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Trump to nominate William Barr for attorney general, Heather Nauert for U.N. ambassador

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By Daniel Barnes

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Friday that he plans to nominate William Barr for attorney general, and confirmed that former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as his pick to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador.

“He was my first choice from day one,” Trump said of Barr, calling him a “highly respected lawyer” and “one of the most respected jurists in the country.”

If confirmed by the Senate, it would be Barr’s second stint as head of the Justice Department. He served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under the late former President George H.W. Bush.

“Hopefully that process will go very quickly,” Trump said of Senate confirmation. “I think he will serve with great distinction.”

Barr would succeed former attorney general Jeff Sessions, who resigned under pressure in November.

Trump’s choice of Nauert to replace Haley had been previously reported by NBC News.

“She’s very talented, very smart, very quick and I think she’s going to be respected by all,” Trump said of Nauert.

The president also teased a third personnel decision to be announced tomorrow as he attends the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.

“I can give you a little hint — it will have to do with the joint chiefs of staff and succession,” Trump said.

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Lawmakers move to end ‘barbaric’ dog experiments at the VA

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By Dareh Gregorian

The Department of Veteran Affairs’ inspector general is reviewing whether the agency flouted regulations on dog experimentation, as a new bill was introduced to outlaw the often-gruesome testing for good.

In a letter to a bipartisan group of lawmakers, VA Inspector General Michael Missal said his office will probe whether nine ongoing dog studies were being carried out in violation of a law signed by President Donald Trump last year. That law said the VA secretary had to sign off on any such procedures, which animal advocates and members of Congress say are painful and unnecessary. The IG’s letter was first reported by Stars and Stripes.

The VA maintains former Secretary David Shulkin signed off on the experiments verbally on the day he was fired by the president, but Shulkin has denied that claim. He told USA Today in November that he “wasn’t asked, nor did I request a review for an approval” of the dog experiments.

In a letter last year to Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., current Secretary Robert Wilkie said the experiments include “critical research to investigate how to restore the ability of Veterans with traumatic spinal cord injuries to breathe properly and avoid repeated bouts of pneumonia and early death.”

The current experiments include forced heart attack experiments at a veterans’ center in Richmond, Virginia, and tests involving damaging dogs’ spinal cords and collapsing their lungs in Cleveland in an effort to see how their cough reflexes respond to electrode treatments, according to the White Coat Waste Project, an animal advocacy group. A past VA experiment involved drilling into live dogs’ skulls.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request from comment from NBC, but told USA Today the testing has led to a breakthrough on cough restoration for paralyzed vets, and has helped researchers better understand links between heart rate irregularities and heart disease. The agency also maintains it only uses dogs for the tests when necessary.

Congress now wants to outlaw the experiments altogether. On Wednesday, Titus introduced the Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species (PUPPERS) to end what she called this “barbaric practice.”

“There are proven alternatives to this unnecessary testing that inflicts severe pain on puppies and dogs while producing no discernible medical advances,” she said.

The bipartisan bill has 60 co-sponsors, including Florida Republican Rep. Brian Mast, an Army veteran who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan.

“While I was recovering from my injuries, I saw firsthand the important role that dogs play in helping veterans recover from war’s physical and psychological tolls,” Mast said in a statement. “For too long, the VA has gotten away with conducting these harmful — sometimes fatal — experiments on dogs. These tests are abusive, waste taxpayer dollars and must be stopped.”

The lawmakers’ push has some high-profile help with White House ties. Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and an adviser to his re-election campaign. The animal advocate told USA Today the experiments are “cruel and ineffective” and should be stopped.

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John Delaney Talks About Health Care at ‘Politics & Eggs’ in NH

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Former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate John Delaney was the latest speaker in the “Politics & Eggs” event series on Tuesday.

From 2012 to 2018, the Democrat represented Maryland’s 6th congressional district. Prior to his political career, Delaney was a nonprofit leader, entrepreneur and business leader.

Delaney was one of the first Democrats to announce his run for the 2020 presidency after he announced it in July 2017.

“Politics & Eggs” is an event that is a traditional stop for White House hopefuls as they canvas New Hampshire ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Bristol County Sheriff’s Office



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‘Whistleblower’ seeks protection after sounding alarm over White House security clearances

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By Laura Strickler

A White House security specialist is seeking official whistleblower protection from the federal government after raising concerns about “unwarranted security clearances” for administration officials, including Jared Kushner, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The specialist, Tricia Newbold, filed the whistleblower complaint less than two weeks after she was suspended without pay for defying her supervisor, Carl Kline.

The complaint, which was obtained by NBC News, alleges Newbold raised concerns with Kline about a security clearance for an individual as early as July 2017. The complaint does not identify the person, but sources familiar with the situation told NBC News that it was Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and presidential adviser.

In the complaint, Newbold says Kline “repeatedly mishandled security files and has approved unwarranted security clearances.”

The complaint says that on July 18, 2017, Newbold emailed Kline about “potential derogatory information” related to the individual that could impact his security clearance. At the time, Kushner had interim security clearance and his FBI investigation was ongoing, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Tricia Newbold has filed an EEOC complaint against Carl Kline, alleging he discriminated against her because of her height.

Newbold’s complaint explains that standard procedure would be to call in the employee and discuss the negative information, which in this case had already been deemed to be “credible.” Newbold’s complaint alleges that Kline refused to do so and instead suggested he “was going to wait until the [FBI] investigation was completed.”

Newbold says in the complaint that she “questioned why we were treating this individual any differently than we would any other individual.” The complaint claims Kline then shut down the discussion saying, “he would not address this matter further.”

Newbold’s complaint says she raised concerns with Kline again on the same individual, identified by sources as Kushner, on August 21, 2017. The complaint states that Kline “advised I should ‘watch myself.’”

Months later, Kline approved top secret clearance for Kushner, overruling the determination by Newbold and one other career White House security specialist, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

The career staffers rejected Kushner’s top secret application because of concerns about his foreign contacts that were detailed in his FBI background investigation, according to the two sources.

Kushner’s was one of at least 30 cases in which Kline overruled career security experts and approved a top-secret clearance for incoming Trump officials despite unfavorable information, according to the two sources.

Such cases are typically rare, the sources said. A decision to overrule the recommendations of career experts was made only once in the last three years before Kline was hired, according to the sources.

The complaint — filed with the federal government’s official whistleblower office, which is called the U.S. Office of Special Counsel — is not connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference and possible ties to the Trump campaign. The OSC, as it is commonly known, is a permanent independent entity that investigates retaliation against federal whistleblowers.

Newbold is claiming that she has been retaliated against for raising concerns about her supervisor’s “reckless security judgments.” In April 2018, she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint alleging that he discriminated against her because of her height. Newbold has a rare form of dwarfism.

In her equal opportunity complaint, Newbold indicated that Kline had moved files out of her reach telling her that she could ask her staff to get files for her if she needed them. Two sources familiar with the matter confirmed the files were moved out of Newbold’s reach.

Kline did not respond to phone calls and texts requesting comment except for one text after NBC News reported that he was the subject of an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint. “I don’t care,” read the message.

After raising the discrimination concerns, Newbold was suspended from her job for two weeks without pay. That suspension will end on Thursday. The chief security officer for the Executive Office of the President, Crede Bailey, denied that the suspension had anything to do with the discrimination complaint and instead said it was based on a failure to supervise, failure to follow instructions and defiance of authority, according to the suspension decision notice reviewed by NBC News.

The suspension document also notes that Newbold has not faced any “prior formal disciplinary action” in her 18-year career with the federal government.

Asked about Newbold’s suspension, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders previously told NBC News, “We don’t comment on personnel issues.”

The whistleblower complaint indicates Newbold reported her concerns to the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in early December. Investigators on the committee are actively investigating how Kushner received his top secret clearance.

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