April 24, 2017

The Trump White House is insisting that Congress include $1.4 billion in funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall in a spending bill that has to pass this week to avoid a government shutdown. Republican leaders in Congress are unenthusiastic about the demand, in part because they need Democratic support to pass a spending bill and Democrats are generally opposed to funding President Trump's border wall. So are many Republicans, including several who represent areas along the border. In fact, The Wall Street Journal found, "not a single member of Congress who represents the territory on the southwest border" said they support the border wall funding request.

There are nine House members from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California whose districts abut the Mexico border, and eight senators from those states. The three GOP House members argue that the money would be better spent on other border-related measures, as do Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have voiced skepticism about Trump's wall, but they declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal about the budget request. All six Democratic House members and four border-state Senate Democrats were staunchly opposed to the wall.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, who is pushing the funding demand, was unmoved. "You're always going to have constituencies within both parties that have local issues — we get that," he told the Journal, insisting that GOP leadership was on board because "they know it's a priority for the president." The representatives of border districts, even those advocating for stricter border security, say Trump's focus on a physical wall is misplaced and a waste of taxpayer money. Drug smugglers and human traffickers "will go over, through, or under physical barriers, sometimes pretty quickly," Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) told The Wall Street Journal. Last month, the newspaper found similar sentiments among Arizona's border ranchers, who strongly support Trump. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:27 p.m.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, seemed to have one foot on the impeachment trail Sunday during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union.

Schiff told host Jake Tapper that, although he's been reluctant to support impeachment measures against President Trump, the latest news out of the Oval Office might be changing his mind. Schiff said that if Trump did actually threaten to withhold military aid from Ukraine and repeatedly push Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, then there might not be any other way around it. "We may very well have crossed the Rubicon," he said.

Schiff contends that the allegations represent "the most profound violation of the presidential oath" and that no privilege can cover corruption. As to whether it's true or not, Schiff argued that the president could just release the transcript of his call with Zelensky if there was nothing unsavory about it. "Clearly, he's afraid for the public to see," Schiff told Tapper. In other words, something stinks. The Week Staff

12:53 p.m.

Iran's leaders already gave their two cents on the rising tensions between Tehran and the United States on Sunday. Tuns out, some folks in Washington who have had some experience dealing with Iran also had some things to say.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing on CBS' Face the Nation, once again accused Iran of orchestrating the strikes against Saudi oil facilities last week, while repeating that he considers it "a state-on-state act of war." When host Margaret Brennan mentioned that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denies the allegations, Pompeo was not overly friendly to his counterpart, saying "it's beneath the dignity of anyone to listen to" him. But Pompeo did maintain he's looking for a diplomatic solution.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Defense Secretary James Mattis shared some sentiments with Pompeo. In an appearance on ABC's This Week, Mattis said Tehran is doing what it's always done — "trying to craft a foreign policy that pushes others around." Mattis added that the U.S. needs to urge its allies to stand with Washington to prevent Tehran from destabilizing the Middle East.

Kerry, who helped foster the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran, also appeared on Face the Nation where he preached restraint when it came to dealing with Tehran and even praised President Trump for doing just that. But he did say that he thinks Iran was "one way or the other" behind the oil facilities attacks and that "our allies" who still support the 2015 agreement also "support holding Iran accountable for other issues in the region." Tim O'Donnell

Tim O'Donnell

12:20 p.m.

Antonio Brown continues to dominate NFL headlines, but the rest of the league will attempt to take back the spotlight for Sunday's slate of games. Here are four Week 3 matchups to watch.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m. E.T. on CBS — Pencil these two teams in for appointment viewing most weeks. Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes will lead Kansas City from under center against fellow quarterback Lamar Jackson and the surging Ravens. It's probably safe to expect some lofty numbers from both of them. Indeed, Ravens defense coordinator Don Martindale said Jackson-Mahomes could become the next iteration of the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry that defined the NFL for over a decade.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. E.T. on CBS — Pittsburgh has had a rough start to the season, including losing longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow injury. But it will be interesting to see whether second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph can step into that role and get the team back in contention. San Francisco, meanwhile, has rolled to victory in its first two games and will look to improve to 3-0.

New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. E.T. on CBS — New Orleans will also be without their longtime quarterback Drew Brees, but they have a proven veteran in Teddy Bridgewater to fill the gap. Bridgewater and the Saints' talented roster should be good enough to stay in contention, but Seattle, who remains undefeated behind stellar play from quarterback Russell Wilson, will be a tough matchup, especially on the road.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Cleveland Browns, 8:20 p.m. on NBC — The Browns laid an egg in their opener against the Tennessee Titans, despite high expectations for the long-suffering franchise. They bounced back with a win Monday over the New York Jets, who were down to their third-string quarterback by the end of the game. The dynamic Rams will be a much better barometer for determining whether the Browns are just hype. Tim O'Donnell

11:52 a.m.

The World Health Organization in a statement Saturday accused Tanzania of withholding information about suspected Ebola cases in the country.

The U.N. agency was made aware of the suspected cases in Tanzania earlier this month, but WHO was then prevented from participating in blood samples testing. The Tanzania government then reportedly informed the organization that Ebola had been ruled out, although they did not offer any alternative diagnoses.

WHO's statement referred to a 34-year-old doctor studying in central Uganda who returned to Tanzania with Ebola-like symptoms before dying in Dar es Salaam, the country's capital, earlier in September. The illness was reportedly contagious and numerous contacts became ill. Unofficial reports led WHO to believe that the woman had, in fact, tested positive for Ebola.

Tanzania has never reported a case of Ebola, The Washington Post reports, noting that tourism is a major driver in the nation's economy, so fears that the presence of the disease could lead to trip cancellations may exist.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has previously urged Tanzania to "comply with its obligation under the International Health Regulations" and allow for independent verification of the circumstances surrounding the doctor's death. The current Ebola outbreak began in August 2018. While new cases have occurred rapidly, they have mostly remained confined to provinces in eastern Congo. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

10:28 a.m.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran does not plan on starting a war, but they will finish one if a conflict should eventually happen.

In an interview airing on Sunday's edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host Margaret Brennan asked Zarif if he was "confident" that Iran could avoid a war. Zarif was pretty forthright in his response, simply responding "no." He did add that he is confident Tehran will not start a conflict, however. But he said "whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it." When Brennan asked him to clarify, Zarif said that he means if a war does break out it will not be a "limited" one.

Zarif also criticized the United States' decision to send more troops to the Gulf region in a speech, describing it as "posturing." Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhi had some harsh words Sunday for the U.S., as well, calling the decision a "disaster" and urging foreign forces to stay out of the region. "If they're sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race," he said during a speech. "The farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be."

In the same speech, he did say that Iran would present a peace initiative at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, though he gave few details. Tim O'Donnell

9:11 a.m.

There's been a changing of the guard in Iowa — for now, at least.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) passed former Vice President Joe Biden for the lead in the Democratic presidential primaries in a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers, which was released Saturday. Warren picked up 22 percent in the poll, which gives her a two-point edge over Biden. Further, 71 percent of those polled said they're at least considering Warren, the highest mark among the candidates.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) trailed Warren and Biden with 11 percent, and no other candidate reached double digits, though South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was close at nine percent. "This is the first major shakeup," said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. "It's the first time we've had someone other than Joe Biden at the top of the leader board." Only one in five likely caucusgoers said their minds were made up, however.

Warren has been rising steadily in Iowa for some time. In December 2018, she was only at eight percent in the same poll. That increased slightly to nine percent in March, and then 15 percent in June. The most recent poll was conducted between Sept. 14-18 and surveyed 602 likely Democratic caucusgoers. The margin of error was four percentage points. Read more at The Des Moines Register and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

8:00 a.m.

Not everyone thinks President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July was such a big deal.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko has denied that Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, over his ties to a Ukrainian natural gas firm that was being investigated for corruption. "I know what the conversation was about, and I think there was no pressure," Prystaiko said during an interview with Ukrainian television station Hromadske that aired Saturday. "There was talk, conversations are different, leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist. This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers." Prystaiko added that Ukraine is an independent state with its "own secrets."

Still, others are more concerned about the affects the story could have on the country, The Washington Post reports. "It's a diplomatic disaster for our relations with the United States," said Alyona Getmanchuk, the director of the New Europe Center, a Kiev-based foreign policy think tank. A senior European diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Post that things "really couldn't get worse for Kiev," while a former Ukrainian policymaker, whom the Post described as "normally gregarious," declined to comment to avoid doing "even more harm to Ukraine." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

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