<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Political News and Chicago Politics]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usThu, 23 Feb 2017 15:25:38 -0600Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:25:38 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Pritzker Pitches Odd Protest After Trump Strips Trans Rights]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:09:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/JB-Pritzker.png

Prospective Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker slammed President Donald Trump Thursday for stripping federal protections that allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities, but his idea for a protest raised some eyebrows. 

“As a protest against Trump’s rescinding protections for trans kids, everyone should use the other gender’s bathroom today,” Pritzker tweeted alongside the hashtag #protecttranskids. 

The tweet garnered dozens of responses, some in support of Trump's action, others telling Pritzker that his protest was a "bad idea." 

One of the people responding to Pritzker was state Representative Will Guzzardi (D-39), who tweeted "No disrespect @JBPritzker but it's actually about precisely *not* that. We just want to let kids use their own gender's bathroom."

Pritzker responded that he agreed with Guzzardi, adding "A protest is about standing with transgender kids and their right to be and live who they are," to which Guzzardi, who supports the federal guidelines, said the idea "suggests that we support ppl going into opposite-gender bathrooms, which plays right into transphobic rhetoric."

Pritzker, the 109th richest person in the US, later walked back his proposal, claiming he "was not being literal."

"But I think today and every day we should be standing up for all kids," he tweeted alongside the hashtag #ResistTrump.

Pritzker’s cousin, philanthropist Jennifer N. Pritzker, is a trans woman whose foundation donated $2 million to a Canadian university last year for transgender studies, according to the Chicago Tribune.

In a separate tweet, Pritzker called Trump "disgraceful," pledging his support for "trans kids everywhere."

"We have your back," he tweeted. Earlier this month, the Chicagoan announced that he’s "seriously considering" running for Illinois governor in 2018.

“I’ve listened to people throughout Illinois, and it’s clear that our government isn’t working effectively for them,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Governor Rauner has failed to address the real needs and concerns facing our state.”

“We need a new leader with a record of getting results, who wakes up every day thinking about improving the lives of working families and people across Illinois,” he added.

Pritzker’s announcement came shortly after fellow Chicago Democrat Chris Kennedy declared his candidacy in the race. Kennedy is the second high-profile Democrat to throw his hat in the ring after Ald. Ameya Pawar declared his candidacy in January.

Photo Credit: jb-pritzker.com
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<![CDATA[White Nationalist Richard Spencer Kicked Out of CPAC]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:13:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/richardspencerfeuerherdII.jpg

Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who popularized the term "alt-right," was kicked out of the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday after holding an impromptu press conference in a hallway where the gathering is being held. 

"He is not welcome here," a spokesman for CPAC told NBC News.

Spencer said he was initially given credentials to attend the conference, but they were taken from him after he spoke to reporters in the hallway of the Maryland convention center. 

Spencer has espoused racist and anti-Semitic views, and reiterated those thoughts in a brief interview with NBC as he was leaving CPAC.

He told NBC race plays a major role in identity and that he believes whites are becoming a persecuted minority in the United States. 

Spencer also said he thinks CPAC attendees and younger conservatives would rather hear what he has to say, than listen to establishment Republicans. 

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[AFSCME Approves Strike, Faults Rauner]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:09:49 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/afscme+strike+223.png

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, the union representing the largest number of Illinois state employees, announced Thursday that 81 percent of members voted to authorize a strike.

Leaders from AFSCME, which represents workers who investigate child abuse, care for veterans and people with disabilities and mental illness, state parks and more, faulted Gov. Bruce Rauner for breaking off contract negotiations with the union more than a year ago.

“We have come to this juncture for one reason only: the refusal of Governor Rauner to negotiate with our union,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a statement.

The union’s current contract expired in July 2015. Since then, AFSCME has been at odds with the Rauner administration.

As a result, the majority of the union’s 38,000 members cast ballots at 200 work sites over the past three weeks, authorizing the strike - the first such vote in the union's 45-year history of collective bargaining.

The yes vote serves as a catalyst to pressure the governor to return to the bargaining table and reach a compromise, but doesn’t particularly mean there will be an immediate strike. Rather, the vote authorized the collective bargaining committee to call a strike. The committee will meet in the coming days to “chart its path” and assess pending litigation. The union must give five days notice if and when there may be a strike.

“State workers don’t want to strike,” Lynch said. “We are keenly aware of the importance of the public services we provide, and we are willing to compromise.”

“But if Governor Rauner continues to refuse his legal obligation to bargain in good faith, he risks a strike that would shut down state government, and he alone bears the responsibility for the harm a strike would cause,” she added.

In a statement Thursday, Rauner's general counsel Dennis Murashko called the strike authorization "an attack on our state's hardworking taxpayers and all those who rely on critical services provided everyday."

"It is a direct result of AFSCME leadership’s ongoing misinformation campaign about our proposal," Murashko said. "AFSCME leaders would rather strike than work 40 hours a week before earning overtime. They want to earn overtime after working just 37.5 hours per week. AFSCME leaders would rather strike than allow state employees to be paid based on merit. They want to stick to paying people based on seniority, regardless of whether they’re doing a good job."

"Put simply, AFSCME leaders will do or say anything to avoid implementing a contract that is fair to both taxpayers and state employees alike," he added. "If AFSCME chooses to strike, we will use every resource to ensure services continue to be available to the people of Illinois. We continue to encourage AFSCME to work with us in implementing a contract that is similar to those ratified by 20 other unions."

Lynch called Rauner's proposals "unreasonable," "extreme" and "damaging," claiming the governor has "stubbornly refused to work with state legislators" and AFSCME representatives. 

"We're more than willing to find common ground, but we won't just roll over," she added. 

<![CDATA[Treasury Secretary: Expect Tax Overhaul by August]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 09:21:01 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/632094848-Steve-Mnuchin-Senate-Hearing.jpg

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he would like to see "very significant" tax reform passed before Congress’ August recess, CNBC reported.

In his first television interview since assuming office, Mnuchin told CNBC Thursday that he’s been working closely with leadership in the House and the Senate to get the ball rolling.

Mnuchin said the administration is mostly focused on a middle income tax cut — a pledge that President Donald Trump ran his campaign on. Trump has promised to release a tax plan in the coming weeks.

Mnuchin added that simplification for business is another focus of the administration’s, and said that he’s focused on canceling out any tax cuts for the wealthy with closed loopholes. He said the administration's tax plan should be judged by the economic growth it could create, rather than by the how much tax revenue drops.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Host of Documents Still Missing From White House Website]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 09:12:12 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/whitehouseatnightfeuerherd.jpg

Public-facing documents scrubbed from the White House's website shortly after President Donald Trump was inaugurated — including White House visitors' logs, waivers of ethics regulations and a host of other records — still haven't been replaced, fueling advocates' concerns about the new administration's transparency, NBC News reported.

During the first week of February, 31 databases — reporting legally mandated White House payroll reports to Congress, budget documents, White House visitor records and public response documents — were removed from the White House Open Data portal, the platform created to disclose information about 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and its operations.

The previous presence of the documents was confirmed through publicly available archived versions. Some of the data, preserved by the National Archives and Records Administration, are also available on the White House website of former President Barack Obama.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump Is CPAC's Conquering Hero, but Tensions Remain]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:33:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_907826241278.jpg

President Donald Trump is expected to be the headliner at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week in Maryland, where a slew of top White House officials will also appear, NBC News reported.

Trump is set to address the crowd on Friday at the annual showcase, run by the American Conservative Union. Vice President Mike Pence will speak on Thursday, with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Seve Bannon participating in a panel discussion. Education Secretary Betsy Devos is also on the list of speakers.

This is an opportunity for another victory lap for Trump, who has had a rocky relationship with the conservative showcase. An estimated 9,000-10,000 people are expected to attend, according to a CPAC spokesman.

Trump enjoys strong approval ratings among Republicans, but the difficult lead-up to the event this year is a reminder that the conservative movement is still divided over the president and his ideas.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster]]>
<![CDATA[Exclusive: Dems Launch Twitter Ads Targeting Rep. Roskam]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:25:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-100610347.png

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched Twitter ads Wednesday targeting Rep. Peter Roskam, a suburban Republican who backs the GOP’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The ads feature a photo of an empty chair on a stage in front of a crowd, with the headline "Where's Roskam?" as part of a larger DCCC campaign targeting vulnerable House Republicans in 23 GOP-held districts over the proposed repeal.

"@PeterRoskam voted to repeal the ACA with no plan to replace it. Now he won't hold a town hall with constituents." the ad reads.

"These digital ads expose Roskam for being shameless enough to take people’s healthcare away and then run scared from his constituents when they demand answers," DCCC spokesperson Tyler Law said in a statement.

Earlier this month, hundreds gathered at an event in Palatine to protest Roskam, who was attending a monthly meeting of local Republicans. Initially open to the public, the meeting was later closed due to high demand. That incident came days after members of Roskam’s staff cancelled a meeting with constituents because a reporter was in attendance. 

At the time, Roskam’s office said the congressman "is no stranger to the DCCC," noting that he’s focused on serving his district in Washington, "not the other way around." 

Though voters continued to call for an in-person forum, Roskam made it clear that he prefers talking to large groups on the phone. He hosted a telephone town hall last week that drew 18,000 callers, many of whom wanted to talk about the proposed Obamacare repeal.

Echoing Roskam’s past statements, spokesperson David Pasch claimed that "large, unstructured events tend to devolve into shouting matches."

"Both sides compete with each other over who can scream the loudest, while the people who are interested in an actual productive dialogue are denied the opportunity to hear and be heard," Pasch said in an email.

"Peter has hosted 130 tele-town halls during his time in Congress (that’s more than once per month, on average) and he typically has at least 10,000 people participate live," he added. "We find this is a much more effective way to engage a larger number of people, including those who aren’t able to make it to an in-person event."

As far as the planned repeal of Obamacare, Pasch said the program has “failed the American people.”

“Premiums have gone up and many of us have lost access to our health plans and doctors,” he said. “Peter is committed to developing a patient centered alternative to increase access to care by bringing down costs."

During this week's congressional recess, Roskam is leading the House Democratic Partnership's bipartisan trip to Eastern Europe and Central Asia alongside New Hampshire Sen. David Price. The trip will address recent Russian aggression in the region.

Meanwhile, a group of constituents from Roskam's district has scheduled more than 60 small group meetings this week with members of the congressman's senior staff to discuss the GOP's repeal plan. The group originally intended to meet with Roskam, but decided to proceed with thieir visits after learning that he'd be out of the country.

Wednesday's attack ads against Roskam are part of the DCCC’s “March Into ’18” program, which launched earlier this month and focuses on hiring staffers and laying the groundwork for the 2018 midterms.

Despite gaining six seats in November, Democrats remain the minority party in the House. Republicans also hold a majority in the Senate, as well as the White House.

The GOP continues to move forward with their plan to repeal Obamacare, much to the chagrin of Democratic lawmakers and the millions of Americans who rely on the program for healthcare coverage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Admin Lift Fed Guidelines on Transgender Bathroom Use]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:23:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Politics160222_MP4-148779938212700001.jpg

The Trump administration lifted federal guidelines for bathroom use that allowed transgendered students to use public school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity enacted during President Barack Obama's era on Wednesday, in a stark reversal of President Donald Trump's stance on the issue as a presidential candidate. Trump had supported use of facilities based on chosen gender identity as a candidate. 

<![CDATA[Fox News Hires Mayor Emanuel’s Brother as Contributor]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:37:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Dr.-Ezekiel-Emanuel.jpg

Fox News announced Tuesday that the network has hired Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, as a contributor to Fox News Channel and its sister channel Fox Business Network, Politico reports.

Dr. Emanuel served in President Barack Obama’s administration as one of the key architects of the Affordable Care Act. He now serves as chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s department of medical ethics and health care policy, as well as vice provost for global initiatives at the school.

Fox News also recently added former State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, another Democrat who served in the Obama administration.

Last December, Dr. Emanuel met with then-President-elect Donald Trump at the billionaire’s Manhattan hotel and condominium tower to discuss health care policy.

“I think the president-elect has been very clear that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced,” Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He is looking at all ideas. I think even folks like Dr. Emanuel has talked about ways in which to improve upon it.”

Dr. Emanuel also co-wrote a memoir, “The Brothers Emanuel,” alongside brothers Rahm and Ari, the co-CEO of Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG.

<![CDATA[State Rep Wants to Rename Stretch of I-55 After Obama]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:15:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama+i55.png

State Rep. La Shawn Ford announced Wednesday that he’s drafting legislation to change Interstate 55 to the Barack Obama Expressway.

Before moving to the White House, Obama called Chicago’s South Side his home, working as a community organizer and later being elected as a state senator in 1997 and a U.S. senator in 2004.

“We can imagine that then state Senator Obama made may trips between Springfield and Chicago on Interstate 55, so it is very fitting that we rename Interstate 55 as the Barack Obama Expressway,” he added.

The stretch of I-55 from Lakeshore Drive in Chicago to the Tri-State Tollway is currently named after Adlai Stevenson, the late Illinois governor and two-time presidential candidate. Ford wants to rename the rest of the 270 mile stretch of I-55 from the Tri-State Tollway to East St. Louis after Obama.

“Renaming I-55 for President Barack Obama would not only be an honor for America’s 44th president, but it will be the right measure we should approve for Illinois’ very own state Senator and U.S. Senator,” Ford said.

“This would be one of the many highways and byways that will be named for Barack Obama, so it is only right that Illinois be at the forefront of the many actions that will rename streets and highways for President Obama."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 / Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Reveals Where He's Been Since Budget Address]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:56:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner-AP_745939433751.jpg

Gov. Bruce Rauner has not had a public schedule since delivering his budget address last Wednesday.

Traditionally, after the budget address, the governor travels to promote his budget agenda, but not this year.

Though repeated questions this week to Rauner’s press spokesman about his whereabouts have gone unanswered, Ward Room spotted the governor on Wednesday.

Rauner was seen at the Thompson Center where the State Board of Education Board Meeting was being held in Chicago.

When asked where he has been, Rauner said, "skiing in Utah with the kids for my birthday."

Rauner celebrated his 61st birthday on Saturday, his staff said. 

Rauner is expected to hold public events in Springfield and Chicago on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lawmakers Pressed on Trump Policies at Town Halls]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 23:22:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/643547066-Grassley-town-hall-raucus-crowd.jpg

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley was greeted at a town hall Tuesday in Iowa with a shouted question about "impeachment" as voters there and at other events across the country pressed lawmakers about the moves and goals of President Donald Trump's administration, NBC News reported.

"I am so unsettled. It feels like we have a juvenile running our country," Doug Thompson, a Democrat and farmer from Kanawha, told Grassley at an event in Garner. Grassley outlined the process but didn't give his opinion.

In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back at around 1,000 anti-Trump protesters who showed up outside his event, telling a crowd of business leaders inside that "winners make policy and the losers go home."

And in Maquoketa, Iowa, members of a crowd booed and chanted "do your job!" at Republican Sen. Joni Ernst near the end of a roundtable, NBC affiliate WHO of Des Moines reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Where’s Your Illinois Congressman This Week?]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:11:05 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-151246247.png As the 115th Congress breaks this week for its first recess, many Illinois lawmakers are traveling home to meet with voters about a range of issues, including immigration, gun violence and the economy. If you’d like to speak with your representative, take a look at where members of Congress will be during the congressional break.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Condemns Racism, Anti-Semitism]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:22:10 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Immigration0221_MP4-148771155634700001.jpg

President Donald Trump spoke out against racism and anti-Semitism Tuesday following a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Trump’s comments followed 10 bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country and the vandalization of more than 170 Jewish graves in a Missouri cemetery on Monday.   

The president’s concessions, however, were called inadequate by some Jewish advocacy groups. Critics have previously focused on the new administration’s failure to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day and its silence on anti-Semitic attacks across the country, which increased from 13 to 28 in New York when compared to the same period in 2016. Pressure for the White House to condemn anti-Semitism rose further on Thursday, when the president interrupted a reporter from an Orthodox Jewish magazine asking about bomb threats made against Jewish centers recently.

<![CDATA[Mendoza Draws Heat for Buying Used SUV With State Money]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:21:15 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/susana+mendoza.png

Illinois Comptroller Susana Menodoza is catching heat for using taxpayer money to purchase a $32,000 used SUV for her department’s fleet.

This weekend, the Illinois Republican Party levied a series of attacks against Mendoza after the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story Friday. Those attacks include an online ad that attempted to link her purchase to a scandal involving former Illinois Comptroller Alexi Giannoulias, who used money from a state college savings program to purchase an SUV.

The group claimed Mendoza is prioritizing her “own comfort” as “social service providers continue to wait months to get paid.

“Even worse, the Comptroller’s office already had nine state vehicles,” a statement from the Illinois Republican Party said. “Apparently the vehicle fleet that was good enough for Comptroller Munger is not good enough for Comptroller Mendoza."

“All this comes after Mendoza pledged ‘shared sacrifice’ with social service providers, who Mendoza promised to put at the front of the line to revise state checks,” the group added.

The comptroller’s office responded, noting that Mendoza has downsized her department’s fleet of cars from nine to eight since taking office. Mendoza’s office also said the new vehicle was purchased with money from the Comptroller’s Administrative Fund, not the General Revenue Fund, which is dedicated to education, social services and other state programs.

Mendoza’s office faulted Rauner for focusing on the vehicle purchase instead of the state’s lingering budget impasse and ballooning bill backlog. The comptroller's office noted that various state government offices have purchased over $11 million in vehicles over the past two years.

“Where is the state GOP’s outrage about the governor failing for the third year in a row to fulfill his constitutional duty to propose a balanced budged,” the comptroller’s office asked. “His responsibility for the state’s backlog of bills doubling to $12 billion on his watch? His responsibility for the six downgrades from the bond agencies for his failure to propose a balanced budget?”

“His responsibility for the $700 million in late payment interest penalties the state owes?” the comptroller’s office continued.

The release claimed Comptroller Mendoza will “persist” through these types of “false controversies.”

Nevertheless, the Illinois Republican Party’s attacks continued Tuesday, releasing another online ad featuring news stories highlighting Mendoza’s purchase.

“Makes you wonder what else is going on in the comptroller’s office and how she’s prioritizing other spending,” Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said in the ad.

“Putting herself first and her comfort first ahead of the taxpayers,” he added.

<![CDATA[Lawmaker Says State Seal Gets Illinois’ Birthday Wrong]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:51:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/illinois+state+seal.png

Republican state Rep. Tim Butler wants to update Illinois’ official seal to reflect the date the state joined the union, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The state’s seal currently features the date August 26, 1818, which is when Illinois passed its first constitution. Butler reportedly wants to change the date to December 3, 1818, when Illinois entered the union as the 21st state.

“In my mind, the December 3rd date is the beginning of our state,” Butler told the Tribune. “It is when President Monroe signed the congressional resolution authorizing us to join the other states as the 21st state in the union."

The measure passed the Illinois House and now awaits approval from the Illinois Senate and Gov. Bruce Rauner, according to the Tribune.

Butler’s measure wouldn’t require the state to replace old state seals, which can be found throughout the Capitol. Instead, the legislation would require changes to plates on machines in the secretary of state’s office that emboss documents. A spokesman for Butler wouldn’t provide a cost estimate, but said the process wouldn’t be expensive.

Republican state Rep. David Harris reportedly scrutinized the changes, pointing to the fact that August 26 is still an important date in Illinois’ history. However, Butler claimed it’s important to reflect when Illinois joined the union as the state gears up for its bicentennial in 2018, the Tribune reports.

“Looking forward to the bicentennial year, I think these are things that we need to take a look at,” he said.

Photo Credit: Illinois.gov]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Picks McMaster as National Security Adviser]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:36:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trump-mcmaster-annoucement-148762365967200001.jpg

President Donald Trump announces Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his pick for national security adviser at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Feb. 20, 2017.

<![CDATA[Durbin Travels to Eastern Europe to Discuss Russian Threat]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:33:33 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/durbin+getty+1.jpg

Sen. Dick Durbin is meeting with leaders in three eastern European countries to discuss recent Russian aggression and interference in democratic elections.

Durbin met with senior Polish officials Monday in Warsaw. He also is scheduled to meet this week with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. Rep. Mike Quigley is slated to join Durbin for meetings with Ukrainian officials.

“Eastern Europe and the transatlantic alliance are at critical moments in their history,” Durbin said in a statement. “We must support our allies who face the brunt of Russian cyberattacks, propaganda, military intimidation, and even invasion in the case of Ukraine.”

Russia used military force to annex a portion of Ukrainian territory known as Crimea in 2014. In addition, the country has used cyber warfare to meddle in elections in a list of western countries, including the United States.

The U.S. intelligence community agreed in January that a Russian influence campaign, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, aimed to undermine the 2016 presidential election and aid President Donald Trump’s chances of winning. The Russian government has denied the findings

Durbin faulted Trump for defending Russia, claiming it emboldens Putin and “further threatens to destabilize these critical democratic nations in the region.” The senator is also using the trip to pledge congressional support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on "defense cooperation and sanction."

“The Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine, and others in the region have friends in Congress and around the world, and together we will continue to stand with them," Durbin said.

In an interview published last month by Germany’s Bild newspaper and the Times of London, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and said the EU is “basically a vehicle for Germany.” In addition, he lauded the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“I think Brexit is going to end up being a great thing,” he said.

Vice President Mike Pence told members of NATO and the EU Monday that Trump supports the international partnerships despite previous criticisms, according to NBC News. He also urged NATO members to increase defense spending, echoing Trump’s call.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lewandowski at U of C: Trump's Team Has 'Not Prepared' Him]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:43:09 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-528543582-lewandowski.jpg

During an appearance last week at the University of Chicago, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandoski criticized the president’s current staff for not properly preparing him for the job.

“The staff has probably not prepared him as well as they could have or should have,” Lewandowski said during an appearance on David Axelrod’s podcast published Monday, pointing to the rollout of Trump’s stifled immigration order.

“I think you have a president who wants to move very quickly, who has a grand vision of what he wants to accomplish and is leaving the details to the staff to implement,” he added, noting that no one member of Trump's senior staff has “ever worked inside the government.”

Last week, Trump claimed the White House is running like a “fine-tuned machine” despite a series of lingering controversies surrounding his stalled travel ban and the dismissal of former National Secuirty Adviser Michael Flynn.

Lewandowski predicted a more “measured approach” from Trump’s team moving forward that would ensure members of the administration and Congress are “vetted properly” on policy matters.

The GOP insider urged Trump to focus on putting “America first” by growing the economy, instituting his proposed tax cuts, repealing Obamacare, bolstering the country’s border security and negotiating better trade deals.

“That’s the story that he has to tell and everything else is a diversion,” he said.

Trump fired Lewandowski last June as his campaign faltered. Lewandowski’s tenure as Trump’s campaign manager was marred by a series of controversies, including charges that he attacked a reporter last March during a campaign event in Florida. Those charges were later dropped.

Lewandowski's appearance at the University of Chicago's non-partisan Institute of Politics was met with protests at the school's Hyde Park campus. 

Photo Credit: Corbis via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Congresswoman Bustos: 'I Am Not Going to Run for Governor']]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:09:24 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-480220374.png

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos has decided she will not join the list of Democrats interested in running against Governor Bruce Rauner in 2018.

“I am not going to run for governor,” Bustos told NBC 5.

The Quad Cities congresswoman was recently appointed to a Democratic leadership position in the House and said, “I’m now the only Midwesterner sitting around the table” and “I see it as a very big responsibility to make sure we have a voice that reflects the families from the heartland that felt like they’ve been left behind.” 

Already there are three announced Democratic candidates with even more likely.

Billionaire businessman JB Pritzker is weighing whether to run and wealthy businessman Chris Kennedy has already said he’s in.

It could be a very expensive Democratic primary. Bustos did not answer directly how funding played a role in her decision but she noted “money and politics is something that we really need to address as a nation."

"I’m a proponent of campaign finance reform in Illinois and federally,” she said.

Bustos said the average contribution in her recent congressional race was $27. She did not rule out eventually endorsing a candidate for the March 2018 primary.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Demonstrators Gather for 'Not My Presidents Day' Protest ]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:01:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/presidents+day+protest+1a.jpg

Exactly one month after President Donald Trump was sworn into office, Chicagoans gathered near his eponymous skyscraper in protest of his policies on Monday.

Hundreds joined the "Not My Presidents Day" demonstration around noon in the city's Loop near East Upper Wacker Drive and North Wabash Avenue.

"We are out here opposing this agenda, opposing his ideology, and saying that we are not going to accept it," Susan McNish, a teacher, said.

The protest was one of several taking place across the country, with at least 20 others expected in cities including Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC. 

Monday's gathering was the second day in a row demonstrators rallied in Chicago, as dozens marched through the Loop on Sunday afternoon as well. 

Groups from both sides came together in a peaceful manner for the protest.

Debra McKinley said the warm weather drew her to Chicago for the weekend. When McKinley heard about the protest, she said she couldn't stand by without voicing her opinion.

"Let Trump lead us," she said. "We are all on the same team. People don't realize that but we are."

"If everyone could just get around his style and just give him a chance, then judge him in a year. I think that's the right thing to do."

"Be patient and give him a chance," Chris Ehrlich said. "I mean he is America's president. Just give him a chance."

"I truly believe he has our best interest at heart for this country."

Holly Schaal of Powers Lake, Wisconsin, said she attended the protest because she is "tired of people hating on each other."

"I just want people to be happy and I want everybody to have rights," Schaal said. "I am tired of Trump and his fiction that is changing everybody's views on each other. We are going backwards."

Photo Credit: Charlie Wojciechowski]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Library Architects Say Project May Need $1.5B: Report]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:18:12 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-beneficios-sueldo-portada.jpg

Former President Barack Obama may need some additional cash flow to get the Obama Presidential Center built in Chicago, according to a report.

The architects said the center needs an endowment of $1.5 billion, three times more than the amount raised for George W. Bush's presidential center that opened in Dallas in 2013, Page Six's Richard Johnson reports.

They attributed the high cost to the construction of both a library and museum. The architects said the expected $200 million cost of the buildings themselves likely will be closer to $300 million.

They noted Obama declined to do much fundraising for the center while still in office, Johnson reports. Sources told NBC 5 Obama is about to begin a major fundraising effort for the project.

Obama returned to Chicago last week for the first time since he left office to hold meetings with community leaders and others involved in the Obama Foundation.

A military C-5 aircraft arrived in Chicago Thursday morning, bringing with it a shipment of Obama’s belongings for the library.

Valerie Jarrett told the Chicago Sun-Times the president is eager to hear suggestions from community members to bring opportunities to the area.

Representatives of the former president and first lady said this month an agency was hired to assist the couple with speaking gigs, as well as lawyers to handle their book deals.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Archivo]]>
<![CDATA[Chicagoans Gather for 'Not My Presidents Day' Protest]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:05:45 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/presidents+day+protest+1a.jpg Exactly one month after President Donald Trump was sworn into office, Chicagoans gathered near his eponymous skyscraper in protest of his policies on Monday.

Photo Credit: Charlie Wojciechowski]]>
<![CDATA[Emails Show Kushner's Stricter Approach on Ethics Than Trump]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:25:58 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_17023542554197.jpg

The Trump administration has struggled with ethics vetting for Cabinet nominees and faced criticism for the president's decision to remain invested in his business empire. When Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, prepared to enter the White House, however, the administration sought to do it by the book.

That is the picture established by new emails, obtained by MSNBC, showing how Kushner's lawyers worked on a divestment plan to avoid conflicts by conferring with the Office of Government Ethics.

"The process was good here," said Norm Eisen, an ethics expert who is suing the Trump administration, saying the emails show Kushner and his wife divested themselves from any holdings that presented conflicts.

"Although the Trump transition team apparently was not particularly cooperative with the Office of Government Ethics," said Kathleen Clark, an ethics expert at Washington University Law School, "Kushner and his lawyers seem to have taken a different approach."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais]]>