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June 16, 2016

The Clinton Foundation, the global charity set up by former President Bill Clinton, has caused some headaches for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and Donald Trump says he will tell everyone about it in a major speech. But it turns out that several ethics and campaign law watchdogs are also calling for an investigation of Trump's family foundation, The Daily Beast reports, with groups including the Sunlight Foundation, Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Campaign Legal Center, and Public Citizen accusing Trump of using the Trump Foundation as a political slush fund.

One of the red flags was Trump, listed as president of the foundation (children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr. are directors), handing out Trump Foundation checks to veterans groups at campaign rallies earlier this year. "A 501(c)(3), like the Trump Foundation, is strictly prohibited from engaging in political activity," said CREW spokesman Jordan Libowitz. Trump used his foundation to handle donations he raised during an event to protest a Fox News presidential debate he'd bowed out of, and the veteran charities were at Trump's campaign rallies to pick up the Trump Foundation checks. "It raises serious questions when you make a charity part of your campaign event," says Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. "It could create legal problems for both the campaign and the charity.”

The biggest potential problem for Trump and his charity is a $25,000 donation the foundation — which appears to have no dedicated staff — sent to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi shortly before she dropped interest in a fraud lawsuit against Trump University. CREW has filed a complaint with the IRS about that donation; Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks called it a mistake and blamed the failure to report the donation on a "series of unfortunate coincidences and errors." Philip Hackney, a former IRS chief counsel, told The Daily Beast that the Bondi donation itself is enough to launch an investigation, but says he doesn't think the IRS will touch it. "I think it's dangerous, particularly politically for them right now, to audit in this realm," he said. "That bothers me, given what I see in this particular case, but I don't know that the IRS has another choice in some ways." You can read more at The Daily Beast. Peter Weber

8:15 p.m.

The Supreme Court on Monday announced it has accepted three cases involving gay and transgender employees, and will deliver rulings on whether federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from firing workers due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The cases — Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC — will be decided during the court's term that will start in October. The justices will be tasked with deciding whether the protections granted by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex, also applies to people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda will be consolidated, as both involve employees who say they were fired for being gay. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC involves a transgender woman who was fired from a Michigan funeral home because of her gender identity. In Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, lower courts sided with the plaintiffs, NPR reports, but in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, it was decided that Gerald Bostock was not fired from his job as a child welfare service coordinator because he is gay. Catherine Garcia

7:23 p.m.

The leader of a New Mexico militia arrested on Saturday allegedly boasted that his organization, the United Constitutional Patriots, trained to assassinate former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros, a complaint filed over the weekend states.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He is described as being the "commander" of the 20-member United Constitutional Patriots, a group that has been detaining migrant families crossing the southern border.

In the complaint, an FBI agent writes that someone called the agency's public tip line in October 2017, and said there was "alleged militia extremist activity" taking place in Hopkins' Flora Vista, New Mexico, home. This person also said Hopkins "allegedly made the statement that the United Constitutional Patriots were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama," claiming that they were supporting anti-fascist activists. Hopkins' attorney denies his client said this.

FBI agents visited Hopkins' house in November 2017, and saw 10 firearms. Hopkins showed them several other weapons, and said they belonged to his common law wife, Fay Sanders Murphy, the affidavit says. After this visit, FBI agents found out Hopkins had prior felony convictions, including being found guilty in 2006 of criminal impersonation of a peace officer. Hopkins remains in custody, pending a preliminary hearing April 29 in Albuquerque. Catherine Garcia

6:33 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to former White House Counsel Don McGahn on Monday, requesting he testify in front of the panel on May 21.

Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report "outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses," and it's now up to Congress to "determine for itself the full scope of the misconduct and to decide what steps to take in the exercise of our duties of oversight, legislation, and constitutional accountability." McGahn, who spent 30 hours being interviewed by Mueller's team, was "a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report," Nadler said, and his testimony "will help shed further light" on Trump's "attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same."

The subpoena also gives McGahn until May 7 to hand over documents related to ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussing sanctions with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey; and possible pardons for Flynn, Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, and Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Catherine Garcia

5:38 p.m.

Herman Cain here.

Those rumors about why the 2012 GOP presidential candidate dropped out of the running to be President Trump's next Federal Reserve Board nominee? They're not true, and Cain is the "only source you need" to get the real story, he writes in an op-ed for the conservative Western Journal published Monday.

While Cain hadn't even been nominated for a Fed spot, Trump tweeted Monday that his "friend Herman Cain" had "asked me not to nominate him for a seat." It seemed reasonable, seeing as enough Senate Republicans had already said they'd vote against Cain to doom his nomination. There's also the fact that sexual misconduct allegations forced Cain out of the 2012 presidential race, though he has denied those allegations.

But amid these reasonable explanations surrounding Cain's withdrawal, Cain wants to assure you that "Twitter wasn't inside my mind over the course of the past weekend," he wrote in his op-ed. Cain was more worried about divesting from his business interests, cutting his radio show and Fox Business appearances, and taking sizable pay cut in the process, he said.

Of course, Cain "did like the idea of serving on the Fed," he enthusiastically continued. Yet he wondered if he'd "be giving up too much influence to get a little bit of policy impact," Cain wrote — he reaches "close to 4 million people a month" with his "current media activities," after all. And after thinking, praying, and even drafting a now-discarded op-ed about why he wanted to continue pursuing the nomination, Cain ultimately decided to withdraw.

Read Cain's whole blog post — and answer his question of "Did Herman do the right thing?" — at The Western Journal. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:34 p.m.

Sri Lanka's military now has "sweeping" new powers following a series of bombings on Sunday that targeted luxury hotels and churches during Easter services, killing almost 300 people, The Associated Press reports. Officials are blaming a radical Islamist group for the attacks.

Sri Lanka's president, Maithripala Sirisena, granted the military a wider berth to arrest and detain suspects, per AP. The powers were reportedly in place during Sri Lanka's 25-year civil war, but were stripped away after the conflicted ended 10 years ago.

The decision is in line with the government's choice to enact a curfew and block some social media sites, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, though the latter reportedly did little to "reassure residents and visitors that the danger had passed."

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he would "vest all necessary powers with the defense forces" to prevent instability and act against those responsible.

A nationwide state of emergency began on Tuesday, along with a national day of mourning. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

4:48 p.m.

An alarming number of young e-cigarette users don't realize just how much nicotine they're exposed to when vaping, a new study has shown.

Published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, new research revealed that adolescents were getting a high amount of nicotine even when they thought the products they were using were nicotine-free. The study surveyed more than 500 adolescents, and then performed urine tests on 284 of those, and eventually found that about 40 percent of teens who thought they were using nicotine-free products still tested positive.

While e-cigarettes are thought by some to be healthier than traditional cigarettes, nicotine is no less addictive in a Juul than in a Marlboro. And in many cases, vapers were found to be taking in similar levels of nicotine in their e-cigarettes compared to traditional cigarettes.

The addictive powers of nicotine are causing concern that the lack of awareness around e-cigarettes may lead to a "generation of addicted young people" who will vape for years to come, or even switch to more harmful traditional cigarettes, NBC News reported. "This may be a pathway into nicotine addiction" that nobody saw coming, explained Andrew Stokes, a professor of global health at Boston University.

Read more about this study's troubling conclusions at NBC News. Shivani Ishwar

4:47 p.m.

Trump's chief policy adviser Stephen Miller is well-known for his hawkish stance on immigration. But a new report from Politico highlights just how personal the matter is to him — to the point where he will reportedly take time to focus on a single migrant detainee's deportation.

Three current and former Department of Homeland Security officials told Politico Miller began calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement shortly after President Trump took office in 2017. He would reportedly insist that the agency include more details, including full names and pending criminal charges, in press releases about immigrants ICE apprehend.

Officials reportedly said nothing of the sort had ever been done before: unless the individuals had been convicted or charged, releasing such information would constitute a breach of personal privacy. But in 2017, an executive order issued by Trump concerning public safety contained a provision which excluded non-U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents from such privacy protections.

Administration officials largely resisted acting on the provision, per Politico. "We tried to protect as many people from Miller and his requests as possible," said a former DHS official. “When he started going lower and calling random career officials, we would have to go and say, 'If Stephen calls you, elevate it immediately and do not answer.'"

It all highlights Miller's "granular interest in the people crossing the U.S. border, and the unprecedented steps" the 31-year-old has taken to bring their personal information to light. Read the full report at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

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