News Roundup 02/13/19

1. Lawmakers Finalize Bill to Avoid Shutdown

Lawmakers slowly moved toward a compromise on both a huge spending bill and border security on Wednesday. They are getting ready to pass it and get it on President Trump’s desk in time to avoid another government shutdown on Friday at midnight. Those in the Capitol felt relieved rather than excited for the finalized that would at least bring a temporary end to the political brinkmanship over the money that Trump continues to demand for the wall at the southern border. This demand is what caused the country’s longest partial government shutdown (35 days) before it ended last month. Negotiations brought about a deal that agrees to give Trump less than ¼ of the $5.7 billion that Trump is demanding in order to build barriers at the US-Mexico border. Analysts expect Trump to sign the bill, even though there is a chance that he might change his mind at the last minute.

Source: Washington Post

2. Judge Rules Manafort “Intentionally” Lied to the FBI, Special Counsel and Grand Jury

Judge Amy Berman Jackson stated that, “Paul Manafort made multiple false statements to the FBI, OSC, and the Grand Jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation.” His contacts with his Russian associate while the 2016 presidential election was going on and later on were included in these false statements. This new development has caused the judge to void the plea deal that Manafort made with the Special Counsel for his cooperation in the investigation. Manafort has just seen the end of any pf the benefits that he attempted to get through his guilty plea. He was convicted of many financial crimes in August, and then decided to plead guilty to two charges of conspiracy and witness tampering a month later in September. Overall, Jackson found that Manafort lied about $125,000 he got for legal bills, about a different unknown Justice Department criminal investigation, as well as about his dealings with his longtime Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik during his tenure as campaign chairman and afterwards. Manafort cannot withdraw his guilty pleas because of the obligations of what he agreed to in his deal.

Source: CNN Politics

3. ‘El Chapo’ Escaped From Two Prisons. This Time, He’s Probably Headed to the ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’

Making sure that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman remains in prison for the rest of his life will be a difficult task. He has managed to escape two of Mexico’s high security prisons since his original capture. This is the reason experts believe that Guzman, who was convicted Tuesday of drug trafficking, might be going to the federal government’s “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado. The prison is known as ADX, which stands for “administrative maximum”. The facility is so remote and protected that it has been given the nickname of the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” If Guzman does go to ADX, some of his fellow inmates would include the Unabomber (Ted Kaczynski), the Boston Marathon bomber (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev), 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, and the Oklahoma City bombing accomplice (Terry Nichols). Federal authorities have not released a statement about where El Chapo will serve his sentence, the US Attorney Richard Donoghue stated on Thursday that, “Guzman faces a sentence from which there is no escape and no return.”

Source: USA Today

4. Trump Is Refusing to Pay Constructors for Work During the Shutdown

In spite of all of the rushed negotiations about the details of border security funding, Congress appears to be certain there will not be another government shutdown on Friday. It has agreed to give back pay to 800,000 federal workers for the salaries they did not get while the recent 35 day shutdown was going on. But the up to 580,000 contractors that were not paid during that period either is a trickier issue to resolve. Senator Roy Blunt spoke to reporters on Wednesday and said that he was told the president refuses to sign anything that gives those workers back pay. During the 2016 election campaign, it was well known (but usually ignored) that Trump would not pay contractors that worked for him on a regular basis during his time as a businessman. The notion of paying the federal contractors was supported by both parties until Mitch McConnell shut it down. A source from legislation told the Hill that the amount it would cost the administration to pay these workers back would be as much as the backpay itself, and prior negotiations did not make provisions for this expense.

Source: Vanity Fair

5. Rep. Adam Kinzinger Deployed to Active Duty on Southern Border

The Illinois Republican’s Office stated: “Earlier this week, Congressman Kinzinger was deployed to the US-Mexico border with his Air National Guard Unit, and is serving on active duty in his capacity as Lieutenant Colonel. As with his previous border missions while elected, the Congressman will stay within the United States.” Before Kinzinger was elected to Congress, he was a part of the Air Force and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in November of 2003. The missions that he participated in include Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Members of Congress serving in active duty has been a point of contention in the past.

Source: CNN Politics