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Happening Today: Steve King, William Barr, Brexit, Birth Control, R. Kelly, Kim Kardashian

What to Know

  • Trump's nominee for AG will tell senators "it is vitally important" that Robert Mueller be allowed to complete his Russia investigation
  • A federal judge put a hold on Trump administration rules that allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control
  • A woman who sued R. Kelly alleging he knowingly infected her with herpes and locked her in rooms said she;s been threatened with retaliation

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GOP Rep. Steve King Loses Committee Posts Over Racial Remarks

Veteran Republican Rep. Steve King will be blocked from committee assignments for the next two years after lamenting that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms. King, in his ninth term representing Iowa, will not be given committee assignments in the Congress that began this month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. King served on the Agriculture, Small Business and Judiciary committees in the last Congress, and he chaired Judiciary's subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. McCarthy, R-Calif., called King's remarks "beneath the dignity of the Party of Lincoln and the United States of America." King's comments "call into question whether he will treat all Americans equally, without regard for race and ethnicity," McCarthy said, adding: "House Republicans are clear: We are all in this together, as fellow citizens equal before God and the law."

Mueller Should Be Allowed to Finish Work, Trump's AG Nominee Says

President Trump's nominee for attorney general will tell senators "it is vitally important" that special counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to complete his Russia investigation, and said he believes Congress and the public should learn the results, according to remarks prepared for his confirmation hearing. William Barr also insisted in testimony he'll deliver to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump never sought any promises, assurances or commitments before selecting him to be the country's chief law enforcement officer. In releasing written testimony ahead of his hearing, the Justice Department moved to pre-empt the most significant questions Barr is likely to face from Democrats on the panel — including whether he can oversee without bias or interference the final stages of Mueller's probe into potential ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, and whether he will permit the findings to be made public. "I believe it is in the best interest of everyone — the President, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people — that this matter be resolved by allowing the Special Counsel to complete his work," Barr said.

UK Lawmakers Prepare to Deliver Verdict on Brexit Deal

British lawmakers were preparing to deliver their verdict on Prime Minister Theresa May's divorce deal with the European Union after more than two years of political upheaval. All signs point to it receiving a resounding thumbs-down from Parliament, a development that would throw British politics further into turmoil, just 10 weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29. Despite a last-ditch plea from May for legislators to give the deal "a second look," it faces deep opposition, primarily because of measures designed to prevent the reintroduction of border controls between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. Pro-Brexit lawmakers say the deal will leave Britain bound indefinitely to EU rules, while pro-EU politicians favor an even closer economic relationship with the bloc. That leaves the agreement facing likely defeat on a day that could bring a very British mix of high drama, low insults and convoluted parliamentary procedure.

Trump Birth Control Coverage Rules Blocked Nationwide

A federal judge put a nationwide hold on Trump administration rules that allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control. U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia agreed with a lawsuit originally filed by Pennsylvania, citing the potential harm to states should the rules be enforced. Numerous citizens could lose contraceptive coverage, Beetlestone wrote, resulting in the increased use of state-funded contraceptive services, as well as increased costs to state services from unintended pregnancies. The rules would change a mandate under 2010's Affordable Care Act by allowing more employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing no-cost contraceptive coverage to women by claiming religious objections. Some private employers could also now object on moral grounds.

Alleged R. Kelly Victim Accuses Singer of Retaliation, Threats

A woman who sued R. Kelly alleging he knowingly infected her with herpes and locked her in rooms for punishment said she has been threatened with retaliation by the singer. Speaking just weeks after she was featured in a documentary series where numerous women alleged sexual, physical and mental abuse by Kelly, Faith Rodgers and attorney Gloria Allred claimed the singer sent Rodgers a letter threatening to "reveal what he alleges are details of her sex life" in response to the lawsuit. In a press conference held in New York City Monday, 21-year-old Rodgers said "taking a stand against R. Kelly, someone who has been termed 'the King of R&B' and is loved by many, has not been easy.” "I trusted him and he betrayed my trust," she said, joining her mother in calling for other potential victims to come forward. In her lawsuit, which Allred said is pending in New York Supreme Court, Rodgers said she met Kelly in 2017 after a concert in San Antonio, Texas, sparking a relationship where Kelly "mentally, sexually and verbally" abused her. At the time the suit was filed, Kelly's management declined to comment.

Kardashian Defends Kanye After Comments About Controversial Singers

Kim Kardashian is trying to cut a budding controversy out at the root. Recently, Kanye West hosted a service, during which he addressed how controversial musicians have been treated by the public. "Everybody they want the art from the artist, but anytime they do anything erratic, they just gonna pull up full documentaries on them and then they gone come with the Michael documentary...We can enjoy all they music all we want," he said at one point, insisting if that's the case, we also take down Leonardo da Vinci's art. "Let's take down all the art." The comments seemed to be in reference to the upcoming "Leaving Neverland" documentary, which explores the sexual abuse allegations against the late king of pop. Michael Jackson's estate denounced the project. The rapper seemed to be speaking also of R. Kelly, who is under mounting public scrutiny after Lifetime's "Surviving R. Kelly" docuseries aired, publicizing various misconduct allegations against the singer from multiple women. Kelly has consistently denied any allegations of misconduct.

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