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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Frank Thorp V

WASHINGTON — A second Senate Republican has come out against controversial Trump judicial nominee Thomas Farr, a move that is certain to sink his chances of confirmation.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the Senate’s only African-American Republican, said in a statement that he could not vote for Farr because of concerns about his record.

The nominee to be a federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina has been accused of legal efforts that effectively disenfranchised African-American voters.

“This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities,” Scott wrote in a statement announcing his opposition. “This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination.”

Scott joined fellow Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona and the Senate’s Democrats in opposing Farr’s nomination.

Flake is opposing all judicial nominations until he receives a vote on a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired, but he said Thursday that he’s also opposing Farr because he’s not fit for the bench.

“I’m not prepared to support Tom Farr even on the merits,” Flake said. “I’ve studied it more, at least about decisions he’s made to defend certain (electoral) maps or whatever else, and then questions with regard to the Jesse Helms letter have never been answered to my satisfaction.”

Farr was legal counsel on the campaign of former Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who was investigated for intimidating black voters in 1990. The Justice Department investigated the voter suppression, which led to the memo that Scott and Flake both referenced in their opposition.

Thomas Farr is an employment lawyer at Ogletree and Deakins in Raleigh, where he has also been the lead counsel defending clients against racial discrimination and workplace violation complaints. He also worked to defend the restrictive voter ID law in North Carolina, which Democrats say is disqualifying.

This is the second time Scott has derailed one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees because of concerns over racism. He objected to Ryan Bounds, a nominee for the ninth circuit in July, over racially insensitive writings during his time at Stanford University. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also opposed Bounds, resulting in the nomination being pulled just moments before the final vote was set to take place.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made confirming judges a top priority under the Trump administration and Republicans have confirmed a record number — 84, including two Supreme Court justices.

Scott has been wrestling with Farr’s nomination. After keeping a procedural vote to advance the nomination open for 45 minutes Wednesday while he continued to “do homework” he voted in favor of moving forward with the nomination.

Final passage was supposed to be Thursday but was delayed because Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., had a family emergency in Oklahoma.

Scott said that he wanted to speak to the author of the Justice Department memo again because he had additional questions.

Scott set off an aggressive lobbying campaign by members on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., was an advocate of Farr’s, having known each other from North Carolina. He huddled with Sen. Scott on Thursday morning to reassure him of Farr’s qualifications.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats, including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., hoped that Scott oppose him.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who called Farr the “chief cook and bottle washer” of voter disenfranchisement in the North Carolina, praised Scott for his decision.

“Senator Tim Scott has done a courageous thing, and he’s done the right thing. Thomas Farr has been involved in the sordid practice of voter suppression for decades and never should have been nominated, let alone confirmed to the bench. Thankfully, he won’t be,” Schumer said.

This seat has been vacant since 2005 — longer than any other judicial post. Former President Barack Obama nominated two people who Republicans blocked.

Garrett Haake contributed.

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A political rivalry for the ages. And then that final salute.



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By Steve Kornacki

The scene inside the Capitol this week was arresting: 95-year-old Bob Dole, confined for years to a wheelchair, rising with assistance to offer one final standing salute to George H.W. Bush.

The history behind it made it even more poignant. Born only 11 months apart, but into dramatically different circumstances, the two men forged one of the preeminent rivalries of modern American politics, fueled by shared ambition and shaped by fateful twists and bitter confrontations, with Bush ultimately capturing the prize that always eluded Dole.

They both came to Washington around the same time, but from very different places.

A son of Dust Bowl Kansas whose family was nearly broken by the Depression, Dole barely escaped death from an exploding artillery shell in World War II, then spent the next three years rehabilitating in an Army hospital. He emerged without the use of his right arm and with shrapnel still in his body, returned to western Kansas and entered politics. In 1960, he won a House seat. Eight years later, he moved up to the Senate. It made him a rising star in Republican politics.

Bush, by contrast, was born into an aristocratic Yankee family and his father, Prescott, was a U.S. senator. Like Dole, Bush defied death in World War II, shot down over the Pacific Ocean but avoiding capture by the Japanese, then set out to make his own name in Texas, first in the oil business and eventually in politics. He lost a Senate race in 1964, but won a House seat two years later. It made him the first Republican ever to represent Houston in Congress — and, just like Dole, a rising Republican star.

Their collision was almost inevitable, and it came in 1972, just weeks after Richard Nixon’s landslide reelection. Dole had been serving as the chairman of the Republican National Committee, an invaluable platform for a would-be national candidate, but his outspokenness had irked the White House.

Nixon wanted to make a change, and he had someone in mind: Bush, who at the White House’s insistence had given up his House seat for another Senate bid in 1970. When he fell short in that race, Bush was named U.N. ambassador by Nixon, and now Nixon wanted him to head the RNC. The switch was announced — and universally portrayed as a blow to Dole and a major boost for Bush.

President George H.W. Bush winks as he ends a session on Oct. 25, 1990, in the White House Rose Garden at Washington, with Republican members of Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas.Charles Tasnadi / AP file

Journalist Martin Schram, detailing the ways the outgoing chairman had alienated himself from the White House, concluded: “There is a lesson for the 48-year-old George Bush in the case of the 49-year-old Bob Dole.”

Nixon’s demise complicated each man’s path. Public disgust over Watergate almost cost Dole his seat when he ran for reelection in 1974 and eked out a one-point victory. Bush, meanwhile, hoped to win an appointment as the new vice president under Gerald Ford, Nixon’ successor, but Ford passed him over in favor of Nelson Rockefeller and Bush settled for the lower-wattage role of ambassador to China.

At the Republican convention in 1976, though, Ford needed a new No. 2. He was running for a full term and Rockefeller was too liberal for the conservative wing of the GOP. Bush was an obvious choice, but there was a problem. At the end of 1975, Ford had nominated him to head the CIA, and the Senate Armed Services Committee had threatened to hold up his confirmation unless Bush was ruled out as a potential V.P. pick. It was, Ford said, an “unfortunate and tragic” situation, but he complied and Bush was confirmed.

For Dole, it was a stroke of fortune as Ford instead turned to him as a running-mate. All at once, Dole regained the stature he’d lost a few years earlier. As the vice presidential nominee, he received a national security briefing just after the convention. It was administered by Bush, the CIA director, who could only wonder if he’d been lapped for good by his rival.

When the Ford-Dole ticket fell inches short in the 1976 election, Dole went to work parlaying his new prominence into a national campaign of his own, for president. Bush, out of a job with Ford’s defeat, decided to run in 1980, too. They were both underdogs against the frontrunner, Ronald Reagan, but it was Bush, not Dole, who found traction and posted a stunning upset win in the Iowa caucuses.

The scene was set for a Reagan-Bush showdown in New Hampshire, but Dole remained in the race. When the two leading candidates scheduled a debate in Nashua, Dole and the other also-rans showed up and walked on stage as it started. Bush didn’t want them there but Reagan did, and he began arguing for their inclusion. The moderator interrupted him and demanded Reagan’s microphone be cut. “I am paying for his microphone, Mr. Green!” Reagan roared.

It brought the crowd to its feet as Bush just sat there, a silent witness to the destruction of his own campaign. According to Richard Ben Cramer’s “What it Takes,” Dole leaned in to Bush as he exited the stage and said, “There’ll be another day, George.” Reagan won New Hampshire, and the nomination, with ease.

Bush caught the big break in ’80. His surprising strength in the primaries convinced Reagan to add him to his ticket, and unlike the Ford-Dole ticket, Reagan-Bush proved a big winner that fall, and again in 1984. Two terms as Reagan’s loyal vice president made Bush a natural candidate for the top job in 1988.

But Dole still wanted it too, and he’d made moves of his own in the Reagan years, ascending to the top Republican leadership post in the Senate. He set out to challenge Bush for the nomination and this time crushed him Iowa, where Bush fared so dismally that he even finished behind televangelist Pat Robertson.

The race moved to New Hampshire and Dole, improbably, had his rival on the ropes. Bush responded with a last-minute barrage of negative ads that accused Dole of being soft on taxes, and gutted out a pivotal victory.

Late that night, after the race had been called, the two men appeared together on NBC. Bush was finishing an interview on set with Tom Brokaw, who then introduced Dole from a remote location. Brokaw asked Bush if he had anything to say to Dole. “No,” he said. “Just wish him well and meet him in the South.” Then Brokaw asked Dole if he had any message for Bush. “Yeah,” he replied, “stop lying about my record.” (Bush smiled on air, but according to Jon Meacham’s biography of him, he referred in his diary to Dole as “a no good son-of-a-bitch.”)

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A day of subtly drawn contrast between Trump’s dark view, Bush’s points of light



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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — The contrasts drawn between the late President George H.W. Bush and President Donald Trump were subtle but persistent as the former was eulogized beneath the intricate stained-glass windows and soaring limestone arches of Washington’s National Cathedral here Wednesday.

The Bush family had made it clear: There would be no politics on display during the day’s proceedings — no direct criticism of the man who currently occupied the Oval Office. But public praise for the late president seemed to highlight the areas where he differed from the current commander in chief.

Bush was described a loyalist (Trump calls former friends “horse face” and “weak”); as a leader who worked with Democrats on budget deals and the Americans With Disabilities Act (Trump has governed on partisan terms and mocked a disabled reporter); as a president who rallied the world behind democratic values (Trump has spurned U.S. allies and enabled despots); and as a man who dedicated himself to a life of service (in life, Trump has unapologetically served his own interests first).

But the theme that seemed to encapsulate their differences most, as Trump sat stone-faced in the front pew of the church amid four former presidents and their wives, was Bush’s eternal optimism about humanity.

“Abraham Lincoln’s ‘better angels of our nature’ and George H.W. Bush’s ‘thousand points of light’ are companion verses in America’s national hymn,” historian Jon Meacham said in delivering the first tribute of the day. “For Lincoln and Bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient, to hope rather than to fear, and to heed not our worst impulses, but our best instincts.”

In his inaugural address in 1989, George H.W. Bush spoke of the spirit of the American people and called on them to unite their talents, their energy and their fortunes to lift each other up.

“I have spoken of a Thousand Points of Light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the nation, doing good,” Bush said. “The old ideas are new again because they’re not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.”

When Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president in 2016, he told the American people, “I alone can fix it.”

In his own inaugural address the following year, Trump described a bloody national landscape, vowing to end “this American carnage.”

Trump has appealed to the fear of outsiders — immigrants from south of the border and travelers from Muslim-majority countries — to rally his political base.

And in openly saying that he would not be willing to risk the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia to come down on Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he has made clear his preference for hard pragmatism over the value of ideals in American foreign policy.

On Wednesday, Bush’s eldest son ascended to address the roughy 3,000 people assembled to say farewell to the man Meacham called the “last great soldier-statesman.”

Former President George W. Bush described a father whose worldview was formed by early brushes with death — an illness and when his plane was shot down during World War II — giving him the ability to “cherish the gift of life” and “live every day to the fullest.”

The younger Bush, who would later choke up as he wrapped up his remarks, said his father taught him and his siblings that anything was possible.

“The horizons he saw were bright and hopeful,” Bush said. “He was a genuinely optimistic man.”

And in a related note, he said this of his father: “Dad could relate to people from all walks of life. He was an empathetic man. He valued character over pedigree. And he was no cynic. He looked for the good in each person and he usually found it.”

A few feet away sat Trump, who has an uncanny ability to find the weakness in others and often displays an uncommon urgency to exploit it. He gives his political foes disparaging nicknames — from “low energy” Jeb Bush (the son and brother of the presidents) to “Little Marco” Rubio for the Republican senator from Florida and “Pocahontas” for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat he has lampooned for claiming Native American heritage.

In contrast to the striking, sunny empathy of the 41st president that drew praise Wednesday, Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio has described the current president’s equally notable talent for casting and cementing a positive image of himself and negative messages on others.

“This may not be the kind of intelligence we can all admire,” D’Antonio wrote. “In fact, it is a cynical, abusive and, some might say, evil form of brilliance.”

If Bush valued character over pedigree, Trump seems to prioritize them in the reverse. And he is obsessed with his own celebrity and that of his friends, aides and allies, speaking often of their television appearances, promoting their books and noting his closeness to them to promote both brands.

The differences between Bush, the patrician dedicated to public service, civility and international cooperation, and Trump are endless. But, at the root of it all, Trump finds darkness in people, while Bush saw points of light.

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Migrants don’t bring disease. In fact, they help fight it, report says



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By Maggie Fox

People who oppose immigration often argue that migrants bring disease with them, and that they then become a burden to health systems in their new countries because they’re so sick.

But that’s not true, a team of experts argued in a new report released Wednesday.

In fact, they point out that immigrants make up a significant portion of the healthcare work forces in their new homelands.

“There is no evidence to show that migrants are spreading disease,” said Dr. Paul Spiegel, who directs the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “That is a false argument that is used to keep migrants out,” Spiegel told NBC News.

“Contrary to the current political narrative portraying migrants as disease carriers who are a blight on society, migrants are an essential part of economic stability in the U.S.,” added Terry McGovern, who heads Columbia University’s Department of Population and Family Health.

McGovern and Spiegel were among 24 commissioners who worked on a two-year project to analyze whether migration spreads disease and to look into the effects that migrants have on health. The final study, published in the Lancet medical journal, finds that migration benefits economies. It also finds that people are using myths to fight migration.

“In too many countries, the issue of migration is used to divide societies and advance a populist agenda,” said Lancet editor Richard Horton.

“With one billion people on the move today, growing populations in many regions of the world, and the rising aspirations of a new generation of young people, migration is not going away. Migrants commonly contribute more to the economy than they cost, and how we shape their health and well-being today will impact our societies for generations to come.”

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