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Survivors of last week’s school shooting in Florida were brought to tears as state lawmakers refused to debate a gun control measure in Tallahassee on Tuesday.
Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School watched from the gallery as state House members voted down a motion to debate an existing bill that would ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
HB 219, a bill filed in October, would ban any “selective-fire firearm capable of fully automatic, semiautomatic or burst fire,” as well as several specified rifles including the AR-15 ― the type used in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday.
Rep. Kionne McGhee (D-Miami) pushed to bring HB 219 out of committee and to the floor.
“I ask that we keep this bill in the conversation about the solution to combat mass shootings alive,” McGhee said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “While this is an extraordinary procedural move, the shooting at Parkland demands extraordinary action.”
McGhee’s proposal was rejected in a 36-71 procedural vote, the Times reported. A Florida Senate committee, however, endorsed a proposal on Tuesday to put law enforcement officers in every school in the state.
Students took buses to the state capital on Monday and Tuesday to push state lawmakers into action to help prevent mass shootings. Sheryl Acquarola, a 16-year-old junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was shown overcome with emotion in an Associated Press photo as the House vote failed.
More teenagers have become leading voices in gun control advocacy in the aftermath of the tragic school shooting that killed 17 people last week. Students have organized protests across the country to push politicians to pass stricter gun control measures, including the ban on AR-15 assault rifles, which have been used in a number of mass shootings.
Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Stoneman Douglas, made an impassioned speech for stricter gun control on Saturday, shaming politicians who accept money from the National Rifle Association.
“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this: We call BS!” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez and her classmates plan to march in Washington, D.C., on March 24 to demand action in the “March for Our Lives.” Sister marches are expected to occur in cities across the country, and celebrities including George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey have expressed their support for the march.
Clarification: Language in this story has been amended to clarify that the AR-15 would be banned under HB 219 because it is one of several guns singled out in the bill.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner doesn’t want to give up the interim security clearance that gives him access to highly classified information, even though his current duties likely don’t require him to view top-secret material, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
Kushner, also President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has resisted efforts by White House chief of staff John Kelly to overhaul such interim clearances, which are given to some aides as a stopgap measure when their applications are held up as the FBI works through issues with their background checks. Kushner holds one of these interim clearances because of mistakes he made on his forms and the complexity of his financial holdings, the Times reported last week.
Kelly released a memo last Friday saying he would revamp the granting of such clearances after one of the president’s top aides, Rob Porter, was forced to resign after allegations of domestic violence from his two ex-wives were revealed. The women told the FBI interviewers that Porter had physically and emotionally abused them, but he was able to continue working in the White House with a temporary security clearance.
“We should ― and, in the future, must ― do better,” Kelly wrote about the overhaul, which was first reported by The Washington Post.
Kushner’s close relationship to the president has given him access to highly classified information despite his own interim clearance, and he is able to read Trump’s daily presidential brief. But as the Times noted, his official duties, which include managing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and revising the North American Free Trade Agreement, likely don’t require a top-level clearance.
Kushner has reportedly become frustrated with Kelly’s new effort, saying he felt personally targeted by the memo, the Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The White House, addressing questions about Kushner’s future clearance, said Tuesday his work would be unaffected by the overhaul.
“I can tell you that no decision within the memo will impact anything that Jared Kushner is working on,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. “In terms of specifics on security clearance, I can’t get into that.”
Kelly himself released a statement later Tuesday saying Kushner would still be able to continue his duties, although he didn’t specify what level of clearance he would retain.
“As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico,” Kelly said in a statement. “Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the president’s agenda. There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise.”
Kelly’s new plan will revoke any top security clearance to aides whose background checks have been stalled since June 1 or before. High-level clearances will also be reviewed every month.
The changes will be implemented Friday.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts. Total Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
It’s not clear which facts Trump is referring to. In December 2016, Obama issued unprecedented sanctions against Russia for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, ordering 35 Russian diplomats to leave the U.S., and the closure of two Russian compounds.
“Russia’s cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government,” the Obama White House said in a statement. “These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Trump repeatedly rejected the assertions by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking. And the president has still has not put into effect new sanctions — passed by large majorities in Congress last year — that were designed to punish the Kremlin and deter it from interfering in the 2018 midterms. And in October, the Trump administration missed a deadline to publish a list of Russian entities and individuals in the military and intelligence sectors subject to sanctions.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump pointed to comments his predecessor made less than a month before the 2016 election: “There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections,” Obama said in October 2017, responding to Trump’s repeated claims that the vote would be “rigged” in favor of the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
“There’s no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time,” Obama added. “And so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes.”
FLASHBACK: Obama says ‘no serious person’ would suggest you could rig America’s elections pic.twitter.com/OXjSvfn01V
— FOX friends (@foxandfriends) February 20, 2018
Trump tweeted the quote, which was featured on a “Fox and Friends” segment, and followed it up with some Trumpian punditry.
“That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to ‘rock the boat,’” the president wrote on Twitter. “When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems.”
But those are two different things. Obama was disputing that election officials would tamper with the vote totals to favor Hillary Clinton — something that has not been shown, or even seriously alleged, to have occurred. The issue now is Russian meddling in last year’s election by way of social media and hacking, which the heads of all the major security agencies agree happened last year — and is continuing into the 2018 election cycle.
On Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office announced charges against 13 Russians and three Russian entities for allegedly carrying out an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 election.
On Monday, after a weekend filled with tweets about the Mueller indictments, Trump falsely suggested Obama didn’t “do something” about Russian meddling.
Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2018
On Oct. 7, 2016, the Obama administration announced its belief that the Russian government was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee earlier that year. After the election, Obama ordered a review of the election hacking, which was followed by sanctions against Moscow.
But some Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have criticized Obama for not doing enough.
“I said all along that I thought the Obama administration should have done more,” Schiff told CNN on Sunday. “They were very wary of appearing to be putting their hand on the scale in the election.”
But Schiff added: “None of that is an excuse for this president to sit on his hands.”
Read more from Yahoo News:
- Trump: Russians are ‘laughing their asses off’ after stirring U.S. election chaos
- White House insists latest Russia indictments prove ‘NO COLLUSION’
- Trump sees ‘BOMBSHELLS’ in FBI texts about Clinton email probe
- U.S. intel chiefs say Russia is targeting midterms
- 13 Russians charged with U.S. election meddling