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House approves new Russia sanctions, defying Trump

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to slap new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, despite President Donald Trump’s objections to the legislation.

The sanctions bill coincided with lawmakers taking steps to show they are willing to push hard as they investigate possible meddling by Russia in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion by Republican Trump’s campaign.

The Trump administration has objected to a provision that would oblige the president to obtain congressional approval before easing any sanctions on Moscow.

The Senate Judiciary Committee said on Tuesday it wanted Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for Trump, to appear at a hearing as part of its investigation.

Also on Tuesday, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, spent three hours with the House of Representatives intelligence panel, his second straight day on Capitol Hill answering questions about his contacts with Russians during the campaign.

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Moscow has denied it worked to influence the election in the Republican candidate’s favor, and Trump has denied his campaign colluded.

The sanctions bill, passed 419 votes to 3 in the House, must also pass the Senate before it can be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto.

The bill, which had the support of both Republicans and Democrats in the House, aims to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and over conclusions by U.S. intelligence agencies that it interfered in the U.S. election.

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An earlier version was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate, but there are differences between the two measures that must now be worked out.

The measure’s fate in the Senate is uncertain. A spokesman for John Cornyn, the no. 2 Republican, said on Tuesday there had been no decision on when the Senate might begin to consider the House bill.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters on Monday there were still issues under discussion and that any announcement about a deal to move the bill forward “seemed somewhat premature.”

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The White House has said the president had not yet decided whether he would sign the measure, which would potentially hamper Trump’s hopes of pursuing improved relations with Moscow.

Rejecting the bill would carry a risk that his veto could be overridden by lawmakers.

Late on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump was still studying the bill and considering whether he would support it.

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The bill has raised concerns in the European Union, where the legislation could result in fines for companies helping Russia build gas pipelines like the 9.5 billion euro ($11.1 billion) Nord Stream 2 project.

(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker, Doina Chiacu, Steve Holland, Susan Heavey and Karen Friefeld; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Frances Kerry, James Dalgleish and Grant McCool)


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Pence abruptly canceled trip because person he was meeting was about to be busted by the feds

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The White House abruptly canceled a planned trip to New Hampshire to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from being seen with somebody about to be busted for interstate drug trafficking of fentanyl, Politico reported Monday.

"Among the problems was a federal law enforcement probe involving individuals Pence would likely encounter, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the incident. If Pence stepped off the vice presidential aircraft, one of the people he would have seen on the ground was under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration for moving more than $100,000 of fentanyl from Massachusetts to New Hampshire," Politico reported.

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‘Do you love Puerto Rico?’: Fox News’ Shep Smith rips governor to shreds

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Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló was outed for cold and heartless comments he exchanged about his own island in wake of the horrific hurricanes that destroyed the island in 2017. He's also being forced to ask questions about the corruption involving the funding for hurricane relief. Nearly 1 million people have taken to the streets demanding accountability and action.

In his first interview, Rosselló may have assumed he'd meet a friendly audience on Fox News, but Shep Smith let him have it.

"The corruption is rampant in Puerto Rico," Smith said. "Economically Puerto Rico is in a fiscal crisis, $70 billion in debt and a 13-year recession. In the leaked 900 pages of profanity-laced messages, dubbed RickyGate, after you, sir, you made light of the casualties of the Hurricane Maria, you tossed homophobic and misogynistic remarks, You were calling the former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverit a whore. Of the oversight board that rules Puerto Rico's finances, you said, 'Go F-yourself. And when your representative to that board said he is salivating to shoot the woman who is the mayor of San Juan, you said, 'You’d be doing me a grand favor.' So, attacks on woman, gays, dead relatives on your own island and after that who is left to support you? Is it even safe for you to govern?"

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Puerto Ricans launch biggest protest yet against governor

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Angry protesters blocked the main road in Puerto Rico's capital on Monday as they launched what was expected to be the largest yet of a wave of demonstrations seeking the resignation of the US territory's embattled governor.

Marching under sunny skies in San Juan, the demonstrators sang, chanted, danced and carried the territory's red, white and blue flag with a lone star.

Altogether, hundreds of thousands were expected to turn out.

Puerto Ricans are up in arms over alleged corruption involving money meant to be for victims of Hurricane Maria in 2017, which left nearly 3,000 dead.

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