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BREXIT BREAKTHROUGH? Theresa May in Brussels TONIGHT for talks with EU leaders 

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Impeachment talk among Democrats heats up after Mueller report

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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — As Democrats sift through the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, some lawmakers who previously downplayed the idea of impeaching President Donald Trump now say the investigation’s findings may require them to initiate such proceedings in the House.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday that the Mueller report shows that what Trump has done is “at least 100 times worse” than the actions that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. Cummings previously had called talk of impeachment premature, but said Friday, “We may very well come to that very soon.”

“We’ve got to go against this, we’ve got to expose it. A lot of people keep asking about the question of impeachment,” Cummings said.

“But right now, let’s make sure we understand what Mueller was doing, understand what Barr was doing, and see the report in an unredacted form, and all of the underlying documents,” he said, referring to Attorney General William Barr.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, in an interview on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” Friday, said that the obstruction material laid out by the special counsel is “damning enough,” but that Congress needs to take some time to digest the seriousness of the report to determine the right course of action.

“We certainly need to continue the investigative work to determine, are there other ways this president is compromised, or, are there other offenses that rise to the level of removal from office,” the California Democrat said, responding to a question about impeachment. “But here we are less than 24 hours after the report, and I think we need as a caucus to have a discussion about what’s the import of this and what’s the way forward.”

In a separate interview Friday on “Morning Joe,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was asked if there were impeachable offenses in the Mueller report.

“There are clearly offenses,” Blumenthal said. “And there may be impeachable offenses, there may be censurable offenses. I think what Congress needs to do now is continue the fact-finding.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declined to comment on the Mueller report at a press conference at Northern Ireland’s Parliament on Friday morning, saying she doesn’t criticize the U.S. president while visiting another country on a congressional delegation trip. But she also said that Congress will “honor its oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, to protect our democracy.”

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif, said Friday on Fox News that the decision on whether to pursue impeachment rests with Pelosi.

“There is only one person who matters — Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “She sets the agenda for House Democrats. Every member of Congress has an opinion, but Nancy Pelosi is going to set the agenda. And she has said, let’s have Mueller testify, let’s have the committees do their work and gather evidence. But it is premature to be making any other judgments.”

Several hours after the 448-page redacted report was released to Congress and the public on Thursday, talk of impeachment gathered steam among some rank-and-file lawmakers, including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who announced on Twitter that she will sign on to an impeachment resolution introduced by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., in March.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who in March said he had a “high bar” for impeachment, also did not rule out such a scenario Thursday. His committee has the power to initiate an impeachment inquiry and proceedings.

Asked if holding Trump accountable means impeachment, Nadler said, “That’s one possibility — there are others.”

But other top Democrats like Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, mostly avoided the “I-word” in statements condemning the president’s conduct as detailed in Mueller’s extensive report.

Some Democrats said that impeachment would be too divisive, and that the issue of whether to keep Trump as president should be left up to voters in the 2020 election.

“In my view, there’s an even better political process coming right down the road on almost the same time frame and that’s the elections of 2020. I think that’s where this decision should be made about the president’s conduct with all this information out in the public,” Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, told CNN Friday. “For Congress to go through an impeachment process would be, it would take probably 18 months, which would lead right up to the election. And it would be divisive.”

On Thursday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., reportedly told CNN that “impeachment is not worthwhile at this point.” Afterward, he appeared to walk that comment back, saying that “all options ought to remain on the table.”

Articles of impeachment would require a simply majority to pass in the House, which is currently controlled by Democrats. The Senate, on the other hand, which has the power to remove a president who has been impeached through a two-thirds vote, is highly unlikely to consider that option because the chamber is controlled by Republicans. Only two presidents have been impeached in U.S. history: Clinton in 1998, and President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Neither was convicted in the Senate.

On MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes” on Thursday, Democratic presidential contender Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota dodged the question of whether Trump should face impeachment.

“Our job if there is impeachment brought, and that is up to the House, our job is to be the jury. So, I have been really careful about talking about what we would do if impeachment came before us,” she said.

Another 2020 hopeful, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., did not rule it out.

“I think that there is definitely a conversation to be had on that subject, but first I want to hear from Bob Mueller,” Harris told Hayes, “and really understand what exactly is the evidence that supports the summary that we have been given today.”



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Trump’s FDA may revamp rules for cherry pie, milk, French dressing

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By Associated Press

President Donald Trump may soon be able to claim a sweet victory for his deregulation push, with officials preparing to get rid of the decades-old rules for frozen cherry pies.

Emails show the Food and Drug Administration planned to start the process for revoking the standard for frozen cherry pies this week, followed by a similar revocation of the standard for French dressing. Plans to get rid of the obscure rules had been tucked into the Trump’s administration’s deregulation agenda.

Standards for an array of foods including cottage cheese and canned peas were put in place decades ago partly to ensure a level of quality. They spell out how products with specific names can be made, including ingredients that are required or not allowed. The rules for frozen cherry pies say they must be 25 percent cherries by weight with no more than 15 percent of the cherries being blemished.

It’s not always clear why some food terms have standards and others don’t. The rules are seen as arcane by many and are a sore spot in the food industry, with companies saying they prevent innovation or prompt lawsuits. The FDA under Trump has said it plans to update the standards.

Lee Sanders of the American Bakers Association said she’s hopeful the cherry pie standard will finally be revoked, but that it would not make a big difference for the industry.

“I feel confident our members are producing cherry pies with more than enough cherries,” she said.

The FDA also plans to take another look at milk, which federal regulations define as coming from a cow. The dairy industry has called for a crackdown on soy, rice and almond drinks makers that use the term.

While any changes to the milk rule are likely to be contested, getting rid of the standard for frozen cherry pie is unlikely to be controversial.

The frozen cherry pie standard is an outlier because other fruit pies don’t have similar rules. The same is true for French dressing: The Association for Dressings and Sauces, which once went after a vegan spread for violating the mayonnaise standard, notes other dressings are not subject to such standards.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who stepped down this month, said in an October tweet that it was among the FDA’s priorities to “de-regulate frozen cherry pie.” He apparently wasn’t entirely joking.

In a June email , the FDA noted plans to post a proposal to revoke the frozen cherry pie standard on April 18. It said the proposal to revoke the French dressing standard would be posted May 3.

In a statement this week, the FDA said the dates were for “long range internal planning purposes” and that the timing could shift. Updates to the standards will be publicly noted, the agency said.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Trump snubs John McCain during bill signing intended to honor him

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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — Congress wanted to honor the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. President Donald Trump did not.

In extended remarks during a visit to Fort Drum in upstate New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 — this year’s version of an annual bill that sets defense policy — Trump chose not to mention the former prisoner of war and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who is battling brain cancer. He even omitted McCain’s name when citing the title of the bill.

The two men have long been fierce critics of each other, with McCain calling Trump’s supporters “crazies” in 2015 and Trump retaliating by questioning whether McCain, who was subjected to torture in a Vietnamese prison camp, is really a “war hero” because “he was captured.”

The snub at Fort Drum, home to the combat aviation brigade of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, did not escape the notice of McCain’s allies.

“For those asking did I expect Trump to be an a—— today. No more than I expected it to be Monday,” Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime aide, wrote on Twitter.

McCain’s condition — dire enough that a recent HBO documentary on him was titled “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” — has not stopped Trump from deriding the Arizona senator at political rallies. Though Trump does not use his name, he tells crowds that he would have been able to repeal Obamacare if not for a thumbs-down sign from one senator — McCain.

The senator’s own statement included Trump’s name in the headline and in a preamble written by staff. But the words attributed to McCain did not.

“I’m very proud that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 has been signed into law,” he said.

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