REPORT: Biden Approval Rating Hits New Low Amid Soaring Gas Prices, Inflation

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — A new NBC News poll shows President Biden’s job approval rating has dipped to another low, with just 39 percent of Americans approving of the job he’s doing and 56 percent disapproving.

Americans are dinging the president on inflation, the economy and border security, as they have been for much of his presidency. Only 37 percent of Americans view Biden in a positive light, according to the poll, which shows his favorability rating hovers around the same percentage currently as former President Trump’s.

Biden appears to have lost ground once again after making some gains. Earlier this month, 42 percent of Americans approved of Biden’s job in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, which was up 5 percentage points from a previous poll in February.

In the NBC News poll, 59 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus, where the president has consistently earned the best marks.

But only 33 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the economy, and only 23 percent approve of his handling of inflation and the cost of living, two issues that are likely to be among the most important at the ballot box in November.

Gas prices have surged to record highs this year, topping an average national price of $4.47 per gallon, while prices at grocery stores have also seen steep increases. Last week, reports of a shortage of baby formula triggered another round of anguish among American families.

About 41 percent of Americans say they are “somewhat satisfied” with their current financial situation, according to the poll, with 16 percent saying they are very dissatisfied with their financial situation.

Americans rank cost of living, the economy, voting rights and abortion in that order as the top four issues facing the nation.

The poll was conducted from May 5 to May 7 and then May 9 to May 10 among 1,000 respondents. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.


The Hill’s Brad Dress contributed to the contents of this report.

REPORT: Dispute over ‘family separations’ forced Nielsen’s resignation as Homeland Security Secretary

WASHINGTON — Last week’s resignation by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was prompted in large part by her refusal to enforce president Donald Trump’s policy of separating illegal immigrant families at the border, says an NBC report.

“I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside,” Nielsen wrote in a resignation letter to Trump, according to a report published by The New York Times. “I hope that the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse.”

White House insiders say the president’s no-nonsense approach to illegal immigration was just too tough for Nielsen to abide by. Her resignation comes just days after Trump rallied against the crisis at the border, demanding that Mexico “to their part” in curbing the influx of illegals crossing the southern U.S. border.

Undeterred, President Trump confirmed Nielsen’s resignation on Sunday, announcing that Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan will take over as Acting Secretary.

“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!”

A senior administration official told NBC the president feels strongly that family separation has been the most effective policy at deterring illegal immigration.

Democrats have often called out this policy as “racist” and declared enforcement of such policy as “unconstitutional.”

“Hampered by misstep after misstep, Kirstjen Nielsen’s tenure at the Department of Homeland Security was a disaster from the start,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.

“It is clearer now than ever that the Trump administration’s border security and immigration policies — that she enacted and helped craft — have been an abysmal failure and have helped create the humanitarian crisis at the border.”

President Trump campaigned heavily on promises of securing the nation’s borders during his 2016 presidential campaign. The issue will remain a large part of his efforts at re-election in 2020.

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ALEX JONES: ‘Psychosis’ caused me to doubt events at Sandy Hook

AUSTIN, Tx. — Alex Jones now says a form of “psychosis” caused him to previously doubt the events at Sandy Hook took place and that he now believes there was no conspiracy involved.

Jones, who is the subject of eight lawsuits by some of the Sandy Hook families, was questioned for more than three hours last week by the Texas law firm Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball, LLP.

He had previously promoted the theory on this wildly popular radio show “Infowars” that the reported school shooting, in which twenty children and six adults were killed in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, was a staged event by the Obama administration to justify stricter gun control.

“We’ve clearly got people where it’s actors playing different parts of different people,” one suit quotes Jones as saying in March 2014. “I’ve looked at it and undoubtedly there’s a cover-up, there’s actors, they’re manipulating, they’ve been caught lying and they were pre-planning before it and rolled out with it.”

“I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’ve now learned a lot of times things aren’t staged,” Jones told attorneys during the deposition. “So I think as a pundit, someone giving an opinion, that, you know, my opinions have been wrong, but they were never wrong consciously to hurt people.”

Jones also blamed the “trauma of the media and the corporations lying so much” for causing him to question the government’s motives. “Kind of like a child whose parents lie to them over and over again,” he said.

“So long before these lawsuits, I said that in the past I thought everything was a conspiracy and I would kind of get into that mass groupthink of the communities that were out saying that,” Jones added. “And so now I see that it’s more in the middle. … So that’s where I stand.”

“The public doesn’t believe what they’re told anymore,” he said.

Jones, who has famously said the terror attacks that took place on Sept. 11 were an “inside job” and that bombings in Oklahoma City and at the Boston Marathon were “false flags” staged by crisis actors on behalf of the government, was thrown off most major social media platforms in 2018 as a result of his conspiracy claims.

Jones now claims that his comments were taken “all out of context” and that the quotes attributed to him aren’t “even what I said or my intent.”

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‘LOCK HIM UP’: Incoming NY Attorney General plotting major investigation into Trump

NEW YORK — Incoming New York Attorney General Letitia James said she intends to launch an in-depth investigation into President Donald Trump, according to a report published by NBC News.

In an interview with the network, James said she also intends to target the president’s family, administration officials and any other associates who she deems may have broken the law.

“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” said James, a registered Democrat.

“We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law,” James said. “Taking on President Trump and looking at all of the violations of law I think is no match to what I have seen in my lifetime.”

Among the issues James says she will investigate are the president’s New York real estate dealings, a now highly publicized 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official and any potential crimes put forth by the Trump Foundation.

Harvard Law professor and legal analyst Alan Dershowitz told NBC News that the president has “considerably more vulnerability” when faced with New York state investigations because he doesn’t hold the power to issue pardons or fire investigators.

Dershowitz added, however, that James’ scope would be limited to matters occurring before Trump became president.

He also added that it remains an open question as to whether a sitting president can be charged with a state crime.

When asked about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the president’s alleged collusion with Russia to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, James said she thought Muller was doing “an excellent job”.

“I think he’s closing in on this president,” she said, “and his days are going to be coming to an end shortly.”

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‘WHAT ABOUT MY RAPE’? Clinton accuser Juanita Broderick says NBC skipped ‘perfect opportunity’ to grill Bill Clinton about alleged sexual assault

Washington, D.C. — Juanita Broaddrick says she was “sickened” by NBC’s interview of Bill Clinton during which the network asked the former president only about his sexual liaison with Monica Lewinsky.

Broaddrick, who has went on record of accusing Clinton of violently raping her in a hotel room in 1978, said NBC interviewer Craig Melvin had the “perfect opportunity” to confront Clinton about the incident as they questioned him about the impact of the current “me too” movement, but chose to let it pass.

“I can’t believe there is not a reporter out there,” Broaddrick told Breitbart News in an interview. “I mean, this person had a perfect opportunity today to ask Bill Clinton about the allegations of sexual assault and rape.”

“Why doesn’t NBC have me on to discuss the rape? Of course, they are the same network that held my 1999 interview until after the impeachment hearing.”

During Monday’s interview, NBC News’ Craig Melvin asked Clinton whether he would have dealt with the Monica Lewinsky affair differently in light of the current #MeToo movement.

“I don’t think it would be an issue,” the former president told Melvin in an interview that aired Monday on the “Today” show. “Because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts. If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t.”

Clinton, visibly angered by the reference to Monica Lewinsky, whom he admitted to having an extramarital affair with while serving as president, lashed out at Melvin, claiming that he, not Lewinsky, his young intern at the time, was the victim.

“A lot of the facts have been omitted to make the story work,” he claimed. “I think partly because they’re frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don’t seem to care.”

Clinton, when asked whether he had ever privately apologized to Lewinsky over the turmoil the affair between the two had created for her in her private life, responded that he had not.

When asked whether he felt he owed Lewinsky, now 44, an apology, he replied: “No, I do not.”

“You know, his interview took away so much from the real victims over the years,” Broadrick said. “The victims against which he perpetrated the sexual assault and harassment and of course raping me.

“I’m not concerned with his consensual sex. I care about him being brought to justice for the crimes he committed against me and the others. That’s what I care about.”

None of Bill Clinton’s other alleged victims, including Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and former reporter Leslie Millwee, all of which have come forward to accuse the former president of sexual assault, were mentioned during the NBC interview.

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Sanders on Pompeo: Democrats must decide ‘if they love this country more than they hate Trump’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday came out swinging against Democrats who are actively opposing President Trump’s secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo, whose confirmation will be debated on Monday, faces a wealth of opposition from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Look, at some point, Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president,” Sanders said during an early morning appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends”.

Democrats are not alone in their quest to block Pompeo’s approval.

In addition to the 10 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who say they will vote against Pompeo’s confirmation, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he, too, will oppose Pompeo.

During a Senate confirmation hearing on April 12, the 21 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Paul, had the opportunity to question Pompeo.

During Paul’s questioning of Pompeo, issues involving President Trump’s interventionist policies in the Middle East were a topic of near-constant scrutiny.

“[Trump] says the Iraq war was the single worst decision ever made. So, once again, I’m concerned that you won’t be supporting the president,” Paul told Pompeo. “That you will be influencing him in a way that I think his inclinations are actually better than many of his advisors. That the Iraq war was a mistake that we need to come home from Afghanistan.”

“He was against being involved in Syria at many times in his career,” Paul continued, referencing Trump’s past statements which suggest he opposes “another Iraq war, bombing Syria without permission.”

Paul went on to grill the secretary of state nominee over an exchange between Pompeo and another member of the committee, Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), in which Paul noted that as the two discussed whether or not Trump has the authority to bomb President Bashar al Assad’s forces or installations in Syria, Pompeo had replied that America has done so in the past.

“My question would be do you think it’s constitutional?,” Paul demanded. “Does the President have the constitutional authority to bomb Assad’s forces? Does he have the authority absent congressional action to bomb Assad’s forces or installations?”

“Senator, … I think I said this to Senator Kaine, I’m happy to repeat my view on this,” Pompeo replied. “Those decisions are weighted. Every place we can, we should work alongside Congress to get that but yes I believe the President has the domestic authority to do that…. I don’t think that has been disputed by Republicans or Democrats throughout an extended period of time.”

While not mentioning Paul directly, Sanders said that anyone who votes against Pompeo’s confirmation would be doing a disservice to the country.

“[Pompeo] has been one of the leading people when it comes to the negotiations and the conversations with North Korea,” Sanders said. “To stop that would be incredibly dangerous and damaging for our country and the world.”

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THE FACE OF A MAD MAN: Police identify Mark Anthony Conditt as Austin serial bomber

AUSTIN, TX — A man suspected as being the serial bomber who’s acts of terror frightened Austin residents for nearly three weeks has been identified as Mark Anthony Conditt.

Police officials identified Conditt as the suspect just hours after the 23-year-old blew himself up inside his car as SWAT team members attempted to take him into custody.

Following up on a myriad of tips, police officials were able to track Conditt after he turned on his cell phone, which phone records show had been in the areas of each of the recent bombings.

Police say tracking the purchase of several “exotic” batteries, which were purchased online by Conditt and used to make the exploding devices also helped them to finger him as their suspect.

“These weren’t your store-bought Duracells,” a law enforcement official told NBC News.

A report published by The Miami Herald shows Partially unsealed federal court documents show that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms were preparing to arrest Mark Anthony Conditt on Tuesday on charges he had received, possessed or transferred destructive devices.

According to the report, A U.S. Magistrate Judge heard by phone Tuesday an ATF agent’s request to issue an arrest warrant for Conditt and signed the warrant electronically.

It was when law enforcement agents attempted to carry out the warrant on Tuesday night, that Conditt killed himself inside his vehicle.

Victor Gonzales, the mayor of Pflugerville, Texas said Conditt lived about two blocks from him in a small, tight-knit town located about 20 miles north of Austin.

Lee Rocha, who has lived in the neighborhood for 28 years, said he’d often see Conditt in town and got the feeling that he was somewhat of a loner.

“I never really talked to him, but I’m not really a conversation person,” said Rocha, who told USA Today that he sometimes saw Conditt at a local karaoke bar. “He sometimes came in with others, sometimes by himself. I didn’t get the sense that he was a popular guy.”

Federal officials praised the FBI and local police forces in their identifying Conditt on Wednesday.

“Hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement officers worked together to identify and locate Conditt. I was awed by their professionalism, collaborative spirit, and indefatigable commitment to protecting the public,” United States Attorney John F. Bash said in statement. “I send my deepest condolences to the families of Anthony Stephan House and Draylen Mason, and I pray for the recovery of the surviving victims of these monstrous crimes.”

Meanwhile, authorities who say their investigation has led them to a “treasure trove of information” are warning the public that other explosives may still be out there.

“We are concerned there may be other packages still out there, we need the public to remain vigilant, especially today as we go through the investigation,” FBI Agent Christopher Combs, head of the agency’s San Antonio office, told reporters.

Mayor Gonzales concurred with Combs’ comments, adding: “We don’t know where this suspect has spent his past 24 hours, and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to make sure that no other devices have been left out in the community.”

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AN EPIDEMIC OF VIOLENCE: Shooter dead, two injured after gunman opens fire at Maryland high school

GREAT MILLS, MD — Two students are confirmed injured after a shooter reportedly opened fire inside a Maryland high school Tuesday morning.

The incident occurred at at Great Mills High School, located 70 miles south of Washington, D.C. just before 8:00 am EST.

According to eyewitnesses, the suspect, who has not yet been identified, walked into the 1,600-student school and fired a round at a 16-year-old female student. A 14-year-old male was also shot before a school resource officer neutralized the suspect by returning fire. The shooter was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both victims were taken to a nearby hospital. The female is listed in critical condition. The male is reported to be in stable condition. Neither victim has yet been identified.

“Our school resource officer was alerted to the event. he pursued the shooter, engaged the shooter, fired a round at the shooter,” St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said during a press conference late Tuesday morning. “The shooter fired a round as well. In the hours and days to come, we’ll be able to determine if our school resource officer’s round struck the shooter.”

“This is your worst nightmare,” Cameron added.

Students who witnessed the event said they never thought something like this could happen in their tight-knit community.

“I heard one shot and when we ran, we saw a teacher and he was looking at us with a confused look,” Terrence Rhames, a senior at Great Mills, told NBC News. “We were trying to figure out if this is real.”

“It was just shocking. You hear about shootings — you never think would happen to you,” Rhames added.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that his office was “closely monitoring” the situation.

“We are closely monitoring the situation at Great Mills High School. @MDSP is in touch with local law enforcement and ready to provide support. Our prayers are with students, school personnel, and first responders,” Hogan tweeted.

According to a report posted to The Bay Net, Jake Heibel, the principal of the school, told parents last month that the school had investigated threats of a possible shooting but found they were “not substantiated.”

Also last month, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department announced it had arrested a 39-year-old man and two teenage boys for “threats of mass violence” after the teens made threats about carrying out a school shooting at Leonardtown High School, a high school located about 10 miles from Great Mills. Police officials said a search warrant resulted in the discovery of semi-automatic rifles, handguns and other weapons, along with ammunition found in the suspects’ possession.

The incident comes just one month after a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead.

The Parkland shooting resulted in The White House’s proposal of funding firearms training for school personnel in an effort to protect America’s students.

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TAUNTING TRUMP: New York terror suspect ridiculed POTUS in online social media posts prior to attack

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The suspect accused of detonating a bomb outside New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal on Monday posted warnings to his Facebook page prior to the attack.

According to a report published by NBC News (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/akayed-ullah-nyc-explosion-suspect-identified-27-year-old-brooklyn-n828361), the 27-year-old immigrant from Bangladesh taunted President Trump via social media, saying that the carnage to come was due to Trump’s failure to protect America.

“Trump you failed to protect your nation,” Akayed Ullah wrote on Facebook prior to detonating a pipe bomb in an underground pedestrian tunnel during rush hour on Monday morning.

Ullah, whose actions, officials say, were inspired by ISIS, triggered the device prematurely and injured himself in the process. As a result, only a handful of victims were harmed by the explosion, which officials say would have been deadly had it detonated at the correct time.

President Trump has said Monday’s attack, which followed a previous attack in Manhattan in October which killed eight people, “highlights the urgent need… to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people”.

“America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country,” Trump said of the event after being briefed by the FBI.

Ullah is currently recovering in a New York City hospital and faces multiple charges stemming from the attempted terror attack including criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism and making a “terroristic threat”.

Ullah also faces multiple federal charges including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a public place.

 

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PROBING PODESTA: Mueller investigation branches out to brother of Clinton campaign chair

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tony Podesta, a powerful Democratic lobbyist, and brother of former Clinton campaign John Podesta, is now the subject of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to published reports.

Podesta, who became a subject of interest after inquiries regarding former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s finances came to light, was allegedly behind a PR campaign for a pro-Ukraine nonprofit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). According to an NBC report, the campaign was backed by pro-Russia affiliates (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mueller-now-investigating-democratic-lobbyist-tony-podesta-n812776).

Mueller, who is leading an investigation into alleged attempts by Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, is reportedly looking into whether Podesta and his company, The Podesta Group, violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) which “requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities” (https://www.fara.gov/0) .

In a statement released on Monday, a spokesperson for The Podesta Group claimed the organization was in compliance and “fully cooperating” with Mueller and his team of investigators.

“The Podesta Group fully disclosed its representation of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), and complied with FARA by filing under the lobbying disclosure act over five years ago and within weeks of starting our work,” the spokesperson said. “Any insinuation to the contrary is false. The Podesta Group has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s office and taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms compliance with the law. Based on our due diligence and on the recommendation of definitive legal experts, the firm immediately filed the appropriate public disclosures of its representation of the ECFMU over five years ago, and in eight subsequent public filings.”

Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas last August for the firms that worked on the public image campaign run by Manafort and although the interest was initially geared toward examining collusion on the part of President Trump, the latest findings in the investigation seem to indicate that it was Democrats, not Republicans, who worked closely to secure Russian interests.

According to a report published by Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/23/report-mueller-probe-expands-to-democratic-lobbyist-tony-podestas-russia-dealings.html) the House Oversight committee has started looking into the Obama-era deal in which a Russian-backed company bought a uranium firm with mines in the United States.

“I’ve spoken with the confidential informant that helped the FBI uncover this bribery scheme,” DeSantis, R-Fla., a member of the oversight committee, told Fox. “Clearly, it’s in the public’s interest that this individual be able to tell his story to Congress.”

When asked whether or not the recent revelations could mean charges against key members of the Obama administration, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, DeSatis responded: “It could be criminal. Yes.”

As reported on Monday by The Hill (http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/355749-fbi-uncovered-russian-bribery-plot-before-obama-administration), the FBI has “obtained an eyewitness account -backed by documents- indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation… during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow.”

Despite the mounting allegations against Clinton, the former Democratic candidate denies any wrongdoing.

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