02-19-2017  3:21 pm      •     
DNC chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks during a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the Florida State Fairgrounds Entertainment Hall, Friday, July 22, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 presidential race (all times EDT):
4:30 p.m.
Hillary Clinton is thanking her "longtime friend" Debbie Wasserman Schultz after the Florida congresswoman's decision to step down as chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Clinton says that Wasserman Schultz will serve as honorary chair of her campaign's 50-state program to help elect Democrats around the country.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee says she looks forward to campaigning with Wasserman Schultz in Florida "and helping her re-election bid."

Clinton responded after Wasserman Schultz agreed to step down as chair at the end of this week's Democratic National Convention.

The move came after the publication last week of some 19,000 hacked emails, some of which suggested the DNC was favoring Clinton during the primary season.

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4:20 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he is "grateful" for Debbie Wasserman Schultz's leadership at the Democratic National Committee. Obama says in a statement that the Florida congresswoman has "had my back," particularly during his 2012 re-election campaign. He says she played a critical role in supporting the nation's economic recovery and his effort to overhaul the nation's health care system. He adds that no one works harder for their constituents.

Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday that she will resign as party chairwoman at the end of this week's Democratic convention. The four-day convention kicks off Monday in Philadelphia.

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3:55 p.m.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she is stepping down as Democratic Party chairwoman at the end of this week's convention.

The Florida congresswoman has been under fire following the publication of hacked emails suggesting the Democratic National Committee favored Hillary Clinton in the presidential primaries.

That prompted runner-up Bernie Sanders to call Sunday for Wasserman Schultz's immediate resignation.

In a statement, Wasserman Schultz says she still plans to fulfill her duties formally opening and closing the convention in Philadelphia. She also says she will speak at the four-day gathering.

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3:05 p.m.

On the eve of the Democratic convention, party officials are holding discussions about whether Debbie Wasserman Schultz should resign as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

That's according to a person familiar with the discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The Sunday afternoon discussions come one day before Democrats open their convention in Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton as the party's presidential candidate.

The discussions were prompted in part by the publication last week of some 19,000 hacked emails, some of which suggested the DNC was favoring Clinton during the primary season.

The revelations prompted runner-up Bernie Sanders to call for Wasserman Schultz's resignation Sunday.

Sanders was critical of the Florida congresswoman throughout the primary, accusing the party of rigging the process in favor of Clinton.

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2:32 p.m.

Barney Frank, co-chair of the rules committee at the Democratic National Convention, says it was never expected that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz would preside over convention proceedings this week.

Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is under fire after the leak of embarrassing emails that indicate some high-ranking party officials favored Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders to become the nominee. The DNC voted to select Rep. Marcia Fudge to oversee the convention proceedings instead.

Frank says Fudge was on the list to be convention chair "long before" the emails were leaked. He notes that heads of the Democratic National Committee are never picked to oversee convention proceedings.

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2:00 p.m.

Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio says she is "happy to serve" as chair of the Democratic National Convention this week in Philadelphia.

Fudge issued a statement Sunday thanking Hillary Clinton for recommending her to the position. Fudge said she is looking forward to a "great convention and our ongoing efforts as we work together for a strong party and a successful election."

Still in question is what role Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will play during the convention. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says she should step down after some 19,000 DNC emails were leaked that suggested committee officials favored Hillary Clinton during the party's primary.

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1:25 p.m.

 

Michael Bloomberg, who was elected mayor of New York City as a Republican, will speak at the Democratic National Convention to endorse Hillary Clinton for president.

Spokesman Marc LaVorgna says Bloomberg will make the endorsement speech Wednesday night.

The billionaire media mogul opted against running as a third-party candidate for fear it might siphon away votes from Clinton and help elect Republican Donald Trump.
Bloomberg has been sharply critical of Trump, and in particular of his fellow New Yorker's inflammatory rhetoric on immigration.
Bloomberg had previously been a Democrat before switching his party affiliation to Republican before his successful 2001 run for mayor. Bloomberg, who served three terms, later became an independent and a leading advocate for gun control.

His endorsement was first reported Sunday by The New York Times.

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12:56 p.m.

The Democratic National Committee's rules panel has decided that Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will preside over convention sessions beginning Monday.

A DNC rules committee member says she was voted as convention chairwoman as part of standard procedures. That makes clear that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not act in that capacity; under party rules, the DNC head acts as temporary chair until a new one is voted in.
Still in question is what role Wasserman Schultz might play during this week's Democratic convention. Many supporters of Bernie Sanders are angry after some 19,000 emails from the DNC were leaked that suggested committee officials favored Hillary Clinton during the party's primary.
The DNC rules committee member spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of internal party affairs.
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12:55 p.m.
Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine are planning a bus tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio after the Democratic National Convention.
Economic issues are the focus, with the Democratic ticket set to stop in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and Youngstown and Columbus in Ohio.
They'll appear at public rallies and smaller events.

12:10 p.m.
Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine say they won't come up with an epithet for Donald Trump akin to his use of "Crooked Hillary."
In a joint interview with Kaine, Clinton told "60 Minutes Sunday" that she won't engage in "that kind of insult-fest" and that she prefers to talk about Trump's record.
Kaine, who was announced as Clinton's running mate this weekend ahead of the Democratic National Convention, said using terms like "Crooked Hillary" was beneath "the kind of dialogue we should have." He added: "Most of us stopped the name-calling thing about fifth grade."
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11:45 a.m.
A California delegate says there are serious discussions underway to challenge Hillary Clinton's pick of Tim Kaine as her running mate.
Norman Solomon, a delegate who supports Bernie Sanders, says there is talk among Sanders' delegates of walking out during Kaine's acceptance speech or turning their backs as a show of protest.
Solomon said he believes a "vast majority" of Sanders delegates support these kinds of protests to express their dismay. Sanders' supporters say they are concerned that Kaine is not progressive enough.
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11:15 a.m.
Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, were back at their longtime church in Richmond, Virginia, on Sunday, a day after the Virginia senator made his campaign debut with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as her running mate.
Kaine — a former choir member at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church — sang a solo during Communion.
His wife spoke briefly at the end of the service, telling parishioners how important they've been in their lives.
She said "you have helped shape us" and that she and her husband "will really need your prayers."
Kaine told reporters outside the church: "We needed some prayers today and we got some prayers, and we got some support and it really feels good."
St. Elizabeth's is a majority black church in Richmond's Highland Park area.
___
10:15 a.m.
Bernie Sanders says he wishes Hillary Clinton had picked someone like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren for her running mate instead of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.
Sanders tells NBC's "Meet the Press," that Kaine is a "very, very smart guy" and a "very nice guy" but wouldn't have been his vice presidential choice.
Sanders — who describes himself as a democratic socialist — says Kaine is more conservative than he is.
Warren is known for her fiery edges, particularly when going after Wall Street and big banks, and is a favorite of the party's liberal base.
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9:35 a.m.
Bernie Sanders wants the head of the Democratic National Committee to step down — after leaked emails suggested the party played favorites during the presidential primary.
Here's what Sanders tells ABC's "This Week": "I'm not shocked, but I am disappointed."
Emails posted to the website Wikileaks show that at least some DNC officials were looking at ways to undercut Sanders' campaign, including questioning his religious beliefs.
Sanders says the party chairwoman, Rep., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, should resign immediately.
The Vermont senator says a new leader is needed to focus the DNC on defeating Donald Trump, attracting young voters and improving the economy.
___
9:30 a.m.
Hillary Clinton's campaign manager accuses Russia of leaking emails on purpose from the Democratic National Committee to help Republican Donald Trump in the presidential election.
Wikileaks has posted emails that including several denunciations of Clinton's primary rival, Bernie Sanders, and his supporters.
Robby Mook says on CNN's 'State of the Union" that experts are telling the campaign "Russian state actors" broke into the DNC's emails, and that other experts say these Russians are now selectively releasing the emails.
He says it's no coincidence the emails are coming out on the eve of the party's nominating convention in Philadelphia.
___
9 a.m.
President Barack Obama says Donald Trump's suggestion that the U.S. might not come to the defense of NATO allies is another sign of what he calls Trump's "lack of preparedness" on foreign policy.
Obama tells CBS' "Face the Nation" that Trump's comments amount to an admission that the U.S. "might not abide" by NATO's "most central tenet."
NATO members promise that an attack against any of them is considered an assault against all.
___
8:50 a.m.
It's become a bit easier for Hillary Clinton to formally claim the nomination at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.
The Democratic National Committee has released a slightly trimmed list of superdelegates — those are the party officials who can back any candidate.
There are now 4,763 total delegates, and 712 of them are superdelegates.
Two superdelegates left their positions in the last month, while Rep. Mark Takai of Hawaii died from cancer.
It now takes 2,382 delegates to formally clinch the nomination.
Heading into the convention, Clinton now has 2,814, when including superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count. Sanders has 1,893.
More than 50 remain uncommitted.

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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