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Mitt Romney announces US Senate run

Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced Friday his plans to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah.

>> Read more trending news

Rumors swirled that Romney would announce his candidacy after Sen. Orrin Hatch, who currently holds the Senate seat, said last month that he would not run for re-election in November.

“I have decided to run for United States Senate because I believe I can help bring Utah’s values and Utah’s lessons to Washington,” Romney said in a video announcing his decision to run. “Utah is a better model for Washington than Washington is for Utah.”

>> Related: Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to retire

In a statement obtained by Politico, officials with Romney’s campaign said he plans to visit all of Utah’s counties in the coming months.

Romney has been a frequent and vocal critic of President Donald Trump, despite the fact that the president once considered Romney a candidate to serve as his secretary of state.

>> Related: Report: Donald Trump 'furious' after Kellyanne Conway steps up Mitt Romney attacks

He called Trump a “phony” and “a fraud” during a speech in Utah during the presidential campaign.

"His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University," Romney said in March 2016. "He's playing members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat."

Romney is expected to win the Senate race due to his popularity among Utah voters, according to CNN. Romney attended Brigham Young University and has deep connections to the Mormon church.

Read: Trump addresses nation after deadly Florida high school shooting

President Donald Trump addressed the nation Thursday, one day after a gunman opened fire on students and staff at a high school in Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people and injuring more than a dozen others.

>> Read more trending news

Authorities had a suspect in custody after the attack, identified as former student Nikolas Cruz, 19. Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in connection with the mass shooting.

Read the president’s full comments below:

My fellow Americans, today I speak to a nation in grief. Yesterday, a school filled with innocent children and caring teachers became the scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil. Around 2:30 yesterday afternoon, police responded to reports of gunfire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida -- a great and safe community. There, a shooter, who is now in custody, opened fire on defenseless students and teachers. He murdered 17 people and badly wounded at least 14 others.

>> Related: Olympic figure skaters dedicate performance to slain Florida high schoolers 

Our entire nation, with one heavy heart, is praying for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly: we are here for you – whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain. We are all joined together as one American family and your suffering is our burden also.

No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning.

Each person who was stolen from us yesterday had a full life ahead of them. A life filled with wondrous beauty and unlimited potential and promise.

Each one had dreams to pursue, love to give and talents to share with the world. And each one had a family to whom they meant everything in the world.

Today we mourn for all of those who lost their lives. We comfort the grieving and the wounded, and we hurt for the entire community of Parkland, Florida, that is now in shock and pain and searching for answers.

>> Related: Florida school shooting: Probe focuses on gunman's motives, victims' lives

To law enforcement, first responders and teachers who responded so bravely in the face of danger: We thank you for your courage. Soon after the (shooting), I spoke with Gov. (Rick) Scott to convey our deepest sympathies to the people of Florida and our determination to assist in any way that we can. I also spoke with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. I’m making plans to visit Parkland to meet with families and local officials and to continue coordinating the fed response. 

In these moments of heartache and darkness we hold on to god’s word in scripture. “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears, I will heal you.”

>> Related: Florida school shooting: Football coach shot, killed while protecting students hailed as hero 

We trust in that promise and we hold fast to our fellow Americans in their time of sorrow. 

I want to speak now directly to America’s children, especially those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared. I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer or a faith leader. Answer hate with love, answer cruelty with kindness.

>> Related: Florida school shooting: Students describe terror, panic during rampage 

We must also work together create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life, that creates deep and meaningful human connections, and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors. 

Our administration is working closely with local authorities to investigate the shooting and learn everything we can. We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.

Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference. 

>> Related: Just before school shooting, Parkland ranked as one of Florida's safest cities

In times of tragedy, the bonds that sustain us are those of family, faith, community and country. These bonds are stronger than the forces of hatred and evil, and these bonds grow even stronger in the hours of our greatest need -- and so always, but especially today, let us hold our loved ones close. Let us pray for healing and for peace, and let us come together as one nation to wipe away the tears and strive for a much better tomorrow

Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you very much.

House Oversight Committee launches probe into Rob Porter's employment

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating the White House’s employment of staff secretary Rob Porter in the wake of allegations that he abused his two ex-wives, committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, said Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news

Porter submitted his resignation Feb. 2.

Gowdy told CNN that the committee launched a probe Tuesday night into Porter’s employment and when White House officials knew about the domestic violence allegations levied against him.

Porter has denied any wrongdoing.

"We are directing inquiries to people that we think have access to information we don't have. You can call it official. You can call it unofficial,” Gowdy told CNN. “I'm going to direct questions to the FBI that I expect them to answer.”

Porter resigned Feb. 2 after his ex-wives went public with allegations of domestic abuse and said they spoke with federal authorities about the claims, prompting critics to question why he had remained employed in the Trump administration. The allegations held up a background check needed to grant Porter a security clearance for work in the White House. Officials said he was working on an interim security clearance.

The process to get Porter his clearance was ongoing at the time of his resignation.

“How do you have any job if you have credible allegations of domestic abuse?” Gowdy asked on CNN. “I am biased toward the victim.”

>> Related: White House ‘could have done better’ handling Rob Porter allegations, spokesman says

Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, and his second, Jennifer Willoughby, told the FBI about the alleged domestic violence in January 2017, after they were contacted while Porter was applying for his security clearance, according to The Washington Post.

White House officials defended Porter in the immediate aftermath of the allegations, and President Donald Trump has faced criticism for what critics called his lack of care for the victims and his focus on the fact that Porter has denied the claims.

“I was surprised by (the allegations), but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump told reporters in Washington on Friday. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career. … It was very said when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”

Holderness told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive throughout their relationship, which started in 2000, but that things escalated after they were wed in June 2003. She said Porter kicked her during their honeymoon and during a 2005 vacation in Italy, punched her in the face.

Willoughby, who married Porter in November 2009 and separated from him in early 2010, told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive.

Willoughby obtained a protective order against Porter in June 2010 after she said he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave her apartment, according to court records obtained by The Daily Mail. In the complaint, Willoughby said Porter punched in a glass door while she was locked inside the apartment, but left after he heard she was on the phone with police.

She told the Mail that in December 2010, he dragged her out of a shower while she was naked in order to yell at her.

The couple was divorced in 2013.

Omarosa says U.S. would be 'begging' for Trump's return if Mike Pence became president

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former White House aide who quickly transitioned to the CBS reality show “Celebrity Big Brother,” dropped more bombshells on the program, this time sharing a warning about Vice President Mike Pence.

The woman who became a household name on “The Apprentice” told her reality show housemates on Monday’s episode that they ought to think twice about a Pence presidency, saying Pence would be a “scary” alternative to President Donald Trump.

>> Omarosa returns to 'Celebrity Big Brother' after being treated for asthma attack

“Can I just say this: As bad as y’all think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence. So everybody that’s wishing for impeachment might want to reconsider their life,” Newman told the others. “We would be begging for days of Trump back if Pence became president, that’s all I’m saying. He’s extreme. I’m Christian, I love Jesus, but he thinks Jesus tells him to say things.”

The conversation headed toward Pence when the group started talking about the recent government shutdowns and the possibility of a Trump impeachment.

Newman also talked about the recent crackdown by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and sounded a warning alarm about coming immigration policies.

“I’ve seen the roundup plan,” she said. “It’s getting more and more aggressive.”

Expanding on the topic of the ICE crackdown, Newman said the Obama administration did Trump a favor with its policy on DREAMers.

>> On Rare.us: VP Mike Pence was spotted at the Olympics sitting by someone very close to Kim Jong Un

“Barack Obama’s administration said, ‘If you sign up and basically out yourself that you’re here illegally, we’ll protect you,'” she said. “As a result, all of these people signed up, outed their families, their children, people who were in hiding. Then Donald Trump got in and was like, ‘Yeah, that was his little executive order.'”

The other house members have generally expected bombshell material out of Newman.

“Every time she opens her mouth, I’m like, ‘Is she gonna drop a bomb?'” Ross Mathews said. “Is there gonna be a breaking news go across the screen?”

>> Read more trending news 

For his part, Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath exclaimed: “It’s Omarosa time!”

McGrath then went on to question the validity of anything Newman says.

“Time to talk about her stint in the White House … but, you always have to remember, this is Omarosa, a world-class reality TV villain. Is it true? Is it game? Is it her story? Is it the real story?"

“It’s Omarosa’s world, and I’m just livin’ in it.”

In a previous episode, Manigault-Newman broke down while talking to Mathews. She said Americans should be concerned about the Trump administration.

“It’s going to not be OK; it’s not,” she said. “It’s so bad.”

Omarosa returns to 'Celebrity Big Brother' after being treated for asthma attack

Reality TV star Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former aide to President Donald Trump, returned to the set of "Celebrity Big Brother" on Saturday after she suffered an asthma attack Friday night, CBS News reported.

>> Omarosa says she wouldn’t vote for Trump again ‘in a million years’

The network said Newman temporarily left the house and "received medical treatment" for the attack, which "will be addressed during Sunday's episode." The show airs at 8 p.m. on CBS.

>> CNN's Don Lemon cracks up when guest bashes Omarosa

"The show has procedures in place to deal with this type of short-term medical treatment," CBS News reported. "Producers also made sure there was supervision to ensure there was no access to information that would provide an unfair advantage when returning to the competition."

>> Read more trending news 

Rumors began circulating about Newman's health Friday after a livestream captured contestant Marissa Jaret Winokur telling castmate Ross Mathews that "Omarosa had everything to lose," adding, "I mean, I put her in the hospital."

Read more here.

Veteran resident dies, receives patriotic farewell from nursing home

A veterans nursing home in South Carolina honored a resident who died this week with a patriotic farewell that has gone viral.

>> Read more trending news 

In a Facebook post, Laura Dorn thanked the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home in Anderson for taking such good care of her father, Doug Timmons, who had Alzheimer's disease and was a resident of the facility for the last three years. Dorn wrote that her father died early Thursday morning and the staff took the time to honor him for his service as his body was removed from the facility. In a video that Dorn posted, Timmons' body, draped with an American flag, is wheeled out as staff line up and a musical tribute plays.

In a Facebook review of the nursing home, Dorn thanked the "caring, accommodating and selfless" staff who she said treated her father like family. Dorn wrote, "They treated my Dad with dignity and respect from the first moment there until he drew his last breath, then sent him off with a hero's procession."The video has received more than 3 million views.

Suppressed photo of Obama, Farrakhan might have derailed 2008 campaign

More than a dozen years after the fact, a photographer has come forward with a photo that might have derailed Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid.

>> Read more trending news

Askia Muhammad, who works for the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, the Final Call, has published a book in recent days that features the image: a “grip and grin” frame of a smiling Obama standing shoulder to shoulder with Louis Farrakhan.

>> Related: Who is Louis Farrakhan? 11 things to know about the Nation of Islam leader, black activist

Muhammad said the image was shot at a Congressional Black Caucus function in 2005 and says someone from the caucus called him and asked him to suppress the photo.

That could not be verified independently, but there is general agreement that, given the antipathy for Farrakhan among many Obama supporters, the photo could have spelled serious trouble for the Obama campaign.

 Read the full story on MyAJC.com

Photo shows Michigan congresswoman playing Candy Crush during State of the Union

A Democratic congresswoman from Michigan was caught playing Candy Crush on her phone during Tuesday's State of the Union address.

A Getty photographer captured U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence playing the game on her iPhone during President Trump's address, the Detroit Free Press reported. Other photographs taken during the address show many legislators using their phones.

>> Read more trending news 

Lawrence is a former mayor of Southfield, Michigan. She was elected to Congress in 2014 to represent Michigan's 14th District and is in her second term, the Free Press reported. Her office did not respond to the Free Press for a request for comment on the photo.

Nunes memo: Controversial GOP memo alleging missteps in Russia probe released

The House Intelligence Committee on Friday released a controversial memo alleging missteps by the FBI and the Justice Department in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign.

READ MORE: Read the GOP memo accusing the FBI of misconductHouse Intelligence Committee votes to release controversial Nunes memoWhat is a FISA warrant?Democrats helped fund Trump-Russia dossier: 6 things to knowMORE

Controversial GOP memo released: 6 things to know

The House Intelligence Committee on Friday released a controversial GOP intelligence memo alleging missteps by the FBI and the Justice Department in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign officials.

>> Read more trending news

The release came four days after the committee voted to release the memo. Trump approved of its release without redactions Friday.

>> Related: Nunes memo: Controversial GOP memo alleging missteps in Russia probe released

Here are six things to know about the memo:

1. What exactly is the memo?

The memo was written Jan. 18 by staff of the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California. It was written as part of the committee’s investigation into the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by FBI and Justice Department officials investigating Russian election meddling.

>> Related: Read the GOP memo accusing the FBI of misconduct

2. What is it about?

Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page and the infamous -- and mostly unverified -- dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, for the most part.

>> Related: Who is Carter Page; how is he connected to the Nunes memo?

In the memo, officials claimed that investigators failed to provide “an accounting of relevant facts” when they sought and received a FISA order authorizing electronic surveillance of Page in October 2016. Officials renewed the warrant three times, each renewal covering 90 days.

3. Steele dossier ‘formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application

Officials said the dossier, compiled by Steele and funded in part by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, “formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.” None of the applications submitted to get the FISA warrant on Page mentioned the fact that the dossier was funded by Democrats, according to the memo.

>> Related: Democrats helped fund Trump-Russia dossier: 6 things to know

Officials also questioned the veracity of the dossier and the reliability of Steele as a source for the FBI, noting that he spoke with members of the media multiple times -- a violation of “the most cardinal rule of source handling -- maintaining confidentiality” -- and made comments disparaging of Trump.

4. Information on George Papadopoulos led to FBI investigation 

Also mentioned in the FISA application was former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal authorities investigating alleged Russian meddling and its possible ties to the Trump campaign.

>> Related: Mueller investigation: Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty

Information about Papadopoulos is what “triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok,” officials said in the memo. Strzok was removed from the investigation after anti-Trump text messages between himself and FBI attorney Lisa Page surfaced. Critics have said that the messages showed a clear bias in the investigation.

>> Related: Some missing text messages between FBI employees recovered, DOJ says

5. What was Page’s role in the Trump presidential campaign?

Page wasn’t a part of the Trump presidential campaign on Oct. 21, 2016, when authorities got the warrant to surveil him.

Then-candidate Trump announced that Page would serve as part of his team in March 2016, according to PBS Newshour. Five months later, in August, Trump named him an informal adviser to the campaign as questions surfaced about a trip Page took to Moscow in July 2016. By September, Page was no longer part of the Trump campaign.

6. Who decided to release the memo?

In a letter released by officials Friday, White House counsel Donald McGahn said the memo was released after a review by lawyers and national security staff, including officials with the Office of the Director of National Security and the Justice Department.

>> Related: What is a FISA warrant?

“To be clear, the memorandum reflects the judgments of its congressional authors,” McGahn wrote. “The president understands that oversight concerning matters related to the memorandum may be continuing.”

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