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Baucus nominated girlfriend to be US attorney

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus was romantically involved with a former staffer when he recommended her earlier this year to become the next U.S. attorney for Montana, a spokesman said.

The Montana Democrat and his former state office director Melodee Hanes began their relationship in the summer of 2008 after Baucus separated from his wife, Ty Matsdorf told The Associated Press late Friday.

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Baucus nominated Hanes for the U.S. attorney post in March. But she later withdrew, saying she had been presented with other opportunities she couldn’t pass up.

The Senate leader who’s been a major proponent of Democratic health care legislation had submitted six names to a third-party reviewer, who whittled those to Hanes and two others. Matsdorf said the senator sent the three names to the White House with no ranking to select a nominee.

Matsdorf said Baucus’ relationship with his girlfriend had nothing to do with his decision.

“Senator Baucus recommended each of the three candidates based solely on qualifications, and merit, knowing whichever one the White House selected would serve Montana well,” Matsdorf said.

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The spokesman said Baucus and Hanes decided during the nomination process that she should withdraw her name because the couple wanted to live together in Washington, which they later did.

Matsdorf declined to say why the senator was just now disclosing the circumstances surrounding the nomination.

Baucus and his ex-wife Wanda announced last April that they planned to divorce after 25 years of marriage, his second. In a joint statement, they said they had “parted ways amicably and with mutual respect.”

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Hanes started working for Baucus in 2002 and was his state director before leaving his office earlier this year for a position in the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Mel is supremely qualified and she got to her current position based solely on her merit,” Matsdorf said.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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George Washington Bridge shut down for all traffic as Bomb Squad investigates suspicious device

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Traffic in New York City slowed to gridlock on Friday after authorities shut down the world's busiest vehicular bridge.

"All traffic on the George Washington Bridge has been closed off due to reports of a suspicious device on the span linking New York and New Jersey," CBS New York reported Thursday.

"According to police sources, the Port Authority Police Department has called in the Bergen County Bomb Squad to help with their investigation," CBS added. "Sources tell CBS2 the NYPD has not been called in yet to assist with the possible threat."

https://twitter.com/PANYNJ_GWB/status/1164724186880675841

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Maddow walks through existence of a ‘whistleblower’ alleging the IRS is mishandling Trump’s taxes

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MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported Thursday on the "confetti canon" of new filings in the legal battle between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the House Ways and Means Committee over access to President Donald Trump's tax returns.

Maddow reported on Exhibit QQ in the latest filings, which is a letter from Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"On July 29, 2019, the Committee received an unsolicited communication from a Federal employee setting forth credible allegations of 'evidence of possible misconduct' -- specifically, potential 'inappropriate efforts to influence' the mandatory audit program," Exhibit QQ read.

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Texas governor busted sending racist call-to-arms a day before El Paso attack: ‘take matters into our own hands’

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On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted out a message of unity and promised to work to reduce violence in his state, in the wake of the shooting in El Paso that left 22 dead and dozens more injured:

Today we had hearings responding to the tragic shooting in El Paso.

We focused on community healing, combating domestic terrorism, reducing hateful ideologies, & keeping guns out of hands of deranged killers while respecting 2nd Amendment rights.

We’ll keep TX safe.#txlege pic.twitter.com/ymct4aiSgK

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