GOP support for Stephen Moore falls apart, leaving Trump’s Fed pick with slim chance of confirmation



Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation fellow, is President Trump’s intended nominee for an opening on the Federal Reserve board, but some Senate Republicans are voicing concerns about Moore’s past. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

President Trump’s plan to put ally Stephen Moore on the Federal Reserve Board appeared on the edge of failure Tuesday, after one Republican senator said she was “very unlikely” to vote for Moore and several others sharply criticized him.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) became the first senator to go on record as a likely “no” vote.

“Stephen Moore, I am going to make a comment on that,” interrupting a trip to the Senate floor to return to address a reporter after Moore’s name was mentioned. “Very unlikely that I would support that person.”

Ernst, who said she had shared her views with the White House, said she “didn’t think” Moore would be confirmed if Trump follows through on his plan to nominate the former campaign adviser, adding that “several” senators agree with her on Moore.

Her assessment was affirmed by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who said Moore’s best hope was to barely squeak by.

“I think he’s probably down to the high water mark now of 50 or 51,” said Scott, who declined to say how he would vote and said he wanted to review Moore’s record as a whole.

Beyond Ernst, three other female Republican senators — Susan Collins (Maine), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) — expressed serious concerns about Moore. They cited his comments saying there would be societal problems if men were not the breadwinners in the family, denouncing co-ed sports and saying female athletes do “inferior work” to men.

If four of the 53 Republican senators reject Moore, his nomination would likely fail, as no Democrats are expected to back him. The White House has yet to formally nominate him, raising the possibility that Moore’s nomination could be finished before it ever officially begins.

“It’s hard to look past those [comments],” Moore Capito said.

Blackburn said she has known Moore for a long time but was troubled by what he said as recently as 2014, when he wrote a column questioning whether it would cause societal unrest if women earned more than men.

“Of course his comments are something that are not good and you can guarantee — be guaranteed, absolutely without fail — if I visit with him that would be a topic of discussion,” Blackburn said.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a close friend of Trump’s, expressed concerns of his own.

“It will be a very problematic nomination,” Graham said Tuesday, although he said he is “still looking” at Moore and hasn’t made up his mind on whether to support him.

Trump keeps saying the economy would be even stronger — with higher growth and a higher stock market — if the Fed had not raised interest rates so many times last year. He has been on a quest in 2019 to fill the remaining two spots on the Fed’s board with people who are loyal to him and believe interest rates should be reduced.

Trump’s other intended nominee — businessman Herman Cain — withdrew from consideration after four GOP senators signaled they would not vote for him.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who said publicly she would not vote for Cain, said Tuesday she had a view on Moore but declined to make it public. “I’m going to share it with the White House,” she said.

Collins, another GOP swing vote, said she wasn’t just concerned about Moore’s comments on women but also whether he would maintain the Fed’s independence from politics.

“Obviously some of his past writings are of concern. I feel strongly about the independence of the Federal Reserve. I would also want to explore that issue with him,” Collins said. “It certainly appears that he has a lot of personal financial issues as well as troubling writings about women and our role in society, in sports, and also how he views the Federal Reserve.”

Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation and longtime conservative commentator, vowed to keep fighting Tuesday in an appearance on CNBC. He apologized over the weekend for his past comments about women, although he didn’t get into specifics.

The White House reiterated its support for Moore even as some Republicans appeared to be wavering on whether it was a good idea to move forward with his nomination.

“The president stands behind him,” said Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump adviser, on Tuesday. “He’s somebody that gets the economy, and I guess we’ll continue to focus on that.”

Moore did have some support in the Senate, with Rand Paul (R-Ky.) saying Tuesday that he was “for him,” but most Republican senators dodged reporters questions about Moore or sounded on the fence about whether he should be seriously considered for one of the nation’s top economic posts.

“Clearly there have been some developments that have been troubling with regards to the tax history, the child-care history and the comments I’ve made before still hold, which is it’s important for the Fed to be staffed and led by economists and folks that are not primarily partisan,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

The Internal Revenue Service put a $75,000 lien on Moore for unpaid taxes, which Moore says he has now paid and were a result of a small mistake on his tax return a few years ago. Moore was also found in contempt of court in 2013 for failing to pay his ex-wife more than $330,000 in child support and alimony.

The White House has stood by Moore as news of his past legal troubles and writings have surfaced and caused a firestorm.

“I know him personally. I know he’s a good person,” Conway said. “I’m a strong, successful woman who’s worked with Stephen Moore for decades, and I know how he feels about women. I know how he treats women in the workplace.”

Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

Alleged gunman in synagogue shooting had 50 rounds on him when arrested: Prosecutor

The 19-year-old man who allegedly unleashed a barrage of gunfire on members of a Southern California synagogue was arraigned Tuesday afternoon as prosecutors released new details of the attack, including that the suspect had 50 rounds of ammunition on him when he was arrested.

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A San Diego County prosecutor said in court that when the suspect, John T. Earnest, was arrested he was wearing a tactical vest containing five ammunition magazines, holding 50 bullets. He also said the entire rampage was caught on video.

One day after purchasing an AR-style assault rifle, Earnest allegedly stormed a Passover service at the Chabad of Poway near San Diego on Saturday, killing a member of the temple and wounding three others, including an 8-year-old girl, according to authorities.

PHOTO: John T. Earnest appears for his arraignment hearing, April 30, 2019, in San Diego.Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP

John T. Earnest appears for his arraignment hearing, April 30, 2019, in San Diego.

He was arraigned Tuesday on one count of murder with a hate crime special circumstance and gun allegations, and three counts of attempted murder with hate crime and gun allegations. He was also arraigned on a charge of arson on a house of worship stemming from a fire he allegedly ignited at the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in the San Diego County town of Escondido on March 24.

Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Earnest by his court-appointed attorney, Deputy Public Defender John O’Connell.

Leonard Trinh, a San Diego County deputy district attorney, said in court that Earnest allegedly fired eight to 10 rounds before his gun malfunctioned.

He said synagogue member Lori Kaye, 60, was shot twice in the attack and killed.

Earnest, wearing glasses and a blue jail clothes, showed no emotion during the arraignment and only answered “Yes,” when asked if he waived his right to a speedy trial.

If convicted of the charges, Earnest faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or death, a prosecutor said. A moratorium on the death penalty in California went into effect last month.

Judge Joseph P. Brannigan ordered Earnest to be held in jail without bail, saying he is “an obvious and extraordinary risk to public safety.”

Earnest was ordered to return to court for a hearing on May 30. His preliminary hearing is set for July 8.

PHOTO: A woman leaves flowers on a growing memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., April 29, 2019, following a shooting.Greg Bull/AP

A woman leaves flowers on a growing memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., April 29, 2019, following a shooting.

“We support religious freedom and we must defend it with everything that we have and we’re dedicated to delivering justice in this case,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said at a news conference following the arraignment.

“As prosecutors, we deal with violence on a daily basis, but when the target of violence is an entire religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, the victim pool becomes very large,” Stephan said. “It is everybody who practices that faith or belongs to that race or ethnicity and that is why hate crimes are taken so seriously and California has some of the strictest hate crimes law in the country.”

She said the killing of Kaye elevated the case to one of capital murder.

“The special circumstance being that Lori Kaye was killed because of her religion,” Stephan said.

Earnest’s parents released a statement Monday saying they were “shocked and deeply saddened” by the attack.

“To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” the parents’ statement reads.

Just prior to the synagogue attack, Earnest allegedly posted a threatening letter filled with anti-Semitic and Islamophobic references online and wrote he was planning to livestream an attack, officials said. In the writings, he expressed white supremacist views and claimed responsibility for the mosque fire.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said they were alerted to the letter by an online tipster five minutes before Earnest burst into the Poway synagogue.

“The submission included a link to the post, but did not offer specific information about the post’s author or threat location,” the FBI said in a statement to ABC News. “Although FBI employees immediately took action to determine the post’s author, the shooting occurred before the suspect could be fully identified.”

The FBI is conducting an investigation of the synagogue attack and collecting evidence for possible federal hate crime charges against Earnest, officials said.

Kaye was a member of the synagogue and was fatally shot in the lobby while her husband and daughter were elsewhere in the building.

“I think Lori took the bullet for me and I think she took the bullet for the whole congregation,” Yisroel Goldstein, the rabbi of the synagogue, told ABC News.

PHOTO: Attendees at the funeral for Lori Kaye, who was killed when a gunman opened fire inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., pass by a photo of Kaye, April 29, 2019, inside the synagogue. Gregory Bull/AP

Attendees at the funeral for Lori Kaye, who was killed when a gunman opened fire inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., pass by a photo of Kaye, April 29, 2019, inside the synagogue.

Goldstein was shot in both hands during the attack. The index finger on his right hand was blown off and doctors managed to save the index finger on his left hand.

Also hurt in the rampage were 8-year-old Noya Dahan and her uncle, Almog Peretz, 34. Both suffered shrapnel wounds.

“I really don’t feel safe because this is not the first and definitely not the last time this is going to happen,” Dahan told ABC News. “So now I know just to watch out and stuff for dangerous things to happen.”

Stephan said Tuesday that the gunman’s assault rifle either malfunctioned or he was unable to release the magazine and reload.

He was chased out of the synagogue by two members of the congregation, Oscar Stewart, 51-year-old military veteran, and an off-duty Border Patrol agent, who fired at the suspect’s car as it drove off.

PHOTO:A sign asks for time to grieve at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, April 29, 2019, in Poway, Calif. Gregory Bull/AP

PHOTO:A sign asks for time to grieve at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, April 29, 2019, in Poway, Calif.

“There is only one villain in this case, but there are many heroes,” Stephan said.

A K-9 officer spotted Earnest fleeing the shooting. Authorities said Earnest, who wore a helmet mounted with a camera that malfunctioned and prevented him from livestreaming the attack, surrendered immediately and was placed under arrest.

Stephan said that prior to his arrest, Earnest called 911 to report the shooting and tell a dispatcher that he was armed and gave a location about two miles from the synagogue where police could find him.

Earnest, one of five children in his family who grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in San Diego County, is a pianist and was an honor student at Mt. Carmel High School, where his father is a teacher, according to ABC affiliate station KGTV in San Diego. He was also a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Escondido.

In their statement, Earnest’s parents said their son was “raised in a family, faith, and community that all rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do.”

“How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us, though we are confident that law enforcement will uncover many details of the path that he took to this evil and despicable act,” the parents’ statement reads. “To that end, our family is cooperating with investigators … Our hearts will forever go out to the victims and survivors. Our thanks go to the first responders who prevented even greater loss of life and the well-wishers who have supported us. And we pray for peace.”

Just 2 lawmakers have seen less-redacted Mueller report

Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (shown) and Rep. Doug Collins have seen the less-redacted version of the special counsel’s report. | Alex Edelman/Getty Images

On the eve of Attorney General William Barr’s testimony on a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, only two lawmakers have set eyes on the secret information that Barr withheld from public view.

Barr offered access to a less-redacted version of the report to just 12 members of Congress — six Democrats and six Republicans. But as of Tuesday afternoon, only Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opted to view it. A third, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he planned to review the report later Tuesday.

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Collins and Graham told POLITICO that what’s underneath the redactions had no bearing on what Mueller ultimately concluded: that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge any American with conspiring with Russians to influence the 2016 election, and that Justice Department guidelines prevented Mueller from reaching a legal conclusion on whether President Donald Trump obstructed Justice.

“It didn’t change anything,” Collins said. “Some of the redactions could actually be implied from other parts of the report that were not redacted.”

Graham, whose committee will hear from Barr on Wednesday, said he wasn’t clear why some of the information was redacted at all. Like Collins, Graham said that after viewing it, “nothing changed for me.”

“I don’t know why they redacted half of what they redacted,” he added.

Collins declined to discuss the specifics of the redacted portions of Mueller’s report or to characterize the nature of the 12 ongoing matters that Mueller referred to other prosecutors. He also swiped at Democrats for refusing to view the less-redacted report.

The six Democrats whom Barr offered access to the report boycotted en masse, complaining that Barr should have provided a fully unredacted report to a broader set of lawmakers investigating Trump’s conduct. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has subpoenaed Barr and the Justice Department for the full report as well as Mueller’s underlying evidence. The deadline for compliance is May 1.

When Barr released the public version of Mueller’s report earlier this month, he withheld four categories of material: classified information, material related to ongoing investigations, information that could damage the reputation of “peripheral third parties” and evidence collected by Mueller’s grand jury. Barr’s less-redacted report for the 12 lawmakers allowed them access to each category except grand jury material.

Under the terms offered by Barr, each lawmaker granted access would also be allowed to designate one staff member to view the report. The report was made available at Justice Department headquarters last week and is available for lawmakers and aides to review in a secure room on Capitol Hill this week. Information could not be shared with other lawmakers.

“While the Department will permit notetaking, the Department asks that all notes remain at the Department in its secure facility,” assistant attorney general Stephen Boyd wrote to lawmakers earlier this month, outlining the terms of their access. “Department officials will transfer notes to and from Capitol Hill for in camera review sessions that take place there.”

Barr is slated to testify to the Senate Wednesday and the House Thursday on the findings in Mueller’s report and his handling of its release, which has infuriated Democrats who say he misrepresented the damaging evidence Mueller found that Trump attempted to obstruct the investigation.

In addition to Collins, Graham and McConnell, Barr offered access to the report to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

Others granted access include the top Democrats on the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, Nadler and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Burr told POLITICO Tuesday morning he hadn’t seen the less-redacted report. And McCarthy said he had no intention of viewing it.

“I trust what Barr put forward,” he said. “I’m satisfied right now with what I know.”

Facebook unveils Secret Crush for dating plus other app features

Facebook unveiled new features for its family of apps on Tuesday, including a new dating feature called “Secret Crush.”

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The announcements were made at F8 — the company’s near-annual conference for announcing new products — at the San Jose Convention Center in California.

One of the buzzier announcements was for Secret Crush, a Tinder-like feature that will allow users to crush on a current Facebook friend and only be notified if the feeling is mutual. Facebook Dating launched last year in Colombia, Thailand, Mexico, Argentina and Canada, and will expand to 14 more countries on Tuesday. In the United States, it’s planned to launch by the end of the year.

PHOTO: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook speaks during the keynote F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Jose, Calif, April 30, 2019.John G Mabanglo/EPA via Shutterstock

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook speaks during the keynote F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Jose, Calif, April 30, 2019.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the two-day conference by saying the company was focusing on privacy and messaging as it expands further into processing payments and building commerce into its apps. The new features he announced seemed to take swipes at dating sites like Tinder, retail sites like Amazon and other messaging apps like Snapchat.

“The future is private,” Zuckerberg said, explaining that his companies would use “simple ways to share payments and location. Over time, I believe a private social platform will be even more important in our lives than our digital town squares.”

“I get that a lot of people don’t think we’re serious about this,” he said, chuckling. “I know we don’t have the strongest reputation for privacy right now.”

Starting Tuesday, Facebook will look different, as the company said it was moving away from focusing on its “News Feed” feature towards “Groups.” The mobile app will also be simpler and faster, the company said.

The new version of the social media mobile app will be simpler and faster. The social media app will launch new features, including a redesigned Groups tab with relevant recommendations and features. For example, job seekers will be able to apply directly through jobs posted in groups.

There’s also a “Meet New Friends” feature for users.

In addition, the platform will launch new features in buy and sell groups to ship directly through the app and track shipping. Facebook did not specify exactly when the shipping function would be available.

PHOTO: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook speaks during the keynote F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Jose, Calif, April 30, 2019.John G Mabanglo/EPA via Shutterstock

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook speaks during the keynote F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Jose, Calif, April 30, 2019.

Starting on May 9, shopping on Instagram will have even more instant gratification. Shoppers will be able to buy items direcly from creatives and influencers as opposed to Googling outfits or gear separarately outside the app.

The camera will also be redesigned. Using its “Create Mode,” the photo sharing platform will now allow posts without having to post a photo. Users can create posts with stickers and polls and other media.

Trump intensifies calls on Fed to cut interest rates

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has often clashed with the Fed over the course of his presidency, at one time calling the central bank the “only problem” facing the nation’s economy. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, renewing his long-running campaign against the central bank, which he claims has hindered the United States’ economic growth.

In a pair of tweets, the president said the U.S. economy has “the potential to go up like a rocket” if the Fed would lower interest rates “like one point” and resume quantitative easing, a bond-buying program launched by the Fed in 2008 in the wake of the financial crisis to stop the collapse of the housing market and increase the supply of money in the economy.

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The central bank is hosting its regular Federal Open Market Committee meeting Tuesday and Wednesday.

The president compared the United States with China, a nation that he said is “adding great stimulus to its economy while at the same time keeping interest rates low.”

“Yes, we are doing very well at 3.2% GDP, but with our wonderfully low inflation, we could be setting major records &, at the same time, make our National Debt start to look small!” Trump tweeted.

This summer, the current economic expansion will become the longest in U.S. history. The economy grew by 2.9 percent in 2018.

Trump has often clashed with the Fed throughout his presidency, at one time calling the central bank the “only problem” facing the nation’s economy. For months, Trump decried Fed Chairman Jerome Powell for raising interest rates, hikes which were made four times last year to prevent prices from rising too rapidly and wean the economy off cheap debt that could eventually start to threaten the stability of the financial system.

The president has also pledged to nominate Fed governors who’ve said they support rate cuts, an agenda he’s pushed by picking Stephen Moore for one of the two open seats on the central bank’s board. Though Moore has not yet been officially nominated, his prospective path to Senate confirmation has been complicated by the revelation of past controversial comments about women.

Trump announced he would not nominate his other pick for the board, former pizza executive and 2012 presidential hopeful Herman Cain, after it became clear he would not be confirmed by the Senate.

Prosecutors: Synagogue attacker had 50 unfired bullets

The man accused of attacking a Southern California synagogue fired only eight to 10 of the roughly 60 bullets he had before his weapon jammed, prosecutors said Tuesday.

John T. Earnest, 19, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder in the shooting that happened Saturday during a Passover service at the Chabad of Poway synagogue. One woman was killed and three people wounded, including the rabbi.

Earnest was arrested shortly after the attack with 50 unfired bullets, a tactical vest and helmet, prosecutors said during his arraignment.

At the hearing, a bespectacled Earnest stood behind a glass panel, wearing blue jail clothes and showing no apparent emotion. He uttered only one word — “yes” — to waive his right to a speedy preliminary hearing.

The judge scheduled a status hearing for May 30 and denied bail, calling Earnest an extreme threat to public safety.

Earnest was an accomplished student, athlete and musician whose embrace of white supremacy and anti-Semitism has dumbfounded his family and others who thought they knew him well.

He made the dean’s list both semesters last year as a nursing student at California State University, San Marcos. In high school, he had stellar grades, swam on the varsity team and basked in the applause of classmates for his piano solos at talent shows.

Earnest apparently became radicalized sometime over the last two years. He is also charged with arson in connection with an attack last month on a mosque in nearby Escondido.

Owen Cruise, 20, saw Earnest every day during senior year at Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego when the two were in calculus and physics together. They were also both in the school’s amateur radio club.

Earnest’s piano performances drew audiences to their feet.

His father, John A. Earnest, is a popular physics teacher at Mt. Carmel, where he has worked for 31 years.

“The way John T. acted is not representative at all of the way he was raised,” Cruise said. “They are an outstanding family. Some of the finest people I’ve ever met.”

The suspect’s parents said their son and five siblings were raised in a family that “rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do.”

“To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” the parents said Monday in their first public comments. “Our son’s actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold.”

The parents, who are cooperating with investigators, refused to provide legal representation to their son, and he was represented by a public defender.

Earnest burst into the synagogue on the last day of Passover, a major Jewish holiday that celebrates freedom, and opened fire with an assault-style rifle on the crowd of about 100.

He fled when the rifle jammed, according to authorities and witnesses, avoiding an Army combat veteran and an off-duty Border Patrol agent who pursued him. He called 911 to report the shooting and surrendered a short time later.

Lori Kaye , a founding member of the congregation, was killed. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was shot in the hands, while Noya Dahan, 8, and her uncle Almog Peretz suffered shrapnel wounds.

Kaye, 60, was remembered for her kindness Monday at a memorial service at the packed synagogue in Poway, a well-to-do suburb north of San Diego.

An online writing by a person identifying himself as John Earnest and published shortly before the attack spewed hatred toward Jews and praised the perpetrators of attacks on mosques in New Zealand that killed 50 people last month and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that killed 11 on Oct. 27.

Earnest frequented 8chan, a dark corner of the web where those disaffected by mainstream social media sites often post extremist, racist and violent views.

“I’ve only been lurking here for a year and half, yet what I’ve learned here is priceless. It’s been an honor,” he wrote.

Earnest, who evidently intended to livestream the attack, said he had planned the attack for four weeks.

“If you told me even 6 months ago that I would do this I would have been surprised,” Earnest wrote.

The FBI said it got tips about a social media post threatening violence against Jews about five minutes before the 11:30 a.m. attack.

The tips to an FBI website and hotline included a link to the anonymous post but did not offer specific information about its author or the location of the threat. The bureau said employees immediately tried to determine who wrote it, but the shooting occurred before they could establish his identity.

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Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington, R.J. Rico in Atlanta and Amy Taxin in Poway contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show the rabbi’s first name is spelled Yisroel, not Yishoel.

Rising anti-Semitic hatred is changing Jewish life across the United States

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After a shooting at Chabad of Poway Synagogue left one person dead, members of the community come together to heal.
Harrison Hill, USA TODAY

One rabbi in Riverside, California, now begins services with an announcement about where the exits are – in case people need to run for their lives.

In Glen Rock, New Jersey, a rabbi is unsure what to write on signs at the temple entrance. At first, the message read “entering a secure space,” but that wasn’t exactly what she wanted convey to people arriving to worship.

A synagogue in San Francisco is allocating an increasing amount of money toward airport-style metal detectors and security guards, while the Christian church across the street has open doors.

Saturday’s deadly shooting at the Chabad synagogue of Poway near San Diego killed one woman and injured three people when a gunman opened fire during a Passover service.

It came exactly six months after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in which a man who said he wanted all Jews to die killed 11 people and injured seven. It was the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history.

Such attacks are becoming more frequent. Across the nation, anti-Semitic incidents are reaching historic levels. In 2018, there were 1,879 recorded attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions, according to the Anti-Defamation League. That was the third-highest year on record since the 1970s, when the ADL first started tracking anti-Semitic attacks.

Jewish leaders say they are increasingly dealing with a new reality of metal detectors, armed guards and an ever-present threat of violence. They say their community is determined to go on practicing their faith despite the risks, and many rabbis are observing a growing number of people finding their way to services to show their support.

“We will not be afraid, and we will not hide. We will continue to be part of the American fabric,” said Rabbi Jonathan Singer at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. “Temple Emanu-El will be loud and proud about being Jewish and celebrating God’s holy creation in every human being.”

The rise in anti-Semitism has unfolded as the nation has seen a surge in white supremacist propaganda and murders committed by right-wing extremists. Many of the attackers believe that what they consider to be the “pure” white race is under siege and feel compelled to act, said George Selim, senior vice president for ADL. 

“These murderers and terrorists lift one another up as heroes and prominent figures, and it’s really insidious and very dangerous,” Selim said.

Anti-Semitic hate 

Attacks against the Jewish community are nothing new, of course. But Jewish leaders say there is now an awareness of potential violence that hasn’t been felt in many years.

Ten years ago, Temple Beth El in Riverside in Southern California was the target of a neo-Nazi group that marched around the synagogue during the Hanukkah season.

“They carried swastika flags. We have several Holocaust survivors in our temples and that brought back terrible memories for them,” said Rabbi Suzanne Singer, no relation to Jonathan Singer.

The harassment began after students from the University of California-Riverside held a rally in support of undocumented immigrants and one of them carried an Israeli flag.

“The neo-Nazis thought they were from our synagogue, so they started targeting us,”  Suzanne Singer said.

Eventually, the ringleader, a man named Jeffrey Hall, was shot by his 10-year-old son after years of abuse by his father, and the group fell apart.

But the uneasiness remains. Children in the congregation have had swastikas placed on their lockers and been targeted by anti-Semitic jokes about the Holocaust. Classmates have told them they’ll go to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus. 

“We’re now locking our doors once the service starts on Friday night, which we never did before. We’re also being trained on how to deal with a live shooter. We’ve come to the point where not to do so would be irresponsible,” said Suzanne Singer.

In Illinois, a masked man wielding a bicycle lock smashed windows at Chicago’s Loop Synagogue and pasted swastikas to its front entrance about a year and a half ago.

“It was very shattering to us,” said Lee Zoldan, president of the synagogue.

With each fresh anti-Semitic incident nationally, she finds her congregation mourning while also questioning what it can do to further protect itself.

“We scour the news to see what the attackers did, what we could do to prevent such an attack. We’re applying for Homeland Security grants,” she said.

Before services, the congregation once milled around and chatted. Now, one of the first announcements is about where the exits are in case of an attack.

“People become still for that. You have their undivided attention,” Zoldan said.

‘Senseless acts’ of prejudice

For many Americans, every week seems to bring new reports of swastika graffiti or other acts of hate.

Anti-Semitic incidents for 2018 were 48% higher than the total for 2016 and 99% higher than in 2015, according to ADL. Its audit includes tallies of physical assaults, vandalism and harassment.

The increases coincided with annual jumps in reported hate crimes nationwide for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2017, according to the FBI. In 2017, hate crimes peaked at 7,175 incidents.

Other Western nations have at the same time seen a significant rise in anti-Semitic violence. In France, there was a 74% increase in anti-Semitic incidents, from 311 to 541, including the torture and murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor named Mireille Knoll, said Catherine Chatterley, editor-in-chief of the journal Antisemitism Studies and a history professor at the University of Manitoba in Canada.

Germany reported a 10-year record high of 1,646 anti-Semitic acts in 2018, in which 43 people were wounded. In the United Kingdom, 1,652 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in 2018 with 123 classified as violent, a 16% increase from 2017, Chatterley said.

In Canada, there were 2,041 anti-Semitic incidents, including 11 violent acts; 221 acts of vandalism; and 1,809 acts of harassment, adding up to a third consecutive year in which record numbers were reached, Chatterley said.

The hostile climate is also bringing people together while forcing them to prepare in ways they hoped they would never need to. On Saturday, about 100 people held a vigil at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh to honor the shooting victims in California. Among them was Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who survived the mass shooting there in October. 

“We know first-hand the fear, anguish and healing process such an atrocity causes,” the synagogue said in a statement about the San Diego attack. “These senseless acts of violence and prejudice must end. Enough is enough.”

Adam Hertzman, a spokesman for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said the California attack had brought back painful memories for the local Jewish community. Since the Tree of Life shooting, the federation has helped synagogues boost their security with security cameras, alarms, portable panic buttons and active shooter training, Hertzman said.

“There’s a level of fear that hasn’t been there before,” Hertzman said. “But I also see a level of attention to security and a level of togetherness that we didn’t see before either.”

Lies and violence

The roots of anti-Semitism are deep, old and pernicious. In the early days of the Christian faith, Jews were collectively held responsible for the death of Jesus. During the Middle Ages in Europe, Jews were accused of killing Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals.

Such lies were used to inflame hatred and violence against Jewish communities for centuries and are still being repeated today. 

During violent confrontations in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, neo-Nazis chanted “Jews will not replace us” and a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators, killing activist Heather Heyer. 

President Donald Trump, who some people have linked to rising white nationalism, argued at the time that there were “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville. 

More recently, the 19-year-old man accused of the Poway shooting seemed to have embraced contemporaryconspiracy theories about refugees and immigrants replacing the Christian European majority, which some white supremacists call “The Great Replacement.”

Sharon R. Douglas, CEO of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York, said recent hate crimes are driven by economic competition and fear of the other.

“Some of our most vulnerable citizens feel empowered to turn to violence in defense of the us versus them” mentality, Douglas said.

Others blame social media companies for not doing more to help stop white nationalists and extremists from recruiting and spreading their messages online.

Keegan Hankes, a senior research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the internet has played a major role in allowing anti-Semitic rhetoric to spread widely. The center counted at least 1,000 hate groups nationwide in 2018, the largest number ever recorded, Hankes said.

“Radicalization is a complex picture that affects people in different ways,” Hankes said. “But the power of the internet can’t be underestimated. These groups are largely organized online.”

Chatterley says social media and the internet have inspired some to take it further than just talk.

“These systems of communication allow racists and anti-Semites to support one another and share ideas, which apparently help inspire them to commit violent acts, as well,” she said.

‘American values’

The rise of anti-Semitism is difficult to fathom, said Zoldan of the Chicago Loop Synagogue in Illinois. She notes that Holocaust Remembrance Day is May 1st this year.

“One of the things we say about the Holocaust is ‘Never again,’” she said. “But one of the things we’re feeling now is that instead of ‘Never again’ it’s becoming ‘Yet again.’”

Rabbi Jonathan Singer of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco said he would rather spend the synagogue’s money on children’s programs and worship instead of its growing security budget. 

“I want to stop hearing people say they’re sorry about what happened and start having people say this is anti-ethical to American values,” he said. “We have to go on the offensive about what we as a nation stand for.”

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Democrats and Trump agree to spend $2 trillion on big and bold infrastructure plan

In sharp contrast to previous acrimonious showdowns and amid bitterly–disputed investigations, congressional Democrats on Tuesday emerged from a White House meeting with President Donald Trump calling it “constructive” and announcing an agreement to spend $2 trillion to tackle U.S. infrastructure in a “big and bold way.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters outside the West Wing the hour-and-a-half meeting with Trump, top aides and Cabinet officials was “very productive,” a characterization echoed in a statement by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

“We have to invest in this country’s future and bring our infrastructure to a level better than it has ever been before,” Sanders said.

While fireworks flared at previous White House meetings, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said there was “goodwill” during Tuesday’s discussions.

Schumer said the plan isn’t short term — it’s hoped it will have an impact for “25 years.” Improving roads, bridges, highways, and water systems were discussed, and, according to Schumer, broadband and the power grid “so we could bring clean energy from one end of the country to another.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will announce just how sweeping the “big and bold” plan will be, according to Pelosi.

The group will meet again in three weeks to discuss specific proposals and the president will present his ideas on ways to foot the giant bill.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 29, 2019.Susan Walsh/AP

President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 29, 2019.

Democrats said the topic of investigations did not come at Tuesday’s meeting, as the meeting came amid growing tensions between Democrats and the White House in the wake of the Mueller report.

In an exchange with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, Schumer expressed optimism that Democrats can both investigate and work to legislate with the president at the same time.

“In previous meetings the president said if the investigations continue, I can’t work with you. He didn’t bring it up,” Schumer told Karl. “I believe, we can do both at once.”

“We can come up with some good ideas on infrastructure and we want to hear his ideas on funding,” Schumer said. “That’s going to be the crucial point in my opinion. And the House and the Senate can proceed in its oversight responsibilities. The two are not mutually exclusive, and we were glad he didn’t make it that way.”

Meanwhile, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney openly expressed skepticism at the prospects of any infrastructure while halfway across the country in California speaking at the Milken Institute conference.

“Let me put it this way, you and I agree that we need to do infrastructure, OK, you’re a Democrat, I’m a Republican. There are certain things we agree on that could form the basis of an agreement. Here’s where it breaks down, and it’s not on the basis of how do you pay for it,” he said.

“Why go ahead and commit to an infrastructure deal now but we’re not going to change the environment under which it gets built?” he asked rhetorically. “That’s not acceptable to this president … he’s not interested in sending a trillion dollars now for something that won’t get built until 2029.”

Ahead of the meeting, Democrats appeared split on how Congress will pay for a package that could reach up to $2 trillion, especially with calls to increase the gasoline tax.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi phoned Trump on April 4 to request the meeting. She was joined by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and top policy stakeholders at the White House.

Pelosi and Schumer wrote a letter to Trump on Monday outlining Democratic priorities, “which we wanted you to be aware of before the meeting,” including “substantial, new and real revenue,” clean energy and resiliency priorities, and “strong Buy America, labor, and women, veteran and minority-owned business protections.”

“We look forward to hearing your ideas on how to pay for this package to ensure that it is big and bold enough to meet our country’s needs,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote. “This bill can and should be a major jobs and ownership boost for the American people — manufacturers, labor contractors, and women, veteran and minority-owned businesses.”

But heading into the meeting, Democrats had not coalesced around a dollar amount for a package, and they weren’t expected to present the president with a list of offsets to potential infrastructure spending.

A source close to Schumer warned that unless Trump considers “undoing” elements of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, “Schumer won’t even consider a proposal from the president to raise the gas tax, of which the poor and working people would bear the brunt.”

But several Democratic aides said Schumer’s red line is not representative of all Democrats, given that the 2017 tax cut measure is arguably Trump’s greatest legislative achievement.

“It’s not a likely outcome,” one senior Democratic aide predicted ahead of the meeting. “People see what he’s trying to do there, but I think there are others who think it complicates what’s already a complicated situation.”

PHOTO: Chairman Peter DeFazio conducts a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in the Capitol Visitor Center, Feb. 7, 2019, in Washington, DC.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images, FILE

Chairman Peter DeFazio conducts a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in the Capitol Visitor Center, Feb. 7, 2019, in Washington, DC.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, a vocal proponent of raising the gasoline tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993, said doing so could raise billions of dollars, though he has deferred to the Ways and Means committee for the specifics on pulling the legislative branch’s purse strings.

DeFazio testified before the committee in March and argued Congress could raise $500 billion for infrastructure investment “by indexing the gas and diesel tax, with the increases capped at 1.5 cents per year.”

“By letting existing user fees — the gasoline and diesel tax — sit unadjusted for over 25 years, Congress has undermined this longstanding notion and shaken the stability of highway and transit funding in recent years. Since 1993, federal gas and diesel taxes have lost over 40% of their purchasing power,” DeFazio testified on March 6. “We can provide an immediate boost in investment by issuing bonds tied to the future indexation revenues. The bond revenues are available immediately and fully offset.”

DeFazio is one of the Democratic leaders invited to join Pelosi and Schumer at the meeting Tuesday.

“I am in discussions with my leadership in advance of this meeting and I am hopeful that the talks will be productive, and a catalyst for the robust infrastructure investment we desperately need and to which I’m deeply committed to enacting,” DeFazio, D-Ore., said in a statement to ABC News.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer abd House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 11, 2018, in Washington.Evan Vucci/AP, FILE

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer abd House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 11, 2018, in Washington.

Pelosi and Schumer last met with Trump at the White House on Jan. 9, amid the 35-day government shutdown, shortly after the start of the new session of Congress and just a few weeks after congressional leaders engaged in a public airing of their grievances on Dec. 11 in front of the White House press corps in the Oval Office.

The follow-up, closed-door January meeting ended with Trump walking out of the Situation Room less than 15 minutes into the meeting, declaring it “a total waste of time” after Democrats refused to budge on the president’s demands for a border wall.

ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report.

Dying man to Congress: GoFundMes not a health care plan

At a first hearing Tuesday, they invited high-profile health care activist
Ady Barkan, a 35-year-old father who is confined to a motorized wheelchair by ALS, to testify on the Medicare for All bill introduced recently by Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell.

Speaking through a voice synthesizer, Barkan challenged Democrats who support making incremental changes to Obamacare to back swift and drastic action instead.

“Some people argue that although Medicare for All is a great idea, we need to move slowly to get there,” he said. “But I needed Medicare for All yesterday. Millions of people need it today. The time to pass this law is now.”

“The ugly truth is this: Health care is not treated as a human right in the United States of America. This fact is outrageous. And it is far past time that we change it,” Barkan told the committee, using software that tracks his eye movements and converts text into speech.

Barkan’s testimony was designed to cut through debate about the
hefty price tag and political tradeoffs attached to creating a government-run health program.
2020 Democrats rally around Obamacare amid Trump's new bid to kill health care law2020 Democrats rally around Obamacare amid Trump's new bid to kill health care law
The hearing itself was initially set to be more mundane and limited in scope until Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, chair of the House Rules Committee, invited
Barkan, who founded the Be a Hero PAC.

“Congress should be a place where we tackle big things,” McGovern said. “I know we won’t pass this bill overnight, but we won’t pass it if we don’t start the dialogue.”

Republicans took issue with Democrats’ decision to hold the hearing in the Rules Committee, when other committees like Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce have greater jurisdiction of the contents of the bill.

The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, called Jayapal’s plan “a socialist proposal that threatens freedom,” and criticized the bill’s provision allowing federal funding to pay for abortions, which is banned under current law.

“What Democrats are proposing today would completely change America’s health care system, and not in my view, for the better,” Cole said.

The most notable moments in the hearing came when Barkan discussed his own encounters with the health care system and his ALS diagnosis. Barkan said his medical expenses run about $9,000 per month and are not covered by insurance. He has raised money to cover his costs through GoFundMe.

“We should instead have a rational, fair, comprehensive social safety net that actually catches us when we fall,” he said.

Barkan documented his journey to Washington over the weekend on Twitter, detailing his passage through security with his mechanized wheelchair, and rallied with fellow progressives from the Center for Popular Democracy on Monday outside the headquarters of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a major pharmaceutical lobby.

“We will end their profiteering and end their rationing and end their monopolies, because everyone deserves access to medicine. Everyone deserves health care,” Darius Gordon, national field organizer for the Center for Popular Democracy, said on behalf of Barkan in a call-and-response speech to the crowd. “Health care is a human right.”

Barkan also met with Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and Democratic presidential candidate who has introduced his own version of Medicare for All legislation in the Senate.

Barkan’s testimony will represent a sharp break from the position taken by Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has argued for focusing on reinforcing Obamacare instead of overhauling the nation’s health care system as the Affordable Care Act comes under legal assault by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Barkan, who is dying of ALS, was added as a witness amid complaints first
reported by HuffPost that the original witness list did not include strong proponents of Medicare for All.

“Ady Barkan has been fighting for many of the principles this Majority believes in for a long time, including the notion that health care is a right and not a privilege,” McGovern said in a press release announcing the change last week. “His extraordinary advocacy since his diagnosis has been an inspiration to so many Americans.”

Medicare for All legislation was introduced earlier this year in the House by Jayapal of Washington state and Dingell of Michigan. It would roll out the single-payer system over two years, as opposed to the four-year transition envisioned in a similar plan laid out by
Sanders.

Jayapal’s wide-ranging bill would cover long-term care, prescription drugs, vision and dental care, primary care, hospital visits, maternity care, medical devices as well as abortions. Sanders’ bill would also get rid of the ban on federal funding.

Jayapal’s legislation does not include details on how to pay for the sweeping proposal. A CBO analysis of single-payer legislation is expected Wednesday.

The House proposal would sunset Medicare and Medicaid but would keep the Indian Health Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system intact.

The single-payer debate has highlighted divides within the Democratic conference. Most freshmen Democrats, many of whom were elected in competitive districts, have not been willing to sign on to the proposal.

“How are we going to pay for it?”
Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois asked of Medicare for All in a February interview with CNN. “What happens with private insurance? What happens to all types of coverage?”

Underwood has argued for shoring up the Affordable Care Act instead, a strategy that supporters say is more likely to result in legislation passing through a divided Congress.

Proponents of Medicare for All, such as California Nurses Association board member Sandy Reding, argue that an incremental approach isn’t adequate.

“Obamacare was a step in the right direction, but the only thing that’s going to cure what ails our health care system right now is Medicare for All,” she told CNN at the Monday afternoon rally. “Not incremental changes, not other options. We have to make sure that profits don’t continue to be put over people, because capitalizing on the sick and injured is horrible.”

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