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White House says it won’t cooperate with impeachment inquiry

White House says it will not cooperate with House impeachment inquiry

Key facts and latest news

  • The White House said it will not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, rejecting demands for documents and testimony.
  • At the direction of the State Department, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. did not appear for testimony before House lawmakers. President Trump said he would “love” to send Gordon Sondland to testify, but not before what he called a “totally compromised kangaroo court.”
  • On a July call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Before the call, the president instructed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to hold off on releasing military aid to Ukraine that had been appropriated by Congress.
  • Soon after the July call, White House officials moved a record of the call to a highly classified computer system, severely restricting who could access it.

Washington — The White House told House Democrats it will not comply with demands for documents and testimony in Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, setting up a legal showdown between the two branches of government.

“You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in an eight-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the committees leading the inquiry.

Cipollone argued the investigation is “invalid” because there has not been a formal vote to open an impeachment inquiry. He said the inquiry clearly seeks “to influence the election of 2020” and has “no legitimate basis.” The letter also condemned Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a frequent target of the president.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was scheduled to be interviewed by House committees as part of the impeachment inquiry, was ordered not to appear for his deposition by the State Department, according to a statement issued by his attorney. Sondland was mentioned in the original whistleblower complaint and is a key witness to the Trump-Ukraine dealings.

Democrats issued a subpoena later Tuesday demanding documents from Sondland and setting a date for his deposition.

Sondland’s lawyer Robert Luskin said in the statement that Sondland “is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today.” Luskin said the ambassador had traveled from Brussels for the testimony and made arrangements with committee staff to appear. Sondland “believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States” and remains ready to testify “on short notice,” Luskin said.

Schiff told reporters on Tuesday that Sondland was in possession of documents on his “personal device” related to Ukraine, which he said the State Department is withholding from the committee.

“The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress,” Schiff said.

​Democrats subpoena Sondland for documents and testimony

Trump administration blocks ambassador from testifying

6:12 p.m.: House Democrats issued a subpoena for Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U., demanding documents and testimony about his involvement in the Ukraine matter. Democrats set a deadline of October 14 for Sondland to produce documents to the House Intelligence Committee, and scheduled a deposition for October 16.

“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the direction or behest of the President, the White House, or the State Department, shall constitute further evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President,” three committee chairs wrote in a letter to Sondland. — Stefan Becket


​White House says it won’t cooperate with impeachment inquiry

Donald Trump
President Trump speaks before awarding the Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese during a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House on October 8, 2019. Getty

5:06 p.m.: White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and three House committee chairmen saying the White House will not cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry because the investigation “violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.”

Cipollone accused the Democrats of cooking up an inquiry to “overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen.”

“Your highly partisan and unconstitutional effort threatens grave and lasting damage to our democratic institutions, to our system of free elections, and to the American people,” Cipollone wrote.

Cipollone argued the investigation is “invalid” because there has not been a formal vote to open an impeachment inquiry. He also wrote that the inquiry clearly seeks “to influence the election of 2020” and has “no legitimate basis.”

“We hope that, in light of the many deficiencies we have identified in your proceedings, you will abandon the current invalid efforts to pursue an impeachment inquiry and join the President in focusing on the many important goals that matter to the American people,” Cipollone concluded. — Grace Segers


​Giuliani says he won’t cooperate with House as Graham asks him to testify in the Senate

5:02 p.m.: The president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, appeared poised to defy a subpoena by the House Intelligence Committee to provide documents by October 15. Giuliani told The Washington Post he “can’t imagine” other administration officials cooperating with the investigation.

“I wouldn’t testify in front of that committee until there is a vote of Congress and he is removed,” Giuliani said, referring to Schiff, the chairman.

Giuliani’s comments come after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham invited him to testify before the committee regarding his allegations about the Bidens in Ukraine.

“Have heard on numerous occasions disturbing allegations by @RudyGiuliani about corruption in Ukraine and the many improprieties surrounding the firing of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin,” Graham wrote on Twitter, referring to unsubstantiated allegations that former Biden pushed for Shokin to be removed because Shokin was investigating a company with ties to Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

“Given the House of Representatives’ behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine. … Therefore I will offer to Mr. Giuliani the opportunity to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to inform the committee of his concerns,” Graham said.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Giuliani said he was “very interested in accepting Graham’s offer.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also expressed interest in Giuliani’s potential testimony, with the caveat that Giuliani would have to testify under oath. — Grace Segers


​Trey Gowdy under consideration to join Trump’s outside legal team

4:26 p.m.: Former Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy is under consideration to join Mr. Trump’s outside legal team, which is seeking to expand amid the impeachment inquiry.

Gowdy, a state and former federal prosecutor, is seen as a potentially valuable TV and legal spokesperson for the president. Gowdy served as the chair of the House Oversight Committee until the beginning of this year, and did not seek reelection in 2018. — Major Garrett


​House lawyer says impeachment inquiry extends beyond Ukraine

2:48 p.m.: A lawyer for the House told a federal judge that Democrats’ impeachment inquiry extends beyond the Ukraine controversy and includes potential obstruction of justice by the president.

Over the course of two hours in U.S. District Court in Washington, government lawyers on opposing sides of an effort to obtain secret grand jury proceedings illustrated the evolving nature of the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Douglas Letter, the lawyer for the House, urged the judge to grant the House Judiciary Committee access to currently redacted material in the special counsel’s report, specifically the underlying grand jury material collected during the Mueller investigation, and FBI documents. Elizabeth Shapiro, a Justice Department lawyer, opposed releasing the grand jury information, and argued certain FBI documents contain confidential communications between White House advisers and should remain redacted.

Letter argued the House impeachment inquiry extends beyond the circumstances surrounding the president’s call with Ukraine, pointing to the fact that the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees had already opened informal impeachment probes before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched an official inquiry.

“[An] impeachment inquiry was already going on,” Letter said in response to questioning by Chief Judge Beryl Howell. — Clare Hymes


​Senate Intelligence Committee releases report on Russian use of social media

1:45 p.m.: The Senate Intelligence Committee released the second volume of its bipartisan report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, detailing Russian use of social media to stoke division among the American public.

Among its findings:

  • The Internet Research Agency, the Russian-backed disinformation group, “sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.”
  • “Russia’s targeting of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was part of a broader, sophisticated, and ongoing information warfare campaign designed to sow discord in American politics and society.”
  • “The IRA targeted not only Hillary Clinton, but also Republican candidates during the presidential primaries. For example, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were targeted and denigrated, as was Jeb Bush.”
  • “No single group of Americans was targeted by IRA information operatives more than African-Americans. By far, race and related issues were the preferred target of the information warfare campaign designed to divide the country in 2016.”

Read the full report here.


House Democrats say they’ll subpoena Sondland

11:47 a.m.: The three Democratic chairmen leading the impeachment inquiry say they plan to subpoena Sondland, after he declined to appear Tuesday.

Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings announced their intention to subpoena Sondland for his testimony and documents on Tuesday. “

“We consider this interference to be obstruction of the impeachment inquiry,” they wrote.


Top House Democrats slam Trump for “obstructing” impeachment inqiury

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff speaks to reporters after U.S. Ambassador to European Union Sondland failed to show on Capitol Hill in Washington
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on October 8, 2019. Reuters

11:45 a.m.: Three top House Democrats — Schiff, Engel and Cummings — slammed the White House’s efforts to block Sondland from testifying in a closed-door session on his knowledge of Mr. Trump’s Ukraine dealings.

In a joint statement released by the committee chairs, they said the White House’s efforts to block Sondland’s testimony shows their attempts “to impede and obstruct the impeachment inquiry.”

According to a statement by Sondland’s attorney, the direction to not appear came from the State Department, just hours before he was to testify.

“These actions appear to be part of the White House’s effort to obstruct the impeachment inquiry and to cover up President Trump’s misconduct from Congress and the American people. Ambassador Sondland’s testimony and documents are vital, and that is precisely why the Administration is now blocking his testimony and withholding his documents,” the committee chairs said.

Now, Schiff, Engel and Cummings say they will move to issue a subpoena for Sondland’s testimony and any related documents.

“We consider this interference to be obstruction of the impeachment inquiry,” they added.


Schiff says State Department is withholding documents from Congress

9:39 a.m.: Schiff says that Sondland has texts and documents on his “personal device” relating to Ukraine that the State Department is withholding from Congress. He told reporters the committee views the government’s refusal to allow Sondland to testify as evidence of obstruction.

“The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider…additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress,” Schiff said. “The American people have a right to know if President Trump is working for their interests or in his own political interests.”

However, Republican committee members defended the State Department’s decision to block Sondland’s testimony, complaining that Democrats had treated former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker unfairly during his testimony before the committee last week. They also called for the full transcript of Volker’s testimony before the committee to be released.


Trump confirms that he was involved in decision not to allow Sondland to testify

9:23 a.m.: In two tweets on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump confirmed that he was involved in the decision not to allow Sondland to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public … to see. Importantly, Ambassador Sondland’s tweet, which few report, stated, “I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” That says it ALL!” Mr. Trump wrote.

According to a statement by Sondland’s attorney, the Department of State directed him not to appear for his interview before the House Joint Committee. The order came just hours before his scheduled meeting.

CBS News contributor Jonathan Turley noted that Mr. Trump’s stated opposition to Sondland’s testimony before the committee could undermine claims of executive privilege. The president tweeted that he didn’t want him testifying before a “a totally compromised kangaroo court.”

Saying that he doesn’t trust the committee is different that claiming executive privilege, which is based on protecting confidential communications and diplomatic relations. The former, Turley pointed out, is not a ground for refusal if a subpoena were to be issued.


Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to E.U., will not appear before Congress

8:26 a.m.: Sondland will not be appearing for his scheduled congressional interview today, after the State Department ordered him not to appear.

According to a statement by Sondland’s attorney, the direction came just hours before he was to testify.

“Ambassador Sondland had previously agreed to appear voluntarily today, without the need for a subpoena, in order to answer the Committee’s questions on an expedited basis. As the sitting U.S. Ambassador to the EU and employee of the State Department, Ambassador Sondland is required to follow the Department’s direction,” Sondland attorney, Robert Luskin, said in a statement. He said the ambassador was “profoundly disappointed” that he was not able to testify.

“Sondland believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States, and he stands ready to answer the Committee’s questions fully and truthfully,” Luskin added.

Sondland was mentioned in the original whistleblower complaint and is considered a key witness in the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

Text messages released last week between Sondland and other U.S. diplomats discussed efforts to get the Ukrainians to draft a statement agreeing on investigations into Burisma, the energy company that hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter, and Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. election. The Ukrainians hoped to secure a White House meeting with President Trump.

But after Politico reported on August 29 that the president had decided to pause U.S. aid for Ukraine, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, wrote, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Sondland replied that Taylor was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” saying the president had been “crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”


Former senior White House aides: Trump not receiving good advice on Ukraine, Syria

6:57 a.m.: CBS News has spoken to several former senior administration aides over the last few days, including former senior White House advisers who have been largely critical of how the White House has been handling recent situations including the Ukraine call, the release of the call’s summary, the impeachment inquiry and now Syria.

The former senior advisers believe that there is a dearth of advisers in the current White House who have the ability or willingness to dissuade the president from bad political decisions.

“There is no one really left who can say, ‘that’s a bad idea,'” one former senior Trump aide said. –– Fin Gomez, Sara Cook and Weijia Jiang


​Trump calls impeachment inquiry a “scam”

Trump
President Trump speaks after a signing ceremony for a trade agreement with Japan in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Monday, October 7, 2019, in Washington. AP

Monday, 4:54 p.m.: After signing a pair of trade deals with Japan at the White House, the president took questions from reporters and called the impeachment probe a “scam.”

“The impeachment inquiry is a scam. The conversation that I had with the Ukrainian president, Zelensky, was a very good, it was a very cordial conversation,” Mr. Trump said.

He again criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for paraphrasing his remarks on the call during a congressional hearing last week, calling him a “fraud.” — Stefan Becket


​GOP senator says Trump “should not have raised the Biden issue” on Ukraine call

Rob Portman
Senator Rob Portman speaks to reporters outside Wyoming High School in Wyoming, Ohio, on June 22, 2017. Getty

Monday, 4:21 p.m.: Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said the president raising the prospect of investigating the Bidens on the July 25 call with the president of Ukraine was “not appropriate” but said he doesn’t think it rises to the level of an impeachable offense.

“The president should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period. It’s not appropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent,” Portman said in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch published Monday. “I don’t view it as an impeachable offense. I think the House frankly rushed to impeachment assuming certain things.”

The president called Portman “honorable” last week after Portman said he was given a “consistent reason” for the delay in releasing Ukraine aid. — Stefan Becket


Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget subpoenaed

Monday, 12:39 p.m.: The Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have been subpoenaed for documents in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and OMB Acting Director Russell Vought on Monday informing them of the subpoenas.

“Pursuant to the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, we are hereby transmitting a subpoena that compels you to produce the documents set forth in the accompanying schedule by October 15, 2019,” the chairmen wrote in their letter.

The White House was also subpoenaed for documents late Friday.

At least one week before Mr. Trump spoke by phone with the Ukrainian president in late July, he instructed his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold off on releasing nearly $ 400 million in military aid for Ukraine that had already been appropriated by Congress. A senior administration official with direct knowledge of the Trump administration’s actions regarding the funds previously confirmed to CBS News the delay in military aid.


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House Democrats take impeachment inquiry to the White House

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Pelosi says that she won’t accept latest White House debt ceiling offer

And round and round we go…

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House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has just said that she won’t accept the White House’s lastest list of spending cuts to be used to seal the debt ceiling deal. The issue continues to drag on and will be something to watch out for over the next few weeks.

Let’s see how Trump and Mnuchin will respond to the matter later today.

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Immigrants fired from Trump clubs seek White House meeting

A group of immigrant workers fired from President Trump’s golf clubs say they want to meet with him at the White House to make the case that they should not be deported. The 21 maids, groundskeepers and other workers fired earlier this year from five of Mr. Trump’s clubs asked their former employer in a letter this week to remember all their hard work and give them a chance to make their case in person why they should stay in the country.

“I’m hopeful that he’ll look at the letter. I believe he has a heart,” said Gabriel Sedano, who worked for 14 years as a handyman at Mr. Trump’s club in Westchester County, New York, before he was fired in January.

The response on White House stationery Wednesday, in what appeared to be a form letter, assured the workers that “we are reviewing your message.” The White House didn’t respond Friday to a request for further comment.

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The troubles for the workers started in December when a maid who had made the president’s bed at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, told The New York Times that a supervisor there knew she and other housekeepers and workers were in the country illegally, and used their status against them if they complained about working conditions.

Two women came forward to speak to CBS News in December to say they were employed at a golf resort owned by the Trump Organization, even though they were living in the country illegally. 

Victorina Morales, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, has worked at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey for five years. She said she used to make his bed and clean the bathrooms. She claims her bosses knew she was not authorized to live in the U.S. but hired her anyway. Sandra Diaz also said she also worked at the club while she was undocumented.

US-POLITICS-TRUMP-BEDMINSTER
A sign is seen at an entrance to the Trump National Golf Club August 9, 2018 in Bedminster, New Jersey.  Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty

In early 2019, other workers at other Trump clubs without proper documents — some employed by him for a decade or more — began speaking out, and the Trump Organization began rounds of firings.

The Trump Organization has said it does not tolerate workers who lie about their status and only recently discovered its workers were in the country illegally. It did not respond to requests for comment about the proposed White House meeting.

Mr. Trump told reporters Friday that he was unaware of any undocumented workers at his properties.

“I don’t know because I don’t run it,” Mr. Trump said when asked if he believed that undocumented immigrants were no longer working at his clubs, the Times reported. “But I would say this: Probably every club in the United States has that because it seems to be, from what I understand, a way that people did business.”

Democrats in Congress requested earlier this year that the FBI look into whether the Trump Organization acted as a “criminal enterprise” by knowingly hiring workers with false documents and even helping them procure such papers, as some fired workers have claimed.

A lawyer for 39 former Trump workers, Anibal Romero, said he has been interviewed by the FBI as well as the offices of attorneys general in New Jersey and New York, though he declined to talk about what was discussed.

The letter from the workers said the president knows many of them and asked him to “do the right thing” and “not deport us and our friends and family.”

“You know we are hard workers and that we are not criminals or seeking a free ride in America,” the letter said. “We all pay our taxes, love our faith and our family, and simply want to find a place for ourselves to make America even better.”

Former club handyman Sedano said he couldn’t believe it when he was fired in January because he was a trusted employee who was asked to do work on Eric Trump’s house nearby, and given access to come and go as he pleased.

“I had keys to the house, all the codes. I knew him personally,” said Sedano, who has three children in the U.S., the youngest 8. He added: “I was the first one fired. There was a list. I was the first one.”

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Jet conducts fly over White House for Polish president’s visit

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China white paper says latest U.S. tariffs won’t fix trade issues

© Reuters. A surveillance camera is seen next to containers at a logistics center near Tianjin Port © Reuters. A surveillance camera is seen next to containers at a logistics center near Tianjin Port

BEIJING (Reuters) – The latest U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports will not resolve the two countries’ trade issues, and the United States bears responsibility for setbacks in the talks process, a policy paper published by the Chinese government said on Sunday.

China can ensure good momentum for sustained economic development and economic prospects for the country are “extremely optimistic”, the paper said.

China will not concede on issues of principle, it added.

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Man who set himself on fire outside White House dies

A man who set himself on fire outside the White House on Wednesday afternoon has died from his injuries, the U.S. Park Police confirmed. Park Police and U.S. Secret Service responded to reports of a man who reportedly lit himself on fire on the White House Ellipse. Police later identified the man as Arnav Gupta of Bethesda, Maryland.

A spokesman for the Washington, D.C., fire department said first responders managed to extinguish the fire. Officials were trying to determine what kind of accelerant the man used to start the fire.

Sgt. Eduardo Delgado, a spokesman for the Park Police, said investigators do not know the man’s motive at the time. Graphic videos on social media showed Gupta walking across the Ellipse engulfed in flames until first responders arrived to the scene. 

gettyimages-1152466970-594x594.jpg
Emergency personnel respond to a man that set himself on fire on the Ellipse near 15th and Constitution Avenue on May 29, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Getty

The Ellipse is a 52-acre park south of the main White House complex that is open to the public. In April, a man was hospitalized after lighting his jacket on fire outside the White House, causing a brief lockdown. The man in that incident sustained non-life-threatening injuries, the Secret Service said at the time.

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Great white shark tracked in Long Island Sound for “first time ever”

A great white shark that was tagged last year off Nova Scotia was detected Monday in Long Island Sound. Ocearch, an organization that electronically tracks aquatic life, announced on Twitter that it was monitoring the nearly 10-foot long great white in the sound “for the first time ever.”

Ocearch posted a picture of “Cabot,” a nearly 10-foot-long fish swimming near Greenwich, Connecticut. The shark was spotted last week off the North Carolina coast.

According to its Twitter bio, the shark is named after explorer John Cabot after SeaWorld solicited suggestions from Nova Scotians.

Shark experts say it measures 9-foot 8-inches long, weighs 533 pounds and is likely looking for smaller fish to eat.

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Chris Fischer, Ocearch’s founding chairman and expedition leader, says the group was “quite surprised to see this one so far to the west.”

The group says Cabot’s presence could be a sign of environmental improvement.

“This is something to celebrate,” Fischer said. “I know they’ve been working hard in the sound to clean it up and to get life to come back to the region and when you have an apex predator like Cabot move in to the area, that’s a sign there’s a lot of life in the area and you’ve probably got things moving in the right direction.”

Speaking with CBSN, wildlife expert Jeff Corwin agreed with Fischer’s assessment. “Their populations are increasing. The waters in some areas — which people may find hard to believe — are healthier now,” Corwin said. “A healthy, more robust ecosystem; better buffet means more diners at the aquatic diner.”

Corwin said that this isn’t always the case and adds that “in the last 40 years, we’ve lost 66% of all our planet’s nature.”

Last week, Cabot was among a cluster of great whites spotted off the coast of North Carolina. Great whites can tip the scales at up to 4,000 pounds and grow to be 17 feet long, and their numbers on the Atlantic Coast are on the rise.

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White House Hassett on CNBC: 3.1% in 2018 looks spot on

Looking for another 3% year in 2019

The White House Hassett is on CNBC saying that:

  • Our 3.1% growth forecast for 2018 looking spot on
  • US to have another 3% year in 2019
  • Had hard time seeing a recession in 2019
  • Mnuchin deserves a gold sart for revising withholdings.

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