<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Political News, Bay Area Politics]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usMon, 27 Feb 2017 10:51:32 -0800Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:51:32 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bush Favors 'Welcoming' Immigration Policy, Defends Media]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:51:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/632189304-George-W.-Bush-inauguration.jpg

Former President George W. Bush said Monday he believes in a "welcoming" immigration policy, called freedom of religion a bedrock freedom and forcefully defended the media as "indispensable to democracy."

In speaking out in an interview on NBC's "Today" show, Bush also didn't categorically rule out that a special prosecutor could be needed to investigate contacts between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government.

"Today" host Matt Lauer asked Bush several questions about Trump and his policies, and while Bush didn't criticize the president, whom he noted has been in office for just one month, he did offer positions on religion, immigration, the fight against ISIS and the press that run at odds with views Trump has recently espoused.

Bush was on the "Today" show to discuss his new book of paintings by the Texan and stories of U.S. veterans called "Portraits of Courage," which benefits theMilitary Service Initiative of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Bush did not make an endorsement in the presidential election and did not vote for president, a spokesman has said.

Trump is expected to issue this week a revised version of his controversial travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries. 

"A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely," Bush said when asked about the travel ban, which a federal court stayed amid widespread legal challenges.

Bush went on to say that members of ISIS shouldn't be considered religious people if they cut off the heads of innocent people, and he called the conflict with them an ideological one.

But he seemed to imply that the U.S. is already making its offensive against ISIS harder by insisting on the travel ban. He said, "I think it's very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we're in retreat," when Lauer asked about the ban and the fight against ISIS.

Bush alluded to the consequences that leaving a conflict can have. He presided over the second U.S. invasion of Iraq, which removed Saddam Hussein from power but left the country split by sectarian violence, which ISIS exploited soon after its founding and spread through the country's north — a force the Iraqi military is still battling with in the major city of Mosul.

Asked specifically if he was for or against Trump's ban, he said, "I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law."

While Trump spent the beginning of his most recent major speech, at CPAC, attacking the "fake news," a label he's given to outlets like NBC News and The New York Times, Bush called the media "indispensable to democracy."

"Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse power, whether it be here or elsewhere," he said.

Bush noted that he tried as president to have Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace a free press, and said that it's harder to insist upon that value abroad if it there isn't one at home.

When Lauer asked Bush if he'd be in favor of a special prosecutor looking into possible links between Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government, Bush said, "I think we all need answers."

But he did not know if a special prosecutor was the right way to go about finding those answers. He said that if Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were to recommend a special prosecutor, that would "have a lot more credibility with me."



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Trump's Approval Stands at 44 Percent as Partisanship Reigns]]> Sun, 26 Feb 2017 06:13:12 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/trump+CPAC+getty.jpg

President Donald Trump's job approval rating stands at just 44 percent — a record low for a newly inaugurated commander-in-chief — and half of Americans say that his early challenges suggest unique and systemic problems with his administration, according to a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, NBC News reported.

In the poll, conducted February 18-22, 48 percent of Americans said they disapprove of Trump's performance as president and 32 percent said that his first month in office demonstrates that he is not up to the job. Asked about early challenges in the first month of his presidency, 52 percent called the issues "real problems" that are specific to his administration, while 43 percent of Americans attributed them to typical "growing pains" for any new president.

The new rating comes two days before Trump is set to address a joint session of Congress, a State of the Union-style speech in which new presidents typically lay out their vision for the country.

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<![CDATA[Newsom Urges Trump to Lay Off California's Marijuana Laws]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:03:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/donald-trump-gavin-newsom-splitscreen.jpg

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom threw down the gauntlet in a letter to President Donald Trump Friday, telling him to leave his hands off of the state's marijuana laws.

The letter comes after the White House hinted it may target recreational marijuana use, even in states that legalized it.

"I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement of it," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of recreational marijuana at a Friday press conference.

Newsom did not wait to respond and sent the letter to Trump.

"The government must not stip the legal and publicly-supported industry of its business, and hand it back to drug cartels and criminals," Newsom said in the letter. "Dealers don't card kids."

"I urge you and your administration to work in partnership with California and the other eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana," Newsom added in his letter.

In the Bay Area, Oaksterdam University professor Jeff Jones said it has recognition from the White House that marijuana has medical benefits.

"Hope there is more Congressional review around the issue of medical marijuana that could lead to rescheduling or de-scheduling medical cannabis," Jones said.

Steve DeAngelo, co-founder of Oakland medical marijuana company Harborside Health Center, sees a glimmer of hope.

"So hopefully, as the administration takes a closer look at this issue, they'll keep in mind that north of 60 percent of Americans support the legalization of cannabis," DeAngelo said.

But industry leaders said they are still waiting for an official statement from the Department of Justice about its plans for both medical and recreational consumption.

In his letter, Newsom also questioned Spicer's comments linking marijuana to opioid use. He said there is no scientific evidence supporting that claim, sentiments echoed at Harborside and Oaksterdam University.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Calls for 'Resistance,' Party Unity in New Video]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:56:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-6286307641.jpg

Hillary Clinton has come up with a new equation for Democrats who are looking for change.

“Let resistance plus persistence equal progress for our party and our country,” she said in a video posted to the Democratic Party’s Twitter page.

The former Democratic presidential nominee released the statement Friday lauding recent solidarity efforts, from global women’s marches to actions against President Donald Trump’s travel ban at airports across the country.

“Nearly 66 million votes are fueling grassroots energy and activism, and everywhere people are marching, protesting, tweeting, speaking out, and working for an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted,” Clinton said. 

She added, “Among those millions making their voices heard are future mayors, city and state officials, governors, members of Congress -- even future presidents.”

Clinton thanked her base for supporting her presidential bid, which she called “the honor of a lifetime.” She said that during the general election she had run on “the most progressive platform in history” and emphasized the need for Democrats to pull together and “stay focused on the elections we must win this year and next.” 

“As Democrats, we have diverse views and backgrounds,” she said. “We are Democrats, after all. But we’re bound together by the values and hopes we share for our country.” 

Clinton’s call for unity comes before Democrats are expected to choose a new chair for the Democratic National Committee on Saturday.

Tom Perez, Barack Obama’s former labor secretary, is running to “protect President Obama’s accomplishments” and “listen to Democrats at every level,” according to his campaign website.

One of his opponents, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, has been endorsed by former presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and is perceived as an alternative to Perez's establishment background.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana,  has emerged as an underdog among D.C. political veterans.

According to the Associated Press, the role of DNC chair is “part cheerleader, part fundraiser, part organizer and recruiter, part public messenger.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Majority of Americans Want Trump-Russia Probe: Poll ]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 14:14:44 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Trump_Putin_Split.jpg

About half of Americans believe that Congress should investigate whether Donald Trump's presidential campaign had contact with the Russian government in 2016, while only a quarter say that lawmakers should not probe the issue, according to a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

The poll, conducted Feb. 18-22, shows that 53 percent of the American public wants Congress to look into the alleged communications, while 25 percent disagree and 21 percent say they don't have an opinion.

A similar share - 54 percent - believe that Congress should look into Russian interference in the election generally, while 29 percent disagree.



Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Promises 'Roaring' American Comeback]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:55:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2017-02-24+at+12.18.52+PM.png

President Donald Trump thanked his supporters during a speech at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference and promised a "roaring" comeback of an America that is "bigger, and better, and stronger than ever before."

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<![CDATA[Trump Attacks Media at CPAC]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:44:56 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2017-02-24+at+12.16.22+PM.png

President Donald Trump continued his assault on the media Friday in his opening statement at the Conservative Political Action Conference, calling fake news "the enemy of the people" and attacking the media's use of anonymous sources. 

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<![CDATA[Day 36: President Trump Rages About FBI Leaks]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 07:23:41 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2-24-17-scott-mcgrew-100+day+s.jpg

The president made angry tweets about leaks from the FBI in the midst of accusations the White House itself had asked the agency to reveal details about an ongoing investigation into Trump and Russia.Scott McGrew reports.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Wants to Make US Nuclear Arsenal 'Top of the Pack']]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 04:18:21 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/donaldtrumponnukes.jpg

President Donald Trump on Thursday again expressed a desire for America to be an unparalleled military power, saying he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to make it "top of the pack," NBC News reported.  

In an interview with Reuters, the president stated that the United States had fallen behind on atomic weapons but did not detail what kind of expansion, if any, the military would pursue. 

"A dream would be that no country would have nukes," Trump told Reuters. "But if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack."

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Poll: More Than Half Disapprove of Trump's Job Performance]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 03:38:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/trumpwarpress.jpg

Fifty-four percent of Americans somewhat or strongly disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling the presidency after a month in office, while 43 percent approve somewhat or strongly, according to the latest NBC NewsSurveyMonkey poll.

NBC News reported that Trump enjoys broad support from within his party, but few outside of it, with evident divisions along gender and racial lines as well.

Nine of 10 Republicans or people who lean Republican approve of Trump's performance as president, with the same percentage of Democrats and those who lean Democrat disapproving. 

But independents split two to one against Trump. His aggregate low approval rating is below any other newly elected president since pollsters began tracking presidential job approval.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Boehner: Obamacare Repeal and Replace Won't Happen]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 00:18:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/AP_140043121627.jpg

Former House Speaker John Boehner spoke about the Affordable Care Act Thursday, saying that he didn't think the Republican-dominated Congress would be able to repeal and replace it, NBC News reported. 

Boehner, who spoke at a health care conference in Orlando, Florida, said Republicans' best shot is simply fixing flaws within the law, as it is difficult to get lawmakers to rally behind a complete replacement.

"In the 25 years the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once," Boehner said.

He added that the law, nicknamed Obamacare, has some popular elements that are likely irreversible now, including parts that allow parents to keep their children on their policies until the kids are 26, as well as protections for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Conservative Political Action Conference Underway]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:28:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_17054707562907.jpg

What a difference a year makes. One year after skipping CPAC, President Trump and his administration have taken over the annual event. Andrew Siff reports.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Cruz Police Chief Blasts ICE For Secret Raids]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:55:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KevinVogel.jpg

Santa Cruz police and city leaders lambasted the Department of Homeland Security at a news conference Thursday, accusing them of conducting secret immigration raids earlier this month and lying to the police department while doing so.

However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials hit back within hours, deeming the allegations “completely false, reckless, and disturbing.”

Under question is an early morning raid on Feb. 13 that was the culmination of a five-year investigation and drew on more than 200 local police officers and federal agents.

Ten members of a "notorious transnational gang" were arrested across 11 locations in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Daly City on a host of charges, including drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit extortion by force, according to ICE spokesman James Schwab.

The suspects belonged to the Santa Cruz Salvatrucha Locos 13, a subset of the Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) gang, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. They were believed to be planning assassinations, which determined the timing of the raids, Deputy Police Chief Dan Flippo said during Thursday's news conference.

But police Chief Kevin Vogel said that federal officials have also admitted to detained some Santa Cruz residents who did not have a criminal history or any ties to gangs. They were singled out based on their immigration status, according to NBC-affiliate KSBW.

Schwab explained on Thursday that "authorities encountered 11 illegal aliens" at places where they served search and arrest warrants. Those people were "detained initially on administrative immigration violations due to their association with suspected members of a transnational street gang," he said.

Ten of them have been released, but one person is still in custody "due to his criminal history and possible ties to the ongoing investigation," Schwab continued.

Meanwhile, Flippo elaborated at the news conference that six people were taken to a Homeland Security facility. Five of them were released on GPS monitoring, while one was released with a USCIS interview notice, known as a G-56 form. Four others were detained and issued the G-56 form at their residences.

"I am outraged," Flippo said. "I am disgusted."

Vogel echoed the same sentiment. 

"This flies in the face of the values that our community holds very deeply. The community has an absolute right to be angry over this," he said.

Santa Cruz is a "sanctuary city," which bars police from cooperating with federal authorities investigating immigration violations. It remains unclear whether detentions were also carried out in Daly City and Watsonville.

For his part, Schwab countered Vogel's and Flippo's claims by saying that a special agent notified the police chief several days before the raid that "any non-targeted foreign nationals encountered during the enforcement actions ... would be held briefly until determinations could be made about their identities and case histories."

Vogel "acknowledged this possibility," Schwab said, and both groups "agreed that no foreign nationals would enter the Santa Cruz Police Department’s facility or their police vehicles."

Schwab also rejected the Vogel's claims that ICE "secretly planned an immigration enforcement action in hopes there would be new political leadership that would allow for an alleged 'secret' operation."

He further warded off the police department's claims by saying that law enforcement is "fluid" and officers are often forced to react to situations they were unprepared for. 

"All of the arrests were conducted in accordance with agency policies and consistent with the special agents’ authorities under federal law," Schwab emphasized.

However, Vogel insisted that he only agreed to work with federal officials because they repeatedly assured him that immigration detentions were not part of their plan. Had he known Santa Cruz police officers were helping with an immigration raid, they never would have participated, he said, issuing an apology to the community at large. 

The pre-dawn raid raised the hackles of Santa Cruz's immigrant community because the arrests followed ICE raids around the United States.

At the time, Santa Cruz police responded to the concerns by releasing a statement assuaging people's fears.

It read in part: "This operation was not associated with enforcement of federal immigration nor deportation investigations. The City of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Police Department does not and will not participate in immigration enforcement or arrests."

It continued: "The men arrested during today's operation were all members of a violent criminal organization that has preyed upon and threatened the community."

However, on Feb. 14, more than 100 people showed up at a City Council meeting to voice their fears, KSBW reported, accusing ICE of uprooting families based on people's immigration statuses.  

Vogel and Flippo, who had also assured the Santa Cruz community that the raids were not led by ICE, were in attendance and grew worried.

"The information provided from our community sounded credible," Vogel said at the news conference.

Flippo walked out of the City Council meeting to call high-ranking Homeland Security officials to dig for answers, according to KSBW. No one has taken personal responsibility for the immigration detentions, but federal officials have acknowledged that they did, in fact, happen. But officials have denied the police department's request for the names of the immigrants who were taken into custody.

"I am very angry this occurred and I'm disgusted this was withheld from me," Flippo said.

Vogel added: "This has violated the trust of our community, and we cannot tell you how disappointed we are by the betrayal of the Department of Homeland Security." He also apologized to the immigrant community that calls Santa Cruz home.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz Mayor Cynthia Mathews said she was "heartbroken" that families have been "torn apart," and demanded an investigation into the raids. 

Special Agent-in-Charge Ryan Spradlin retaliated by saying, "It’s unfortunate when politics get intertwined with a well planned and executed public safety operation. When politics undermine law and order, the only winners are the criminals."

Separately, Vogel stressed that the 10 gang members who were arrested, posed a genuine threat to the safety of Santa Cruz residents.

A federal grand jury has indicted seven of the men for conspiring to extort drug dealers and three for conspiring to traffic methamphetamine. The raid has led to the MS-13 gang's dismantlement, Vogel said on Thursday. 

Velarmino "Meduza" Escobar Ayala, Tomas "Profugo" or "Caballo" Rivera, Ismael "Casper" Alvarenga Rivera, Willfredo "Chino" Edgardo Ayala, Jose David "Largo" Abrego Galdamez, Melvin "Sharky" Lopez and Alexander "Pocar" Martinez Flores are facing extortion charges, prosecutors said.

According to the indictment, the seven men had conspired to threaten Santa Cruz drug dealers and those close to them with violence in order to take their property. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Meanwhile, Gerber "Choco" Morales, Emilio "Diablo" Escobar Abarnga and Josue Alcedis "Penguino" Escobar Cerritos allegedly conspired to engage in drug trafficking, prosecutors said. Since March 2015, the three men conspired to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of meth.

If convicted, the defendants accusing of conspiring to commit extortion face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Those convicted of conspiracy to possess 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it face a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine, prosecutors said.



Photo Credit: Telemundo 48]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Calls Deportation Attempts a 'Military Operation']]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:16:59 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/US_Mexico_DEPORTATIONS_Full-148788551930000001.jpg

 U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said there will not be a military operation or mass deportations of immigrants, despite President Donald Trump calling deportation attempts a "military operation" earlier in the day.

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<![CDATA[White Nationalist Richard Spencer Kicked Out of CPAC]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:13:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/richardspencerfeuerherdII.jpg

Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who popularized the term "alt-right," was kicked out of the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday after holding an impromptu press conference in a hallway where the gathering is being held. 

"He is not welcome here," a spokesman for CPAC told NBC News.

Spencer said he was initially given credentials to attend the conference, but they were taken from him after he spoke to reporters in the hallway of the Maryland convention center. 

Spencer has espoused racist and anti-Semitic views, and reiterated those thoughts in a brief interview with NBC as he was leaving CPAC.

He told NBC race plays a major role in identity and that he believes whites are becoming a persecuted minority in the United States. 

Spencer also said he thinks CPAC attendees and younger conservatives would rather hear what he has to say, than listen to establishment Republicans. 



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Treasury Secretary: Expect Tax Overhaul by August]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 07:21:01 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/632094848-Steve-Mnuchin-Senate-Hearing.jpg

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he would like to see "very significant" tax reform passed before Congress’ August recess, CNBC reported.

In his first television interview since assuming office, Mnuchin told CNBC Thursday that he’s been working closely with leadership in the House and the Senate to get the ball rolling.

Mnuchin said the administration is mostly focused on a middle income tax cut — a pledge that President Donald Trump ran his campaign on. Trump has promised to release a tax plan in the coming weeks.

Mnuchin added that simplification for business is another focus of the administration’s, and said that he’s focused on canceling out any tax cuts for the wealthy with closed loopholes. He said the administration's tax plan should be judged by the economic growth it could create, rather than by the how much tax revenue drops.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Host of Documents Still Missing From White House Website]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 07:12:12 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/whitehouseatnightfeuerherd.jpg

Public-facing documents scrubbed from the White House's website shortly after President Donald Trump was inaugurated — including White House visitors' logs, waivers of ethics regulations and a host of other records — still haven't been replaced, fueling advocates' concerns about the new administration's transparency, NBC News reported.

During the first week of February, 31 databases — reporting legally mandated White House payroll reports to Congress, budget documents, White House visitor records and public response documents — were removed from the White House Open Data portal, the platform created to disclose information about 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and its operations.

The previous presence of the documents was confirmed through publicly available archived versions. Some of the data, preserved by the National Archives and Records Administration, are also available on the White House website of former President Barack Obama.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>