National News

National News at a Glance

Posted January 11, 2018 10:09 p.m. EST

Discussing Immigration Deal, Trump Disparages Haitians and Africans in Vulgar Terms

President Donald Trump on Thursday balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and some nations in Africa, demanding to know why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than people from places like Norway, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation. Trump’s remarks came during a discussion of an emerging bipartisan deal to give legal status to immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children. When Trump heard that Haitians were among those who would benefit from the proposed deal, he asked whether they could be left out of the plan, asking, “Why do we want people from Haiti here?”

House Renews Law Giving Broad Surveillance Powers

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to extend the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, rejecting a push by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to impose significant privacy limits when it sweeps up Americans’ emails and other personal communications. The vote, 256-164, centered on an expiring law that permits the government, without a warrant, to collect communications from U.S. companies like Google and AT&T of foreigners abroad — even when those targets are talking to Americans. Congress had enacted the law in 2008 to legalize a form of a once-secret warrantless surveillance program.

Administration Backs States’ Efforts to Impose Work Requirements for Medicaid

The Trump administration said Thursday that it would allow states to impose work requirements in Medicaid, a major policy shift that moves toward fulfilling a conservative vision for one of the nation’s largest social insurance programs for low-income people. Federal officials said they would support state efforts to require able-bodied adults to work or participate in other “community engagement activities” as a condition of eligibility. Seema Verma, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the Trump administration was responding to requests from Medicaid officials in 10 states that wanted to run demonstration projects.

First Lady Hires Aides Amid Scrutiny From Book

Nearly a year into her tenure as first lady — and after a week of intense scrutiny prompted by a new book that claims she had dreaded life in the White House — Melania Trump has hired a director of policy to advance her nascent platform. For months, her East Wing had searched for a policy director who could further an agenda that has been broadly defined as helping children. On Thursday, the White House announced the first lady’s choice: Reagan Thompson, 27, who had previously served as an executive assistant on the National Security Council.

GOP Finds Candidates for Senate Are Scarce

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said Thursday that he would not challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in this year’s midterm elections. It was just the latest indication of the difficulty Republicans are having recruiting candidates in what had looked to be a highly favorable climate in the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration a year ago. Heitkamp is among 10 Democrats seeking re-election in states won by Trump in 2016. Cramer had been seen as a top-tier challenger in a state the president carried by 36 percentage points.

Texas Illegally Excluded Students From Special Education, Officials Say

For years, Texas education officials illegally led schools across the state to deny therapy, tutoring and counseling to tens of thousands of children with disabilities, the federal government said Thursday. In a letter to the Texas Education Agency, which oversees education in the state, regulators from the federal Department of Education said the state agency’s decision to set a “target” for the maximum percentage of students who should receive special education services had violated federal laws requiring schools to serve all students with disabilities. Federal regulators ordered the state to design a plan to identify and help students who were inappropriately kept out of special education.

Governor’s Affair Spurs an Inquiry in Missouri

The St. Louis circuit attorney opened an investigation Thursday into claims that Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri threatened a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair shortly before he was elected governor. Greitens, a Republican, had acknowledged the night before that he had an affair in 2015, but denied he had threatened the woman with whom he had the relationship. The accusations were relayed by the woman’s ex-husband, but she has not commented. Greitens’ attorney said Thursday the governor “is very confident he will be cleared in any investigation,” calling the relationship “a personal matter that presents no matters of public or legal interest.”