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Tuesday, Dec 18th

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Trump administration hid report revealing Wells Fargo charged high fees to students

Trump held WF report showing they charged high fees to students

The Trump administration for months concealed a report that showed Wells Fargo charged college students fees that were on average several times higher than some of its competitors.

The “unpublished” report was obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request. It was produced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau office previously led by Seth Frotman, who quit as the bureau’s top student loan official in protest of Trump administration policies. Frotman said in his resignation letter that CFPB leaders had “suppressed the publication” of the report.

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Accused Russian agent Maria Butina asks judge to change plea in conspiracy case

Maria Butina to change pleaMaria Butina, a Russian national charged with conspiracy and acting as the agent of a foreign government, joined prosecutors Monday in asking a judge to schedule a hearing for her to change her plea.

Butina has pleaded innocent so far in the case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She has been jailed since July, largely in solitary confinement. But now lawyers for both sides are asking for a plea hearing Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

“The parties have resolved this matter,” the two-page filing said.

The latest court filing suggests that Butina could be preparing to plead guilty to charges involving what prosecutors claim were efforts to infiltrate U.S. political organizations in order to advance Russia's interests.

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Justices won't hear states' appeal over Planned Parenthood

Supreme Court rejects Planned Parenthood caseThe Supreme Court on Monday avoided a high-profile case by rejecting appeals from Kansas and Louisiana in their effort to strip Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood, over the dissenting votes of three justices.

The court's order reflected a split among its conservative justices and an accusation from Justice Clarence Thomas that his colleagues seemed to be ducking the case for political reasons. New Justice Brett Kavanaugh was among the justices who opted not to hear the case.

The two states were appealing lower court rulings that had blocked them from withholding money that is used for health services for low-income women. The money is not used for abortions. Abortion opponents have said Planned Parenthood should not receive any government money because of heavily edited videos that claimed to show the nation's largest abortion provider profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research.

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Trump plan to reclassify nuke waste alarms environmentalists

trump to ease regulations on disposal of radioactive wasteThe Trump administration has proposed reclassifying some radioactive waste left from the production of nuclear weapons to make disposal cheaper and easier.

The U.S. Department of Energy wants a change in its legal definition of high-level radioactive waste stored at places such as Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state — the most contaminated nuclear site in the country.

Reclassifying waste as low-level could save the agency billions of dollars and decades of cleanup work. Critics say that's because much of the waste essentially could be left in the ground.

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Prosecutors probing potential links between Trump Organization executives and hush-money payments

Prosecutors probing link between Trump org. and hush money payments
Federal prosecutors are reportedly continuing to probe potential links between Trump Organization executives and the two hush-money payments that President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen says the then-candidate helped coordinate.

The prosecutors have requested documents and other materials from the Trump Organization in recent weeks, The New York Times reported on Sunday. They are trying to identify if other organization officials helped pay off two women to keep quiet about alleged affairs with Trump, according to the newspaper.

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Nick Ayers, rumored to be next White House chief of staff after John Kelly's departure, turns down job

Nick Ayers turns down job as Chief of Staff

Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was viewed as the favorite to replace John Kelly as President Trump’s chief of staff early next year. Instead, Ayers announced Sunday, he’s leaving the White House.

“Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House,” Ayers tweeted just before 5 p.m. Sunday. “I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause.”

Ayers will instead move on to run a pro-Trump super PAC, according to multiple reports.

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China Launches Probe Bound For A Historic Exploration Of The Far Side Of The Moon

China launches Proube

A Chinese spacecraft is headed toward the moon on a historic mission.

The rocket, launched Saturday, is carrying a probe set to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, reports China's state-run Xinhua News Agency.

While other spacecraft have previously explored the far side of the moon from afar, the soft-landing will allow for more detailed study of the lunar surface. The probe is expected to touch down in early January.

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Antisemitic pamphlets found in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting neighborhood

Antisemitic booklets found in Pittsburgh neighborhoodAuthorities are investigating the dissemination of antisemitic pamphlets in Pittsburgh neighborhoods, including the one in which a gunman killed 11 people in a synagogue in October.

Police said on Sunday morning the material was found in neighborhoods including Squirrel Hill, where a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue on 27 October and killed 11 people in the deadliest attack on Jews in US history.

A man who authorities said raged against Jews during and after the shooting has pleaded not guilty to numerous murder and hate crime charges.

Police said “such hate-filled material” would not be tolerated by residents, city officials or law enforcement.

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Trump could face jail time, Schiff warns

Trump could face jaiol time

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday said President Donald Trump could spend time in jail once he leaves the White House.

"My takeaway is there's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him. That he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," Schiff, a former prosecutor and the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on "Face the Nation" on CBS.

The suggestion comes after federal prosecutors on Friday said Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, was directed by Trump in 2016 to make hush money payments to two women who claimed affairs with Trump, who was then a candidate for the Oval Office. The statement came in a memo that suggested Cohen serve a “substantial” prison sentence of 51 to 63 months.

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