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‘Penelopegate’ hits Fran?ois Fillon’s approval ratings




PARIS – Francois Fillon’s bid for your French presidency is affected by the fallout of a scandal over disputed payments to his wife.

According to your poll performed since the scandal broke, 61 percent of French voters employ a “negative” or “very negative” opinion of the conservative former prime minister, whilst the proportion of “positive views” of Fillon plummeted to 39 percent from 54 percent before “Penelopegate” became top news.

Fillon, who until recently was the hands-down favorite to win May’s presidential election, is struggling to draw a line below the scandal. On Thursday, he?was placed directly under preliminary investigation on suspicion that he or she could have abused public funds by paying his wife 500,000 over eight years for any parliament job they did not carry out.

Later within the same day, he tried to react up against the allegations inside a prime time TV interview, saying he previously had provided evidence to the financial prosecutor proving that his wife, Penelope, had indeed executed benefit which she was paid. “She has edited my speeches, stood set for me at events while i couldn’t be there, done newspaper reviews,”?said Fillon, who wouldn’t deny having paid his British wife.

But his statement?would not lift the black cloud that has descended over Fillon’s campaign.

Worse, even Fillon’s half-hearted attempts at transparency in that interview are back-firing.?He volunteered on TF1 that he has once employed on specific missions among his children, “who were lawyers,” while he would have been a French senator (in the years before he became prime minister in 2007).

The overnight, the daily Liberation noted that the two children, Marie and Charles, were only students at that time in support of became lawyers later. Furthermore, they focused upon areas that have little with regards to the usual concerns on the French MP.

So Fillon now faces queries about what the”missions” were, and how much he paid his student children.

    Fillon standard

    During his primary campaign, the 62-year-old repeatedly said politicians facing serious investigations ought not run for office. When, Fillon’s?remark was aimed towards former president Nicolas Sarkozy, an adversary for your center-right nomination who had been under formal investigation.

    “To the political team that is certainly threatening me on my voicemail, I despise threats we do not give straight into pressure”?-?Christine Kelly

    Now they have return to haunt him. In the news, Fillon said he’d terminate his campaign if your probe triggered him being placed directly under formal investigation.

    Not all preliminary investigations – a young evidence-gathering phase in the French judicial system – bring on formal investigations. Nonetheless they can drag on for months with evidence frequently leaked for the press, a serious liability for Fillon.

    Adding to his troubles, a journalist who done research for your biography on Fillon, and met with people his family including his wife, claimed on Twitter they have been threatened by folks a definite political campaign who left messages for my child phone.

    “To the political team that is threatening me on my voicemail, I hate threats and that i slacken straight into pressure. This is a first warning,” tweeted?Christine Kelly, whose biography “Le secret et l’ambition” (“The Secret along with the ambition”) was published in 2007.

    Kelly was on Friday due to?provide testimony for the financial prosecutor investigating Fillon’s case.

    ‘Stink bomb’

    With the scandal just 72 hrs old, Odoxa’s poll would be the first sign that Penelopegate is an effect around the public have a look at Fillon, to date the?favorite with the presidency. It also highlighted widespread frustration using the cozy practice of hiring spouses in parliament, with 76 percent of respondents saying to merely view the practice banned.

    Standing by to gain from Fillon’s complaints are his two main rivals for your presidency: National Front chief Marine Le Pen, and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron, who’s running as a possible independent using a center-left, pro-European platform.

    Le Pen, herself under investigation over suspicions that they misused assistants at the European Parliament, has pointedly avoided commenting on Fillon’s affairs, except once when she?referred to as the original report in Le Canard Enchaine a “stink bomb.” Though the scandal’s subtext – which a former prime minister was free to direct public money toward his or her own wife without scrutiny – plays directly into her arguments that France’s elites are corrupt and detached in the problems of normal people.

    Macron, who recently continues to be catching up to Fillon in polls, wouldn’t comment on the report.

    However, along with his liberal economic views and centrist positioning, Macron is poised to gain middle-ground conservatives who had been consumed by Fillon on account of his stance on fiscal prudence. The 39-year-old former Rothschilds investment banker in addition sold himself as being an “anti-system” candidate, while using implication that he is not perhaps the establishment clique that made Fillon’s payments possible.

    An Ipsos-Steria poll conducted before Penelopegate put Macron in third place behind Fillon and Le Pen, with 17-21 percent within the vote before election’s first round, determined by which other candidates participate.

    Macron’s campaign is gathering momentum amid weak need for a left-wing primary election whose final round is on Sunday.

    In that contest, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls and his ex-education minister, Benoit Hamon, are vying for the left-wing presidential nomination, using the latter expected to win. Both Valls and Hamon have considered necessary “greater transparency” in public life since Penelopegate broke.

    Whoever wins is not?required to make it after first round of your presidential election.

    This article was updated on Saturday with additional information.

    Pierre Briancon contributed reporting.


    Black caucus chairman pushes to censure Trump over ‘shithole’ remark





    Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond on Thursday introduced a solution to censure President Donald Trump over what he contends would be the president\’s racist rhetoric referring to El Salvador, Haiti and African nations as \”shithole countries.\”

    The resolution – who has much more than 130 co-sponsors, including House Democratic leaders – calls over the House to publicly state its support for any nations Trump disparaged, censure and condemn the president for his statements, and demand he retract his comments and apologize.

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    At a news conference announcing the resolution alongside House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) as well as other Democrats, Richmond (D-La.) said Trump\’s controversial comments \”should have not been made\” and \”were factually inaccurate.\”

    Richmond conceded, however, the resolution isn\’t \”privileged,\” meaning House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) might need to say yes to carry it in order with the chamber to keep a vote. It\’s almost certain Ryan will not likely do this.

    \”If he doesn\’t, we then will be at other ways to just make a vote on there,\” Richmond told reporters. \”But the facts from the matter is definitely the speaker should bring it up. In the event that he doesn\’t, establishing is enabling and recurring to allow obama to perpetuate this hateful rhetoric, as well as at certain point – whether you agree or disagree – I believe this is the speaker\’s obligation to safeguard the dignity of the property.\”

    If Ryan will not allow a vote, Richmond said he among others would hunt for “creative” strategies to force one.

    Like most Republican leaders, Ryan hasn\’t said much for the president\’s reported comments, though he did acknowledge the other day that they are \”very unfortunate\” and \”unhelpful.\” For Richmond, however, that wasn\’t enough.

    \”It\’s unfortunate when I miss my bus. Or it\’s unfortunate in the event the airlines lose my luggage,\” he was quoted saying. \”But when the president of america decides to Africa, Haiti and El Salvador which he used, which isn\’t unfortunate. That is wrong. That\’s disgusting. That is definitely hurtful. There are a variety of words because of it, but unfortunate\’s undertake and don\’t.\”

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    Ryan's 2017 fundraising haul: $44 million





    House Speaker Paul Ryan raised more than $44 million in 2017, an off-year record to get a House leader – a financial haul Republicans hope will shore up vulnerable GOP members in what\’s shaping up to often be a tough midterm cycle for Republicans.

    In a final quarter, Ryan raised $4.8 million, his political operation will announce Thursday – down from $6.7 million during the third quarter.

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    The infusion of greenbacks is a follower of Republicans passed a tax reform law last December, which GOP members said would drive support among voters and donors. But also in 2018, Republicans must defend its 24-seat majority spanning a broad battlefield, while President Donald Trump\’s approval ratings stay in the bottom 40s and Democrats hold a broad bring success the generic ballot. Nearly 24 retirements, including California Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa latest research by, will force Republicans to invest more heavily to protect these open seats.

    In 2017, Ryan transferred $32 million to the National Republican Campaign Committee, which announced a unique record-breaking off-year total with $85 million raised in the last year. Ryan also transferred $1.7 million on to GOP members, as well as hosting 49 fundraisers for members.

    "This eye-popping number is usually a testament to Speaker Ryan, House Republicans, as well as the agenda them to led your strugle on in 2017," said Kevin Seifert, executive director of Team Ryan, the speaker\’s fundraising committee.

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    Bannon won't testify again on Russia Thursday





    Former White House adviser Steve Bannon declined House Russia investigators\’ request to go back for a second interview Thursday, telling lawmakers through his lawyer their own obtain him to go back just 2 days after his first appearance was "unreasonable."

    "The Committee\’s subpoena provides require Mr. Bannon\’s appearance for that second deposition [Thursday] at 2pm. That may be plainly insufficient time for me to undertake precisely what the Committee has asked," Bannon\’s attorney William Burck wrote within a Wednesday letter to store intelligence committee leaders obtained by POLITICO.

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    Instead, Burck told committee leaders that the former senior aide to President Donald Trump would return after reaching an accommodation when using the White House to make sure his testimony doesn\’t violate executive privilege.

    On Tuesday, Bannon-citing instructions from your Trump administration-refused to reply Republican and Democrats\’ questions on his amount of the White House, the post-election transition team and in some cases about his conversations with the president after he was fired from his post in August. His stonewalling infuriated persons in both parties, who subpoenaed him immediately. But despite the subpoena, Bannon declined to reply to their questions.

    Burck\’s letter told the committee\’s top Russia investigators, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), that Bannon remains ready to answer the committee\’s questions-but after striking an understanding together with the White House while on an acceptable scope of questioning.

    "There isn\’t any conceivable solution to talk to the White House Mr. Bannon\’s time using the transition and also the White House, obtain their thoughts about the knowledge he previously provide, communicate those views back to the Committee, relay the Committee\’s views time for the White House, and then negotiate or facilitate a binding agreement amongst the Committee along with the White House from the time allotted by the Committee\’s subpoena," Burck wrote.

    Committee members at the moment are weighing calling hold Bannon in contempt of Congress for avoiding their questions. They\’ve noted that White House lawyers haven\’t formally invoked executive privilege-they just have suggested that Bannon\’s testimony might implicate it.

    White House officials have argued that it is customary for Congress to coordinate the scope of the questions with current and former officials to stop violating privileged information.

    But GOP and Democratic lawmakers have questioned this argument, suggesting they see no reasonable interpretation of executive privilege that might preclude Bannon from discussing his time over the transition team, that is before Trump was president.

    Burck indicated that the committee didn\’t have use of White House and transition documents that has to be relevant precursors to the questions for Bannon and suggested lawmakers and Bannon would require time for them to produce them and review them before Bannon\’s next interview.

    "There are lots of lawyers over the Committee plus the Staff, and i also could well be surprised as long as they believed it becomes anything in addition to unprofessional even unethical should be expected to depose a witness that has did not have possibility for review relevant documents," he said.

    Burck also indicated a potential disconnect between committee staff and lawmakers. He revealed that he had informed the employees of the committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the White House "may not permit Mr. Bannon to discuss his in time the transition and the White House unless an accommodation was agreed between your Committee plus the White House."

    "Staff raised no objection to the telltale restrictions in any of such conversations," he said. "The main objection came yesterday within the Members who appear not to have been informed by Staff about our prior conversations."

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