USA,” Trump told a crowd of thousands at his rally this month in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, one of the battleground states included in the poll.

But the survey found that most voters, asked about their preferred approaches to China, favor a middle ground that’s neither confrontational nor acquiescent. Sixty percent agree that the U.S. should “maintain a constructive relationship with China and resolve our differences diplomatically.” That’s compared to 40 percent who said the U.S. should be “aggressive in confronting China on trade and security issues, even at the risk of a more hostile relationship.”

“What people know about Trump and China is the trade war, but they don’t view that as a success,” Garin said in an interview.

Still, voters in battleground states split largely along partisan lines over China, with a majority of Republicans favoring the aggressive approach and a majority of Democrats favoring the “constructive” one.

Voters were about evenly split on some of Trump’s other national security policies, with 50 percent saying Trump’s increased military spending is a fairly or very convincing reason to re-elect him and the same percentage saying that of his trade deals. Asked about his handling of the coronavirus, 59 percent disapproved, including 71 percent of voters who listed Covid-19 as their top issue.

Overall, the poll finds Biden with a 5-point lead over Trump, besting him by 49 percent to 44 percent in the battleground states — similar to the advantage Biden has had in other recent polls in the battleground states.

Consistent with other recent polls, Trump makes up for some of Biden’s 13-point edge among women by carrying 50 percent of men, compared to just 46 percent of men who said they’re voting for Biden.

The online poll of 1,228 likely voters was conducted Sept. 4-11. It included voters in three states that are fiercely contested in the presidential race — Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — as well as voters in nine states that are battlegrounds for both the White House and the race for control of the Senate: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Carolina. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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Labour Party's Andy Burnham proposes 9PM ban on alcohol sales to stop COVID-19 spread

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THE LABOUR PARTY’s Andy Burnham suggested the sale of alcohol could be banned after 9PM to avoid crowds rushing to off-licences and supermarkets once pubs have shut down.

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Trump lashes out at New York Times report alleging years of tax avoidance

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The New York Times obtained two decades of President Donald Trump’s tax information, reporting Sunday that the president paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and again during his first year in office.

The Times, which said it plans to publish additional stories based on the documents, reported that Trump has not paid any income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, mostly because he reported significant losses. It reported that Trump is facing a decadelong Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he received that could end up costing him more than $100 million.

The Times also reported that Trump has more than $300 million in loans coming due within the next few years that he is personally responsible for repaying.

The tax documents cover more than two decades, including some of his time as president, but they do not include his returns from 2018 and 2019. NBC News has not seen or verified any of the documents reported by The Times.

Trump said Sunday that the story was “totally fake news” and “made up,” although he acknowledged that he “didn’t know anything about the story” ahead of its publication, which came moments before his news conference began.

Asked about the report that he paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and again in 2017, Trump said he has “paid a lot of money in state” taxes, although he was not specific about how much.

In response to the report, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted asking people to raise their hands “if you paid more in federal income tax than President Trump.”

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement that Trump “has gamed the tax code to his advantage and used legal fights to delay or avoid paying what he owes.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement, “It is a sign of President Trump’s disdain for America’s working families that he has spent years abusing the tax code while passing a GOP Tax Scam for the rich that gives 83 percent of the benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent.”

Trump again pledged to make his taxes public after the completion of an IRS audit, which he has said for years is why he is not making the documents public.

The Times reported that, boosted by a substantial increase in income tied to his celebrity in the 11 years after “The Apprentice” premiered, the president went on a spending spree unseen since the days before the demise of his finances of the early 1990s. But The Times said the documents revealed that the new ventures and acquisitions contributed to a drag on his bottom line rather than increased it.

In a statement to NBC News, a Trump Organization lawyer, Alan Garten, claimed that the story was “riddled with gross inaccuracies.”

“Over the past decade the President has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government,” Garten said.

While The Times reported that Trump did not pay income taxes for several years, he did pay other forms of federal taxes, including Medicare, Social Security and the alternative minimum tax.

The Times has previously reported about Trump’s tax information, having obtained such documents — although far fewer — earlier in Trump’s presidency.

Trump has waged a coast-to-coast legal battle throughout his presidency in hope of keeping the tax information hidden from the public. Trump is the only president in the past 40 years to have withheld his taxes from the public. No law requires presidents to make their taxes public.

Although he said he would release the information ahead of the 2016 election, he has since repeatedly cited IRS audits as a rationale for continuing to withhold his records.

This summer, Trump assailed a pair of Supreme Court rulings pertaining to his personal financial records, calling them “not fair,” although they were not clear-cut losses for the president.

Kelly O’Donnell contributed.



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