<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Politics]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usWed, 24 May 2017 07:55:30 -0400Wed, 24 May 2017 07:55:30 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: And Now, Security 'Envy']]> Wed, 24 May 2017 05:57:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/security_guard_generic_1200x675_409646147748.jpg

If you’re so important, well, so am I.

My security detail is bigger than your detail. My security barrier is bigger … Oh, never mind. You get the point. The image of having “security” is epidemic in the nation’s capital.

For way too much of official D.C., the bottom line is this: If you don’t flash personal security, then you are a nobody.

The Notebook calls it “security envy.” It is the twin sister of “security theater,” which is a concept that showboating security at least makes people feel secure even if it doesn’t actually provide it.

Now, security envy and theater is spreading.

NBC4 investigative reporter Scott MacFarlane revealed this past week that the House sergeant-at-arms is seeking $2 million to upgrade security at the home state offices of House members.

“Members of Congress have made an increasing number of requests to improve home-office security,” MacFarlane reported, citing Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving. The House official is seeking the additional money from the House Appropriations Committee. MacFarlane reported that Irving did not specify the nature of any threats against members.

But the work of “securicrats” — another word we’ve used for some time — is expanding.

Surely you have noticed the proliferation around town of what we call “two-car” motorcades. Invariably the vehicles are whomping, jet-black SUVs. There are two grim-faced men — almost always men — in the lead car, ready to blast a siren or turn on threatening blue police lights in the grille and other panels of the vehicle.

You also can notice them because they’ve all gone to the same protective driving school that teaches them to inch over one lane into another to discourage anyone from driving alongside. And, of course, they park illegally outside of restaurants, at crosswalks and other places.

We almost forgot. Who’s in the follow car? Basically anybody. It could be a federal department head, an elected official, top staff, a congressional leader, or even top security officials themselves. That’s a lot of people, folks.

How many are there? Ask that question and you get the classic answer: “We don’t talk about our security measures.”

Being just a regular citizen, we can’t help but wonder just how effective all this might really be. The hyper-SUV showboating seems to call attention to the very potential target supposedly needing protection. Each protectee must decide if it’s security necessity or maybe official Washington’s inflated view of itself.

A couple of caveats are necessary. The security impulse is powerful. Some officials are told by agencies that they must have security details and those officials simply go along. It’s not always personal egos involved but agencies.

Of course, security is a real concern. It would be naive to think no one needs security or that it’s all inflated egos. Ever since 9/11, police and law enforcement officials have privately told us the same thing — that much of what passes as “security” to the public is there to make the public “feel” secure. In fact, the security presence is there as much to respond quickly to attacks, not so much to prevent them.

But security squads bullying their way around town don’t have to be part of that equation.

■ Marion Barry redux. President Donald Trump gave a remarkable speech last week to U.S. Coast Guard graduates in Connecticut. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” Trump declared of himself. Whether true or not, it reminded us of an occasion involving the late Mayor Marion Barry many years ago:

At a news conference, Barry was discussing his successes and troubles. In his defense, he said for all his years of public service that he had suffered “a thousand wounds.” Without missing a beat, then-D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis remarked in a quiet aside, “Yes, all self-inflicted.”

■ Going nowhere. Columbia Heights at the intersection of 14th and Irving streets NW is both a success and a failure.

The shops, apartments and retail at the Metro stop have brought new life to a formerly run-down area.

But traffic at this intersection is ridiculously stupid. One unloading truck or bus heading eastward at 14th clogs one lane. If another vehicle is turning left, the other lane is clogged and traffic backs up. People rushing to the Metro or emerging from it crowd the sidewalks and cross streets sometimes in spite of the traffic signals.

Now the D.C. Department of Transportation is going to try fixing part of the pedestrian problem.

Starting next month, it plans to redo the intersection to allow a moment when all lights are red at the same time. Pedestrians will be able to cross every direction, including diagonally. It’s similar to a crosswalk design at 7th and H streets NW.

The idea is that pedestrians get a real chance to cross, helping traffic flow more smoothly. There will be new no-left-turn restrictions, too, which will move traffic along.

The whole operation — part of the Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024 — should be up in running by mid-to-late June. Traffic control officers, and hopefully police, will be out there helping everyone figure out the new configuration.

Good luck, all.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

<![CDATA[Donald Trump’s Budget Breaks These 7 Campaign Promises]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 19:58:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_17075720853888-wall.jpg

The White House took pains to insist that the 2018 budget blueprint is keeping campaign promises, NBC News reported.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that the president is making good on his vow to save government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. 

However, the budget outlines deep cuts to many aspects of the American safety net that suggest Mulvaney made a false assessment of the blueprint.

NBC News found seven campaign promises that the preliminary budget would break to Trump voters and supporters.

<![CDATA[Trump to Retain Private Attorney in Russia Probes]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 21:34:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/trump-rose-garden.jpg

President Donald Trump is expected to retain Marc Kasowitz as his private attorney on matters related to the Russia investigation, sources told NBC News.

Kasowitz has represented Trump a number of times in the past and has a long relationship with the president, Business Insider reported.

He is a partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in New York and has represented Trump in numerous cases, including on his divorce records, real estate transactions and allegations of fraud at Trump University, The Washington Post reported.

He also has represented the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New York Jets.

Meanwhile, former Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat, joined Kasowitz' law firm in 2013 — and Lieberman is under consideration by Trump to replace Comey as FBI director.

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Senate Committee to Subpoena 2 of Flynn's Businesses]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 17:02:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/flynnfeuerherdIV.jpg

The Senate intelligence committee says it will subpoena two of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's businesses.

The committee has already subpoenaed Flynn for documents regarding his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Flynn has refused to hand over that information.

The committee also sent a letter to Flynn's attorney Tuesday questioning the legal basis of Flynn's decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right over a request for documents rather than testimony.

Committee Chairman Richard Burr says senators will wait for Flynn's response to Tuesday's requests before they decide the next course of action, including the possibility of a contempt of Congress citation. 

The committee is investigating Russia's campaign meddling and possible ties to President Donald Trump's associates.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Did Melania Dodge Trump’s Hand Again?]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 15:24:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/another+melania+hand+swat.jpg

The swat heard 'round the world appears to have a sequel. 

A day after Melania Trump appeared to rebuff the president's hand as the couple walked down the red carpet on the tarmac at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, the first lady appears to have done it again (watch it above).

This time, it was in Rome. The president and his wife had just landed in Italy Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's planned visit with Pope Francis. They waved to those who arrived to greet them and Donald Trump reached for Melania Trump's hand as the couple prepared to walk down the stairs from Air Force One.

For the second time in 24 hours, the first lady appears to brush off her husband's hand, effortlessly reaching to brush a stray hair from her eye as she starts to walk down the stairs by herself. It wasn't clear if Melania Trump saw the gesture. The president, not seeming flustered by the move, places a hand on her back to support her. 

A CNN digital editor tweeted a GIF of the Rome hand "swat" captioned, "When in Rome," shortly after 12:30 p.m. It was retweeted more than 60 times and liked more than 70 times in about 20 minutes. 

The video of the rebuff in Israel, posted to Twitter by user @raggapegs, has garnered more than 11,000 retweets and 17,000 favorites since it was posted around 6:15 a.m. Monday. In that video, the couple strolls along as hundreds watch when the first lady, donning a crisp white skirt and jacket, seems to flick away the president's hand as he tried to grip hers in his own. 

Some speculated Donald Trump only reached for his wife's hand after he noticed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding hands with his wife as the two couples walked down the red carpet together. Others suggested Donald Trump simply withdrew his hand before his wife could take it. 

A later photo of the Trumps departing Israel for the Vatican showed the first couple holding hands. 

The White House and representatives for Melania Trump haven't commented on the matter.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Brennan: 'Sufficient Basis' for Russia-Trump Campaign Probe]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 14:22:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_17143547439723.jpg

Former CIA chief John Brennan testifies before members of the House Intelligence Committee on May 23, 2017. Brennan says that he left his position without clear conclusions about collusion but with "unresolved questions" about the nature of Russian contact with Trump campaign officials.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Coats Won't Comment on Trump Collusion Report]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 12:15:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/US-Worldwide-Threats-2-CR-149555543017000001.jpg

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 23, 2017, Dan Coats, the nation's director of national intelligence, said he wouldn't comment on a news report that President Donald Trump asked him to publicly deny any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

<![CDATA[Trump Asked Intel Officials to Push Back on Russia Probe]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 21:29:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/rogers-461191572.jpg

President Trump asked two top U.S. intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between the Russian government and his campaign team, a former senior intelligence official confirmed to NBC News.

According to the official, Trump asked both the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers both deemed the requests to be inappropriate and did not comply, according to officials cited by The Washington Post, which first reported on the president's request.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. The NSA did not respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[DOJ Narrows Possible Sanctions for Sanctuary Cities]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 17:08:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AGjeffsessions_1200x675.jpg

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that local governments refusing to cooperate in deporting convicted criminals risk losing their Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security grant money, NBC News reported.

Sessions issued a memo in response to an executive order issued by President Trump in late January directing the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to ensure that sanctuary cities will not be eligible to receive federal funds.

A federal judge last month issued a nationwide injunction on enforcing that part of the executive order after San Francisco said it could lose all its federal grant money.

But in his memo, Sessions said the order "will be applied solely to federal grants administered by the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security, and not to other sources of federal funding." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Netanyahu, Trump Speak in Israel About Regional Stability]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 16:26:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/TrumpNetanyahu_16465883_1-149548261825500001.jpg

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship, the international nuclear deal with Iran and Middle Eastern stability at a joint press conference in Israel on May 22, 2017.

<![CDATA[Melania Trump Appears to Slap Away Husband's Hand]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 15:59:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/Screen+Shot+2017-05-22+at+1.08.26+PM.png

Melania Trump appeared to slap away her husband's outstretched hand during events staged to welcome President Donald Trump to Israel. The Trumps were welcomed on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv at the start of a two-day visit.

<![CDATA[Unwelcome Selfie, Melania Hand Slap: Trump Arrives in Israel]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 13:20:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/trump-selfie.jpg

The red carpet moments on the tarmac kept coming.

President Donald Trump had a bumpy landing in Israel on Monday with a series of apparent faux pas, from the first lady slapping away his hand to a lawmaker whipping out a cell phone to take a selfie with him.

Trump arrived in Tel Aviv for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories and as he tried to take his wife’s hand on a red carpet on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion International Airport, the first lady appeared to push it back. It was unclear what prompted the videotaped moment. 

Oren Hazan, a politician in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Likud party did take his hand in what The Associated Press described as a characteristically aggressive handshake, then took out his a cell phone for a selfie. Netanyahu tried to swat Hazan’s arm away, unsuccessfully, and Likud politicians later said that not only was Hazan not invited to the ceremony but that he had caused “a great embarrassment” to the prime minister.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett used the welcome ceremony to press Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump, who had promised during the campaign to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but has since backed away from the pledge, told Bennett, “That’s a good one,” according to the AP.

Boarding the Marine One helicopter for Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was caught on microphone commiserating about media coverage.

“The majority of people in Israel, unlike the media, they love us, so we tell them how you are great, and they love you,” she said, the Washington Post reported.

“We have something very much in common,” Trump replied.

“Very much in common,” said Sara Netanyahu, who has come under media attention as the subject of official investigation over her spending on the couple’s private home.

Trump soon found himself defending an Oval Office meeting on May 10 when he disclosed classified information about an Islamic State threat to the Russian former minister and ambassador to the United States. The information came from Israel, according to officials.

“I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” he said.

But he never was accused of naming Israel, just of revealing enough details that could lead others to that realization.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Trump's Israel Visit: 5 Key Issues]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 02:54:16 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-635655088.jpg

President Donald Trump's two-day visit to Israel began Monday morning and there are five key issues that are expected to be the focus of his time in the country, NBC News reported.

The most recent issue to come up is the security relationship between Israel and the U.S. It was reported that the intelligence Trump discussed with Russian officials came from Israel. Though an Israeli official said the relationship is unchanged, many wonder if Trump's discussion will affect it.

Trump will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, a holy site in Jerusalem. However, his administration has given conflicting statements about whether the wall is located in Israel.

Also looming over the visit is the issues of moving the U.S. embassy, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and building a new coalition of the U.S., Israel and Sunni Arab leaders.

Photo Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Hurt During Attack Outside Turkish Embassy Speaks Out]]> Sat, 20 May 2017 07:50:52 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/Borazan.png

Protesters who said they were beaten by the Turkish president's security detail in Washington are speaking out about the incident.

A protester who says she was beaten by the Turkish president's security detail outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington is speaking out about the attack.

Video shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bodyguards violently breaking up a protest outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington following Erdogan's meeting with President Trump Tuesday.

"I was there for democracy and for human rights, it was a peaceful demonstration," protester Ceren Borazan said.

Borazan said one of Erdogan's bodyguards put her in a headlock. The headlock she described is visible in the video. She said it caused the blood vessel in her left eye to pop.

Borazan and the other protesters showed up to the ambassador's residence to demonstrate against Erdogan and bring attention to repression in Turkey, she said.

Several others were injured during the violence.

"They were beating me in the head," Lucy Usoyan, a protester, said.

Mehmen Tankan, another protester, said that a Turkish bodyguard attacked him.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Thursday that America "should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America." Borazan agrees with with McCain's statement. 

"There should be something," she said. "All I want is justice."

<![CDATA[Artist Aims to Challenge People in Power With Projections]]> Sat, 20 May 2017 00:34:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Trump+Projection.jpg

One D.C. artist is gaining popularity after projecting pictures, phrases and hashtags about President Donald Trump and other powerful Republicans onto buildings in the nation's capital.

Robin Bell cast two major displays over D.C. this week. Thurday's was on the Department of Justice building, aimed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions. On Monday, Bell lit up the entrance to Trump International Hotel with the words "Pay Trump Bribes Here" and "Emoluments Welcome."

He uses a projector and computer program to create modern messages that he says meld art and protest.

"We're trying to process the information just like the viewer," he said. "We're trying to understand what's going on. So, I don't see a separation between politics and art."

Bell spoke with lawyers and experts about the legality of his art. According to police, it's not a form of trespassing. 

While the Trump administration is the focus of his current projects, he did similar displays about former President Barack Obama when he was in office. He said he was fully prepared to create protest art about Hillary Clinton had she been elected.

"It's a whole institution. It's a whole system and in order for it to work, we have to look at corruption and we have to look at the issues that affect everybody," he said.

Bell said the response he's gotten has been overwhelmingly positive and has sparked a dialogue.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[Comey to Testify in Open Session on Russia Investigation]]> Sat, 20 May 2017 03:26:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Comey-James-file.jpg

Former FBI Director James Comey will testify in open session before one of the legislative committees investigating possible collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia, committee leaders announced Friday.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will schedule the open hearing for sometime after Memorial Day.

“The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media,” said Burr.

Earlier Friday, the AP reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told members of Congress he stands by a memo he wrote that preceded the president's firing Comey.

The Justice Department on Friday distributed prepared remarks that Rosenstein delivered to Congress in separate briefings.

In the remarks, Rosenstein said he learned a day before Comey's firing that Trump wanted to dismiss him. He says he thought that move was appropriate and produced a memo summarizing what he said were his "longstanding concerns" over Comey's handling of the Clinton email investigation.

He says he asked career Justice Department lawyers to review the memo.

He says his memo is not a finding of official misconduct and is not a statement of reasons to justify Comey's firing.

Photo Credit: Alex Brandon/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Senior WH Adviser Is 'Person of Interest' in Probe: Report]]> Fri, 19 May 2017 18:31:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/trump-walking-wh-alone.jpg

A senior White House adviser has been singled out as a “significant person of interest” in the federal law enforcement probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A report published Friday by The Washington Post cites people familiar with the matter, who would not identify the individual under scrutiny by name. They did say that the senior adviser is “someone close to the president.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded in a statement: "As the President has stated before - a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity."

The news comes as the FBI investigation appears to be entering a more active phase, with grand jury subpoenas being issued and interviews being conducted. Sources told the Washington Post that the intensity of the probe will probably accelerate over the next few weeks.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP]]>