Beto O’Rourke’s launch: Big promises, apologies and unanswered questions

Madison, Wisconsin (CNN)The opening days of Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign were squarely focused on proving that he is the most electable candidate to take on President Donald Trump — in part because he will show up. O’Rourke’s three-day, 13-county swing through mostly rural eastern Iowa included eight counties that Democrats had carried in the 2012 presidential election but lost in 2016. His next four stops — Wisconsin on Sunday, followed this week by Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — put O’Rourke …

Embattled Trump appointee resigns from Department of Veterans Affairs

Washington (CNN)The top communications official at the Department of Veterans Affairs, John Ullyot, announced his resignation Thursday, according to an internal email obtained by CNN and a statement from Secretary Robert Wilkie. Wilkie confirmed Ullyot’s departure in a statement to CNN. “For the last two years, John Ullyot has provided exceptional service to Veterans during one of the most productive times of reform for VA in decades,” Wilkie wrote. “As a former Marine and longtime public servant, John understands the …

Gary Younge: Our understanding of democracy is under threat’

Our editor-at-large on the six US elections hes covered so far, the upheaval in world politics and why many Republicans like him How did you get into journalism? When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor. Or maybe a revolutionary, but a doctor in my spare time. As I got a bit older, I discovered that I loved words, and I studied translation I wanted to play with language, and was fortunate enough to do so as a …

National Security Agency halts surveillance program

(CNN)The National Security Agency has stopped using a surveillance program in recent months that relied on bulk data collected from US domestic phone records, according to a Republican congressional official. The NSA last year disclosed that it had found technical problems with the program that led to collection of records on US persons that it didn’t have authority to collect. The program relied on phone metadata, information such as who is called or text-messaged, and the duration and time of …

Concern over food safety as US seeks greater access to UK markets

US sets out aims for post-Brexit trade deal amid fears about chicken and beef standards The US has outlined its objectives for a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK, demanding greater access to the food markets where products such as chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef are banned under EU rules. The US laid out its aims for a trade deal to cut tariff and non-tariff barriers for US industrial and agricultural goods and reduce regulatory differences. The Trump administration is …

Trump announces recovery of American hostage in Yemen

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump announced Monday that the United States has recovered Danny Burch, an American citizen who was being held hostage in Yemen for the last year and a half. In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo applauded “the innumerable lines of effort from across the U.S. Government to enable this effort, to include the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien, U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi, and the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell.” “Today (Burch) is safe and …

Steve King plans to seek re-election: ‘I have nothing to apologize for’

(CNN)Rep. Steve King said he plans to run for re-election and rejected responsibility for his statements in The New York Times that appeared to defended white nationalism. In the article, King, as part of a defense of what he said was the “culture of America,” asked how certain terms had become controversial in modern discourse. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” he told the Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me …

Trump expected to ramp up pressure on Venezuela’s Maduro in speech

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is expected to urge Venezuelan military officials to back the country’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido and allow humanitarian aid to flow into Venezuela. “Venezuelan military officials have a clear choice — work toward democracy for their future and the future of their families, or they will lose everything they have,” Sanders said, listing several key points of Trump’s forthcoming speech on Monday at Florida International University. The US leveled its most significant financial sanctions against …

Trump calls for rejection of ‘politics of revenge’ in speech that jabs Democrats

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump appeared before a divided Congress for the first time on Tuesday to appeal to lawmakers’ sense of unity at a moment of deepening partisan spite. “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” the President said to only a smattering of applause. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. …

Ahead of annual physical, Trump has not followed doctor’s orders

(CNN)President Donald Trump was less than thrilled last year when his personal physician recommended he get on a diet, start exercising and set a goal of losing a dozen pounds. A little more than a year later, Trump will undergo his second physical exam as President on Friday at the Walter Reed military hospital. As he prepares for the battery of tests to evaluate his physical health, sources close to him say he has stuck with some minor changes to …

5 key takeaways from Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech

(CNN)President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night, a speech that was, in equal measure, surprisingly bipartisan and deeply divisive — reflective of the deep contradictions that sit at the heart of his presidency. It was vintage Trump — in all its incongruity, unpredictability, exaggeration and occasional moments of surprising grace. The problem, of course, is that Trump is a deeply flawed messenger on the whole “unity” thing. A pitch like this one — “We must …

Trump’s call for compromise is only on his own terms

Washington (CNN)The state of Donald Trump is unrepentant and defiant. And while he says he’s open to compromise and national unity — it must be on his terms. Yet at times, he offered a tantalizing promise of something more, conjuring moments of poignancy, as when he honored a World War II veteran and a Nazi concentration camp inmate the veteran helped liberate, together in the first lady’s box. In a speech in which rhetorical calls for common ground jarred with …

State of the Union 2019: Read the full transcript

President Donald Trump delivered his 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday. Read the President’s speech as prepared for delivery and released by the White House. Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one Nation. The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people. Many …

House intelligence chair announces sweeping investigation into Trump’s finances and Russia

(CNN)House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday a broad investigation his committee would undertake “beyond Russia” into whether President Donald Trump’s financial interests are driving his actions. Schiff said the investigation, which could involve additional congressional committees, would also look at whether Trump or his associates have “sought to influence US government policy in service of foreign interests” and any potential obstruction into the various investigations. Schiff’s announcement is the most detailed look yet into how congressional Democrats will …

Congress seeks new ways to prevent shutdowns from happening

Washington (CNN)As the country recovers from the longest government shutdown in United States history, Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike are saying they don’t want a shutdown to happen again. Some are even pushing legislative proposals aimed at preventing the gears of government from grinding to a halt in the future. The threat of a shutdown is currently a deterrent that’s supposed to encourage lawmakers to work together to pass needed, annual spending bills on time to fund the federal government. …

Senate expected to advance Middle East bill, now that government is reopened

(CNN)The Senate is expected to advance a Middle East policy bill that includes fresh sanctions on Syria, when it comes up for a vote Monday afternoon, according to Senate leadership aides in each party. The Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act wraps together five bills into one package. It includes new sanctions against Syria’s central bank and individuals providing support for the Syrian government. It boosts military support for Israel and Jordan, two US allies that are Syria’s …