National News

5 things for November 17: Al Franken, tax overhaul, Zimbabwe, Russia, elephants

Posted November 14, 2017 6:03 a.m. EST

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1. Al Franken

Al Franken's future in the Senate is in doubt after a radio news anchor said he forcibly kissed and groped her a decade ago during a USO tour overseas. Leeann Tweeden also released a photo of what appears to be Franken grabbing Tweeden's breasts while she's sleeping. Franken apologized, but the reaction has been swift. A Senate ethics investigation has been called for, including by Franken himself, and some Dems say this really could lead to Franken's expulsion from the Senate.

Meantime in Alabama, Democrat Doug Jones has opened an eight-point lead on Republican Roy Moore in a special election for the US Senate, according to a new poll, as Moore faces sexual assault and harassment allegations.

2. Tax overhaul

Maybe President Trump will get his Christmas wish after all. The House passed its tax overhaul bill filled with cuts that could significantly revamp the tax code. The House bill would mean tax cuts on average for all income groups in 2018 -- and most groups in 2027 -- but the biggest benefits go to those at the top. The Senate's tax bill moved out of committee and is expected to be voted on after Thanksgiving. If the Senate bill passes (that's not a sure thing), the differences between the two bills would have to be reconciled. That's quite possible, meaning Congress could send tax legislation to Trump before Christmas.

3. Zimbabwe

Looks like Robert Mugabe is not going out without a fight. The Zimbabwean President, who's been in power since 1980, is said to be resisting efforts to push him out. And he appeared this morning at a university graduation, just two days after he was put under house arrest. Military leaders, who this week carried out what seemed like a coup, now say they're "engaging" with Mugabe.

A source from Zimbabwe's opposition party told CNN that plans for a takeover had been in the works for a while and that ousted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was definitely in on it. The plan was put into action after Mugabe appeared to be installing his own wife to replace Mnangagwa.

4. Russia investigation

Senate judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein sent a letter Thursday requesting more information on Jared Kushner related to his security clearance and questions over whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.

The two senators specifically requested "transcripts from other committee interviews, additional documents from previous requests, communications with (former National Security Adviser) Michael Flynn and documents related to his security clearance," according to their statement. They wrote there are missing documents, such as emails to Kushner on WikiLeaks and a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite" that Kushner forwarded to another campaign official.

5. Elephant trophies

The Trump administration will soon allow the importation of African elephant trophies, and some folks are ticked off about it. The decision means Americans will be able to hunt elephants in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Fish and Wildlife service said the move will help the two countries' management plans for the elephants and generate some revenue. But animal rights groups are outraged and note that restrictions against this sort of thing were made in 2014 because of big drops in the African elephant population. 



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