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By Dartunorro Clark and Allan Smith

Former President George H.W. Bush was buried in a private ceremony on the grounds of his presidential library in Texas on Thursday after being remembered by family and friends as a humble leader with the “courage of a warrior.”

After a three-hour ride aboard a funeral train from Houston, his casket arrived in College Station, home of Texas A&M University and his final resting place at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Bush was greeted at the burial site by a 21-aircraft Navy flyover. The Navy executed what is known as the “missing man” formation, signifying the loss of an aviator. Typically, the flyover is limited to just four aircraft, but the military wanted to do something unprecedented for the former president, a naval aviator.

As Bush’s casket was escorted to his final resting place, his family followed solemnly behind. The casket was carried over a footbridge, across which Bush was to be interred in a private ceremony next to his wife, the late former first lady Barbara Bush, and daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age three.

Earlier Thursday, James Baker, a close friend who served as Bush’s secretary of state and chief of staff, delivered the first eulogy at the second of Bush’s funeral services at the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, sprinkling his tribute with humorous personal stories and praise for the former president.

“Yes, he had the courage of a warrior. But when the time came for prudence, he always maintained the greater courage of a peacemaker,” Baker said, referring Bush’s role in maintaining diplomacy after the Berlin Wall fell during his administration.

“He understood that humility toward, and not humiliation of, a fallen adversary was the very best path to peace.”

Baker, who was with the president during his last days, also drew laughs from the audience when describing the heated discussions he would have with the president about domestic issues and world events.

“He would look at me and he’d say, ‘Baker, if you’re so smart, why am I president and you’re not?’ He was a leader and he knew it,” Baker said.

Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was also honored Wednesday at a state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, which was attended by a host of world leaders and current and former presidents and first ladies.

The Thursday funeral is mainly for close friends to the former president and his family, who also attended Wednesday’s service. Several of his granddaughters read from scripture during the beginning of the service.

Baker choked up toward the end of his eulogy, describing his friend as a consummate statesman.

“He was not considered a skilled speaker, but his deeds were quite eloquent—and he demonstrated their eloquence by carving them into the hard granite of history,” he said.

“We rejoice…that you are safely tucked in now, and through the ages, with God’s loving arms around you. Because our glory, George, was to have had you as our president, and as such a friend.”

The president’s five living children and their spouses were seated in the front row, including eldest son George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush. The other children include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Neil Bush, Marvin Bush and Dorothy Bush.

George W. Bush, who delivered a tearful eulogy at Wednesday’s service, gave Baker a hug and a kiss on the cheek after his eulogy.

Texas Land Commissioner George Prescott Bush, the former president’s oldest grandson and the son of Jeb Bush, eulogized his grandfather with personal anecdotes, affectionately referring to the former president as “Gampy” and his grandmother, the late former first lady Barbara Bush, as “Ganny.”

He told stories of playing horseshoe with his grandfather and his cousin and fly fishing with him in Maine, where the Bush family has a home. He said that despite Bush being a “larger than life figure,” he always made time for his grandchildren.

“In a typical day, he’d wake up around 5 a.m. to review security briefings and grab his first coffee of the day. When the coast was clear all the grandkids would try our best to snag a spot on the bed and nestle up between him and ‘Ganny’ while they read the paper,” George P. Bush said.

He called him “the most gracious and most decent and most humble man I will ever know.”

For the musical selection, The Oak Ridge Boys performed “Amazing Grace” in honor of the former president, whom they met while Bush was vice president.



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IRS agent admits giving Michael Cohen’s financial records to Stormy lawyer

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By Andrew Blankstein and Tom Winter

Federal prosecutors say an IRS investigator in California has admitted leaking confidential details of financial transactions by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to Michael Avenatti, lawyer for Stormy Daniels.

John C. Fry has been charged in federal court with searching for and disseminating Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), reports filed by banks when they note potentially suspicious transactions.

Federal officials say they found telephone records that indicate Fry placed a phone call from his personal cell phone to that of Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti the day before Avenatti released details of Cohen’s financial transactions, and the day after.

Via Twitter, Avenatti disseminated information about Cohen’s receipt in 2017 of $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a company founded by a Russian billionaire, as well as payments to a Cohen company called Essential Consultants from other firms who do business with the federal government, including AT&T and aircraft manufacturer. The

The Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Office announced after Avenatti’s disclosure that it would be investigating the source of his information.

Fry, 54, is an investigative analyst with the law enforcement arm of the IRS, the Criminal Investigative Division. He has worked for the IRS since 2008.

According to the complaint, he conducted numerous searches related to Cohen, and downloaded five SARs, including one related to a bank account for Essential Consultants.

The federal complaint says Fry verbally admitted providing the information to Avenatti when he was confronted by federal agents.

In a statement, Avenatti told NBC News, “I have done nothing wrong and did not violate any law whatsoever, just like reporters don’t violate the law when they do their jobs.”

Sarah Fitzpatrick contributed.



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Republican candidate Mark Harris calls for new election in disputed North Carolina House race

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Dartunorro Clark

RALEIGH, North Carolina — Republican candidate Mark Harris on Thursday called for a new election in the disputed North Carolina House race.

“Neither I nor any of the leadership of my campaign were aware of or condoned the improper activities that have been testified to in this hearing. Through the testimony I listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said. “It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the ninth district seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.”

Harris’ request for a new election came after several days of a state Board of Elections hearing that is seeking to determine whether there was misconduct with mail-in ballots in the state’s 9th congressional district. Harris testified Thursday morning that he had no knowledge of the alleged illegal activities of a political operative hired by his campaign.

State investigators described the matter as a “coordinated, unlawful” mail-in ballot “scheme” in Bladen County run by political operative McCrea Dowless that included the collection of absentee ballots, which is illegal in North Carolina.

Harris testified Thursday that Dowless had repeatedly assured him that he would not be doing anything against the law in his absentee ballot operation. Harris said that after consideration and talking with others he trusted, he decided to move forward with the hire.

“I was comfortable enough with the recommendations of the individuals from Judge Marion Warren who at first told me about McCrae Dowless and what he did and all the way through in meeting with those individuals, I was comfortable enough at that point,” Harris said.

However, Harris’ son, John Harris, testified before the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Wednesday, saying that he warned his father about the illegal tactics of Dowless, casting doubt on Harris’ insistence that he had no knowledge of fraudulent election activity in last year’s election.

John Harris, an assistant U.S. attorney in North Carolina, testified that he told his father he had become concerned about the practices of the operative, McCrae Dowless, after studying the 2016 congressional primary in the same 9th District. He said that his father decided to hire Dowless despite his concerns.



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‘NOT SIMPLER!’ Philip Hammond LASHES OUT at Williamson over China trade talks GAFFE

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CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has accused Gavin William of choosing his career over a trade deal with China which was thwarted after the Defence Secretary sent a Royal Navy ship to the South China Sea.

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