Dem Senator on NFL National Anthem Rule Change: They’re ‘Moving in the Right Path’

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.) praised the NFL's decision to fine players who don't stand for the national anthem Thursday.

"Employers have the right to establish reasonable standards on how their employees can express themselves," Cardin said during an interview with CNN. "So I think what the NFL is doing right now is moving in the right path."

Cardin prefaced his reaction by saying the United States "stands for the constitutional protections of the First Amendment, the right of freedom of speech."

The senator's comments came after CNN played him a clip of President Donald Trump reacting to the NFL rule change, which was approved by league owners Wednesday.

"We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it—and on our fans who enjoy it," the league said in a statement.

Players who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.

Trump was mostly pleased with the change.

"I don't think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still, I think it's good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem," Trump said.

CNN's Poppy Harlow pressed Cardin to respond specifically to Trump's comments on the announcement, asking if they were "dangerous." Cardin responded that it was "unacceptable" but that he expects "inflammatory" language of the sort from the president.

Iowa Dem State Senator Suspends Run for Governor Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Progressive Iowa gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Nate Boulton (D.) suspended his campaign Thursday after three women accused him of sexual misconduct.

Lawyer Sharon Wegner told the Des Moines Register that Boulton repeatedly grabbed her behind at a bar in 2015, while two other women accused him of inappropriate touching while they were in law school over a decade ago. While he initially attempted to continue his run for governor after the article was published Wednesday, Boulton announced Thursday he was suspending his campaign.

"These the [sic] last 48 hours have been trying. I again offer an apology to those whom I have harmed in any way," he said in a statement.

"We join together to support the nominee and elect Democrats up and down the ticket," he also said. "I will do all I can to support that mission and will never stop fighting for progressive causes."

According to Wegner, Boulton groped her repeatedly at a bar and followed her around while his wife was nearby, and another woman, Ash Bruxvoort, claims to have seen it.

"I don’t want to say it was constant, but it felt like every time he was near me his hand somehow found its way to my rear end," Wegner said.

"It felt very flagrant," Wegner said, noting his wife’s presence and her sense that their conversation had not been flirtatious. She said he seemed intoxicated.

"We were standing and talking and up kind of by the bar area," Bruxvoort said. "And Nate was standing kind of like next to Sharon and I saw him like touch her back and touch her ass. And I looked at Sharon like, ‘What the hell just happened?’ … It was definitely not like an accidental thing."

Wegner had not wanted to come forward about the incident but said revelations about former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s alleged assaults convinced her to bring her story public.

"I think it’s been hard because I want [Boulton] to be the person who he says he is," Wegner said.

Wegner and Bruxvoort are both Democrats, and the latter is active with the Democratic Socialists of America. Bruxvoort said she may have considered voting for Boulton if she had not seen him grope Wegner.

The candidate on Wednesday said he did not recall the events in the same way as the accusers but did not want to engage in "victim-blaming" by adding "additional context" to the incidents.

"I don’t have the same recollection," he said. "But I am not going to offer any additional context to this, other than to say if someone’s perspective is that it was inappropriate and I crossed a line and I misread a situation in a social setting, I do apologize."

"I think if I add context it quickly becomes victim-blaming, and I don’t want to go down that path," Boutlon added.

His campaign suspension comes after he said Wednesday he would continue pursuing the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, arguing that his vision ought to be represented in the race.

"I think I owe it to those people who have supported me to have that vision tested at the ballot box," he said.

Two other women said Boulton, fully clothed, rubbed his erect penis against them at bars during their time at Drake Law School. Jessica Millage said he did it repeatedly, even as she tried to ignore it, and a third anonymous accuser described a similar incident.

"It was probably three or four times total before I completely registered that this is a thing that he’s doing," Millage said. "This isn’t just some weird accident or something."

Millage and the other accuser are Republicans; the latter cited the possibility of professional repercussions as reason for anonymity.

Boulton called for nuance in dealing with the matter, saying it was an opportunity for men to learn about how to behave in different "social settings" without having their lives ruined.

"I hope this is a teachable moment for young men as this comes forward," he said in the Register‘s Wednesday report.

"I also hope that there’s room for something between victim-blaming and life-ruining on both sides," he also said.

Cotton Praises Cancellation of North Korea Summit: ‘I Commend the President for Seeing Through Kim Jong Un’s Fraud’

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) praised the White House for calling off its meeting with Kim Jong Un over North Korea's rogue nuclear program, saying President Donald Trump had seen through Kim's "fraud."

Trump penned an open letter to Kim on Thursday canceling their June 12 meeting in Singapore, saying North Korea's recent belligerent rhetoric had forced his hand. Trump called it a "missed opportunity" and a "truly sad moment in history."

"North Korea has a long history of demanding concessions merely to negotiate," Cotton said in a statement. "While past administrations of both parties have fallen for this ruse, I commend the president for seeing through Kim Jong Un's fraud. As I have long said, our maximum-pressure campaign on North Korea must continue."

Months of warming relations started with Trump's acceptance of an invitation to meet in March, but they rapidly deteriorated in recent weeks as North Korea signaled it was willing to pull out of the meeting.

North Korea took exception to National Security Adviser John Bolton's reference to the "Libya model" of denuclearization which led to the collapse of the Gaddafi regime. Then, a high-ranking official said Vice President Mike Pence was a "political dummy" for suggesting that fate awaited North Korea if Kim didn't make a deal.

The Trump administration wanted full denuclearization of North Korea, with the president promising security and prosperity through an agreement.

"If we make a deal, I think Kim Jong Un is going to be very, very happy," Trump said last week. "I really believe he's going to be very happy."

Trump Calls Off Summit With Kim Jong Un: ‘This Missed Opportunity Is a Truly Sad Moment in History’

President Donald Trump has called off a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sending him a letter Thursday stating the meeting was canceled "to the detriment of the world."

"This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history," Trump wrote.

The two leaders had been scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12 to discuss North Korea's nuclear-weapons program after a remarkably fast warming of relations, but those relations have rapidly soured in recent weeks after belligerent rhetoric from Pyongyang. A high-ranking regime official recently called Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" and warned of a nuclear showdown after Pence said North Korea could face a similar fate to Libya if Kim does not make a deal.

Trump wrote Kim that he was "very much looking forward" to their meeting until the recent "tremendous anger and open hostility" displayed by North Korea.

"Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting," Trump wrote. "Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used."

Trump also thanked Kim in the letter for the "beautiful gesture" of releasing three American prisoners held by North Korea this month, calling it "very much appreciated."

Trump signaled the meeting's cancellation was a possibility during remarks alongside South Korean President Moon Jae In on Tuesday, saying there was a "very substantial chance" the summit would not work out. North Korea said it did not want to meet if it was going to be a "one-sided" affair where the regime would be pressured into giving up its nuclear program.

Trump previously said Kim would be "very happy" if he made a deal and promised North Korea security and prosperity in exchange for full denuclearization. He expressed regret in the letter over the summit not occurring as scheduled.

"I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you," Trump wrote.

He added that North Korea has lost a "great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth," and he said Kim should not hesitate to call or write if he changes his mind. The news comes on the heels of North Korea claiming to have destroyed its only known nuclear test site on Thursday.

Read the full text of Trump's letter below:

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We greatly appreciate your time, patience and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussion relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you.

Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used."

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.

If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.

Sincerely yours,

Donald J. Trump

President of the United State sof America

De Blasio on Whether Nixon Can Beat Cuomo: ‘Unquestionably’

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that former "Sex and the City" star and political newcomer Cynthia Nixon can "unquestionably" beat incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

"Do you think she can win?" de Blasio was asked.

"Unquestionably," de Blasio answered. "In a race with two prominent candidates and at a time where people are very distrustful of the status quo, anything can happen."

Nixon has mounted a serious challenge to Cuomo with her outsider status and criticism of how the government has been handling the persistent subway failures in New York City. Nixon has received several significant endorsements from progressive groups like the New York Working Families Party. Meanwhile, Cuomo has received establishment support, including the endorsement of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

De Blasio was on the set of  MSNBC's "Morning Joe" when he was asked who he was supporting in the Democratic primary for governor.

"Who are you supporting?" economist Steve Rattner asked the mayor.

"I'm not in this primary yet. At some point I will weigh in," de Blasio said.

The mayor continued to dodge on making a endorsement, saying he would decide at some point but his main focus was winning back the New York Senate.

"At some point I'm going to decide what to do about this race in New York state. I'm also focused on winning back the state Senate in New York state … I think it's about to flip Democratic," de Blasio said. "That has huge ramifications for the people in New York City."

Co-host Willie Geist continued to press the mayor by asking if Nixon's views are more aligned with his than Cuomo's.

"It's pretty clear though, is it not, Mr. Mayor, that your world view, your ideology, your policy positions line up much better with Cynthia Nixon's than Governor Cuomo's?" Geist asked.

"She's been an education activist," de Blasio said, "she's been someone who has fought for, I think, a lot of the right things. But the fact is, electoral decisions are something I'll make when I feel it's the appropriate time."

De Blasio added that the Democratic party should be prepared to be taken over by the progressive wing of the party.

"The overall reality – and Democrats should get used to it – is progressives in the party and the grass roots are not going to accept the Democratic party the way it was," the mayor said. "It is in the process of change. It's not just going to happen in 2018. It's going to be a long-term trend."

Trump Touts Efforts to Change ‘Worst Immigration Laws in the Entire World’

President Donald Trump decried the "horrible" U.S. immigration laws, including the visa lottery and border security, in an interview that aired on "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning.

Speaking Wednesday to co-host Brian Kilmeade, Trump lambasted Democrats for their positions on immigration issues. He repeated his line of attack against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) after she criticized his comment that MS-13 gang members are "animals."

"We are doing, from the standpoint of law enforcement, a great job. The Democrats are sticking up for MS-13. You heard Nancy Pelosi the other day trying to find all sorts of reasons why they should be able to stay," Trump said backstage at an event focused on MS-13 in Bethpage, N.Y. "These are stone-cold killers."

"These are vicious killers and they shouldn't be allowed into the country," Trump added. "The laws are horrible."

He said the pressure is on the Democrats to approve legislation to help protect the border, but he touted the gains that have already been made in enforcement. He said the event he attended at Morrelly Homeland Security Center, involving those affected by MS-13 violence, showed the need for action.

"I can tell you there is a mood right now for very strong border security," he said. "When you see a scene like this, where these incredible parents have lost their sons and daughters, it's very hard not to do that."

He also dismissed some aspects of the country’s immigration laws, from the visa lottery to the so-called catch-and-release policy.

"We have to get rid of catch and release," he added. "You catch them, even if you know they are a criminal, you catch them, [then] you have to release them by law. You have to release them, and then they go into society and they don't come back to the trial."

He laid the blame at the feet of Democrats.

"We have the worst immigration laws in the entire world by far," Trump said. "Other countries laugh at us; it's because of the Democrats. It’s because of [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi."

He went on to say it’s inefficient to use judges for so many immigration cases, since the backlog of cases is growing as enforcement ramps up.

"Other countries have — it's called security people," Trump said. "People that stand there and say you can't come in. We have thousands of judges and they need thousands more judges."

"Who ever heard of a system where you put people through trials? … How do you hire thousands of people to be a judge?" Trump said. "So, it's ridiculous. We’re going to change the system, we have no choice for the good of our country."

Pelosi On Whether Older Congresspeople Should Retire: If You Have A Problem With Someone Who Is Older, ‘Run For Office’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) answered a question during a CNN town hall about whether older members of Congress should retire by defending her tenure and claiming that women often enter politics at an older age.

"We want to take the talent, the experience, the values where they are and we want to have the mix in all of it. But if you have a problem with somebody who is older, run for office. I say that," Pelosi said. "Run for office."

A woman asked Pelosi if some members should return to the private sector and encourage younger people to run for office given that more than half of senators running for re-election in 2018 are over 65 years old.

"Should I take that personally?" Pelosi cracked.

"You're not in the Senate," host Chris Cuomo reassured.

Pelosi claimed that a solution to the questioner's concerns was getting money out of politics.

"If you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the level of civility in politics, you will have more women, more young people, more people of color," Pelosi said. "Nothing is more wholesome than that."

She also explained that Congress's seniority system keeps older members in office.

"So people in different regions want to make sure that the people who represent them are in a senior position to help express their views. The concerns of their region," she said.

The Democratic leader answered the question in personal terms by explaining that she rose five children before running for Congress.

"So lots of times women are a bit older because they've been raising children," she said.

She said she's happy that it no longer has to be that way.

"But for me, I don't think age has that much to do with it," she said before mentioning that women add something to the table that men do.

"Whatever you're bringing, it is new and fresh and different because you're a woman," she said.

Pelosi made note of the changing electoral environment with young people registering and the Women's March.

Heroic Military Dogs Recognized on Capitol Hill

Four heroic military dogs were honored by the American Humane Association on Capitol Hill Tuesday night for their life-saving actions while serving alongside American troops in war zones.

Taba, Jag, Summer, and Taker were all honored for their work sniffing out IEDs and providing security for American fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. The dogs were presented with the Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage. Each K9 had a medal placed around their neck during a ceremony in the Rayburn House Office foyer that featured top ranking military officials, congressmen, congressional staffers, philanthropists, and the media.

The hero dogs and their owners / Stephen Gutowski

Dr. Amy McCullough, national director of rescue and military affairs for American Humane, said the event was important to draw attention to the contributions of military working dogs as well as the struggles they and many of their handlers face once they retire.

"I'm not sure the public understands the important role dogs serve in our military," she told the Washington Free Beacon. "These dogs are amazing, and they do so much to protect us and keep us safe. The other thing they do, importantly, is they're great for boosting morale with the troops, providing comfort and a sense of home. That continues when they come back from the battlefields too."

The four dogs honored at the event all served time oversees during the war on terror.

Jag / Stephen Gutowski

Jag, a friendly and jovial 12-year-old black lab, served in the Army with Sergeant Dennis Dow for seven years. The team deployed to Afghanistan where Jag sniffed out a hidden cache of artillery rounds on his very first mission and kept saving lives on hundreds more missions before retiring and being adopted by Sergeant Dow.

"I think it's fantastic," Dow said of Jag being honored. "We need a lot more attention on the working dogs, especially the retired ones."

Since returning home, Sergeant Dow has credited Jag's presence with saving his marriage and even his life. "PTSD has really taken a toll on me," he said. "With him, I'm back on mission taking care of my dog. I take him to see his friends every day. That helps me get a little bit better every day. By helping my partner, I'm helping myself, which is the biggest part of PTSD service dogs that's hard to explain to people. Helping the dog and getting the dog what it needs is what gets me out of not wanting to take care of myself.

"If I don't take care of myself, what's going to happen to him?"

Dow is hoping that Jag's Medal of Courage will help draw attention to efforts to get the Department of Defense to pay for care needed by military dogs once they return home and show other handlers that organizations like American Humane are willing to help them. About two years ago, Dow said American Humane paid for Jag to have knee surgery after he injured his ACL. He said having Jag happy and healthy is one of the things that keeps him happy and healthy.

"He gives me the energy to keep going," he said. "He gives me the heart to keep going."

Taker relaxing before the ceremony / Stephen Gutowski

Taker, a mellow 12-year-old black lab with gray hair around his mouth and paws, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he found many IEDs saving countless American lives. During his time in Afghanistan he was partnered with Marine Corps sergeant Kevin Zuniga. After the pair retired, Zuniga adopted Taker and he now serves Zuniga at home by helping mitigate the symptoms of PTSD.

"I trusted him more than I trusted my metal detector," Zuniga said. "It was very comforting knowing that he's going to catch anything that's out there."

He said Taker being honored helps shine a light on all military working dogs.

"People don't talk about it enough," he said. "By him getting awarded, the ones that didn't make it back or the ones that are still out there get a little bit of shine. That's pretty cool."

Summer receiving her medal / Stephen Gutowski

Summer, a rambunctious seven-year-old yellow lab, served oversees as an Explosives Specialized Search Dog with the Marine Corps where she found numerous weapons caches and IEDs while clearing routs and coming under enemy fire. After retiring from military service, she joined the TSA's K9 team and now protects Amtrak's Union Station in Washington, D.C., with Micah Jones. She is the youngest of the K9s and is the only one still working today.

"She's been in it all," Jones said. "She served her country proud. It's an honor for American Humane to give her this award. She rightfully deserves it."

Taba, an energetic nine-year-old Dutch shepherd, served as an Army Special Forces Multi-Purpose Canine in the war on terror. She did everything from detecting IEDs, patrolling with troops, and participating in dangerous raids during her time overseas. She was adopted by Heather and Beck Leider after being retired from service.

Taba receives her medal /Stephen Gutowski

The Leiders said they were able to reach out to Taba's military handlers and find out more about the incredible work she'd been involved with overseas thanks to her being honored. They said it was important that she be given the credit she deserves.

"It's so special to be able to say she was honored this way," Heather and Beck said.

Taba recently had her right hind leg amputated after being diagnosed with bone cancer. Doctors told the Leiders she only has a few months left to live. She was happy, pain-free, and full of spirit as she received her Medal of Courage.

 

Feds to Spend Millions on Jewelry, Clothes That Monitor How Much You Drink

The National Institutes of Health is preparing to spend millions on research studies to develop jewelry and clothes that can monitor the alcohol intake of Americans.

The agency recently submitted two grant opportunities, asking for submissions from applicants to receive federal funding to develop "wearable alcohol biosensors."

"Rapid advances are being made in wearable technology, including clothing, jewelry and other devices with broadly diverse functions that meet medical or consumer needs," according to the funding opportunity.

The government wants to invest more taxpayer funding into alcohol monitors to encourage their "wider use."

"Alcohol detection technology for personal alcohol monitoring has been successful in judicial and law enforcement settings, yet needs significant modification for wider use in other situations," according to the announcement. "Current technological developments in electronics, miniaturization, wireless communication, and biophysical techniques of alcohol detection in humans increase the likelihood of successful development of a general use alcohol biosensor in the near future."

The purpose of the projects is to design "non-invasive, discreet" wearable devices that can monitor blood alcohol levels in real time.

"The alcohol biosensor device should be unobtrusive, appealing to the wearer, and can take the form of jewelry, clothing," the government said.

It is unclear how many studies will be approved, though the government is planning to invest heavily in the technology by waiving budget caps. Initial projects that are approved can receive more than $225,000, and Phase II projects can receive more than $1.5 million each.

The NIH said the number of grants it funds is "contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications."

The government is seeking alcohol trackers that stores data and sends it to a smartphone. "Data storage and transmission must be completely secure in order to protect the privacy of the individual," the agency said.

"The alcohol biosensor device should be unobtrusive, appealing to the wearer, and can take the form of jewelry, clothing, or any other format located in contact with the human body," the agency said. "Techniques to quantitate alcohol in blood or interstitial fluid are highly encouraged. Highest priority will be given to technologies that depart from measuring alcohol in sweat or sweat vapor."

"It is envisioned that wearable alcohol monitors will serve useful purposes in research, clinical, and treatment settings, will play a role in public safety, and will be of interest to individuals interested in keeping track of personal health parameters," the agency added. "Designs may emphasize any of these potential market subsets or may seek to be broadly marketable."

Continetti: Iran’s Effort to Pressure Europeans on Nuclear Deal Is ‘Misplaced’

Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti on Wednesday argued that the Iranian regime is wasting its time trying to intimidate Europe regarding their nuclear agreement.

Bret Baier, host of "Special Report" on Fox News, asked about the stipulations being made to Europe by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to remain in the deal. Those conditions include protecting Iran’s oil trade, but Continetti said Iran’s mistakes would prevent them from getting what they want.

"Now you have the Ayatollah coming forward with stipulations for the EU to stay in the nuclear deal," Baier said, specifically naming Iran’s ballistic missile program, which they want to continue.

"This comes as the New York Times is reporting that there's evidence now of Iranian missile testing in the rural areas of Iran," Continetti replied. "A clear violation of the spirit of the agreement which the United States pulled out of."

"I think the mullahs' attempt to intimidate the Europeans is probably going to backfire, and it’s also misplaced," Continetti added. "The real decision making that needs to take place now is in Washington, D.C., and that is: Are we going to really levy the full secondary sanctions against European companies that continue to do business with Iran as a result of the sanctions?"

The Trump administration announced it was imposing strict sanctions on Iran after pulling out of the nuclear deal signed by former President Barack Obama. Sanctions could apply to Europeans trading with Iran, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he expects the Europeans to cooperate.

"This is a shared threat across the world and I am confident that [Europe and the U.S.] can collectively develop a diplomatic response that achieves the simple outcomes that we put forward," Pompeo said Tuesday.

Pompeo also announced the U.S. would take moves to shutter Iran’s nuclear enrichment sites.

Continetti went on to note the prominence of National Security Advisor John Bolton, who is known for maintaining a hard line on foreign policy. Continetti interpreted signs to mean Bolton is close to Pompeo.

"It was interesting in the photo of the meeting with President Moon of South Korea that right next to Secretary Pompeo was National Security Advisor John Bolton who clearly, I think, is having a very expansive role in all these internal debates," he said.