The Latest: Pence returns to Indiana after tornadoes hit

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " The Latest on the U.S. presidential race (all times EDT):

7:30 p.m.

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence has returned to his home state of Indiana after tornadoes struck the state.

Indiana's governor, Pence had been campaigning in North Carolina on Wednesday when multiple tornadoes touched down in central Indiana. Initial reports describe a large tornado moving across the Howard County town of Kokomo and damaging apartment buildings and automobiles and cutting power.

In a tweet, Pence asks, "Please keep Hoosiers in your prayers."

A spokesman for Pence, Matt Lloyd, says the governor had returned Wednesday evening and was heading to the Emergency Operations Center of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight says Pence plans to visit the area on Thursday.

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7:20 p.m.

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence is turning his attention from campaigning to his home state of Indiana after tornadoes struck the state.

Indiana's governor, Pence was campaigning in North Carolina on Wednesday when multiple tornadoes touched down in central Indiana. Initial reports describe a large tornado moving across the Howard County town of Kokomo and damaging apartment buildings and automobiles and cutting power.

In a tweet, Pence says he is returning to Indiana and asks, "Please keep Hoosiers in your prayers."

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7:05 p.m.

The White House is firing back at Sen. Mark Kirk for his comment that President Barack Obama was "acting like the drug dealer in chief" when the administration made a $400 million cash payment to Iran.

The Illinois Republican criticized Obama over the payment, which was contingent on the release of American prisoners. Kirk's campaign has said the administration's actions are "almost certain to fund terrorism."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday Kirk's rhetoric is inconsistent with how most people in Illinois view Obama's efforts to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Earnest says it's tempting for candidates "to say outrageous things to try to get attention," but "that's certainly no way to run a country."

Kirk faces a difficult re-election challenge from Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

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6:55 p.m.

Donald Trump says the Republican-run Congress should return to session to "approve whatever's necessary" to combat the Zika virus.

The GOP presidential candidate tells WFLA television in Tampa, Florida, that Congress "ought to allocate more money to Florida and see if we can nip" the virus "in the bud."

Lawmakers left Washington in mid-July until after Labor Day without approving any of the $1.9 billion that President Barack Obama requested in February to develop a vaccine and control mosquitoes that carry the virus.

Trump's rival Hillary Clinton has urged Congress to shorten its summer recess and immediately approve Zika funding.

Trump is praising Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott for "really pitching in" instead of giving up on the problem and hoping "it just goes away."

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6 p.m.

Former President Bill Clinton is defending the work of the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton told reporters in Atlanta on Wednesday: "If there's something wrong with creating jobs and saving lives, I don't know what it is."

An Associated Press report Tuesday found more than half of the non-government officials who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money to the foundation.

Bill Clinton repeated his plans to stop accepting foreign donations and personally stop raising money for the foundation if Hillary Clinton is elected president. He said those changes can be made quickly after the election but he doesn't want to jeopardize projects or hurt employees.

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5:20 p.m.

Mike Pence says "pay-to-play politics is over and done" if Donald Trump is elected president.

The Republican vice presidential candidate aimed his comments at Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee. They came after The Associated Press reported that 85 people from private interests who met with or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family's Clinton Foundation.

Pence spoke Wednesday at a rally in Leland, North Carolina. He repeated Trump's call for the Clinton charitable foundation to be closed and an independent prosecutor be named to examine the link between foreign foundation donors and her State Department work.

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4:40 p.m.

Mike Pence has received a memento from his visit to a manufacturing plant in North Carolina, and it may end up around his dog's neck.

During his tour Wednesday of operations at Manufacturing Methods in Leland, workers presented the Republican vice presidential nominee, his wife and others with round metal key chains. The "Trump Pence" campaign logo had been cut into each of the trinkets with a machine that shoots water and abrasives at 50,000 pounds per square inch.

Pence sounded impressed with the work, but told company employee Hunter Phillips that it might not show up on the ring for his car and house keys.

Instead, Pence said, "I might put it on my dog."

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3:30 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders says he'll campaign actively this fall to send Democrat Hillary Clinton the White House. And he says he'll urge the supporters of his former presidential campaign to help Democrats take back a majority in the Senate.

Sanders says he's leaning toward seeking re-election as an independent senator from Vermont in 2018. He turns 75 on Sept. 8.

Sanders tells The Associated Press that one campaign stop will be a Labor Day breakfast in New Hampshire. He'll stump there for Maggie Hassan, the Democratic governor challenging Republican Kelly Ayotte for her Senate seat.

He says he plans to campaign for Democratic House and Senate candidates in other states, too.

Sanders calls Republican Donald Trump the worst presidential nominee he has seen in his lifetime.

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2:45 p.m.

The National Rifle Association is making plans to help Donald Trump.

The NRA's political victory fund has reserved about $2.7 million in TV commercials from the week of Sept. 5 through the week of Oct. 18, Kantar Media's political ad tracker shows.

Most ads are set to begin Sept. 20. Like the Republican presidential nominee's campaign, the NRA is focusing on Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The group also will advertise across the country.

The NRA has been one of Trump's key allies on television, airing commercials well before Trump's own campaign began doing so. In all, the NRA is on track to spend at least $7.6 million on presidential commercials, Kantar Media shows.

The NRA warns that Democrat Hillary Clinton would clamp down on gun rights if elected president.

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2:35 p.m.

Donald Trump is again urging African-Americans and Hispanics living in inner cities to give him a chance.

Speaking in Tampa, Florida, Trump said that Democratic policies have only led to more poverty, crime, and joblessness in cities like Chicago and Baltimore.

He said: "To those suffering, I say, vote for Donald Trump," asking once again what they have to lose.

Trump says that if he's elected, he'll make sure everyone can walk down the street without being shot.

And he is telling Hispanics, "I want you to join the ranks of people who are making phenomenal livings."

He said: "I think we're going to do great with African-Americans and with the Hispanics," despite polls showing the minority voters overwhelmingly favoring rival Hillary Clinton.

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1:50 p.m.

Donald Trump is thanking volunteers who will be staffing one of three recreational vehicles that will crisscross Florida to register voters ahead of Election Day.

Trump, the Republican nominee, hopped out of his motorcade in advance of a rally Wednesday in Tampa. He arrived as a thunderstorm did, but was handed an umbrella and walked over, declaring "I have to see my people."

He shook hands with volunteers, including Tony Ledbetter, a Republican official.

He also saluted his campaign's recent outreach to minorities, saying "I think we're doing really great with minority voters." At the rally in Tampa, Trump is expected to discuss how his economic policies would help Hispanics.

Then, as a heavy downpour began, Trump ducked inside the RV to shake more hands.

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1 p.m.

Donald Trump is applauding the prospect of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry mounting a primary challenge against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, saying "boy, will he do well."

At an Austin fundraiser Tuesday, Trump was asked about Perry trying to unseat Trump's former primary rival.

On a recording of the event released by a Democratic group, Trump says he's been "hearing a lot about that" and isn't sure what Perry will do. But he calls Perry a "great governor" saying, "People love him in Texas."

Perry left office last year and was once a Trump critic, but now supports him. Perry has told associates he's unlikely to run for Senate.

Trump's comments, though, could be payback for Cruz refusing to endorse the billionaire businessman during last month's Republican National Convention.

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11:45 a.m.

Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence is blaming both Democrats and Republicans for the decline of manufacturing in the United States.

The Indiana governor was addressing about 200 people Wednesday at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry in North Carolina.

He said policies by both Republican and Democratic administrations have eroded America's manufacturing industry. Pence also said the country has been neither smart nor tough in defending U.S. jobs from international trade. He said that will change if he and Donald Trump are elected in November.

Pence, wearing a hard hat and safety glasses, toured the manufacturing portion of the plant, shaking hands with some workers.

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11:30 a.m.

Donald Trump's new Wisconsin women coalition includes some of the most powerful politicians in the state, and two who were caught up in a highly publicized investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's county office.

The unveiling of the statewide group Wednesday comes as polls show Trump trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton overall in Wisconsin and among women.

Former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, state Senate President Mary Lazich (LAH-zik) and Sen. Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Legislature's budget committee, top the coalition.

Also part of the group is Darlene Wink, who was convicted of two misdemeanors for doing work on Walker's gubernatorial campaign while at work in his Milwaukee County executive's office.

Another coalition member, Rose Ann Dieck (DIKE), was granted immunity to testify as part of that probe.

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9:40 a.m.

Ohio's elections chief has cleared the way for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson to appear on fall ballots in the critical swing state.

Johnson's ballot access had been in question after party activists submitted paperwork and voter signatures earlier this month on behalf of a different candidate. They said they planned to swap in Johnson.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO'-sted) has said Ohio law neither openly permits nor bars the switch, but he would allow it as long as elections boards validated enough voter signatures.

Husted's office announced Wednesday that Johnson's supporters have met the signature requirements.

Libertarians aren't recognized as a political party in Ohio, so activists sought to collect enough signatures from voters to get Johnson on the ballot by way of a process for independent candidates.

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8:25 a.m.

A son of Donald Trump says it would be foolish for his father to release his tax returns.

The Republican presidential nominee has broken with precedent by refusing to release them. He says they are being audited and he can't release them until the audit is complete.

His son, Eric Trump, said Wednesday on CNBC not much can be learned from tax returns. He said his father's returns are massive and "you would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes" looking through them and making "assumptions on things they know nothing about."

Democrats say Trump's returns would reveal whether he was paying a fair amount in taxes and whether he would personally benefit from his policy proposals.

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7:25 a.m.

As the Zika virus continues to spread, Hillary Clinton is proposing a new fund to improve the federal government's response to major public health crises.

The Democratic presidential nominee says the U.S. is failing to sufficiently invest in public health preparedness, not only for Zika, but health threats from potentially pandemic diseases, climate change and possible bioterrorism.

If elected, Clinton would create what she's calling a "Public Health Rapid Response Fund" to help federal agencies and local hospital systems respond faster and more aggressively.

Her campaign did not detail the size of the fund, its annual budget or whether it would be paid for with other government revenue.

    

Trump, aiming to widen support, makes pitch to Hispanics

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

TAMPA, Florida (AP) " Visiting a battleground state he can't afford to lose, Donald Trump promised Hispanics "a much better life" Wednesday in a Florida speech that continued his recent effort to soften his tone and broaden his support 11 weeks before the presidential election.

And, in an interview, he suggested he would "work with" some of the immigrants in the United States illegally, stopping short of proposing a legal path to remaining in the country but suggesting a startling about-face from his previous hard-line mass deportation proposal.

Yet the Republican presidential candidate also repeated his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out immigrants, underscoring the tricky balancing act he faces in retaining backing from conservatives while beckoning to moderates for their votes.

"I am going to fight to give every Hispanic citizen a much better future, a much better life," Trump told a crowd in Tampa as polls show him trailing in the critical state. "You have the right to walk outside without being shot. You have a right to a good education for your child. You have the right to own your home. You have the right to have a good job."

At a rally later Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi, Trump repeated his claim that Democratic rival Hillary Clinton "is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes."

Clinton scoffed at that accusation during an interview Wednesday night on CNN. "He is taking a hate movement mainstream," she said, arguing Trump is "very much peddling bigotry and prejudice and paranoia."

Trump dominated presidential campaign coverage for the day as Clinton was fundraising in California.

Her drive for the White House got a rhetorical boost when her defeated competitor for her party's nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, told The Associated Press that he'll campaign actively for Clinton this fall. Sanders, who turns 75 on Sept. 8, also said he's leaning toward seeking re-election as an independent senator in 2018.

Trump's appeal to Hispanics largely echoed his recent outreach to African-Americans. He rarely tried to explicitly lure minority voters during his unlikely rise to the GOP nomination earlier this year.

Now facing a bigger electorate, Trump suggested Hispanics have been taken for granted by Democrats. He said the 600,000 Latino-owned businesses in Florida would benefit under his economic plan, but he offered few specifics.

"Hispanics are tired of being used by these phony politicians," Trump roared above the rumbles of a thunderstorm audible inside. "I say, what do you have to lose? I will fix it."

Hispanics make up a sizable and growing percentage of Florida's population. Trump will have a narrow path to the White House without winning the Sunshine State, where he owns several resorts and which he dubbed "his second home" on Wednesday.

Trump made no mention at the rally, largely attended by white supporters, of his remarks Tuesday that he would consider "softening" laws dealing with immigrants in the country illegally. But in an interview broadcast on Fox News Channel, he said that while he would not allow citizenship, he would "work with" those in the country illegally.

"Let me go a step further," Trump said. "They'll pay back taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them."

That is a far cry from the early days of the GOP primaries, when Trump vowed to use a "deportation force" to round up and deport the millions of people living in the country illegally, and appears to be far more in line with the more moderate plans that Trump criticized when they were floated by his Republican primary rivals.

In Jackson, Trump said, "Any immigration policy I support as president must pass these three tests," before broadly saying it must improve the wages, safety and quality of life of U.S. citizens.

Trump also made a similar outreach to black voters and called Clinton "a bigot" for allegedly taking for granted the support of minority voters.

Trump aides confirmed he will soon tour churches, local businesses and charter schools in black and Hispanic urban neighborhoods. Dr. Ben Carson, a close ally and former GOP primary rival, said he will accompany Trump on at least one visit.

Trump, in Mississippi, linked the movement fueling his campaign to the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union " and brought Nigel Farage, an architect of Britain's successful "Brexit" campaign, up on stage.

Meanwhile, one of Trump's most reliable allies made plans to aid him this fall. The National Rifle Association's political victory fund has reserved about $2.7 million in TV commercials in September and October, Kantar Media's political ad tracker shows. The NRA is focusing on swing states Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Julie Bykowicz in Washington, Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Miss., and Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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Follow Lemire on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@JonLemire

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What political news is the world searching for on Google and talking about on Twitter? Find out via AP's Election Buzz interactive. http://elections.ap.org/buzz

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This story deletes an earlier reference to plans for Trump to speak about immigration in Phoenix. The Trump campaign now says that will not happen.

  

Clinton keeps stay-the-course strategy on foundation, emails

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " Hillary Clinton is sidestepping new questions about nearly 15,000 recently discovered emails or her family's charitable foundation " a stay-the-course strategy sure to be tested in the sprint to Election Day.

Clinton has no immediate plans " in an interview or a news conference " to explain the FBI's discovery of another batch of emails or personally clarify how her administration would wall off the organization founded by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, if she's elected president.

Instead, her top campaign officials and allies are playing defense, arguing that the foundation has helped millions of people around the globe while Trump's business interests carry their own blind spots.

"Hillary Clinton doesn't have a conflict of interest on charitable work " that's all it is," Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC's "Morning Joe." ''We need to look a lot more closely at Donald Trump."

The Clinton campaign figures her late-summer advantage gives her few incentives to personally push back against the email criticism or allegations of pay-for-play.

Trump, helped by a revamped campaign team, has called for a special prosecutor to investigate the foundation and said it should be shut down immediately. The Republican nominee, who donated to the Clinton Foundation, has repeatedly charged that his opponent, while secretary of state, provided access to foundation contributors in exchange for donations to the charity at the heart of Bill Clinton's post-presidential legacy.

Clinton leads Trump in national and state polls, leaving many of her aides and supporters to conclude that addressing the issue isn't worth the risk to her electoral standing. But the issue is one that ties into voters larger questions about her trustworthiness " a problem that will follow her into the White House should she win.

Traveling in California, the Democratic nominee has kept out of the public eye for days, spending most of her time wooing celebrities, financial titans and technology moguls at private fundraisers. On Tuesday alone, she raised more than $6.2 million at four events in Southern California and the Bay Area.

Her last full-blown news conference was December 2015 in Iowa, more than 260 days. But the questions about emails and the foundation keep piling up, and she is certain to be challenged at the first debate with Trump on Sept. 26.

On Monday, the State Department said it was reviewing nearly 15,000 previously undisclosed emails recovered as part of the FBI inquiry, which was closed after investigators recommended against criminal charges.

On Tuesday, an Associated Press report found at least 85 people from private interests who met with or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to the Clinton foundation. Combined, the donors contributed as much as $156 million to the charity.

Pushing back, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said the AP report relied on "pretty flawed methodology" and said in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday that Clinton was being held to a different standard than other politicians with charitable work.

"It is only now because she is running for president that the work of the Clinton foundation is being tarred," Fallon said. "If any American voter is troubled by the idea that the Clintons want to continue working to solve the AIDS crisis on the side while Hillary Clinton is president, then don't vote for her."

The former secretary of state addressed questions about her use of a private server only in passing this week, joking with late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel on Monday that, "My emails are so boring," she said. "We've already released, I don't know, 30,000 plus, so what's a few more?"

Clinton is not expected to discuss the issue during a Thursday speech in Reno, Nevada, which will be focused on attacking Trump to the so-called "alt right" movement within the Republican Party that has strayed from mainstream conservatism.

"Hillary Clinton is in a pretty strong spot right now in the campaign given the repeated missteps by Trump and quite frankly if I'm her it may not be a bad thing to let Donald Trump be the only candidate making news on any given day," said GOP strategist Ryan Williams, a veteran of Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns.

Bill Clinton announced that next month's Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York will be the final gathering. The meeting is scheduled for September 19-21, which means it will happen exactly one week before his wife's first presidential debate in New York.

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Lucey reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writer Lisa Lerer in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Military identifies American soldier killed in Afghanistan

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " The U.S. military has identified the soldier who was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, issued a statement Wednesday identifying the soldier as Army Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson.

The Defense Department said Thompson was 28 and from Irvine, California.

Votel extended condolences to the soldier's family and friends.

Thompson was killed by an improvised explosive device in the southern province of Helmand.

Documents: Soviets worried about detente after Nixon quit

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) " Overseas reaction to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974 was mixed: The Soviets expressed worry about the future of detente. North Korea reacted brashly, calling Nixon's exit the "falling out" of the "wicked boss" of American imperialists. South Vietnam put its forces on high alert because it feared the North Vietnamese would take advantage of the vulnerable U.S. political situation.

The international response to the Watergate scandal and Nixon's fall is noted in 2,500 newly declassified intelligence documents the CIA released on Wednesday. The 28,000 pages " many still with lengthy redactions " represent eight years of the top-secret President's Daily Brief prepared for Nixon and his successor, President Gerald Ford.

At the start of Nixon's tenure, the CIA delivered morning and afternoon intelligence briefs at the request of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who wanted timely intelligence on world events. By the end of 1969, the PDB was about 10 pages long. Ford sought even more analysis and his PDBs were sometimes close to 20 pages long with annexes.

The brief on Sept. 5, 1973, said Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev had "voiced suspicions that opponents of Soviet-U.S. accommodation are trying to exploit Watergate and said he wanted to build detente so firmly that it will not be an issue in future U.S. politics."

Most of the documents mentioning Watergate followed Nixon's resignation on Aug. 8, 1974. The scandal erupted in 1972 after operatives for Nixon's Republican re-election campaign were caught breaking into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office and hotel complex in Washington.

"The world in the past 24 hours has seemed to mark time as the U.S. succession process worked itself out," according to the Aug. 10, 1974, brief. "None of the potential troublemakers has produced even a rumble. ... It may be that many have not had time to consider how the situation might be turned to advantage. Many, the Soviets for example, had probably not anticipated the situation to come to a climax so rapidly and, still in something of a state of shock, are without (a) fixed course."

According to the brief, the North Vietnamese did not accelerate attacks, but instead confined themselves to "warning President Ford not to follow past U.S. policies toward Indochina."

One intelligence brief, about a week after the resignation, predicted that Brezhnev, who had developed a personal relationship with Nixon, could lose some standing in the Politburo, the policy-making body of the Communist Party. The partnership had produced results. In May 1972, Nixon visited Moscow for discussions that led to the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. The pact to limit nuclear arms was a key foreign policy achievement for Nixon and Kissinger.

Other subjects discussed in the documents released Wednesday include:

Attack at Munich Olympics. The Sept. 6, 1972, brief said Israel "seems certain to avenge" militants responsible for kidnapping and killing 11 Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich. "Although the Israelis could allow the outrage in the international community to suffice for the present, domestic sentiment for a response is already mounting," the brief said. "Any reprisal action could be severe."

1973 Arab-Israeli War. The war started Oct. 6, 1973, on Yom Kippur when Egypt and Syria attacked Sinai and the Golan Heights on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The day before the war began, intelligence reports remarked that while military exercises in Egypt seemed larger and more realistic, "they do not appear to be preparations for an offensive against Israel." Even on the day the war began, the brief did not confirm Israeli reports of an imminent attack, and said neither side seemed inclined to start hostilities. Rather, officials were concerned that Syria could mobilize its defenses, alarming the Israelis, which would "increase the risk of military clashes, which neither side originally intended."

1975 fall of Saigon. U.S. intelligence predicted that Saigon wouldn't fall to the North Vietnamese until early 1976. In fact, it happened months earlier on April 30, 1975. That day's intelligence brief said: "North Vietnamese troops and tanks entered the heart of Saigon less than two hours after President Duong Van Minh announced the unconditional surrender of his government. ... At last report, Minh was seen leaving the palace accompanied by communist troops."

Trump asked Florida Gov. Scott to appoint attorney to bench

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) " Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has bragged about his influence with politicians, urged Gov. Rick Scott to give a judgeship to a Florida attorney whose work appears at odds with Trump's hard-line stance on immigration, newly released emails show.

The emails posted online late last week by the Scott administration show Trump recommended that the governor appoint Jose Izquierdo, a well-regarded attorney who had backing from several other South Florida Republicans.

"Dear Rick: A friend of mine recommended this gentleman for a judgeship in Broward County. From what I understand, he is very well-respected in the legal community. Thank you. Sincerely, Donald," read the May 10 email, to which a two-page biography of Izquierdo was attached.

Thirteen days after Trump's recommendation, Scott appointed the attorney as a Broward County circuit judge.

Izquierdo, a Cuban-American born in Florida, has represented criminal immigrants, spoken on immigration issues and once represented the consulates of Mexico and Honduras. Izquierdo highlighted on his application that he once tried to suppress a warrant used in a drug possession case. Scott has taken a harsh line against drug use and wanted at one time to require welfare recipients and state workers be tested for drugs. He also worked to protect from deportation an immigrant who had been convicted of aggravated battery in Florida in 2005.

Trump has said criminal immigrants should be deported. He has harshly criticized Mexico in particular and Latin American immigrants in general.

It's not clear whether Trump knew that Izquierdo had done work at odds with many of Trump's policy positions.

Trump has no apparent direct connection to Izquierdo and why he decided to back him isn't clear. The Trump campaign has not responded to questions from The Associated Press.

But Izquierdo worked with Fort Lauderdale attorney Bradford Cohen for several years. Cohen once appeared on Trump's reality show "The Apprentice" and represented former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski during his arrest on battery charges for grabbing a female reporter last spring. A Palm Beach County prosecutor dropped the charges in early April.

Cohen, who said he talks to Trump and members of his organization regularly, said he couldn't remember if he asked Trump directly to help his former law partner become a judge. But he said that it "could very likely be me."

"I would talk highly about Jose to everyone and anyone," Cohen said. "I would flatly tell anyone who would listen that Jose would make a good judge. He was an excellent attorney."

Izquierdo has been president of the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association, appeared on the Spanish-language television network Telemundo and given speeches on immigration issues. He also has done pro bono work for a Broward County program that helps find immigration attorneys for clients.

In his application he said that his "family fled the tyranny of communist Cuba" and that the abuse of government power molded his beliefs that "the government is ruled by our Constitution and it is the strict adherence to that Constitution that protects our freedoms."

Emails from the Scott administration show that one of Trump's longtime and top aides in his business, Rhona Graff, talked to top Scott aide Diane Moulton by phone before sending her Trump's email that asked Scott to appoint Izquierdo. "As per our conversation, could you please share the attachment and note below from Mr. Trump with Governor Scott?" reads Graff's email to Moulton.

Scott did not endorse Trump ahead of the Florida GOP primary. But since then he has become a vocal supporter of the businessman and in July became chairman of Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC backing Trump.

Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Scott, said that the governor's decision to appoint Izquierdo had nothing to do with Trump's outreach.

"He was the most qualified individual," said Schutz, who noted he got more recommendations than any of the other finalists. "We believe he shares the governor's vision of humbling servicing Florida families and respecting the rule of the law."

Follow Gary Fineout on Twitter: http://twitter.com/fineout

2 days after cash delivery, US paid $1.3 billion to Iran

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " The U.S. says it paid $1.3 billion to Iran in January from a little-known fund for resolving international disputes, two days after allowing a planeload of cash to fly to Tehran.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau says the U.S. can't say more about the Jan. 19 payments because of diplomatic sensitivities. They involved 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99 and a final payment of about $10 million.

The money settles a 1970s payment by Iran for U.S. military equipment that was never delivered upon because of the 1979 revolution.

On Jan. 17, the administration paid the account's $400 million principal in pallets of cash.

The deal has faced scrutiny since the administration acknowledged using the money as leverage to ensure the release of four American prisoners. Republicans call it "ransom."

Biden calls on Turkey to be patient in Gulen case

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) " U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called on Turkish authorities to be patient with the U.S. legal system as Turkey seeks the return of a cleric accused of masterminding last month's failed military coup.

Biden, who met with Turkish officials in Ankara on Wednesday, said the U.S. extradition process would take time as he reaffirmed Washington's cooperation in the case of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen has denied any involvement in the July 15 coup attempt that killed more than 270 people.

"I understand the intense feeling your government and the people of Turkey have about him," Biden said at news conference after meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. "We are cooperating with Turkish authorities.

"Our legal experts are working right now with their Turkish counterparts on the production of and the evaluation of material and evidence that needs to be supplied to an American court to meet the requirements under our law in the extradition treaty to extradite Gulen."

Biden sought to assuage concerns that the U.S. was shielding Gulen.

"We have no, no, no, no interest whatsoever in protecting anyone who has done harm to an ally. None," he said. "But we need to meet the legal standard requirement under our law."

He also warned that President Barack Obama wouldn't intervene in the extradition process.

"We should make clear under American law that no president of the United States has authority to extradite anyone under his own power, that only an American court can do that.

"Were a president to attempt to do that, it would be an impeachable offense," he said.

Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have repeatedly called on the U.S. to swiftly extradite Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania in self-imposed exile.

In a joint news conference with Biden after their meeting, Erdogan said Turkey had already sent case files covering Gulen's alleged criminal activities prior to the July 15 coup.

"As per the extradition agreement between the U.S. and Turkey, these types of people should at least be detained, arrested and kept under surveillance," Erdogan said. "Yet that individual is still directing his terrorist organization from his whereabouts."

"He has schools, businesses and associations in 170 countries. He continues managing them. Many members of the media are interviewing them," Erdogan said.

The formal extradition request for his alleged involvement in the coup will be submitted next week, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Wednesday.

"It's never understood that the wheels of justice move deliberately and slowly," Biden said. "It's totally understandable why the people of Turkey are angry. But there should be no doubt that we will continue to work closely with the Turkish government as this process unfolds."

Biden also rejected suggestions that the U.S. government knew about plans for a coup in advance.

"The United States of America did not have any fore-knowledge of what befell you on the 15th of July," he said.

Turkey's prime minister again called on the U.S. to speed up the process in the Gulen case.

"If the process can be sped up for (Gulen) to be returned to our country in order to be punished, if our cooperation in this regard continues to grow, then the Turkish people's sorrow, its disappointment in this regard will quickly give way to positive sentiments," Yildirim said.

During the visit, Biden addressed Turkish complaints that allies had not displayed strong solidarity with Turkey's elected leadership against the coup and apologized for not having arrived earlier.

"The United States stands with its ally Turkey," Biden said. "Our support is absolute and it is unwavering."

Earlier, Biden toured the sections of parliament damaged during the coup attempt.

A small group of young demonstrators protested Biden's motorcade as he headed to Yildirim's residence, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Anti-American sentiment has been on the rise in Turkey since the coup.

Biden hopes to smooth relations, but has limited leverage.

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Cinar Kiper in Istanbul, and Frank Griffiths in London, contributed to this report.

   

The Latest: Pence blames both parties for manufacturing woes

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " The Latest on the U.S. presidential race (all times EDT):

11:45 a.m.

Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence is blaming both Democrats and Republicans for the decline of manufacturing in the United States.

The Indiana governor was addressing about 200 people Wednesday at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry in North Carolina.

He said policies by both Republican and Democratic administrations have eroded America's manufacturing industry. Pence also said the country has been neither smart nor tough in defending U.S. jobs from international trade. He said that will change if he and Donald Trump are elected in November.

Pence, wearing a hard hat and safety glasses, toured the manufacturing portion of the plant, shaking hands with some workers.

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11:30 a.m.

Donald Trump's new Wisconsin women coalition includes some of the most powerful politicians in the state, and two who were caught up in a highly publicized investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's county office.

The unveiling of the statewide group Wednesday comes as polls show Trump trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton overall in Wisconsin and among women.

Former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, state Senate President Mary Lazich (LAH-zik) and Sen. Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Legislature's budget committee, top the coalition.

Also part of the group is Darlene Wink, who was convicted of two misdemeanors for doing work on Walker's gubernatorial campaign while at work in his Milwaukee County executive's office.

Another coalition member, Rose Ann Dieck (DIKE), was granted immunity to testify as part of that probe.

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9:40 a.m.

Ohio's elections chief has cleared the way for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson to appear on fall ballots in the critical swing state.

Johnson's ballot access had been in question after party activists submitted paperwork and voter signatures earlier this month on behalf of a different candidate. They said they planned to swap in Johnson.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO'-sted) has said Ohio law neither openly permits nor bars the switch, but he would allow it as long as elections boards validated enough voter signatures.

Husted's office announced Wednesday that Johnson's supporters have met the signature requirements.

Libertarians aren't recognized as a political party in Ohio, so activists sought to collect enough signatures from voters to get Johnson on the ballot by way of a process for independent candidates.

___

8:25 a.m.

A son of Donald Trump says it would be foolish for his father to release his tax returns.

The Republican presidential nominee has broken with precedent by refusing to release them. He says they are being audited and he can't release them until the audit is complete.

His son, Eric Trump, said Wednesday on CNBC not much can be learned from tax returns. He said his father's returns are massive and "you would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes" looking through them and making "assumptions on things they know nothing about."

Democrats say Trump's returns would reveal whether he was paying a fair amount in taxes and whether he would personally benefit from his policy proposals.

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7:25 a.m.

As the Zika virus continues to spread, Hillary Clinton is proposing a new fund to improve the federal government's response to major public health crises.

The Democratic presidential nominee says the U.S. is failing to sufficiently invest in public health preparedness, not only for Zika, but health threats from potentially pandemic diseases, climate change and possible bioterrorism.

If elected, Clinton would create what she's calling a "Public Health Rapid Response Fund" to help federal agencies and local hospital systems respond faster and more aggressively.

Her campaign did not detail the size of the fund, its annual budget or whether it would be paid for with other government revenue.

The Latest: Libertarian Johnson to appear on Ohio ballot

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " The Latest on the U.S. presidential race (all times EDT):

9:40 a.m.

Ohio's elections chief has cleared the way for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson to appear on fall ballots in the critical swing state.

Johnson's ballot access had been in question after party activists submitted paperwork and voter signatures earlier this month on behalf of a different candidate. They said they planned to swap in Johnson.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO'-sted) has said Ohio law neither openly permits nor bars the switch, but he would allow it as long as elections boards validated enough voter signatures.

Husted's office announced Wednesday that Johnson's supporters have met the signature requirements.

Libertarians aren't recognized as a political party in Ohio, so activists sought to collect enough signatures from voters to get Johnson on the ballot by way of a process for independent candidates.

___

8:25 a.m.

A son of Donald Trump says it would be foolish for his father to release his tax returns.

The Republican presidential nominee has broken with precedent by refusing to release them. He says they are being audited and he can't release them until the audit is complete.

His son, Eric Trump, said Wednesday on CNBC not much can be learned from tax returns. He said his father's returns are massive and "you would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes" looking through them and making "assumptions on things they know nothing about."

Democrats say Trump's returns would reveal whether he was paying a fair amount in taxes and whether he would personally benefit from his policy proposals.

___

7:25 a.m.

As the Zika virus continues to spread, Hillary Clinton is proposing a new fund to improve the federal government's response to major public health crises.

The Democratic presidential nominee says the U.S. is failing to sufficiently invest in public health preparedness, not only for Zika, but health threats from potentially pandemic diseases, climate change and possible bioterrorism.

If elected, Clinton would create what she's calling a "Public Health Rapid Response Fund" to help federal agencies and local hospital systems respond faster and more aggressively.

Her campaign did not detail the size of the fund, its annual budget or whether it would be paid for with other government revenue.

Scores sagging for high school grads taking ACT college test

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " Nearly two-thirds of this year's high school graduates took the ACT college entrance exam, and their scores suggest that many remain unprepared for the rigors of college-level coursework.

The testing company said Wednesday that only 38 percent of graduating seniors who took the exam hit the college-prepared benchmark in at least three of the four core subjects tested " reading, English, math and science " down from 40 percent last year. The benchmark is designed to measure a strong readiness for college.

The average composite score also declined a bit, down from 21 to 20.8 this year. The four tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The composite is the average of the four scores. The vast majority of colleges use the composite in admissions.

ACT's Paul Weeks says a decline in scores was expected, given the changing demographic of the testing population.

"Almost 2 out 3 students are taking the ACT and what's happened is the testing cohort has become increasingly representative of students at large," said Weeks, senior vice president for client relations, in an interview.

A number of additional states also are giving the ACT to all of their 11th-grade students. "That group of new states showed up in this year's grad class report so we would have expected it to have an impact" on scores, Weeks said.

Nearly 2.1 million graduating seniors took the ACT, up from 1.9 million in the last school year.

By comparison, 1.7 million graduating seniors in 2015 took the SAT, the other major college entrance exam. The College Board expects to release updated 2016 numbers for the SAT later this fall.

Of the ACT-tested high school graduates this year, 61 percent met the English benchmark of 18 points, which indicates a student is likely ready for a college composition course and would earn a "C'' or better grade.

In reading, 44 percent met the 22-point mark that suggests readiness for a college-level social-sciences course. For math, 41 percent met the 22-point threshold that predicts success in an algebra course. And in science, 36 percent hit the 22-point score that predicts success in an entry-level biology course.

In contrast, 34 percent of 2016 grads did not meet any of the four benchmarks. Weeks called that number alarming, an indication that those students are likely to struggle with first-year courses and end up in remedial classes that will delay degree completion and increase college costs.

The report showed a relatively wide gulf, by race, in the percentages of graduates hitting three or more of the college-ready benchmarks. Forty-nine percent of white test-takers met the three-or-more benchmark, compared to 11 percent of African-Americans and 23 percent of Hispanic test-takers. But the gaps between the groups haven't shifted that much, for better or worse, in the last four years.

When students register for the ACT, they can designate a college major. For 2016 grads, the most popular major selected was nursing, followed by pre-medicine, business administration and management and mechanical engineering.

Other findings in the annual score report:

"Massachusetts had the highest average composite score, at 24.8. It was followed by Connecticut and New Hampshire, both with a 24.5 average composite score.

"In the last four years, the proportion of students saying they would like to pursue vocational/technical and two-year degrees increased by 2 percent. The proportion aspiring to higher levels of education dropped by 6 percent.

The testing company says 20 states funded ACT testing for all public school students in the 2016 graduating class. Those states are: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Trump’s evolving immigration plan compared to Clinton, Obama

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " Donald Trump's new line on immigration " "fair, but firm" " is leaving both Republicans and Democrats with the same question: Is the famously hard-line GOP nominee softening his approach?

His campaign insists his position is "exactly the same" in principle. But even Trump acknowledged Tuesday there "could certainly be a softening, because we're not looking to hurt people."

And in the course of just a few days, Trump has gone from calling for mass deportations for millions " a position to the right of even many Republicans " to arguing deportations should focus on those who commit crimes, veering into the same territory as President Barack Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

So what gives?

If this week's string of vague and contradictory statements by Trump and his team is revealing anything, it's that his immigration policy is still evolving. Just days ago Trump reshuffled his campaign staff as part of an effort to recalibrate his message for the general election, in which his tough stance on immigration may be more of a liability than it was in the Republican primary.

This week, Trump's campaign postponed a major immigration speech scheduled for this week, but announced he'd hold two events highlighting border security needs and crimes committed by immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

A look at what Trump has proposed, compared to Clinton's policies and Obama's record in office:

___

DEPORTATIONS

TRUMP: From the start, the brash billionaire's campaign has been rooted in the promise of a dramatically different approach to immigration. He presented a detailed deportation plan for 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, complete with estimated timeframes and references to a "deportation force." Trump argued all would have to return to their country of origin but that the "good people" could come back through legal processes.

His tune seems to have changed. On Monday, Trump said his first focus would be to get rid of "the bad ones." Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Trump wanted to deport immigrants with criminal records, not all 11 million. What about that deportation force? "He has not said that for a while," Conway said.

CLINTON: The Democratic nominee has said overhauling immigration laws will be a top priority, but in the meantime, she says current laws should be enforced "humanely." Her campaign says deportations would focus on immigrants "who pose a violent threat to public safety." Clinton wants to shut down privately run detention centers.

OBAMA: Immigration advocates have railed against Obama for deporting huge numbers " more than 2.5 million in all " and dubbed him the "deporter in chief." In 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement set a record of removing 409,000 immigrants. Since then, though, the numbers have declined to just 235,413 in the 2016 budget year.

___

CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

TRUMP: He's offered conflicting takes on how he'd deal with immigrants brought here illegally as children, and their parents. He praised the Supreme Court's move in June that halted Obama's second wave of executive actions on that issue, actions Trump decried as "executive amnesty." His campaign says he'd reverse Obama's remaining actions.

On the other hand, Trump has said he wouldn't split up families, though he hasn't explained how he'd reconcile those policies. He also supports eliminating birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to parents who came here illegally.

CLINTON: She wants to preserve Obama's executive actions " both those affecting children and those affecting their parents. Clinton also wants to expand those actions to immigrants who have contributed to their communities or faced "extreme labor violations."

OBAMA: Obama's position, like Trump's recent comments, is rooted in the notion that limited law enforcement resources should be focused on law-breaking immigrants, not kids and families.

The president's first set of executive actions has shielded more than 800,000 young immigrants from deportation since 2012. After Republicans won the Senate in 2014 and the prospect of an immigration overhaul grew dimmer, Obama acted again to protect up to 4 million parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents and let them work legally. The courts have put the more recent actions on hold.

___

BORDER SECURITY

TRUMP: He says the border isn't adequately protected. Trump has called for tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, who handle deportations.

And then, of course, there's the wall. Trump is standing firm behind his plans to build a "real wall" on the Mexican border and to force Mexico to fund it. He says until Mexico pays up, the U.S. will increase visa and border crossing fees, "impound all remittance payments" from immigrants here illegally, and possibly increase tariffs or cut foreign aid.

CLINTON: She's called for securing U.S. borders, but has also said the U.S. is already doing "a really good job." In March, Clinton said increased border security staffing, new fencing and lower immigration rates have lessened the problem.

She opposes Trump's wall.

OBAMA: In the 2008 budget year, before Obama took office, the U.S. had about 17,000 Border Patrol agents, reflecting an increase under President George W. Bush from the 9,212 the U.S. had in 2000. Obama increased it to 20,199 in 2009, and the numbers have hovered around there ever since. Border apprehensions dropped significantly during that time.

Meanwhile, billions of taxpayer dollars have gone toward border fencing and technology to secure the border, another project that started under Bush.

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What political news is the world searching for on Google and talking about on Twitter? Find out via AP's Election Buzz interactive. http://elections.ap.org/buzz

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Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

 

Turkey to repeat Gulen extradition demand during US VP visit

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

ISTANBUL (AP) " Turkey's president said Wednesday he planned to demand the extradition of the cleric accused of masterminding last month's failed coup during his meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated frequent, earlier demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen during a speech in Ankara on Wednesday.

Turkish authorities claim Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, was the mastermind behind the violent coup attempt that killed over 270 people. Gulen denies any involvement.

Erdogan said he would tell Biden that the United States does not "have the right to hem and haw. You have to hand him over."

Biden said in an op-ed published in Turkish newspaper Milliyet ahead of his visit that he or President Barak Obama could not simply order Gulen's extradition because the request must be assessed by a federal court that will decide if there is enough evidence to send him to Turkey to face charges.

He also said that while the U.S. has received a request to extradite Gulen over allegations that predated the coup, it has not received an extradition request or any evidence related to the coup itself.

"I understand that in the wake of such a heinous and brutal attack, the desire is powerful for actions that might lead to justice for the loss of so many innocent lives," he wrote. "That's why the United States is doing everything we can to support Turkey's efforts to hold accountable those responsible for this terrible tragedy, while ensuring the rule of law is respected."

After meeting with Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman on Wednesday, Biden toured the sections of parliament damaged during the coup attempt.

A small group of young demonstrators protested Biden's motorcade as he headed to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's residence, Anadolu news agency reported.

Anti-American sentiment has been on the rise in Turkey since the coup. Biden hopes to smooth relations, but has limited leverage.

 

Trump aides covertly fought freeing of Ukraine prisoner

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " For more than three years, lobbyist Jim Slattery worked in Washington to secure the release in Ukraine of the imprisoned political rival of the country's then-president. He said the work was sometimes harder than expected.

"I had a sense that there were people working on the other side," he said, "but they were doing it pretty secretively."

Slattery's hunch was right. His unknown opponent: The consulting firm run by Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy Rick Gates, now the campaign's liaison to the Republican National Committee.

Manafort resigned last week, shortly after disclosures by The Associated Press about his firm's covert lobbying on behalf of Ukraine's pro-Russian government at the time.

The U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people working on behalf of foreign political leaders to disclose their efforts to the Justice Department, but neither Manafort and Gates nor U.S. lobbyists they directed did. Working on the other side, Slattery filled out the required paperwork describing contacts with Congress and State Department officials including specific phone calls and emails and the topics of their discussions.

"I damn sure didn't want to get in trouble violating foreign agent laws," said Slattery, a former Democratic congressman from Kansas.

Manafort and Gates were working for Ukraine's Party of Regions but said they did not represent Ukrainian political interests in the U.S. But emails and insider accounts obtained by the AP showed Manafort's firm directed a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort between 2012 and 2014 that appeared to undercut public support for imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko, who was considered a political prisoner by U.S. and European governments.

In the emails, Gates showed familiarity with U.S. lobbying rules and how mandatory disclosure reports could be used to gather intelligence on Slattery. In May 2014, as Slattery was lobbying on Tymoshenko's behalf, Gates directed Mercury LLC to monitor Slattery's federal filings. In particular, Gates wanted to know the address of Slattery's client and any information that could be gathered in the U.S. to complement similar digging in Ukraine.

Mercury and another Washington lobbying firm, the Podesta Group Inc., were working on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The AP identified at least $2.2 million in payments to the firms. The nonprofit said it was independent, but documents released last week by anti-corruption investigators in Ukraine have tied the group to Ukrainian political figures.

The Podesta Group last week hired outside lawyers to investigate its role in the lobbying campaign and threatened to sue the European Centre. The Podesta Group has acknowledged the firm's work with Gates but said it did not know Gates worked for Ukrainian political interests. An attorney for Mercury said it will also review the work.

The head of Mercury, Vin Weber, said his firm's efforts were not intended to justify Tymoshenko's imprisonment but to make the case that furor over her prosecution had obscured broader issues about Ukraine's relationship with the West. But a Mercury employee who worked on the project told the AP the firm overtly opposed Tymoshenko's release. This person spoke on condition of anonymity because employees are restricted from speaking publicly under signed, non-disclosure agreements.

"Everyone knew this was a shadow organization working for the greater good of the Party of Regions," the employee said.

The employee said U.S. lawmakers objected to Mercury's overtures and wanted Tymoshenko out of jail.

Slattery, the lobbyist, volunteered as an election monitor during Ukraine's 2004 elections. He said he was impressed by protests against election fraud known as the Orange Revolution that peacefully played out in the frigid streets of Kiev. The family of Tymoshenko, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2010, asked for help when she was jailed following an election defeat in 2010.

When he learned about the covert lobbying campaign that opposed him, Slattery said that he was disappointed but not surprised. He said he hopes the U.S. government will look more closely at whether such behavior violated federal laws.

"You don't want to be the only person in town complying with the law," he said.

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Associated Press writers Maria Danilova and Desmond Butler contributed to this report.

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Follow Jeff Horwitz and Chad Day on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/JeffHorwitz and http://twitter.com/ChadSDay

Foundation donors who met, talked with Clinton

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " Hillary Clinton met or talked by phone with at least 154 people from private interests, such as corporations, during her time as secretary of the state. More than half those people had donated either personally or through companies or groups to the Clinton Foundation or pledged to donate to specific programs through the charity's international arm.

Among them:

"Joseph Duffey, who once worked for Laureate Education, a for-profit education system based in Baltimore, was one of 20 people at a higher education policy dinner with Clinton in August 2009. Weeks earlier, Clinton emailed her staff looking for Duffey's phone number. Duffey, whom Bill Clinton appointed as director of the U.S. Information Agency, gave between $10,000 and $25,000 to the foundation in 2012. Laureate, which paid Bill Clinton more than $17 million as a consultant between 2010 and 2015, donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. Laureate also has seven commitments with the Clinton Global Initiative.

"Jeffrey Skoll, a Canadian engineer and technology investor who was the first president of internet auction site eBay. He cashed out with $2 billion in assets and used the money to finance his foundation, a technology investment firm and a Hollywood production company. The Skoll Foundation contributed between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation and has partnered in at least 21 commitments to programs through the Clinton Global Initiative. In May 2009 Sally Osberg, CEO of Skoll's charity, messaged longtime Clinton friend Jan Piercy about "the possibility of Hillary's speaking at next year's Skoll Forum" " a message that was relayed to Clinton. Clinton told aides by email she wanted to attend the Skoll event in the U.K. in March 2012 but was unable to attend. Instead, in April 2012, Clinton met privately with Skoll and Osberg during a State Department-sponsored forum on government-business partnerships. The same month, USAID, the State Department's foreign aid arm, announced a partnership with the Skoll Foundation to invest in health, energy, governance and food security innovations.

"Haim and Cheryl Saban. Haim Saban is an entertainment magnate, long-time Clinton and Democratic Party fundraiser and founder of the Saban Center for Middle East Peace, a Mideast policy think tank based in Washington. His wife, Cheryl Saban, is a psychologist and writer who has been a Clinton Foundation board member since 2013. The Sabans donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation " among the largest gifts to the charity. Saban met privately with Clinton at least once in September 2009 and also hosted her twice at events put on by his think tank in June 2012 and again in November 2012. Messages from both Sabans were relayed to Clinton during her tenure. In one following Clinton's appearance at his center luncheon in June 2012, Haim Saban told her: "Very much was looking forward to hangin'. Tx again for today." Clinton replied: "Not to worry. Loved seeing you and Cheryl and looking forward w Bill to White House tonight. See you then."

" John Mack, the former chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley and a political donation bundler for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. In September 2011, as Morgan Stanley chairman, Mack was among a group who met with Clinton on China trade issues. In July 2012, he and his wife were scheduled to have dinner with her. They were again to have dinner with Clinton in September 2012, but Clinton canceled at the last minute, according to her emails and calendars. The Macks' personal charity has given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. Other Morgan Stanley organizations, including the bank itself, have given between $360,000 and $775,000. Morgan Stanley has also given money to six different programs through the Clinton Global Initiative.

" Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers union that has backed and funded Clinton's presidential run and allied political action committees. Under Weingarten, the AFT donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and pledged partnership commitments with other interests in four separate Clinton Global Initiative programs. Weingarten had two private meetings with Clinton in 2009 and 2012 and also joined her at a photo shoot in 2010. Her union also lobbied federal agencies on education, work, safety and other issues. In emails, Weingarten aide Tina Flournoy " now a top deputy for Bill Clinton " told Hillary Clinton in September 2009 that she and Weingarten "would like to visit you re: child labor issues." Less than a month later, the two women met with Clinton for a half-hour. A union spokeswoman later told AP that Weingarten spoke with Clinton about refugees, global education and child labor abuses.

Clinton Foundation donors got face time with her at State

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money " either personally or through companies or groups " to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton's help with a visa problem; and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm's corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.

They are among at least 85 of 154 people with private interests who either met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton and also gave to her family's charities, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. The 154 does not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives.

The AP's findings represent the first systematic effort to calculate the scope of the intersecting interests of Clinton foundation donors and people who met personally with Clinton or spoke to her by phone about their needs.

The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.

Clinton's campaign said the AP analysis was flawed because it did not include in its calculations meetings with foreign diplomats or U.S. government officials, and the meetings AP examined covered only the first half of Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

"It is outrageous to misrepresent Secretary Clinton's basis for meeting with these individuals," spokesman Brian Fallon said. He called it "a distorted portrayal of how often she crossed paths with individuals connected to charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation."

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fiercely criticized the links between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department. "It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins," he said at a rally Tuesday night in Austin, Texas. "It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office."

State Department officials have said they are not aware of any agency actions influenced by the Clinton Foundation. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday night that there are no prohibitions against agency contacts with "political campaigns, non-profits or foundations " including the Clinton Foundation." He added that "meeting requests, recommendations and proposals come to the department through a variety of channels, both formal and informal."

Last week, the Clinton Foundation moved to head off ethics concerns about future donations by announcing changes planned if she is elected. Those planned changes would not affect more than 6,000 donors who have already provided the Clinton charity with more than $2 billion in funding since its creation in 2000.

"There's a lot of potential conflicts and a lot of potential problems," said Douglas White, an expert on nonprofits at Columbia University. "The point is, she can't just walk away from these 6,000 donors."

Fallon said earlier Tuesday the standard set by the Clinton Foundation's ethics restrictions was "unprecedented, even if it may never satisfy some critics."

Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest "microcredit" for poor business owners, met with Clinton three times and talked with her by phone during a period when Bangladeshi government authorities investigated his oversight of a nonprofit bank and ultimately pressured him to resign from the bank's board. Throughout the process, he pleaded for help in messages routed to Clinton, and she ordered aides to find ways to assist him.

Grameen America, the bank's nonprofit U.S. flagship, which Yunus chairs, has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation " a figure that bank spokeswoman Becky Asch said reflects the institution's annual fees to attend CGI meetings. Another Grameen arm chaired by Yunus, Grameen Research, has donated between $25,000 and $50,000.

In another case, Clinton was host at a September 2009 breakfast meeting at the New York Stock Exchange that listed Blackstone Group chairman Stephen Schwarzman as one of the attendees. Schwarzman's firm is a major Clinton Foundation donor, but he personally donates heavily to GOP candidates and causes. The next day, according to Clinton emails, the State Department was working on a visa issue at Schwarzman's request. In December that same year, Schwarzman and his wife, Christine, sat at Clinton's table during the Kennedy Center Honors.

Blackstone donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Eight Blackstone executives also gave between $375,000 and $800,000 to the foundation. And Blackstone's charitable arm has pledged millions of dollars in commitments to three Clinton Global aid projects ranging from the U.S. to the Mideast. Blackstone officials did not make Schwarzman available for comment.

And in June 2011, Clinton met with Nancy Mahon of MAC AIDS, the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder. The meeting occurred before an announcement about a State Department partnership with MAC AIDS to raise money to finance AIDS education and prevention.

The MAC AIDS fund donated between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation and several million more in commitments to programs through the Clinton Global Initiative.

  

Official: FBI probing attempted cyber breach of NY Times

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " The FBI is investigating attempted cyber intrusions targeting reporters of The New York Times and is looking into whether Russian intelligence agencies are responsible for the acts, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The Times reported Tuesday evening that the attempted cyberattack targeted the newspaper's Moscow bureau, and that there was no evidence that it was successful. No internal systems at the newspaper have been compromised, a Times spokeswoman said.

"We are constantly monitoring our systems with the latest available intelligence and tools," Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said in a statement. "We have seen no evidence that any of our internal systems, including our systems in the Moscow bureau, have been breached or compromised."

CNN first reported the FBI's investigation. A U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that an investigation was underway.

The news comes as federal authorities continue to investigate a breach of the Democratic National Committee that outside cybersecurity experts have attributed to Russian intelligence agencies and that led to the posting of embarrassing internal emails.

Though the Obama administration has not publicly blamed the attack on the Russians, President Barack Obama has noted that outside experts have blamed Russia and suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin may have reason to facilitate the attack.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democratic entities have also been affected.

Earlier this month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi advised fellow Democrats not to allow family members to answer their phones or read incoming texts after a mix of personal and official information of Democratic members and hundreds of congressional staff " purportedly from a hack of the DCCC " was posted online.

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Associated Press writer Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report.

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

In latest hedge, Trump says immigration laws can be softened

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) " Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that he is open to "softening" laws dealing with immigrants in the country illegally, the latest sign that the Republican presidential nominee is considering easing the hardline stance he has taken since the beginning of his campaign.

Trump, taping a town hall in Austin, Texas, for Fox News, was asked by moderator Sean Hannity if he would change current statutes to accommodate law-abiding citizens or longtime residents who have raised children in the United States.

"There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people," Trump answered. "We want people " we have some great people in this country."

"We are going to follow the laws of this country," he added.

Trump has repeatedly declared that if elected, he would deport the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally. But he has hedged his stance in recent days, and during the taping he ruminated aloud about the fairness of breaking up families. He even polled the audience about what they would do about the crucial policy.

"So you have somebody who's been in the country for 20 years, has done a great job, and everything else," Trump said. "Do we take him and the family and her and him or whatever and send him out?"

The crowd's reaction was split: Some cheered when Trump suggested that the immigrants be allowed to stay, others roared when he suggested deporting them.

The Republican nominee said he "would come out with a decision very soon" about deportations.

But his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, seemed to make clear in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper where Trump was headed. Asked whether Trump would still talk about a deportation force, she claimed Trump "had not said that for a while."

"What he's saying is that we need to find a mechanism that works, that is fair, that is legal and, in his words, humane and doesn't quote hurt people," she said, adding she hoped Trump supporters drawn to his hard-line primary position would agree.

"I hope that they are saying what he says, Anderson, which is that you don't just look at people and try to harm them or treat them inhumanely. I think it's a very important thing. And frankly, it's leadership and it's presidential," she said.

Trump had been scheduled to outline his immigration policies Thursday in Colorado. But that speech has been postponed, likely until next week.

At a rally in Austin later Tuesday, Trump made no mention of his possible shift on deportations, instead repeating his vow to build a wall to fortify the nation's southern border with Mexico and to eject immigrants here illegally who have committed criminal and violent acts.

But Trump's public deliberation about deportations could be the latest signal that as the general campaign heats up, he is moving away from one of his divisive, signature proposals from the Republican primary in order to broaden his base of support. He first suggested on Monday that he was open to allowing some immigrants to stay, suggesting that he wanted a "fair, but firm" policy.

That is a far cry from the early days of the primaries, when Trump vowed to use a "deportation force" to round up and deport the millions of people living in the country illegally. That proposal excited many of his core supporters, but alienated Hispanic voters who could be pivotal in key states.

But his new rhetoric on immigration is part of a full-court press by Trump in recent days to improve his standing among minorities, who polls show overwhelmingly favor his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Trump at several recent rallies has urged African-American voters to support him, pledging that his public safety and economic policies will improve their quality of life while suggesting that Democrats had taken them for granted.

And aides said Tuesday that in the coming weeks Trump was planning trips to urban areas to conduct campaign stops he has largely avoided to this point, including stops at charter schools, small businesses and churches in black and Latino communities.

The Trump campaign's potential plans to visit inner cities were first reported Tuesday by The Washington Post.

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This story has been corrected to show Trump's remark about a "fair, but firm" immigration policy was made Monday, not last week.

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Reach Lemire on Twitter on http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

 

Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State

Posted on August 24, 2016 Uncategorized

WASHINGTON (AP) " More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money " either personally or through companies or groups " to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.

Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton's help with a visa problem; and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm's corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.

The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.

The AP's findings represent the first systematic effort to calculate the scope of the intersecting interests of Clinton Foundation donors and people who met personally with Clinton or spoke to her by phone about their needs.

The 154 did not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives. Clinton met with representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton charity, but they were not included in AP's calculations because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties.

Clinton's campaign said the AP analysis was flawed because it did not include in its calculations meetings with foreign diplomats or U.S. government officials, and the meetings AP examined covered only the first half of Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

"It is outrageous to misrepresent Secretary Clinton's basis for meeting with these individuals," spokesman Brian Fallon said. He called it "a distorted portrayal of how often she crossed paths with individuals connected to charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation."

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fiercely criticized the links between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department, saying his general election opponent had delivered "lie after lie after lie."

"Hillary Clinton is totally unfit to hold public office," he said at a rally Tuesday night in Austin, Texas. "It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office."

Last week, the Clinton Foundation moved to head off ethics concerns about future donations by announcing changes planned if Clinton is elected.

On Monday, Bill Clinton said in a statement that if his wife were to win, he would step down from the foundation's board and stop all fundraising for it. The foundation would also accept donations only from U.S. citizens and what it described as independent philanthropies, while no longer taking gifts from foreign groups, U.S. companies or corporate charities. Clinton said the foundation would no longer hold annual meetings of its international aid program, the Clinton Global Initiative, and it would spin off its foreign-based programs to other charities.

Those planned changes would not affect more than 6,000 donors who have already provided the Clinton charity with more than $2 billion in funding since its creation in 2000.

"There's a lot of potential conflicts and a lot of potential problems," said Douglas White, an expert on nonprofits who previously directed Columbia University's graduate fundraising management program. "The point is, she can't just walk away from these 6,000 donors."

Former senior White House ethics officials said a Clinton administration would have to take careful steps to ensure that past foundation donors would not have the same access as she allowed at the State Department.

"If Secretary Clinton puts the right people in and she's tough about it and has the right procedures in place and sends a message consistent with a strong commitment to ethics, it can be done," said Norman L. Eisen, who was President Barack Obama's top ethics counsel and later worked for Clinton as ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Eisen, now a governance studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that at a minimum, Clinton should retain the Obama administration's current ethics commitments and oversight, which include lobbying restrictions and other rules. Richard Painter, a former ethics adviser to President George W. Bush and currently a University of Minnesota law school professor, said Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton should remove themselves completely from foundation leadership roles, but he added that potential conflicts would shadow any policy decision affecting past donors.

Fallon did not respond to the AP's questions about Clinton transition plans regarding ethics, but said in a statement the standard set by the Clinton Foundation's ethics restrictions was "unprecedented, even if it may never satisfy some critics."

State Department officials have said they are not aware of any agency actions influenced by the Clinton Foundation. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday night that there are no prohibitions against agency contacts with "political campaigns, nonprofits or foundations " including the Clinton Foundation." He added that "meeting requests, recommendations and proposals come to the department through a variety of channels, both formal and informal."

Some of Clinton's most influential visitors donated millions to the Clinton Foundation and to her and her husband's political coffers. They are among scores of Clinton visitors and phone contacts in her official calendar turned over by the State Department to AP last year and in more-detailed planning schedules that so far have covered about half her four-year tenure. The AP sought Clinton's calendar and schedules three years ago, but delays led the AP to sue the State Department last year in federal court for those materials and other records.

S. Daniel Abraham, whose name also was included in emails released by the State Department as part of another lawsuit, is a Clinton fundraising bundler who was listed in Clinton's planners for eight meetings with her at various times. A billionaire behind the Slim-Fast diet and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace, Abraham told the AP last year his talks with Clinton concerned Mideast issues.

Big Clinton Foundation donors with no history of political giving to the Clintons also met or talked by phone with Hillary Clinton and top aides, AP's review showed.

Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest "microcredit" for poor business owners, met with Clinton three times and talked with her by phone during a period when Bangladeshi government authorities investigated his oversight of a nonprofit bank and ultimately pressured him to resign from the bank's board. Throughout the process, he pleaded for help in messages routed to Clinton, and she ordered aides to find ways to assist him.

American affiliates of his nonprofit Grameen Bank had been working with the Clinton Foundation's Clinton Global Initiative programs as early as 2005, pledging millions of dollars in microloans for the poor. Grameen America, the bank's nonprofit U.S. flagship, which Yunus chairs, has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation " a figure that bank spokeswoman Becky Asch said reflects the institution's annual fees to attend CGI meetings. Another Grameen arm chaired by Yunus, Grameen Research, has donated between $25,000 and $50,000.

As a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton, as well as then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and two other senators in 2007 sponsored a bill to award a congressional gold medal to Yunus. He got one but not until 2010, a year after Obama awarded him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Yunus first met with Clinton in Washington in April 2009. That was followed six months later by an announcement by USAID, the State Department's foreign aid arm, that it was partnering with the Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit charity run by Yunus, in a $162 million commitment to extend its microfinance concept abroad. USAID also began providing loans and grants to the Grameen Foundation, totaling $2.2 million over Clinton's tenure.

By September 2009, Yunus began complaining to Clinton's top aides about what he perceived as poor treatment by Bangladesh's government. His bank was accused of financial mismanagement of Norwegian government aid money " a charge that Norway later dismissed as baseless. But Yunus told Melanne Verveer, a long-time Clinton aide who was an ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, that Bangladesh officials refused to meet with him and asked the State Department for help in pressing his case.

"Please see if the issues of Grameen Bank can be raised in a friendly way," he asked Verveer. Yunus sent "regards to H" and cited an upcoming Clinton Global Initiative event he planned to attend.

Clinton ordered an aide: "Give to EAP rep," referring the problem to the agency's top east Asia expert.

Yunus continued writing to Verveer as pressure mounted on his bank. In December 2010, responding to a news report that Bangladesh's prime minister was urging an investigation of Grameen Bank, Clinton told Verveer that she wanted to discuss the matter with her East Asia expert "ASAP."

Clinton called Yunus in March 2011 after the Bangladesh government opened an inquiry into his oversight of Grameen Bank. Yunus had told Verveer by email that "the situation does not allow me to leave the country." By mid-May, the Bangladesh government had forced Yunus to step down from the bank's board. Yunus sent Clinton a copy of his resignation letter. In a separate note to Verveer, Clinton wrote: "Sad indeed."

Clinton met with Yunus a second time in Washington in August 2011 and again in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka in May 2012. Clinton's arrival in Bangladesh came after Bangladesh authorities moved to seize control of Grameen Bank's effort to find new leaders. Speaking to a town hall audience, Clinton warned the Bangladesh government that "we do not want to see any action taken that would in any way undermine or interfere in the operations of the Grameen Bank."

Grameen America's Asch referred other questions about Yunus to his office, but he had not responded by Tuesday.

In another case, Clinton was host at a September 2009 breakfast meeting at the New York Stock Exchange that listed Blackstone Group chairman Stephen Schwarzman as one of the attendees. Schwarzman's firm is a major Clinton Foundation donor, but he personally donates heavily to GOP candidates and causes. One day after the breakfast, according to Clinton emails, the State Department was working on a visa issue at Schwarzman's request. In December that same year, Schwarzman's wife, Christine, sat at Clinton's table during the Kennedy Center Honors. Clinton also introduced Schwarzman, then chairman of the Kennedy Center, before he spoke.

Blackstone donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Eight Blackstone executives also gave between $375,000 and $800,000 to the foundation. And Blackstone's charitable arm has pledged millions of dollars in commitments to three Clinton Global aid projects ranging from the U.S. to the Mideast. Blackstone officials did not make Schwarzman available for comment.

Clinton also met in June 2011 with Nancy Mahon of the MAC AIDS, the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder. The meeting occurred before an announcement about a State Department partnership to raise money to finance AIDS education and prevention. The public-private partnership was formed to fight gender-based violence in South Africa, the State Department said at the time.

The MAC AIDS fund donated between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. In 2008, Mahon and the MAC AIDS fund made a three-year unspecified commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative. That same year, the fund partnered with two other organizations to beef up a USAID program in Malawi and Ghana. And in 2011, the fund was one of eight organizations to pledge a total of $2 million over a three-year period to help girls in southern Africa. The fund has not made a commitment to CGI since 2011.

Estee Lauder executive Fabrizio Freda also met with Clinton at the same Wall Street event attended by Schwarzman. Later that month, Freda was on a list of attendees for a meeting between Clinton and a U.S.-China trade group. Estee Lauder has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. The company made a commitment to CGI in 2013 with four other organizations to help survivors of sexual slavery in Cambodia.

MAC AIDS officials did not make Mahon available to AP for comment.

When Clinton appeared before the U.S. Senate in early 2009 for her confirmation hearing as secretary of state, then- Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, questioned her at length about the foundation and potential conflicts of interest. His concerns were focused on foreign government donations, mostly to CGI. Lugar wanted more transparency than was ultimately agreed upon between the foundation and Obama's transition team.

Now, Lugar hopes Hillary and Bill Clinton make a clean break from the foundation.

"The Clintons, as they approach the presidency, if they are successful, will have to work with their attorneys to make certain that rules of the road are drawn up to give confidence to them and the American public that there will not be favoritism," Lugar said.