Donald Trump Archives - Page 4 of 279 - Florida Politics

Gwen Graham to Rick Scott: Keep voter data out of Donald Trump’s hands

It remains to be seen what pull Gwen Graham has with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who finally has a “partner in the White House” in President Donald Trump.

However, when it comes to witholding Florida voter data from what she sees as a sham investigation into “non-existent” voter fraud, the Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate wants Scott to just say no to Trump.

The perceived need for the data by Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — data which includes partial Social Security numbers — nettles Graham.

“This commission is designed to prove something that has already been established as demonstratively false: President Trump’s ludicrous claim that 3-5 million Americans voted illegally in the last election,” Graham asserts in her letter to Scott.

Graham throws some heat at the Governor also: “As your administration learned after its costly, partisan attempt to purge our state’s voter rolls, there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Florida. With these facts in mind, it would be irresponsible to send sensitive data on Florida voters to President Trump’s phony commission.”

Such rhetoric isn’t likely to sway Gov. Scott, of course; however, the press release from the Graham camp spotlights her plan for reform — also included in the letter.

It is full of familiar Democratic tropes: universal voter registration; re-enfranchisement of reformed felons; expanded early voting; and greater facilitation of voting on college campuses.

As the Andrew Gillum campaign becomes mired in one news cycle morass after another, Graham here makes a calculated play to progressives, delivering the partisan fire that it will take to get her through the primary with an energized base.

GOP ponders whether Donald Trump helps sell health care

It was a platform most politicians can only hope for: A captivated, 6,000-person crowd and more than an hour of live, prime-time television coverage to hype the Republican vision for a new health care system.

But when President Donald Trump got around to talking about the Republican plan — about 15 minutes into his speech — he was wildly off message. Instead of preaching party lines about getting the government out of Americans’ health decisions and cutting costs, he declared: “Add some money to it!”

The moment captured a major dilemma for Republicans as they look for ways to jumpstart their stalled health care overhaul. A master salesman, Trump has an inimitable ability to command attention, and that could be used to bolster Americans’ support for Republican efforts and ramp up pressure on wavering lawmakers. But some lawmakers and congressional aides privately bemoan his thin grasp of the bill’s principles, and worry that his difficulty staying on message will do more harm than good.

“You know, he’s very personable and people like talking to him and he’s very embracing of that, so there will be certain people he’d like to talk to,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “But I’d let Mitch handle it,” he continued, referring to the lead role Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has played thus far.

McConnell delayed a vote on the health legislation this week after it became clear he couldn’t muster enough Republican support to offset the unanimous opposition from Democrats. GOP leaders are now hoping to pass a bill in the Senate and reconcile it with an earlier version approved by the House before lawmakers head home for their August recess.

Trump has largely ceded the details to McConnell, deferring to the Kentucky lawmaker’s legislative expertise. He has spent some time talking privately to wavering senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, testing his powers of persuasion. But he’s invested no significant effort in selling the American people on the impact the Republican bill would have on their health care coverage, beyond making sweeping declarations about how wonderful he expects it to be.

“We’re looking at a health care that will be a fantastic tribute to your country,” Trump said during a White House event Wednesday. “A health care that will take care of people finally for the right reasons and also at the right cost.”

His approach is a contrast to former President Barack Obama, who delivered an address to Congress on health care and held town halls around the country about the Democrats’ legislation in 2009. The Obamacare measure barely cleared Congress and became a rallying cry for Republicans, something Obama blamed in part on a failure by his party to communicate its virtues clearly to the public.

At times, even Trump’s largely generic health care commentary has left Republicans fuming. Some lawmakers were particularly irked by Trump’s assertion that the House bill — which he robustly supported and even celebrated with a Rose Garden ceremony — was “mean.”

One Republican congressional aide said that comment left some lawmakers worried that the president — who had no real ties to the GOP before running for the White House — could turn on them if a bill passes but the follow-up becomes politically damaging. The official insisted on anonymity in order to describe private discussions.

Newt Gingrich, the former GOP House speaker and a close Trump ally, said Republicans have struggled to communicate about the complexities of health care policy because “nobody has served as a translator.” He said Trump is well-positioned to take the lead, but acknowledged that the real estate mogul-turned-politician would need some help from policy experts in formulating a sales pitch.

“Trump will be able to repeat it with enormous effectiveness once somebody translates it,” Gingrich said.

The White House disputes that Trump isn’t steeped in the details of the Obamacare repeal efforts. Economic adviser Gary Cohn and other officials on the National Economic Council have convened several meetings with him to explain differences between the House and Senate bills. One senior White House official described the president as “fully engaged” in the process.

During a private meeting Tuesday with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is strongly opposed to the current Senate bill, Trump said his priority was to increase the number of insurance choices available to consumers and lower monthly premiums, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the discussion. The official said the president also specifically highlighted the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s projection that average premiums would be 30 percent lower in 2020 if the Senate bill took effect.

To some Trump allies, more public engagement on a substantive policy debate like the future of the nation’s health care system would also be a welcome reprieve for a president whose approval ratings have tumbled amid the snowballing investigations into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia.

“I think his numbers would go up if he had a couple of addresses,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser. “If he communicates directly with the American people, he cuts through the noise.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Southwest drops 2 Cuban routes, citing performance, ban

Southwest Airlines Co. says it will drop flights to two Cuban destinations, citing its struggles to attract passengers and a tougher U.S. stance toward the island nation.

Dallas-based Southwest on Wednesday announced service to Varadero and Santa Clara, Cuba, will end Sept. 4. It will continue to fly to Havana from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.

President Donald Trump this month announced he’s reversing some of the warmer ties with Cuba that were initiated by the Obama administration.

A Southwest vice president, Steve Goldberg, says the decision to drop Varadero and Santa Clara comes after an analysis of performance the past few months that leaves no clear path to sustainability in the markets. Goldberg also cited the continuing U.S. prohibition on tourism to Cuba for Americans.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Stephanie Murphy, Democrats, ask Donald Trump for overdue, mandated national security statement

Winter Park’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy and other leaders of the Democrats’ House of Representatives national security task force have issued a request that President Donald Trump issue a national security policy statement that is mandated by law and overdue.

“Given the rapidly-changing threats to our nation, this administration must demonstrate it has a comprehensive strategy to protect the homeland and our nation’s interests abroad,” Murphy stated in a news release issued by her office Wednesday.

Under federal law, within 150 days of taking office, a new president must provide Congress—and, by extension, the American public—with a report that sets forth “the national security strategy of the United States,” according to her release. That deadline passed on June 19, 2017, it points out.

Murphy, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is one of three chairs of the recently-formed Democratic Caucus National Security Task Force. She and the other two chairs, U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Jimmy Panetta of California, sent a letter to Trump on Monday reminding him of the missed deadline and urging him to get the statement to Congress. They have not received a reply.

“We are growing increasingly concerned that you have yet to delineate a strategy to guide foreign policy decision-making and have yet to nominate or achieve confirmation of individuals for key national security positions who are needed to develop and execute that strategy,” the trio stated in the letter.

The trio cited U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 50, War and National Defense § 3043, entitled, “Annual national security strategy report.”

“As envisioned by Congress, the National Security Strategy is intended to be a practical document that guides the real-world conduct of our military planners, intelligence officials, homeland security professionals, diplomats, and aid workers. To craft the National Security Strategy, a new presidential administration must identify our national security objectives with precision, prioritize those objectives, and then present a realistic, whole-of-government plan to achieve those objectives with the resources available,” the letter reads. A good National Security Strategy will explain both the broad principles that underlie the administration’s approach to foreign policy and the specific steps that the administration intends to take to address discrete threats.

“In light of the complex web of challenges that the United States confronts, the need for your administration to swiftly prepare and submit a National Security Strategy is acute,” the letter continues. “We are particularly interested in the administration’s strategy to deter and denuclearize North Korea; to defeat ISIL and its affiliates on the field of battle and in the realm of ideas; to stabilize Syria and Iraq; to ensure that Iran complies with its nuclear-related obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reduces its support for terrorist organizations; to counter Russian aggression pursued through both military and non-military means; to turn the tide in Afghanistan; and to address emerging national security threats, such as cyberwarfare and climate change.”

“Without this document, we’re essentially flying blind with no sense of priorities,” Murphy stated in her release. “I urge President Trump to submit his national security strategy as soon as possible so that we can work together more effectively in keeping America safe.”

Which came first, Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ or Adam Putnam’s ‘Florida First?’

Since announcing his presidential run two years ago, Donald Trump has kept a focus on “America First” – strong national interests in global security, foreign policy and trade.

Just as “America First” propelled Trump to the White House, Adam Putnam hopes a similar theme will help drive him to the Governor’s Mansion.

That could explain why the new header of Putnam’s Twitter profile boasts a bright red background, emblazoned with the words “#FloridaFirst.”

Hey, it worked for Trump; why not go with a winner?

So, we wondered – which “first” came first.

Wait a minute, says Putnam’s campaign; the former U.S. Representative and current Agriculture Commissioner used “Florida First” for several years before Trump declared “America First,” and well in advance of his presidential campaign.

More than 2,000 supporters heard Putnam proclaim Florida First when announcing he was entering the governor’s race May 10. That same day, the phrase took a prominent role in visuals at a rally in downtown Bartow, Putnam’s hometown, as well as at events throughout his statewide bus tour.

Florida First was also clearly visible in the background of Putnam’s Facebook Live Q&A from Pensacola May 19.

Nevertheless, that was far from the first time Putnam used the term Florida First, says a campaign spokesperson. It has been on campaign and other materials as early as 2012, years before Trump entered politics.

In fact, the state’s official 2012 Collector’s Edition Christmas Ornament (in the pre-Trump era, when Putnam was Ag. Commissioner) was also titled “La Florida First,” celebrating the “innovation and discovery since Spanish explorers first stepped ashore in 1513,” which was REALLY before Trump.

Linda Geller-Schwartz: Donald Trump should act on Florida’s bipartisan support for judicial nominees

Linda Geller-Schwartz

Donald Trump has been mired in controversy his first few months in office, and by his own admission, the job of being President is harder than he thought. But Trump has an opportunity to get something meaningful done quickly and in a bipartisan fashion for Floridians. He can act on an appeal from our two Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to fill vacant seats in our federal courts.

These two senators have jointly asked the president to renominate three of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to Florida’s federal courts who had been vetted and approved by both Senators, but left waiting for hearings (along with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland) when their nominations expired in January.

Sens. Nelson and Rubio’s rare show of bipartisanship couldn’t come at a better time for Florida’s federal courts. There are currently seven federal judicial vacancies in Florida and five of them are formally classified as “judicial emergencies,” meaning there simply are not enough judges to handle the growing caseload. As judicial vacancies remain unfilled, Floridians who rely on our court system are the ones who suffer.

Last year, the watchdog group Integrity Florida issued a report detailing the myriad ways that lengthy judicial vacancies delay and deny justice for Floridians. Prolonged judicial vacancies inevitably result in case delays, higher caseloads, increased administrative stress and judicial burnout. Such judicial vacancies “threaten the timely administration of justice in both criminal and civil cases” according to the report.

In their letter, the senators asked the president to renominate Patricia Barksdale and William Jung for vacancies in the Middle District of Florida, and Phillip Lammens in the Northern District. With our courts already stretched razor thin, it only makes sense to move these qualified bipartisan nominees through the process rather than starting over from scratch. To underscore this point, Nelson and Rubio make clear in their letter that “timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies.”

The letter also refers to the failure of Senate leaders to take “timely action in the last Congress.” In addition to the highly publicized blocking of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans in recent years have refused to act on numerous lower court vacancies, causing the number of judicial vacancies to skyrocket.

As a result, President Trump now faces the daunting task of filling more than 120 federal court vacancies. Where there are qualified, bipartisan candidates available to be renominated, it makes sense for the president to act quickly. Failing to address these vacancies threatens the stability and fairness of our justice system and delays justice for Americans seeking their day in court.

Floridians expect and deserve to have a fair and functioning judicial system, and that requires our courts to be working at full capacity. Sens. Nelson and Rubio should be commended for setting aside partisan politics for the sake of our judicial system and the public interest. For his part, President Trump should take notice and heed their advice.


Linda Geller-Schwartz is Florida State Policy Advocate for the National Council of Jewish Women.


Facing defections, Senate GOP leaders delay health care vote

In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the message to GOP senators at a private lunch attended by Vice President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. The decision was described by a Republican aide and another informed person who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the closed-door decision.

All GOP senators were planning to travel to the White House later Tuesday to meet with President Donald Trump, one source said.

McConnell had hoped to push the measure through his chamber by this week’s end, before an Independence Day recess that party leaders fear will be used by foes of the legislation to tear away support.

The bill rolling back much of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law has been one of the party’s top priorities for years, and the delay is a major embarrassment to Trump and McConnell. At least five GOP senators — conservatives and moderates — had said they would vote against beginning debate.

Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press.

Al Lawson fundraising off of ‘MEAN’ Trumpcare

It was only a year ago that candidate Al Lawson was being introduced to Jacksonville media by Susie Wiles, the chair of the Donald Trump Florida campaign.

Lawson was presented as an alternative to the fiercely partisan Corrine Brown, and was lauded as someone willing to work across the aisle.

However, incumbent Rep. Al Lawson is a different story, as a white-hot Tuesday fundraising email (“Stopping MEAN Health Care”) makes clear.

“During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised America that he would not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Now with the help of his friends in Congress, TRUMP IS BREAKING HIS PROMISE,” the email reads.

Noting that Senate Republicans are mulling over whether to vote for health care reform or not, Lawson — whose legislative body has already voted for a version of the “American Health Care Act” — urges prospective donors to “stand with [him] against this bad Republican bill.”

“Trump and his Republican cronies are trying to take away your health care. The GOP bill not only raises health insurance premiums, but it takes money out of your pockets and gives it to big Republican donors through tax cuts … Together, we can save the Affordable Care Act and block the Republican’s [SIC] horrible bill. Donald Trump thinks he can force his radical agenda on America. He is wrong, and we will show him!”

Prediction: Susie Wiles won’t be showing Lawson around Jacksonville anytime soon.

These senators will make or break the GOP’s health care push

President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace “Obamacare” is now in the hands of a key group of GOP senators who are opposing —or not yet supporting — legislation Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing to bring to a vote this week.

These lawmakers range from moderate to conservative Republicans, and include senators who were just re-elected and a couple facing tough re-election fights. Their concerns about the legislation vary along with their ideology, from those who say it’s overly punitive in ejecting people from the insurance rolls, to others who say it doesn’t go far enough in dismantling former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Satisfying one group risks alienating another.

Trump spent part of the weekend placing phone calls to a handful of these lawmakers, focusing on senators who supported his candidacy — Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The next several days will show whether the president’s efforts pay off and if those lawmakers and the others will ultimately fall in line on legislation that would impact health care for millions of Americans, while allowing Trump and GOP leaders to boast of fulfilling a campaign promise seven years in the making.

McConnell has scant margin for error given united Democratic opposition, and can afford to lose only two Republicans from his 52-member caucus.

A look at the key Republican lawmakers:



Cruz, Paul, Johnson and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah jointly announced their opposition to the legislation as written last Thursday, the same day it was released. They said it did not go far enough to dismantle “Obamacare,” and Johnson also complained of a rushed process.

“They’re trying to jam this thing through,” Johnson complained Monday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Yet Johnson, like many other congressional Republicans, was elected in 2010 on pledges to repeal Obamacare and has been making that promise ever since. While looking for tweaks that can satisfy the conservatives, Senate GOP leaders are also arguing that any Republican who fails to vote for the leadership bill will be responsible for leaving Obamacare standing.

Few Senate Republicans expect Paul to vote with them in the end, because of opposition he’s long expressed to government tax subsidies going to pay for private insurance, but many expect Cruz could be won over, especially since he’s running for re-election.



Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, the only Senate Republican up for re-election next year in a state Hillary Clinton won, surprised Senate GOP leaders by coming out hard against the health legislation at a news conference Friday. Standing next to Nevada’s popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Heller said he could not support a bill that “takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.”

Nevada is one of the states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The GOP bill would unwind that expansion and cap Medicaid payments for the future. Nevada also has a disproportionate share of older residents under age 65 — when Medicare kicks in — who would likely face higher premiums because the GOP bill gives insurance companies greater latitude to charge more to older customers.

Heller’s fellow moderate Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake, faces similar issues of an aging population in neighboring Arizona. He is viewed as the second-most-endangered GOP incumbent next year after Heller.

Flake has not yet taken stance on the bill but is facing a raft of television ads from AARP and other groups that are opposed.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat seen as a possible Flake challenger next year, said Monday the Senate bill “doesn’t make anyone healthier. It doesn’t make anyone safer.”

But Flake, who was outspoken against Trump during last year’s campaign but has grown quieter since his election, also faces a potential primary challenge from the right.

Both Heller and Flake face the uncomfortable prospect of angering their party’s base if they don’t support the GOP health bill — but alienating general election moderate and independent voters if they do.



Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are fellow moderates who’ve raised concerns about the Senate health bill for a variety of reasons.

On Monday, after the release of a Congressional Budget Office analysis that the bill will leave 22 million more people uninsured over a decade, Collins announced she would oppose an important procedural vote on the legislation this week. Along with potential opposition from Johnson, Paul and Heller on the vote, that could leave leadership struggling to even advance to a final vote on the health care bill.

Collins said that the bill’s Medicaid cuts hurt the most vulnerable and that it doesn’t fix problems for rural Maine.

Murkowski has not taken a position but has also expressed concerns about the impacts on a rural, Medicaid-dependent population, as well as funding cuts to Planned Parenthood.



Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are generally reliable votes for GOP leadership. In this case, both have two specific, and related, concerns causing them heartburn on the health bill: The prevalence of opioid addiction in their states, and their constituents’ reliance on Medicaid.

In many cases, voters with addiction problems rely on Medicaid for treatment help, and Portman and Capito both represent states that expanded Medicaid under Obama’s law.

Last year about 100,000 low-income West Virginia residents with Medicaid coverage had drug abuse diagnoses, according to state health officials.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

A month into hurricane season, Charlie Crist says Donald Trump needs to fill NOAA post now

Among the many positions in the federal government that have gone unfilled during the first five months of the Donald Trump administration is someone to lead the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

With hurricane season only about to get more intense in the coming months, Charlie Crist is calling on the White House to fill that position now.

“Not only does NOAA’s work help support our local economy, but it also provides valuable information to my constituents — information that saves lives,” said Crist. “Leaving the position of NOAA Administrator vacant is taking an unnecessary risk with people’s lives and livelihoods. I’m urging President Trump to quickly nominate a qualified individual and work with the Senate to have them confirmed.”

The NOAA administrator oversees a wide portfolio of climate research, weather forecasting and ocean protection and a $5.6 billion budget. The long vacancy is in contrast to Barack Obama, which nominated Jane Lubchenco as his NOAA administrator a month before he was inaugurated.

NOAA is currently being led by Benjamin Friedman, the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

The Washington Post recently listed three officials as being the top contenders to be nominated by Trump; Scott Rayder, a senior adviser to the President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and former NOAA chief of staff; Barry Lee Myers, the CEO of AccuWeather; and Jon White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

Last month NOAA reported that for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, “forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.”

Here’s the text of Crist’s letter to Trump:

Dear President Trump,

I write today to urge you to expeditiously nominate a qualified individual to serve as Administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The work performed by NOAA is critically important to not only my District, but to countless other communities across the country. NOAA is responsible for weather forecasting, ocean monitoring, coastal resiliency and planning, and fishery management, just to name a few. Not only does this work help support the local economy of my District, but it also provides valuable information to my constituents — information that saves lives.

As a Floridian and member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the National Weather Service (NWS), including the National Hurricane Center, is of utmost importance to me. As you know, hurricane season began on June 1st; and NOAA has predicted an above-normal season in the Atlantic. In fact, we’ve already seen three named storms this year — including a rare preseason tropical storm and Tropical Storm Cindy, which recently made landfall along the Gulf Coast. It is critically important that you immediately nominate a NOAA Administrator who can provide the stability and direction needed to appropriately manage and navigate hurricane season.

I would also like to commend the work performed by the NWS field offices, including the office located in Ruskin, Florida near my District. These offices fill a critical link between national weather prediction and local preparedness; and I am a strong supporter of the men and women who tirelessly staff them — many of whom work off-hours and overnight shifts. In light of the recent Government Accountability Office report showing that NWS meteorologist vacancies are growing and “employees are fatigued and morale is low,” it is my hope that the next NOAA Administrator will take a hard look at this issue and move in an appropriate direction to correct it. Fatigued employees mean less accurate predictions. Less accurate predictions mean more lives at risk during severe weather events.

Mr. President, leaving the position of NOAA Administrator vacant is taking an unnecessary risk with people’s lives and livelihoods. I urge you to quickly nominate a qualified individual and work with the Senate to have them confirmed. Thank you for your consideration of this important request.


Charlie Crist
United States Congressman

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