Rep. Steve Scalise is now in ‘fair’ condition after shooting

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is in “fair” condition as he continues to heal from his gunshot wounds, a hospital statement said Wednesday.

The Louisiana Republican arrived at the hospital last week in critical condition after being injured in the shooting that interrupted a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

Now, the third-ranking Republican in the House “continues to make good progress. He is now listed in fair condition and is beginning an extended period of healing and rehabilitation,” according to the statement from the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where Scalise is being treated.

When Scalise was shot last week, a bullet punctured his left hip and traveled across to the other hip, causing “substantial damage” to his blood vessels, bones and some internal organs, Dr. Jack Sava, who treated Scalise at the hospital, said Friday.

Scalise arrived at the hospital “with an imminent risk of death,” Sava said. However, after multiple surgeries, Scalise showed signs of improvement, and by Saturday, his condition was upgraded from critical to serious.

Scalise faces a long road of rehabilitation, but doctors “fully expect to him to walk … and hopefully run” in the future, Sava said.

During the congressional baseball practice June 14, a gunman injured Scalise, congressional staffer Zach Barth, Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika and two members of the Capitol Police force, Crystal Griner and David Bailey.

Law enforcement officials identified the shooter as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, who later died from injuries sustained during a shootout with police on the scene.

House Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry organized a blood drive Tuesday in support of Scalise and the other victims of last week’s shooting.

Among those participating were Vice President Mike Pence and California Rep. Pete Aguilar.

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FBI: Baseball shooter had list of 6 names

The shooter who attacked a GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, last week carried a list with the names of six members of Congress, the FBI said Wednesday, adding that the incident had no connection to terrorism and the shooter acted alone.

The man who carried out the attack, James Hodgkinson, 66, from Belleville, Illinois, was shot dead by police after opening fire, authorities have said. Tim Slater, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said Hodgkinson was known to have “an anger management problem.” Hodgkinson maintained a social media presence that was pro-Bernie Sanders and anti-Republican.

The investigation into the attack is still active as police continue to analyze evidence from the scene, authorities said. Slater, who didn’t release the names on the list or say which party they belonged to, said the list didn’t provide any additional context but said Hodgkinson had researched two of the members online.

An FBI news release said Hodgkinson took multiple photographs of Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, the scene of the shooting, in mid-April. At this point in the investigation, the FBI does not believe that these photographs represented surveillance of intended targets, though the release said the investigation into Hodgkinson’s recent activities was ongoing.

Last week, a law enforcement source told CNN that a list of names — including some Republican members of Congress — was found with the Alexandria shooter. Rep. Mo Brooks, who was on the list and present at the practice, was unharmed by the shooting.

The law enforcement source told CNN at the time it wasn’t clear it was an assassination list. None of the victims injured in the attack were on the list, the law enforcement source said.

House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise was the only congressman injured in the shooting.

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Anger over Warmbier death grows amid calls for travel ban

Anger over Otto Warmbier’s fate continued to build Tuesday, with lawmakers declaring his death a “murder” and calling for travel restrictions to North Korea while the Trump administration considered how to respond.

The Warmbier family announced Tuesday that the 22-year-old will be laid to rest Thursday morning in Ohio, as Republican and Democratic lawmakers decried his treatment by Pyongyang and floated the idea of banning American travel to North Korea as a first step.

The calls for a response come as spy satellites detected new activity at North Korea’s underground nuclear test site for the first time in several weeks, according to two US officials who spoke to CNN. They also said military options for North Korea have recently been updated and will be presented to President Donald Trump if there is a nuclear test.

However, on the eve of a high-level meeting with China, Pyongyang’s largest trade partner and closest ally, the Trump administration has sounded a more cautious note, saying that they hold North Korea responsible for Warmbier’s death but giving no indication of how they will respond.

Officials from Trump down have expressed sadness about the college student’s fate, but say that for now, they haven’t decided on a course of action.

“We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment,” State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said Tuesday. “We’re still considering our options.”

“We have a great deal of resolve to try to handle the situation and try to hold North Korea responsible for the death of Mr. Warmbier and bring back those three Americans who do remain there,” Nauert added.

Trump tweeted a somewhat conciliatory sounding message to Beijing, saying “while I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”

He also tweeted that “the U.S. once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”

The usual menu of retaliatory measures against North Korea include sanctions that target its businesses and officials. Many lawmakers and analysts say the next step has to be sanctioning Chinese companies that do business with North Korea.

And lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are urging consideration of a ban on American travel to the isolated country.

Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised the issue on MSNBC: “Examining the travel implications and the fact that Americans do end up caught up in this situation, and should there be a travel ban for US citizens going there relative to this?” Corker said. “That’s something we’re looking at.”

He noted that there are three other Americans detained in North Korea with “trumped-up charges against them.”

Corker added: “We have to figure out whether it’s best to allow people to do that, and then end up in a situation where we’re doing everything we can as a nation to get them out.” 

His colleague from Washington state, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, called for licensing of humanitarian groups that enter the country. “We obviously want humanitarian work to continue in North Korea, but I think we need to think hard about making it safer for our citizens who do travel there.”

The framework for a travel ban is already in place.

Last month, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff and his Republican colleague Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina introduced the North Korea Travel Control Act. The bill would require the Treasury to issue regulations requiring a license for transactions related to travel to, from and within North Korea by US citizens — and bar licenses for tourist travel.

Schiff was among many lawmakers who deemed Warmbier’s death a “murder,” echoing Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken and others when he said in a statement that “the barbaric treatment of Otto Warmbier by the North Korean regime amounts to the murder of a US citizen.”

Asked about potential travel restrictions, the State Department’s Nauert said, “we’re contemplating that right now.”

Referring to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, she added, “the secretary has the authority to do it, he just has not come to a conclusion about how this would potentially work.”

Nauert stressed that the State Department issued a travel warning for North Korea that lays out the dangers. “We think that our travel warning that we’ve had in place for some time is quite strong,” she said.

Still, Americans continue to travel there for the novelty as well as to teach in universities and do discreet missionary work. About 17 US citizens have been detained in the past 10 years, including the three Americans who remain imprisoned there.

Warmbier had gone for five days of sightseeing in 2016, only to be jailed for allegedly stealing a poster from a hotel and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. He was imprisoned for 17 months before being returned to the US, comatose, on June 13.

Eastern Vision, a Hong Kong-based tour company that specializes in travel for university students and new graduates, stopped taking US citizens on tours to North Korea in early 2016, after Warmbier’s arrest.

The company had previously taken two other Americans on a student exchange in Hong Kong to North Korea, co-founder Rubio Chan told CNN on Tuesday. In the wake of Warmbier’s death, Chan said the company will continue that suspension.

On Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed regrets over Warmbier’s death and sent condolences to his friends and family, according to presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun.

In an interview with a foreign media outlet, Moon said, “it is deplorable that North Korea does not respect human rights, which are the universal norms and values of humankind.”

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What was Queen’s Speech missing? Donald Trump

What — or in this case, who — was conspicuously absent from the Queen’s Speech to Parliament? U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump’s planned state visit to the UK, announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this year, was not mentioned by Queen Elizabeth II in her speech at the opening of Parliament on Wednesday, prompting further speculation over whether the trip will happen.

May offered up the state visit during a bilateral meeting with the U.S. president shortly after his inauguration. State visits are typically characterized by pomp and ceremony, and generally include a banquet with the Queen.

The invitation has proved to be incredibly controversial in Britain, where over 1.8 million people signed a petition seeking to block Trump’s trip over fears that it would “cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”

Earlier this month, UK media reports suggested the U.S. president had told Prime Minister May that he would not visit due to a lack of public support in Britain. Those reports were later denied by the White House.

British newspaper the Guardian reported that Trump had revealed his unease about the visit during a conversation with May, citing a Downing Street adviser who was in the room.

A senior Trump administration source denied that the subject came up when Trump and May spoke in the aftermath of the British general election.

Following the omission on Wednesday, a senior Trump administration official told CNN: “She didn’t mention (the visit) because the date is not yet set.”

A Downing Street spokesperson told CNN there was “no change” in their position on the state visit.

“The invitation for the state visit has been extended and it wasn’t mentioned in the speech as no date has been decided upon yet,” the Number 10 spokesperson said.

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Democrats just went 0-4. When will they win?

Democrats tried an inoffensive moderate message in Georgia. They ran a banjo-strumming populist in Montana. They called in the cavalry in South Carolina and tried to catch their foe sleeping through a long-shot in Kansas.

None of it worked.

In the special elections for House seats vacated by Republicans who wound up in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, Democrats went 0-for-4.

Now, party officials, strategists and candidates are pondering what went wrong — and how they can turn it around in time for the 2018 midterm elections.

Jon Ossoff’s loss Tuesday night in a hyper-competitive Georgia race — the most expensive in history — “better be a wake-up call for Democrats,” tweeted Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, an emerging Democratic leader.

“We need a genuinely new message, a serious jobs plan that reaches all Americans, and a bigger tent,” he wrote, “not a smaller one. Focus on the future.”

The losses aren’t all doom and gloom for Democrats. The party got closer than it has in decades to winning some of the four seats — a sign they’ve closed their gaps with Republicans in both suburban and rural areas and in 2018 will have a broad playing field with dozens of more competitive districts.

“We have to remember that these elections are being held in districts hand-picked by Trump — districts where he created vacancies because he thought they were ‘can’t lose’ seats,” said Ron Klain, a Democratic operative who was chief of staff to vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore.

Democrats also came closer than expected in South Carolina on Tuesday — which, Klain said, “shows there are no safe seats for Republicans and the Democrats have a broad array of districts to contest.”

But before the 2018 midterms, Democrats must grapple with the party’s need to drive its base to the polls while also convincing some independents and moderate Republicans to reject Trump.

“Democrats haven’t figured out how to beat Trump,” a senior Trump administration official said Tuesday night.

After scoring their latest victories, Republicans were spiking the football. Kellyanne Conway, a top White House aide, jabbed at Ossoff for being 30 years old and living just outside Georgia’s 6th District, tweeting her thanks to Republican Karen Handel “for standing strong, for running on issues, for being a grownup and for living in the district.”

In a memo, National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Matt Gorman said Democrats have a “competence problem” and said there were no moral victories to be had.

“Fawning press stories or bluster doesn’t win a single vote. There comes a time where a party must put up or shut up,” he said in the memo.

Democrats, meanwhile, were left licking their wounds.

“There are two ways to digest this result for Democrats — with our brains and with our guts,” said Tom Bonier, a top Democratic data and targeting guru.

Besting previous Democratic marks in each district that held a special election is a reason for optimism, he said. “But instinctually, this hurts, because it was about more than a single seat,” Bonier said.

“It was an opportunity to throw a wrench into Republican recruiting and fundraising efforts for 2018; to potentially set off a wave of retirements, creating easier to win open seats,” he said. “Logically, the difference of a few thousand votes in a single special election shouldn’t have such an impact. But these decisions aren’t always made based on logic alone.”

‘A tough loss’

Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, said in a statement that Georgia represented “a tough loss.”

“But Democrats cannot let this defeat tamper our enthusiasm. The fight to defeat President Trump’s and the Republican majority’s extreme agenda is more important than ever,” he said.

First, though, Democrats seem poised for a round of battles over which types of candidates they should run in competitive districts.

Progressive activist groups were sharply critical of Ossoff’s moderate campaign. In a strategic decision aimed at courting moderate Republicans who had supported Hillary Clinton in the fall, Ossoff rarely mentioned Trump’s name, and Democrats only hit Handel on the GOP’s health care effort late in the race.

“Gone are the days of Blue Dogs who actively campaign as Republicans,” said Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Democracy for America chair Jim Dean blasted the Democratic establishment’s “unforced errors.”

‘A missed opportunity’

Anna Galland, the executive director of MoveOn.org, said Ossoff and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “missed an opportunity to make Republicans’ attack on health care the key issue, and instead attempted to portray Ossoff as a centrist, focusing on cutting spending and coming out in opposition to Medicare-for-all.”

Dan Pfeiffer, a long-time senior aide to former President Barack Obama, tweeted that Democrats need a “progressive populist candidate” focused on the economy and the GOP’s health care effort to win tough House races.

And while Democrats badly wanted a win, coming close four times should be enough to spook Republicans facing competitive re-election battles, said Zac Petkanas, who ran Hillary Clinton’s rapid response team.

“The fact that all these races were close should have any member of the GOP who won by less than 15 points absolutely terrified,” he said.

Democratic voters nationwide, Petkanas said, don’t know Ossoff. “They all know who Donald Trump is and this race proves he remains a major liability for Republicans that juices our turnout and depresses their support,” he said.

Ossoff was catapulted to progressive stardom — and turned into a fundraising phenom who hauled in $23 million — in large part due to early support from the liberal blog Daily Kos.

The blog’s founder, Markos Moulitsas, said in an email that the loss was “obviously disappointing.”

But, he said, in competing hard in places like Georgia’s 6th District, where former Rep. Tom Price never fell below 60%, Democrats have changed the expectations for the 2018 midterms.

“We’ve made it a point to fight Republicans every step of the way, make them earn every inch of territory they’ve gained. We’ve taken the fight deep into their territory, and forced them to fight desperately to hold seats that should easily be theirs. We’ve laid a marker on the ground — next year will be brutal for Republicans, because they won’t be able to spend tens of millions in every district,” Moulitsas said.

“We’re going to keep fighting them, keep harassing them, and keep expanding the map,” he said. “And in the end, we’ll know who really won and who lost November of 2018.”

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DOJ argues Sessions should not testify in Arpaio trial

The Justice Department is formally resisting an effort by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to have Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify in the controversial Arizona law enforcement official’s upcoming criminal trial.

In a court filing late Monday, the Justice Department argued that Sessions was a senator at all times relevant to the case and Arpaio hasn’t shown any extraordinary circumstances justifying the move. Arpaio’s lawyers subpoenaed Sessions on June 13 to testify about federal immigration policies.

Arpaio faces charges of criminal contempt of court. Prosecutors say he disobeyed a court order by continuing to make immigration arrests after he was ordered to stop.

Arpaio, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, has touted himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” for years and has long been known for his tough stance on immigration in the border state. He lost his sheriff’s re-election in November to Democrat Paul Penzone, a former Phoenix policeman.

If convicted in the trial, which is scheduled to kick off Monday, Arpaio could be sentenced to up to six months in jail.

Sessions testified at a public hearing in front of the Senate intelligence committee last week, during which he was asked questions on the Russia probe and on former FBI Director James Comey’s firing.

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