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Republican senator recorded criticizing Trump

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Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins on Tuesday was recorded making critical comments about the Trump administration’s understanding of the legislative process during a Senate subcommittee hearing.

Collins discussed Republican President Donald Trump and the federal budget with Democratic Senator Jack Reed at the end of a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing, according to a tape obtained by the Washington Post.

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On the recording, Collins suggests the Office of Management and Budget is being capricious in its approach to reducing spending.

“No thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It’s just incredibly irresponsible,” Collins said, according to a Post report and accompanying audio.

“I think — I think he’s crazy,” Reed replied in an apparent reference to Trump.

“I don’t think he knows there is a BCA (Budget Control Act) or anything,” Collins later said, apparently referring to the president and a 2011 budget law.

Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark told Reuters that Collins is worried about the elimination of funding for transportation and housing programs in Trump’s budget.

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Reed spokesman Chip Unruh said the senator was “letting Senator Collins know he’s in her corner.”

“He has said it publicly and privately: The Trump Administration is behaving erratically and irresponsibly,” Unruh said in an email to Reuters.

Later in the recording, Collins also responds to a Republican representative, Blake Farenthold, who said recently that he wished he could to challenge her to a duel over her healthcare bill opposition. Collins was one of just two Senate Republicans on Tuesday who voted against beginning debate on a bill to replace Obamacare.

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“Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this Playboy bunny?” Collins asked Reed, saying that Farenthold was “huge,” and referencing a 2010 picture of Farenthold that made the rounds on Twitter.

Collins said in a statement that “neither weapons nor inappropriate words” were the right way to resolve legislative disputes.

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“I received a handwritten apology from Rep. Farenthold late this morning. I accept his apology, and I offer him mine,” she said.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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