Trump lashes out at Obama over latest report on Russian election meddling – Washington Post

President Trump on Saturday called out Obama administration officials for not taking stronger actions against Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, contradicting his past statements and suggesting without proof that they were trying to help Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

His tweets came after The Post revealed Friday that the Obama White House had received reports as early as August 2016 regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in the cyber campaign with instructions to defeat or damage Clinton and help to elect Trump, according to “sourcing deep inside the Russian government.”

The Washington Post’s national security reporters unveil the deep divisions inside the Obama White House over how to respond to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. (Whitney Leaming,Osman Malik/The Washington Post)

The Obama administration would not publicly say Russia was attempting to interfere with the election until Oct. 7, and the news of Putin’s attempts to aid Trump would not surface until after the election.

Trump has long disputed that the Russians interfered with the election, calling it “all a big Dem HOAX” just this week.

But on Friday evening, after the publication of The Post’s article, Trump demanded to know why Obama hadn’t done more to stop the meddling.

Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017

He followed up with more tweets on Saturday, attempting to put the focus on Obama’s inaction.

Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017

The Post’s article explains in detail why Obama, who reportedly was gravely concerned by an August CIA report about the hacking,  managed to approve only “largely symbolic” sanctions before he left office.

Those reasons included partisan squabbling among members of Congress, initial skepticism by other intelligence agencies about the CIA’s findings, and an assumption that Clinton would win the election and follow up.

“We made the judgment that we had ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures,” a senior administration official said in the article.

Trump, however, raised his own theories.

Obama Administration official said they “choked” when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017

He provided no explanation or evidence for why this would have helped Clinton.

How on Earth would that hurt Hillary? You literally are so desperate…

— William LeGate (@williamlegate) June 24, 2017

The Post article recounts how Obama learned about the Russian intrusions and the administration’s attempts to find support to make the information public.

According to the article, less than a month after 20,000 stolen Democratic Party emails were leaked to the public, a CIA memo warned Obama that the hack had been ordered by Putin in an attempt to “defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee.”

Interviews with administration officials revealed that Obama directly confronted Putin over the allegations during a meeting of world leaders in China. He also ordered his deputies to safeguard the election and seek bipartisan support from congressional leaders to condemn Russia’s actions.

“The administration encountered obstacles at every turn,” write Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous.

Complacency may have also undercut the administration’s efforts to punish Russia. Like many polls suggested, it believed Clinton would win despite the hacks.

By his final weeks, aside from warnings and rhetoric, Obama had  approved only narrow sanctions and a plan to plant “cyberweapons in Russia’s infrastructure” — if the next president so chose.

As one senior Obama official told The Post, “I feel like we sort of choked,” which Trump would quote in his tweet.

As he has with other newsmaking events, Trump used the article to argue that a months-long focus by the media, Congress and federal investigators on his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia has been misdirected.

“Focus on them, not T!” he tweeted Saturday afternoon.

For some Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, the bombshell report affirmed what they said they had long suspected.

“Nothing like the extensive hacking effort and manipulation effort could occur without involvement,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told CNN. “Now we actually know: Yes, Putin directed it. … He had a specific goal to defeat Hillary Clinton.”

Some Republicans expressed concern about another country threatening democracy in the United States.

#Russia is a problem & they attacked our democracy. This is about defending the integrity of our government & our election system. @NewDay

— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) June 23, 2017

“The reality is, in two or four years, it will serve Vladimir Putin’s interest to take down the Republican Party,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told CNN. “If we weren’t upset about it, we have no right to complain in the future.”

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2 toddlers died after mom left them in hot car to teach ‘a lesson,’ police say – Washington Post

On the day her two children were found dead, Cynthia Marie Randolph recounted for investigators a mother’s nightmare: She had been folding laundry and watching television while her young daughter and son, ages 2 and 16 months, played in an enclosed sun room on the back porch.

Randolph, 24, went to check on her children after about a half-hour — but they were “gone,” she told police. She said that after a half-hour of searching, she finally spotted their bodies, unresponsive, inside her 2010 Honda Crosstour parked in her driveway.

Cynthia Marie Randolph (Courtesy Parker County Sheriff’s Office)

It was May 26, a day when the high temperature outside Randolph’s home in Weatherford, Tex., reached 96 degrees, according to police records.

Medics pronounced both children dead at the scene, authorities said.

According to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, when asked how long the children might have been exposed to the high temperatures inside the car, Randolph responded immediately: “No more than an hour.”

Less than a month after the tragedy, Randolph has been arrested after her original explanation for her children’s deaths unraveled. Through multiple interviews with investigators over the past month, Randolph “created several variations of the events” of May 26, police said.

[More than 600 children have died in hot cars since 1998. It isn’t getting better.]

In a final interview with investigators Friday, Randolph described an entirely different timeline for what happened that day — one that began much earlier in the afternoon than she had previously admitted.

At about 12:15 p.m., Randolph said she had found her children playing inside her car and ordered them to come out, police said.

“Stop your s–t,” Randolph said she told her 2-year-old daughter, according to police.

“When they refused to exit, Randolph told police she shut the car door to teach Juliet a lesson, thinking she could get herself and her brother out of the car when ready,” a probable cause affidavit for the incident stated. “The defendant went inside the house, smoked marijuana and took a nap. The defendant said she was asleep for two or three hours.”

It was only after her nap that Randolph found her children unresponsive inside the Honda Crosstour, police said. Randolph further told investigators that she broke the car window so that it would look like an accident, police said.

Randolph was charged Friday with two first-degree felony counts of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. She is being held at the Parker County Jail on a $200,000 bond, records show. A sheriff’s spokeswoman did not immediately return a call Saturday afternoon, and jail records do not list an attorney for Randolph.

[Hundreds of children have died in hot cars. New bill aims to stop this horror.]

Over the past two decades, more than 700 children have died of heatstroke while in hot cars, said Jan Null, a meteorologist who compiles and keeps track of the data on noheatstroke.org.

“Every one of these can be prevented,” Null told The Washington Post last year.

Null said more than half of the incidents occurred because a child had been “forgotten” by a caregiver. About 28 percent of those deaths were because a child had been playing in an unattended vehicle. About 17 percent of the deaths resulted because a child was intentionally left inside a vehicle by an adult, Null’s site states.

The National Safety Council says that unintentionally leaving a child inside a car “can happen to anyone.”

“Maybe it’s an overworked parent who forgets to drop off their child at day care, or a relative who thinks the child will be okay ‘for just a few minutes,’ ” says an NSC pamphlet on the issue.

The group advises parents to put something they will need by their child’s car seat — a purse, wallet or phone, for example — as an additional reminder to check the back.

“Remember, children overheat four times faster than adults,” says a message on the council’s website. “A child is likely to die when his body temperature reaches 107 degrees, and that can happen in minutes.”

Those who see a child alone in a car are advised to call 911 immediately or even break into the car during an emergency, the group said, noting that many states have good Samaritan laws.

As summer temperatures rise, here are a few simple tips from the National Safety Council to keep kids safe. (Tom LeGro/The Washington Post)

Read more:

Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?

Georgia father sentenced to life in prison for the hot car death of his 22-month-old son

3-year-old dies after being left alone in mother’s patrol car for hours

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Senate health-care bill faces serious resistance from GOP moderates – Washington Post

By Juliet Eilperin and Amy Goldstein,

A small group of moderate Republican senators, worried that their leaders’ health-care bill could damage the nation’s social safety net, may pose at least as significant an obstacle to the measure’s passage as their colleagues on the right.

The vast changes the legislation would make to Medicaid, the country’s broadest source of public health insurance, would represent the largest single step the government has ever taken toward conservatives’ long-held goal of reining in federal spending on health-care entitlement programs in favor of a free-market system.

That dramatic shift and the bill’s bold redistribution of wealth — the billions of dollars taken from coverage for the poor would help fund tax cuts for the wealthy — is creating substantial anxiety for several Republican moderates whose states have especially benefited from the expansion of Medicaid that the Affordable Care Act has allowed since 2014.

Their concerns that the legislation would harm the nation’s most vulnerable and cause many Americans to become uninsured have thrust into stark relief the ideological fault lines within the GOP. Though Senate conservatives were the first to threaten to torpedo the bill, contending that it is too generous, the potential loss of nearly half a dozen moderate lawmakers’ votes may be the main hurdle. Since the bill will get no support from Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can afford defections from no more than two Republicans as he tries to bring it to a vote this week.

His odds worsened Friday when Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is up for reelection next year, said he could not support the bill in its current form. Heller specifically cited its cuts to Medicaid, not just by ending its expansion in Nevada and 30 other states but by restricting government spending for the program starting in 2025.

This bill “is simply not the answer,” he declared, describing some of the 200,000 Nevadans who have gained health coverage through the expansion. He rhetorically asked whether the Republican plan will ensure that they have insurance in the future. “I’m telling you, right now it doesn’t do that,” he said.

Though three of the other four wavering GOP centrists also come from Medicaid-expansion states, not all were as explicit as Heller in their reactions after the Better Care Reconciliation Act was finally unveiled late last week. Both Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said that they would evaluate it with an eye toward its effect on low-income residents.

“It needs to be done right,” Murkowski said in a tweet. “I remain committed to ensuring that all Alaskans have access to affordable, quality health care.”

Part of the pressure the moderates now face is that Medicaid consistently draws widespread support in surveys. A poll released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that three-fourths of the public, including 6 in 10 Republicans, said they have a positive view of the program. Just a third of those polled said they supported the idea of reducing federal funding for the expansion or limiting how much money a state receives for all beneficiaries.

Even among Republicans, the foundation found, only about half favor reversing the federal money for Medicaid expansion.

Congressional budget analysts plan to issue their projections as early as Monday on the legislation’s impact on the federal deficit and the number of Americans with insurance coverage. Already, proponents and critics alike are predicting that the Senate proposal would lead to greater reductions through the Medicaid changes than the estimated $834 billion estimated for a similar bill passed by House Republicans last month.

“The focus of Republican efforts largely has been on costs,” said Lanhee Chen, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “You do have a different set of issues that the two sides have been focused on, which partly explains why this has been such an intractable and difficult debate to find common ground on.”

Under the Senate GOP version, 2021 is when Medicaid’s transformation would begin. The expansion, which has provided coverage to roughly 11 million people, would be phased out. What is now an open-ended entitlement, with federal funding available for a specific share of whatever each state spends, would be converted to per capita payments or block grants.

Then, four years later, the federal government would apply an inflation factor to spending increases that would be equal to the urban consumer price index rather than the higher medical inflation rate used in the House bill.

“There has never been a rollback of basic services to Americans like this ever in U.S. history,” said Bruce Siegel, president of America’s Essential Hospitals, a coalition of about 300 hospitals that treat a large share of low-income patients. “Let’s not mince words. This bill will close hospitals. It will hammer rural hospitals, it will close nursing homes. It will lead to disabled children not getting services. . . . People will die.”

To some extent, the division within the GOP’s ranks reflects geography. Some of the most reticent senators come from states where health-care systems stand to lose the most financially if the bill passed.

According to an analysis by the Commonwealth Fund, hospitals in Nevada would be saddled over the next decade with at least double the costs in “uncompensated care” — bills for which neither an insurer nor a patient paid. It examined the House legislation but noted that the Senate bill would doubtless hit harder because of its deeper reductions in federal Medicaid payments.

Hospitals in West Virginia would suffer an even greater spike in uncompensated care, about 122 percent during the decade. But the analysis showed that the greatest damage would come in McConnell’s own state: Kentucky, which has had the nation’s largest Medicaid expansion under the ACA, would see a 165 percent jump in unpaid hospital bills.

Yet conservative Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), one of the bill’s champions, said it would establish “a very, very gradual and gentle transition to a normal inflation rate” for a program in which he said costs were spiraling out of control. Beyond Medicaid, it would permit private health plans to cover fewer services and would allow individuals and employers to eschew coverage without penalty — elements that its authors say could lower how much consumers pay for their insurance.

“The idea that there’s a sector of our economy that has to permanently have a higher inflation rate than the rest of our economy is ridiculous,” Toomey said Thursday. “I think that it’s absolutely essential to putting [Medicaid] on a sustainable path so that it will be there for future generations.”

Avik Roy, a conservative health expert who serves as president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, said the legislation’s proponents need to show “that competitive insurance markets can work for the poor and the vulnerable and the sick.”

People too often equate federal spending with establishing a safety net, when greater competition and a free market could produce better results at a lower cost, in Roy’s view. The Senate bill would extend “quite robust” tax credits to many people, he said, even to those living in poverty who were not eligible for Medicaid: “Republicans have a different view of what a safety net should look like.”

Pressure is coming from outside groups on the right. Though the four conservatives who have voiced opposition to the bill might be pushed hard — Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) — Heller will be a special target. A super PAC, America First Policies, reportedly is planning a seven-figure ad buy just in Nevada.

But patient-advocacy organizations that focus on an array of diseases are intensifying their own lobbying on the bill, including running print and online ads in several key states. If one health issue has emerged as a flash point, however, it is the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization focused on addressing addiction, estimates that 2.8 million people have gained access to substance-abuse treatment under Medicaid expansion. In Ohio alone, total federal funding provided 70 percent of the $939 million that the state spent to combat the epidemic last year.

Capito and Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) have asked the chamber’s Republican leaders to provide in the bill $45 billion over 10 years to address opioids; the measure currently provides $2 billion. But that amount, Shatterproof chief executive Gary Mendell said Friday, is less than a tenth of what experts predict will be needed over the next decade. And providing a designated fund while leaving millions uninsured makes little sense, he added.

Shatterproof just launched a six-figure advertising buy in Ohio, West Virginia and Maine — which is represented by another undecided Republican, Sen. Susan Collins — to urge the states’ senators to vote against the bill. Mendell noted that Portman has been a champion on substance-use treatment for years, and it was difficult to run ads targeting him.

“His people need to understand that this has to be a no vote,” Mendell said.

Specific constituencies aside, some policy experts regard the Senate’s plan as a wholesale reversal of the government’s path to offer health insurance to ever-wider groups of Americans, piece by piece. That started with the creation of Medicaid and Medicare as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society and could be ending with the ACA.

“This is bringing us back to where we were before 1965,” said Paul Starr, a Princeton University professor of sociology and public affairs who has written extensively about the history of U.S. health-care policy. “There is no longer the federal commitment to back up the states in terms of health care for the poor.”

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Trump Asks ‘Why No Action?’ Amid Questions About Obama’s Response To Russian Meddling – NPR

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks with then- U.S. President Barack Obama in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province on Sept. 5, 2016, in the midst of last year’s presidential race.

Alexei Druzhinin/AP

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Alexei Druzhinin/AP

President Trump took to Twitter to question his predecessor’s judgment and actions — at the end of a week characterized by a steady drumbeat of questions about how and when the Obama administration chose to respond to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Why no action?,” the president asked in the first of two tweets Saturday evening that suggested the Obama administration didn’t do enough — and soon enough — to stop Russia last year.

Obama Administration official said they “choked” when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017

Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017

Since Wednesday the Obama administration’s response has increasingly come under scrutiny in dueling congressional hearings held by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, in a bombshell report by the Washington Post and in the disclosure of correspondence between two Democratic senators last fall and Obama’s State Department first reported on by BuzzFeed.

In the final days of the presidential campaign last year, two Democratic senators asked President Obama to take action against Russia for its election meddling.

“Such attacks cannot be tolerated and the United States must take immediate measures to ensure that those responsible are held to account,” Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., wrote in a letter to Obama dated Nov. 1, 2016, just a week before Election Day.

After referencing the hacking and disclosure of emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and other people and organizations aligned with the Democratic Party, Cardin and Feinstein went on to stress to Obama the importance of protecting the electoral process:

“The seminal event in a functioning democracy is an election, and the international implications of the results of a U.S. election are far reaching. Russia’s actions threaten to undermine our democratic process. Our electoral infrastructure is strong, but it is incumbent upon us to ensure that our institutions are protected. A cyberattack on our electoral process or any part of our critical political, economic, or military infrastructure is a hostile action that must be countered.”

The senators suggested that the assets of individuals found to have been involved in the Russian interference be frozen. Additionally, they counseled Obama to consider “expanding the use of secondary sanctions” and “taking proportional cyber responses beyond sanctions that would shine a direct spotlight on those responsible for the cyberattacks.” They also told Obama that the administration should indict those responsible in U.S. courts.

The State Department wrote back to the lawmakers a month later, after Hillary Clinton’s stinging loss to Donald Trump.

“As we have made clear to the Russian government and others, we will not tolerate attempts to interfere with the U.S. democratic process, and we will take action to protect our interests, including in cyberspace, and we will do so at a time and place of our choosing,” the Obama administration told the two senators.

The correspondence, reported on by BuzzFeed Friday, was part of a release of government records sought by Operation 45, a transparency project, in the course of Freedom of Information Act litigation filed against several U.S. intelligence agencies. Operation 45 “is dedicated to ensuring transparency and accountability for the Administration of Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States,” the project’s website says.

The BuzzFeed report about the letters came the same day as a Washington Post report that provided a look inside the Obama administration’s response to and decision-making about Russia. The CIA notified Obama in August of last year that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the campaign to interfere in the election, according to the Post. “The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump,” the Postreport says.

But it would be roughly two months — not until Oct. 7, 2016, as Feinstein and Cardin pointed out in their letter — before the Obama administration publicly declared that the Russian government was behind the hacking of the DNC and other Democratic groups. The administration did not impose sanctions on Russia until late December 2017, some five months after the CIA’s intelligence report was hand-delivered to the White House, according to the Post. (“Over that five-month interval,” the Post report says, “the Obama administration secretly debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could ‘crater’ the Russian economy.”)

The U.S. intelligence community’s declassified report about the election interference was not made available to the public until early January 2017. Finally, Obama’s Department of Homeland Security did not designate state election systems as “critical infrastructure,” entitling states to seek federal help with cybersecurity, until early January of this year as well.

On Wednesday, Jeh Johnson, who was Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security during last year’s election, was asked by members of Congress about the timing of the administration’s response — specifically why the voting public was not informed about what Russia was up to until the fall of 2017.

One of the candidates, Johnson said, not naming but clearly referring to Donald Trump, “was predicting that the election was going to be rigged,” Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee, “and so we were concerned that by making the statement, we might in and of itself be challenging the integrity of the election process.” Johnson also told the top Democrat on the committee that he had been concerned last year that he would be criticized “for perhaps taking sides” in an ongoing election if he publicly spoke out about the Russian meddling that he knew was going on.

Tony Blinken, Obama’s former national security adviser, defended the previous administration’s response Friday to CNN, saying Obama took action to protect the electoral system itself from interference by the Russians.

“We made massive efforts so they couldn’t do that,” Blinken told the cable news network. “This led to two things: President Obama issued a very stark warning to President Putin in September at the G-20 conference in China. What we saw, or thought we saw, after that, it looked like the Russians stopped their efforts. But the damage was already done.”

Trump’s tweets Saturday were not his first this week in the vein of questioning the Obama’s administration’s response. The president tweeted Thursday morning and Friday evening, apparently in response to questions faced by Johnson and the Post’s reporting.

While Trump seems to now be accepting and acknowledging that Russia interfered in the election, as the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman pointed out, also on Twitter on Friday night, Trump has previously called Russian election interference a hoax perpetrated by Democrats to explain Clinton’s loss:

This week he called the hackings a Dem hoax. But today he gets to blame Obama, so he says it’s real https://t.co/5eQlqVxpM8

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 24, 2017

Speaking to the international media this month, Putin denied that the Russian government had any role in meddling in last year’s presidential election.

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Bill O'Brien: We won't have to limit Deshaun Watson – NFL.com

When the Texans took Deshaun Watson with the No. 12 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, he was viewed as the long-term solution to Houston’s abyss of mediocrity at quarterback.

The rookie signal-caller will battle for the starting gig throughout the summer against (the previously deemed illusory) Tom Savage. The Texans‘ staff has raved about Savage’s progress this offseason, but Watson has also turned heads. Most importantly, he has caught the attention of head coach Bill O’Brien, although it also appears the Clemson product has to gain a lot of ground in the team’s quarterback competition.

“He’s a very poised guy,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I like the way he carries himself. I like the way he operates. He’s a rookie, and he’s not nearly where he needs to be to be a full-time starter in this league, but you can tell he’s got a lot of qualities you like.

“For being a rookie, he’s wise beyond his years. He asks great questions in the morning meeting, and you can tell he’s studied the night before. Every practice isn’t perfect. He knows he needs to get a lot better. And he did get better every day during the spring. It’s no pads, of course. It’s not real football, but he did improve in his knowledge of the offense.”

The expectations for rookie quarterbacks have shifted rapidly over the years. After watching Dak Prescott shine last season in a city just a few hours away, the Texans are hoping for a similar success story this time around.

The early returns have been promising so far, as Watson has adjusted nicely to the challenges put in place by the Texans.

“We put a lot on his plate during the spring, and he handled it very well,” O’Brien said. “He made

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