Bill and Hillary Clinton Make First Public Appearance Together Since Campaign Launch

Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(CHAPPAQUA, N.Y.) — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took a short break from the campaign trail on Monday to participate in her favorite Memorial Day tradition: the annual New Castle Memorial Day Parade in Chappaqua, New York.

Clinton, who loves the parade (like “really, really, really” loves it), was joined this year by her husband, Bill Clinton — marking their first public appearance together since the announcement of her presidential campaign.

The two arrived in Clinton’s famous Scooby van just before 11 a.m., when the parade was scheduled to start, and were instantly swarmed by crowds of locals, young and old, clamoring for a moment with their town’s most famous couple.

“Hi! Oh, hi! Hi! So good to see you! Mwah!” Clinton called out as one after the next, she greeted friends and neighbors.

The crowds were eventually asked to step aside so the Clintons could take their position at the front of the parade, where they walked alongside friends and other local elected officials.

“It’s a wonderful tradition,” Clinton said as she began walking. “Obviously it happens in towns and cities across our country but it’s a good way to remember our veterans particularly those who gave their lives or were grievously injured, and we just need to, you know, make sure that it continues from year to year, generation to generation.”

Hillary Clinton has attended the parade nearly every single year since she and Bill Clinton moved into the town, about an hour north of New York City, in 1999 — and it’s something she does not like to miss no matter what.

“I put this on my calendar every year, and I basically tell my staff I really, really, really want to do this,” the then-secretary of state told the New York Times on Memorial Day in 2012. “So unless there’s some crisis of significant proportions, I’ll be here, and I’ve had a few crises where I’ve had to take phone calls as I’ve marched.”

This year, Clinton was greeted by crowds cheering their support for 2016, some even wearing t-shirts reading: “It Takes a Village: Chappaqua for Hillary.”

But when asked by a reporter about the signs of support along the parade route, Clinton didn’t engage.

“This parade is not about that,” she said.

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Memorial Day 2015: Five Quotes From President Obama

Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Obama honored the sacrifice of U.S. servicemen and women Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, the first Memorial Day observance where the country “is not engaged in a major ground war” and the 70th since the end of World War II, the president said.

Here are the five most powerful moments from the president’s speech:

1. On Arlington National Cemetery

“My fellow Americans, this hallowed ground is more than the final resting place of heroes; it is a reflection of America itself. It’s a reflection of our history: the wars we’ve waged for democracy, the peace we’ve laid to preserve it. It’s a reflection of our diversity: men and women of all backgrounds, all races and creeds and circumstances and faiths, willing to defend and die for the ideals that bind us as one nation.”

2. On serving in the military

“Most Americans don’t fully see, don’t fully understand the sacrifice made by the one percent who serve in this all-volunteer armed forces – a sacrifice that preserves the freedoms we too often take for granted. Few know that it’s like to take a bullet for a buddy, or to live with the fact that he or she took one for you.”

3. On sacrifice

“These sons and daughters, these brothers and sisters who lay down their lives for us – they belong to us all. They’re our children, too. We benefit from their light, their positive influence on the world.”

4. On honoring service in the U.S. military

“It’s our duty, our eternal obligation, to be there for them too; to make sure our troops always have what they need to carry out the mission; to make sure we care for all those who have served; to make sure we honor all those whom we’ve lost.”

5. On America’s debt to fallen U.S. soldiers

“The Americans who rest beneath these beautiful hills and in sacred ground across our country and around the world, they are why our nation endures. Each simple stone marker arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay. But it is a debt well never stop trying to fully repay, by remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice. By living our own lives the way the fallen lived theirs – a testament that greater love has no other than this than to lay down your life for your friends.”

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Vice President Joe Biden Takes Selfies With Vets on Memorial Day

Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden spent his Memorial Day morning taking selfies with veterans before sending them off on their annual “Ride 2 Recovery” bike ride.

Over 200 wounded war vets gathered at the VP’s house Monday morning, along with Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, for a meet-n-greet and to take pictures before the vets embarked on the “UnitedHeathcare Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Day Challenge; a five-day, 360-mile rehabilitative ride from Washington, DC to Virginia Beach.”

Biden posed for dozens of photos with veterans, and even called a few veterans to thank them for their service, and to wish them a Happy Memorial Day.

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Man’s Pressure Cooker Alarms Capitol Police in DC

Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Billy Gadbury/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — As tourists packed the National Mall during a busy Memorial Day weekend, a parked vehicle with several suspicious items inside alarmed a Capitol Police patrol unit enough to dispatch a bomb squad and shutdown part of downtown Washington for several hours, authorities said.

Officers on routine patrol late Sunday afternoon observed a parked and unoccupied vehicle that it described as “suspicious in nature,” just blocks from the Capitol where a crowd was gathering for the National Memorial Day Concert.

U.S. Capitol Police say its Hazardous Devices Section was called to investigate and ultimately disrupted the suspicious vehicle, triggering a loud band that echoed throughout the Mall.

Photos afterwards revealed a pressure cooker sitting in the grass and a bomb tech removing a propane tank from the vehicle. Officials said there was “an odor of gasoline” that was detected, which further alarmed officers.

U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider confirmed that there was a pressure cooker located inside the vehicle, but it was ultimately deemed not to be hazardous.

“The USCP bomb squad safely disrupted the items of concern in the vehicle including the pressure cooker, at about 7:45 p.m., and performed a thorough hand search,” Schneider wrote in a news release Sunday evening. “At about 8:20 p.m., the USCP concluded its investigation of the suspicious vehicle with negative results and nothing hazardous found.”

The owner of the vehicle was located and identified as Israel Shimeles of Alexandria, Virginia. Shimeles was arrested and charged with Operating After Revocation, according to Schneider.

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Obama to 5-Year-Old Gay Marriage Advocate: ‘Couldn’t Agree More!

Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Five-year-old Yasmeen Faruqui didn’t feel like doing her homework. She insisted she wanted to write to President Obama instead. And he wrote back.

“Please stop war for our world, instead have a meeting,” reads Yasmeen’s handwritten note, posted to Twitter by her aunt. “Please give a speech to tell everyone they can marry who they want.”

“Tell your niece I really like her letter. Couldn’t agree more!” the commander-in-chief replied Friday on Twitter. It’s just the sixth tweet on his new account.

Yasmeen’s words were all her own, her mother told ABC News. (After all, only a 5-year-old would note she’s “almost six” in a letter to the leader of the free world.)

“I just let her do her thing,” Tasha Faruqui said. “Those are absolutely her spontaneous ideas. … She has a mind of her own!”

Yasmeen, who’s set to participate in a family member’s same-sex wedding ceremony this fall, was bothered when her playmates insisted “boys can’t marry boys.”

“I don’t think that’s wrong,” she told her mom.

“She’s very much an independent thinker,” Yasmeen’s aunt, Fahmida Zaman, told ABC. “She attempts to respectfully color outside the lines.”

Because her father serves in the Navy, war has always scared Yasmeen. When she heard the president had read her letter, she went through the roof.

“This means the war’s going to end! He got the letter,” Yasmeen yelled.

When her mother explained that isn’t quite how diplomacy works, Yasmeen was still ecstatic: “Now he got my message and he can share my message,” she told her mom.

“I think it says a lot about our president, responding to a letter of a 5-year-old. That’s pretty remarkable,” Zaman said. “It lets her feel like her voice is heard.”

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John Kasich, Ruling out VP Run, Says ‘I Don’t Play for Second’

Posted on: May 24th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich said he’s “getting closer” to jumping into the 2016 race for the White House, but dismissed the idea of being a vice presidential candidate should he fail to secure the GOP nomination for president.

“Forget it, Jon. I don’t play for second,” Kasich told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl Sunday on This Week.

As he weighs whether to join an already-crowded Republican field for president, Kasich said he was “very optimistic” about his potential campaign, based on his recent visits to early primary states.

“I am very pleased with what we have seen over the course of the last month. I’ve been very pleased with what I found out on the ground in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan. … I have to tell you that I’m increasingly optimistic about all of this,” Kasich said.

Kasich touted his “deep experience” as both a governor and former leader in Congress as assets in a potential run for the presidency, saying “I’m pretty qualified for this kind of a job.”

“I’m the most experienced in the field with being an executive, running a big state like Ohio, dealing with problems like Cleveland; at the same time being in Congress, balancing the budget,” Kasich said.

“[W]e need somebody who has deep experience, executive experience who has made decisions where there is a bottom line who has a deep knowledge of foreign affairs, because it’s pretty clear that America’s position in the world is being questioned and it leaves us less secure at home,” Kasich added.

Kasich was hesitant to directly criticize his fellow Republicans already running for the nation’s highest office, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, when he had the opportunity. But he did take aim at the foreign policy of the sitting president over his strategy to defeat ISIS, calling it “feckless.” In recent days the extremist Sunni group has gained control of the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the Syrian city of Palmyra.

“I said months ago that we ought to have a coalition of our Western partners and our — any of our allies in the Middle East to form a coalition to knock ISIS out. And if that includes American boots on the ground, so be it,” Kasich said. “But at the end of the day, you just can’t let them continue to make all this progress.

“Look, three big problems,” Kasich added. “One, we disbanded the Iraqi army and we have nothing but chaos since we started. Two, we failed to arm the opposition in Syria to push Assad out, which would have been strategic because of the support for Iran and Russia in regard to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. Then we had a red line and we ignored that. And now we find out that over in Syria, they’re dropping barrel chlorine bombs on people. So, you know, it’s been a feckless foreign policy.”

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Armed Services Committee Chair Thornberry ‘No Doubt’ ISIS Would Use Nukes If Obtained

Posted on: May 24th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — ISIS would “of course” use a nuclear weapon if given the chance, House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Mac Thornberry said on Sunday, responding to reports of ISIS claiming they had the resources to acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan within a year.

Despite the reports that ISIS hopes to obtain a nuclear weapon, Thornberry, R-Texas, told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on This Week that the jihadist group has not taken steps yet, saying that there is “no evidence that it has happened.”

“Would they do it if they had the opportunity? Of course. Would they use it if they had it? I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Thornberry said.

“We don’t wait until they get it before we take action that seriously degrades and destroys ISIS,” Thornberry added. “Secondly, we keep pushing at their finances to lower the amount of money they have.”

While the White House is arguing that the U.S. is not losing the war against ISIS even as they gained strongholds in the cities of Ramadi in Iraqi and Palmyra in Syria, Thornberry said that ISIS “has a lot of momentum on their side.”

“I don’t know about the president resists, saying we’re losing it. We’re not winning. We know that,” Thornberry said.

“You see not only ISIS gaining territory in Iraq and in Syria and I think the map, like you showed, gives it very graphically about their territory expanding,” he added.

While Thornberry said he would prefer not having U.S. ground troops fight alongside the Iraqi military, he called for greater intelligence capability and on-the-ground advisers to help combat ISIS.

“Some of our military folks believe, however, if we’d had some advisers on the ground we could have called in effective airstrikes, that it would have at least made the battle for Ramadi more competitive,” Thornberry said.

“But the other thing we’ve got to do is improve our intelligence capability,” he said.

Thornberry voted earlier this month for the USA Freedom Act, which would have reformed the government’s bulk data collection process. The measure was blocked in a late-night vote in the Senate this weekend, leaving the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1.

“We passed what I think is an imperfect bill out of the House, but it’s better than letting it expire,” he said. “So we need to have that crucial intelligence capability continue.”

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Cleveland Residents ‘a Model’ for Handling of Officer’s Acquittal, Ohio Governor Says

Posted on: May 24th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(CLEVELAND) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich praised the people of Cleveland on Sunday, calling its residents a “model” in their response to the acquittal of a white police officer charged in the 2012 shooting deaths of an unarmed black couple.

Protests quickly followed the acquittal of officer Michael Brelo, who had been charged in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

While the city’s police chief said the protests grew violent after earlier peaceful demonstrations, Kasich said Cleveland residents should be “proud of themselves.”

“The verdict is the verdict, Jon [Karl]. What I will say is that I think the people of Cleveland handled this, I mean, they should be so proud of themselves and we should look at Cleveland as a model,” the Republican governor said during an appearance on This Week. “The mayor, former Senator Nina Turner, some of the ministers — Todd Davidson — these are people who have said it is proper to protest and — but at the same time, no violence, because violence in a community only destroys the community.”

Michael Brelo, 31, was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter and a lesser charge of felonious assault in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Prosecutors said Brelo was one of 13 officers who fired 137 times into the couple’s car in the November 2012 shooting.

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NSA Begins Dismantling Phone Data Collection Program

Posted on: May 24th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The National Security Agency has begun “winding down” the once top-secret bulk collection of Americans’ phone records after Congress failed to renew or change the program before a holiday recess, a senior administration official told ABC News.

“We’ve said for the past several days that the wind-down process would need to begin yesterday if there was no legislative agreement. That process has begun,” the official said.

The government has relied on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which expires at midnight on May 31, to authorize collection of telephone metadata for all U.S. calls. That data was said to include phone numbers and duration of a call, but not the content of the call or any other personally identifying information.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the phone surveillance program with his leaked cache of documents in 2013.

Lawmakers left town for a week-long holiday break without addressing the program as its expiration looms.

The Obama administration did not seek renewal of the bulk collection program, instead proposing that phone companies retain the records and make them available for case-by-case review by the government with a court order. A bipartisan version of that proposal — the USA Freedom Act — passed the House of Representatives earlier this month but was blocked in a late-night vote in the Senate.

Defenders of the phone surveillance program insist that ending it will hamper the FBI and NSA in their pursuit of suspected terrorists and spies, though there is little evidence it has been directly responsible for any thwarted plots.

The Senate also failed to advance a short-term extension of the program to allow more time to negotiate a compromise.

Lawmakers will have just 8 hours to resolve their differences over the phone program and other expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act, which is widely seen as a critical tool for law enforcement, when they return at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 31.

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Senate Blocks Extension of Patriot Act Provisions, NSA Begins ‘Winding Down’ Bulk Collection of Phone Records

Posted on: May 23rd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — The Senate blocked a House bill early Saturday morning that would have extended three sections of the Patriot Act which are set to expire on June 1.

Sixty votes were needed to pass the House-approved USA Freedom Act. But the vote late Friday night saw the bill get just 57 votes in support. After the bill failed, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., attempted to get it passed by unanimous consent, but failed to do so.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made multiple attempts to pass shorter extensions, but was blocked four times, including three objections from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.

“For those who want reform and want to prevent the government from holding the data, the Freedom Act is the only way to do it,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Saturday. “The House has passed it, the President wants it, all of the Intelligence personnel have agreed to it.”

Boxer pointed blame across the aisle after the Saturday morning efforts to get the USA Freedom Act passed, saying “we tried with the majority to protect this country and the Republicans objected.”

A senior administration official told ABC News on Saturday that the NSA has begun “winding down” its once-secret bulk collection of Americans’ phone records in the wake of Congress’ failure to extend the existing program.

“We’ve said for the past several days that the wind-down process would need to begin yesterday if there was no legislative agreement,” the official said. “That process has begun.”

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Senate Blocks Extension of Patriot Act Provisions

Posted on: May 23rd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — The Senate blocked a House bill early Saturday morning that would have extended three sections of the Patriot Act which are set to expire on June 1.

Sixty votes were needed to pass the House-approved USA Freedom Act. But the vote late Friday night saw the bill get just 57 votes in support. After the bill failed, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., attempted to get it passed by unanimous consent, but failed to do so.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made multiple attempts to pass shorter extensions, but was blocked four times, including three objections from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.

“For those who want reform and want to prevent the government from holding the data, the Freedom Act is the only way to do it,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Saturday. “The House has passed it, the President wants it, all of the Intelligence personnel have agreed to it.”

Boxer pointed blame across the aisle after the Saturday morning efforts to get the USA Freedom Act passed, saying “we tried with the majority to protect this country and the Republicans objected.”

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Hillary Clinton Teaches Voter How to Take a Selfie

Posted on: May 23rd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images(EXETER, N.H.) — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appears to have learned to take selfies so well that she’s now teaching others how to do them.

At a campaign event in Exeter, New Hampshire, on Friday, Clinton gave a brief lesson on how to take a selfie to a voter who was attempting to take a photo with her.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK. There you go,” Clinton said as she helped the woman open the camera on her iPhone outside of the Water Street Bookstore.

Pointing to the camera button, Clinton then instructed the woman on what to do next.

“OK. Now press, press that white button. This right here,” she said.

Despite Clinton’s efforts, the woman was still unable to capture the photo. At that point a young man in the large crowd that had gathered outside the bookstore to see the former secretary of state stepped up and offered to take a traditional photo instead.

This prompted another person to cry out, “Surrender to the youth!”

The woman, perhaps conceding she wasn’t going to figure out the selfie and should, looked over to Clinton.

“Will you?” she asked.

“I will,” Clinton responded, laughing.

Smiling, the two women then posed — old-school style — for their photo.

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Obama Scores Major Win as Senate Passes Trade Promotion Authority

Posted on: May 23rd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Image Source Pink/Image Source/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) –In a major win for President Obama, the Senate voted Friday 62-37 to pass the so-called “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority.

The so-called “fast track” authority would ease the path for Obama’s sweeping Trans-Pacific trade deal and empower the president to send his trade package to Congress for a strict up or down vote with no amendments or filibusters and make it subject to a simple majority.

The TPP deal would be the biggest free-trade pact in decades and is aggressively opposed by liberal Democrats, labor unions and others. 

Obama credited the bipartisan vote as “an important step toward ensuring the United States can negotiate and enforce strong, high-standards trade agreements.”

“If done right, these agreements are vital to expanding opportunities for the middle class, leveling the playing field for American workers, and establishing rules for the global economy that help our businesses grow and hire by selling goods Made in America to the rest of the world,” Obama wrote in a statement Friday.

Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden also cheered the vote.

“This to me is what we’re sent here to do,” Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said following the vote. “Tackle big issues in a bipartisan way.”

But many Democrats were staunchly opposed to the measure, despite intense lobbying from President Obama over the past several weeks.

The House is expected to vote on the measure as soon as next month, but it faces another tough vote in the lower chamber with most Democrats opposed to the legislation.

House Speaker John Boehner suggested supporting the measure is “a no brainer” but warned that its passage will depend on Democratic support as well. Republicans do not have enough votes to pass the measure on their own.

“The House will take up this measure, and Republicans will do our part, but ultimately success will require Democrats putting politics aside and doing what’s best for the country,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Let’s seize this opportunity to open new doors for the things Americans make and the people who make them.”

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President Obama Honors Troops in Weekly Address

Posted on: May 23rd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In his weekly address, President Obama commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“Like generations of heroes before them, these Americans gave everything they had—not for glory, not even for gratitude, but for something greater than themselves,” Obama said. “We cannot bring them back.  Nor can we ease the pain of their families and friends who live with their loss.”

The president will spend the first Memorial Day since the end of the war in Afghanistan at Arlington Cemetery, remembering the more than 2,200 service members who gave their lives in that conflict, as well as all of the nation’s fallen soldiers.

“So what we can do—what we must do—is fulfill our sacred obligations to them, just like they fulfilled theirs to us.  We have to honor their memory,” he said.

Obama asked that all Americans spend Monday honoring the memory and sacrifice of the nation’s service members.

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:
 
Hi, everybody.  This weekend is Memorial Day—a time to pay tribute to all our men and women in uniform who’ve ever given their lives so that we can live in freedom and security.  This year, the holiday is especially meaningful.  It’s the first Memorial Day since our war ended in Afghanistan.
 
On Monday, at Arlington Cemetery, I’ll join our Gold Star families, veterans, and their loved ones to remember all our fallen heroes, including the more than 2,200 American patriots who gave their lives in Afghanistan.  And I plan to share a few of their stories.
 
Growing up in Arizona, Wyatt Martin loved the outdoors.  To him, a great day was a day spent fishing.  After high school, he enlisted in the Army because he believed that the blessings he enjoyed as an American came with an obligation to give back to his country.
 
Ramon Morris was born in Jamaica, and as a teenager came to Queens.  Like so many proud immigrants, he felt a calling to serve his new country and joined the Army.  He fell in love, got engaged, and the thing he wanted most was to make the world safer for his three-year-old daughter.
 
In their lives, Specialist Wyatt Martin and Sergeant First Class Ramon Morris travelled different paths.  But in December, their paths intersected as the final two Americans to give their lives during our combat mission in Afghanistan.
 
This weekend also reminds us that, around the world, our men and women in uniform continue to serve and risk their lives.  In Afghanistan, our troops now have a new mission—training and advising Afghan forces.  John Dawson was one of them.  From Massachusetts, he loved the Bruins and the Pats.  In April, he gave his life as an Army combat medic—the first American to give his life in this new mission.  This Memorial Day, we’ll honor Corporal Dawson as well.
 
Like generations of heroes before them, these Americans gave everything they had—not for glory, not even for gratitude, but for something greater than themselves.  We cannot bring them back.  Nor can we ease the pain of their families and friends who live with their loss.
 
But we are the Americans they died to defend.  So what we can do—what we must do—is fulfill our sacred obligations to them, just like they fulfilled theirs to us.  We have to honor their memory.  We have to care for their families, and our veterans who served with them.  And as a nation, we have to remain worthy of their sacrifice—forever committed to the country they loved and the freedom they fought for and died for.
 
Thank you, have a wonderful weekend, and may God bless our fallen heroes and their families.

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Rep. Mac Thornberry Calls for Backing Defense Authorization Bill in Weekly Address

Posted on: May 23rd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s Republican address, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas calls on President Obama to honor that nation’s troops by backing a defense authorization bill that provides them with the benefits they’ve earned, and the tools and resources they need to complete their missions.

“We carry a debt to those who have served, and especially to those who have fallen, to focus just on doing what’s right for the country and what’s right for our troops, and we honor them best by building on their sacrifice to pass along to the next generation a country even stronger, even more prosperous, and even freer than we’ve enjoyed,” Thornberry said.

The House Armed Services Committee Chairman contends the House has passed the defense authorization bill last week giving troops a raise an updating their benefits, but that President Obama wants additional money for domestic programs and has threatened to veto the defense bill unless he gets it.

“Look, we’re always going to have our differences, but it’s wrong for anyone to play politics with defense.  The world is too dangerous, and the men and women who serve are too precious for that,” he said.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello, I’m Mac Thornberry.  I’m privileged to represent the people of the Panhandle and North Texas in Congress and to chair the House Armed Services Committee.

In my job I get to spend a lot of time around the men and women who serve our nation in the military.  I’m continually in awe of their character, their courage, and their dedication to our country.

Since the beginning, the United States has been blessed with outstanding individuals who cared about something bigger than themselves and have fought – and some even died – for American security and American freedom.

This Memorial Day, we continue to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.  The Greatest Generation took on one of the greatest evils the world has ever known, defeated it, and came home to build a nation.

But their achievement came at a heavy price.  On Memorial Day, all of us should take time to remember and to honor those who sacrificed their lives in answering the call of our country.

I think we have to do more than honor the fallen, however.  We have a duty to honor what they fought for, so that, in the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg, “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”

The world today is full of turmoil.  Freedom and decency are still under assault.  ISIS, for example, poses a grave and direct threat to our security and our way of life.

No one knows how to solve all the problems of the world.  But one thing we do know for sure – the world is a safer, better place when the United States is militarily strong.  And a weakened America invites greater danger.

The Constitution endows Congress with specific responsibilities to help “provide for the common defense.”   For 53 straight years, Congresses of both parties have passed and presidents of both parties have signed into law a defense authorization act, which has helped to build that military strength that we need.  The House passed this year’s bill last week.  It gives our troops a raise and updates their benefits.  It eases our warfighters’ transition to the VA and it makes sure we get the most value possible for the taxpayer dollars.  The Senate will take up their version soon.

The House bill authorized exactly the amount the president requested to keep America safe.  But he wants more money for domestic programs and has threatened to veto the defense bill unless he gets it.  

Look, we’re always going to have our differences, but it’s wrong for anyone to play politics with defense.  The world is too dangerous, and the men and women who serve are too precious for that.

We carry a debt to those who have served, and especially to those who have fallen, to focus just on doing what’s right for the country and what’s right for our troops, and we honor them best by building on their sacrifice to pass along to the next generation a country even stronger, even more prosperous, and even freer than we’ve enjoyed.

Of course, no one put it better than Ronald Reagan when he said, “and we owe them something…We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.”

When this Memorial Day’s passed, there will still be brave Americans stationed all over the world to protect us and our way of life.   

To everyone who wears America’s colors and to everyone who ever has, and to their families, thank you.

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Senate Votes to Pass Obama Fast-Track Trade Bill, Goes to House

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Image Source Pink/Image Source/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate voted 62-37 to pass the so-called “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority.

Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was in the chair when the vote was called at 9:21 p.m. on Friday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then informed the chamber that there is not a time agreement to speed up the timing of votes related to FISA reform.

Therefore, the earliest the Senate can move onto those measures is 1 a.m. Saturday, when McConnell has said the chamber will hold its next vote series – absent any intervening time agreement.

“If that changes, I’ll be the first to let everyone know,” McConnell promised. “If it does, obviously we’ll try to expedite the process but as of this moment, we’ll be voting at 1:00 a.m.”

The FISA votes are only procedural to get onto the bill – in the form of Motions to Proceed.

Both are expected to fail to reach 60 votes, but if either motion passes, senators fear their Memorial Day recess will go out the window – possibly drawing out the process until Wednesday.

If neither measure passes, the Senate is expected to advance a short-term measure to buy Congress a few more days to get a deal worked out once both chambers return in early June following the week-long recess.

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Obama Seeks To Reassure Jewish Americans About Iran Deal

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama told a Jewish-American audience on Friday that he has a personal stake in making sure the Iran nuclear deal is a success.

“This deal will have my name on it, so nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise,” the president said, echoing the comments he made to The Atlantic earlier this week.

Seeking to reassure the Jewish community, the president reiterated that the U.S. and Israel share the same goal: “Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to get a nuclear weapon,” he said.

“Now, there’s a debate about how to achieve that — and that’s a healthy debate,” he continued. “The deal that we already reached with Iran has already halted or rolled back parts of Iran’s nuclear program.  Now we’re seeking a comprehensive solution.  I will not accept a bad deal.”

Obama also reiterated that a deal is not yet done and that “all options are and will remain on the table.”

“I can’t stand here today and guarantee an agreement will be reached.  We’re hopeful.  We’re working hard.  But nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he said.

The president, wearing a white yarmulke, spoke before the Congregation at Adas Israel at an event marking Jewish American Heritage Month.

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State Department Releases Hundreds of Clinton’s Benghazi E-Mails

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The State Department on Friday released 296 emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail account related to the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The documents made public Friday were earlier provided to the House Select Committee on Benghazi several months ago in response to its request for more information about the incident that remains the most troubling moment in Clinton’s tenure at the State Department — and a major vulnerability as she campaigns for the presidency.

“The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks, which have been known since the independent Accountability Review Board report on the Benghazi attacks was released almost two and a half years ago,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement Friday.

The documents cover the period from January 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012.

“I have said repeatedly I want those emails out,” Clinton said during a campaign stop in Iowa earlier this week. “Nobody has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do. I respect the State Department. They have their process that they do for everybody and not just for me, but anything that they might do to expedite that process I heartily support.”

Friday’s release is just the tip of the spear: Going forward, another 55,000 pages of former Secretary Clinton’s e-mails will be made publicly available on a rolling basis. The State Department has until next Tuesday to announce the roll-out plan for the much larger batch of e-mails.

The laborious task of sorting, reading, redacting and reviewing paper copies of what now amounts to hundreds of thousands of pages of documents falls to the State Department’s Office of Information Programs and Services and its lawyers, better known as the FOIA office — which stands for Freedom of Information Act.

They’ve established a full-time staff, with one project manager, two case analysts, nine FOIA reviewers and a slew of additional information analysts who have been working since April. The larger trove of e-mails from Clinton’s private email account spans the period from 2009 to 2013.

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Clinton Foundation Releases Donor List

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Feng Li/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Clinton Foundation has released a list of paid speeches by Hillary, Bill and Chelsea showing the payments that were donated to the foundation.

The amount of the payments, which were not disclosed before Thursday night, could total between $12 million and more than $25 million, according to the foundation, which provided only ranges rather than actual amounts.

Here is a breakdown of the donors:

BANKS

To any Democrats sensitive to Clinton’s perceived ties to the finance industry, this won’t look particularly good. Goldman, JP Morgan, Citi and Carlyle each donated between $250,000 and $500,000. Charles Schwab gave $100,000 to $250,000, as did Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
 
FOREIGN FRIENDS

Thailand’s ministry of energy paid a boatload, as did Qatar First Investment Bank, the Vancouver Board of Trade, and several other foreign companies. Chinese companies Alibaba, Beijing Huaduo Enterprise Consulting Company, China Real Estate Development Group, Xinjiang Hualing Industry & Trade Co. and Zhong Lu Corp also donated.
 
CASH FROM CHARITY

Between $50,000 and $100,00 was paid for a Clinton speech by Chicago House, a social-services group in Chicago that helps people “who are disenfranchised by HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ marginalization, poverty, homelessness, and/or gender nonconformity by providing housing, employment services, medical linkage and retention services, HIV prevention services, legal services and other supportive programs,” according to its website.
 
WHAT THE CLINTON FOUNDATION IS SAYING

“In addition to the more than 300,000 donors who are all listed on our website, posting these speeches is just another example of how our disclosure policies go above and beyond what’s required of charities,” Craig Minassian, Chief Communications Officer of the Clinton Foundation said in a statement. “This funding allows the Foundation to effectively and efficiently use our resources to implement programs that are fighting HIV/AIDS and childhood obesity, increasing opportunity for women and girls, lifting people out of poverty and combating climate change.”

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Hillary Clinton’s First Campaign Rally Set for June

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Feng Li/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Hillary Clinton has set the date for her first big campaign rally: June 13.

While there’s no word on where the event will take place, we do know this — June 13 will officially mark the end of the “ramp up” phase of her campaign.

It’s possible that former President Bill Clinton could attend the rally as well. It would mark his first official appearance with Hillary on the campaign trail.

Meanwhile, Clinton will hold two events in New Hampshire Friday with more planned in South Carolina, Florida, Texas and Missouri in the coming weeks. Clinton is also adding Georgia, Rhode Island and even New Mexico into the mix. She’s scheduled to swing through for fundraisers at some time in between.

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Who Are the GOP Candidates Most Likely to Be Left Out of the Debates?

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Presidential primary organizers have quite the dilemma on their hands. The Republican field has more candidates than in any recent primary, and debate organizers have been wrestling with one main question: How can we fit all the candidates on a stage?

The answer from Fox News and CNN, which are separately hosting the first two televised debates, is to invite the top 10 candidates as determined by a national polling average, and leave everyone else out.

Fox will average the last five polls that are conducted by “major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques.” That likely translates to non-partisan polls conducted by live interviewers.

So who’s likely to be left out?

Polling site FiveThirtyEight analyzes which candidates would make a debate held today. See the results here.

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Marco Rubio and the Pitbull Factor

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) — It’s the Florida endorsement Marco Rubio may secretly be vying for — that of hugely popular Cuban rapper Pitbull.

In a BuzzFeed profile of Rubio, an unnamed aide, trying to tout the senator’s cool factor, alluded to Rubio’s hip hop fluency, and citing that he’s on a first name basis with Pitbull.

Rubio has made mention of his favor for Pitbull, whose real is Armando Perez, in the past.

“Pitbull has become a friend and someone from Miami we’re very proud of,” Rubio said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in April.

But Rubio may not have the market cornered on cool. Pitbull has said that his mother and grandmother told him that “politics and religion” are the two things you don’t speak about, according to The Hill.

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White House Sticks by Its Strategy Against ISIS

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The White House says the president’s strategy against ISIS is working, despite the fact that ISIS is in control of much of Syria and has gained control of the capital city of Iraq’s largest province.

“We are in the degrade portion of this operation,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Thursday’s press briefing, pushing back against those who are calling for an overhaul of the current strategy and drawing a hard line against the consideration of a large-scale military deployment.

“The president is not going to be in a position where he’s going to consider a large-scale U.S. military deployment,” Earnest added. “And for those who are calling on a change in strategy, I would encourage them to be specific.”

Instead of overhauling current strategy, Earnest told ABC News’ Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl that that President Obama and his national security team are looking for ways to apply strategies that have worked in other places — using Kobani and Tikrit as examples of success — to areas where the United States is experiencing setbacks.

“What’s under consideration is how can we learn from those situations where we have had success and made progress and how can we apply those lessons to this area where we have experienced a setback,” Earnest told Karl.

Though Earnest said the White House is “deeply concerned” about the situation in Palmyra, the administration is not changing its current strategy in Syria.

“Until we’re able to build up local forces on the ground in Syria who can take the fight to ISIL in their own country, you know, this is going to continue to be a difficult challenge, and one that is not going to be solved overnight, but rather, one that will require a long-term commitment,” he said.

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Historic First: Cuban Reporter Asks a Question at White House Briefing

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — It was a historic first at the White House, as Press Secretary Josh Earnest took a question from a Cuban reporter in Thursday’s press briefing.

“Welcome to the United States and to the White House,”  Earnest told a group of visiting Cuban journalists before taking a question from a reporter who identified her affiliation with Cuba’s government-run national television network.

“First, do you think that it’s possible to see a scenario in which we will open embassies in Havana and Washington? In that future scenario, is the administration committed to be more respectful of the Vienna Convention towards the behavior of the American diplomats in Havana?” the reporter asked Earnest.

After affirming hopes that the United States and Cuba will re-open embassies in each respective country, Earnest said it’s a priority that the two countries reach an agreement that will allow U.S. diplomats to do in Cuba what they “do in countries around the world, which is to not just engage the leaders of the government, but also to engage the people.”

Diplomatic movement within Cuba has been a sticking point in the ongoing negotiations to restore full diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Earnest also used the exchange as an opportunity to pointedly voice concerns about Cuba’s human rights record.

“We continue to have significant concerns about the way that the Cuban government all too often fails to respect the basic universal human rights that we hold so dear in this country,” he said. “That there are too many Cuban political activists, Cuban journalists, who see their freedom of speech, their freedom of assembly, their freedom of expression trampled by the Cuban government. That continues to be a source of significant concern, not just on the part of the president of the United States, but by a lot of Americans.”

Asked about the likelihood of a presidential visit to Cuba, Earnest said there’s one person in particular who is eager to for the president to make a visit to the island country in the near future: President Obama himself.

“I know that he would relish the opportunity to visit the island of Cuba, and Havana in particular,” Earnest said.

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Capitol Police Officers Get Bathroom Training After Leaving Firearms in Restrooms

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine says his officers are receiving potty training (get it?) after three separate incidents this year when officers left firearms unattended in the Capitol’s public restrooms.

“We are now providing additional training on what to do when you have to go to the bathroom,” Dine told lawmakers during a hearing on Wednesday.

Dine said a first-time offender would be suspended for five days under current policy for leaving a weapon unattended, but he is considering toughening the penalty to 30 days or even potential termination for a first offense because of the seriousness a single error can carry.

“There are no excuses for these mistakes,” he stressed.

The chief appeared before the House Committee on Administration to discuss a number of troubling issues that have plagued his police force in the past year, including the widely publicized gyrocopter landing on the Capitol lawn on April 15.

Dine defended his officers’ actions during that event, telling lawmakers that his agency had little heads-up of the possibility Douglas Hughes – the pilot who was indicted Wednesday on six counts related to the incident – might be heading to the Capitol on his helicopter-like aircraft.

“I think the officers acted properly, heroically, swiftly and efficiently,” Dine said.

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Senate Narrowly Advances President Obama’s Trade Bill: Here’s Why It Was So Close

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate narrowly advanced a bill that would give President Obama the “fast-track” authority to negotiate trade deals with foreign partners.

Sixty votes were needed to move forward with the measure, and the Senate voted 62 to 38 in favor of invoking cloture — setting up a vote on final passage for this week before the Senate leaves for Memorial Day recess.

The vote was a squeaker, going down to the wire with many observers unsure how a group of senators, led by Sens. Maria Cantwell, R-Washington, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, threatening to vote against advancing the measure if a vote was not held on the Export-Import bank.

With Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, draping his arms over the South Carolinian’s shoulder, Graham and Cantwell were at the center of intense negotiations on the Senate floor with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who eventually assured the senators he would allow a vote on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank despite personally opposing the measure. After nearly thirty minutes of huddling, Graham and Cantwell voted in favor of invoking cloture on the trade bill, opening the floodgates for other senators to advance the measure.

Many Senate Democrats, who normally side with the White House on its legislative agenda, opposed the measure over concerns about a lack of amendments and secrecy surrounding the bill.

“We’re going to shut down debate on the first full day of consideration?” Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said ahead of the vote. “We’re not being unreasonable. We’re playing this straight. We’re simply asking for the Senate to debate this legislation.”

Before the vote, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, offered votes on nine amendments to the measure, but Brown objected, saying it didn’t reflect a thorough amendment process.

If the Senate failed to advance the bill, it would have sent a brutal blow to the White House. Last week, Senate Democrats defeated the first effort to move forward with the legislation.

“What we just witnessed here is Democratic senators shutting down debate on the top economic priority of the Democratic president of the United States,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the time.

Obama acquired some unlikely allies in his push for obtaining negotiating authority for trade deals. McConnell was one of the pivotal lawmakers advocating in favor of the president’s plan. But the debate has put the president at odds with some of his top Democratic supporters, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who engaged in a back and forth battle with the president over the deal.

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State Department Employee Accused in ‘Sextortion’ of College-Aged Women

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — A State Department employee has been arrested and charged with computer hacking, cyber-stalking and extorting college-aged women in what authorities say was a scheme to gather sexually explicit material.

Michael C. Ford, a State Department employee who has worked out of the U.S. Embassy in London since 2009, is accused of using government computers there to conduct the alleged crimes. He was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Sunday and is scheduled to appear in a federal court later Thursday.

Authorities said investigators found a spreadsheet on Ford’s work computer that appeared to summarize criminal activity that included a list of approximately 250 e-mail addresses he may have used to target the women.

A criminal complaint filed in Atlanta’s federal court contains an affidavit from a diplomatic security agent that details the emails found after searching Ford’s computer records. It alleges that, in early 2015, Ford “apparently hacked into and stole compromising photographs from online accounts belonging to an 18-year-old Kentucky woman.” He then sent her threatening emails demanding she sent him more photographs and video of other “girls” and “sexy girls” who were undressing in changing rooms at pools, gyms and clothing stores, according to the court papers.

He allegedly would threaten to send the compromising photos to acquaintances of his targets or make them public in other ways if the targets did not comply.

The affidavit quotes emails recovered from Ford’s accounts. “Finally, I found you! What do you think? Nice a**!,” his first email to one victim allegedly read. When the woman responded by asking where he got the photos, according to the court documents, he answered: “I’m a wizard, I have lots. Do you like it? :).” He then allegedly asked, “Can I text the picture to [her acquaintance’s phone number] or maybe email it to [other individuals].”

When the woman threatened to tell the police, according to the documents, he responded: “I’ve hacked nothing. You threaten me again and I send it out. Would you like that.”

The affidavit adds that when the woman begged him to leave her alone he responded yet again, demanding his terms. “I want you to video girls in the changing room [of her gym]. If you don’t, I send your details and picture to everyone. What do you say? Looks like you’ve made up your mind. Get ready for my email and post to go out tomorrow morning. Enjoy!”

Based on the totality of the information recovered from Ford’s computer, the diplomatic security investigator said in the documents that he believes “Ford may be targeting college-aged women throughout the U.S.”

The federal charges also state that at one point a man with the same name and Social Security number was arrested in connection with “’peeping-Tom’-like” offenses, without offering additional details.

The State Department declined to comment on Ford or the case, noting the pending charges and citing department policy.

ABC News reached out to Ford’s lawyers for comment but they were not immediately available.

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Here’s One Thing Hillary Clinton Left Off Her LinkedIn Resume

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

JP Yim/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Like so many job seekers, Hillary Clinton, has posted her resume to LinkedIn, the social media site that helps professionals connect and find work.

She included her education (Wellesley College and Yale Law School), the books she’s published, as well as a long list of the various positions she’s held throughout her career — going all the way back to her days as a staff lawyer for the Child Defense Fund and an attorney for Rose Law Firm in Arkansas during 1970’s.

She even lists her current position: “2016 Presidential Candidate.”

But there’s at least one thing missing from Clinton’s extensive resume: Her first — and failed — attempt at the same job she’s seeking now.

Clinton left off her roughly year-and-a-half long stint as a presidential candidate from 2007 to 2008.

In addition, Clinton appears to have made at least one error. She is listed as being a First Lady from 1993 to 2000. Clinton actually held the role until January 2001.

We’ll chalk it up to a technicality.

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Mr. Trump Goes to Washington: What The Donald Is Saying About 2016

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — It’s official: Donald Trump is moving to Pennsylvania Avenue.

No, not to the most famous address in America, but just down the street, where the real estate mogul turned reality TV star is set to open a luxury hotel in the Old Post Office space.

But the sign that reads “Coming 2016” and below in big letters “Trump” over the construction site may turn out to be a double entendre, according to The Donald.

We asked Trump what the chances are that he’ll make a bid for the White House in 2016 (he decided against one in 2012).

“Very good — very strong,” he told Power Players during a recent interview. “I’m looking at it very, very seriously.”

What’s more, Trump suggested he may have a fair shot.

“We’re getting great poll numbers. New Hampshire just came out with a very strong poll,” he said. “And nobody thinks that I’m running…when you get really good, you beat almost everybody in the poll numbers.”

He explained, “Politicians are all talk, no action. They do a terrible job; a tremendous disservice to the country. And I know them better than anybody, and I love them — I think they’re great. It’s easy to make money with politicians. But, the fact is that it’s all talk and no action…and the country’s going to hell.

“So the chances are very, very good and I’ll be announcing something in June and you will be surprised,” he added.

Trump was not only in town to check in on the transformation of the Old Post Office Building into a Trump International Hotel, but to participate in an event benefiting the caregivers of veterans through an organization founded by Elizabeth Dole.

For more of the interview with Trump, including whether he would have invaded Iraq if he had been president, and what he thinks of his likely opponents’ answers to the question, watch this episode of Power Players.

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The Dem Who Thinks Hillary Clinton Shouldn’t Be President (and Might Run Against Her)

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Public Domain(WASHINGTON) — But really, who is Lincoln Chafee?

If you haven’t heard of former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, you’re probably not alone. The little-known Republican turned Independent turned Democrat recently announced that he might run for president, and he’s already making headlines.

Chafee was elected as mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, in 1992 and re-elected three times. He served a term in the U.S. Senate before being elected governor in 2010. While in the Senate, he was famously the only Republican to vote against the war in Iraq. Now, he may be the only Democrat already taking swipes at 2016 democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. He says Clinton’s vote in the Senate authorizing the Iraq war “disqualifies” her from becoming president.

Could this relatively unknown underdog from a tiny state gain traction as an anti-war candidate? As he continues to explore a run for the White House, ABC News spoke with Chafee this week. Here’s what he told us, edited for length:

Are you running for president?

“I hope to make an announcement before mid-June and certainly I am leaning very heavily in that direction.”

Tell us about your decision back in 2002 to vote against the war?

“With the breakup of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, we had a moment in time there before Sept. 11 where we really were looking at a peaceful world. So when Sept. 11 occurred, I thought we have to make really good decisions now and not jeopardize this possibility of handing to our children a peaceful world. So when they started talking about going into war in Iraq, I had my concerns about the reasons and were they accurate about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction?”

“I went to the CIA and asked them for a full briefing, and what I learned was there was really no intelligence that supported the rush to war based on weapons of mass destruction. So, when you hear these candidates talk about basing their decisions on faulty intelligence that is completely inaccurate. There was never any intelligence at all, never mind faulty intelligence. It was all rhetoric about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

Hillary Clinton has said her vote was a mistake. Aren’t people allowed to make mistakes?

“The magnitude of this mistake is just so enormous. Not only in the 4,000 dead Americans — over 4,000 dead Americans — but now it is going to cost us $6 trillion. And it’s a loss of American credibility. And the ramifications that we live with today with ISIS: what’s happening in Syria, what’s happening in Yemen, what’s happening in Libya, what’s happening in Nigeria with Boko Haram. The chaos that has spread through the region based on this mistake. Absolutely in my view it is a disqualifier to be president.”

What disqualifies her from being president — specifically?

“The line is the moment in American history where we had to make good decisions and those of us that were saying, ‘Let’s let the inspectors do their work in Iraq, let’s go slowly,’ were on the right side. Those that rushed to war were on the wrong side and we are paying for that mistake not only, sadly, with lost American lives, but in so many ways. It was a huge, huge mistake. I would argue one of the biggest in American history.”

You recently said that your “high ethical standards” differentiated you from Clinton, too. What did you mean by that?

“It’s a long list of ethical misjudgments on behalf of Mrs. Clinton starting back from her time as First Lady and the Rose Law Firm records that were lost and then found. It just seems to never stop. Now, as Secretary of State, the email servers and the Clinton Foundation … it is just a long litany of ethical missteps in my view. And the American people support what I am saying. All of the polls show that there is a lack of trust with Secretary Clinton.”

You have also cited a New York Times op-ed talking about the people Secretary Clinton might theoretically chose as advisers. Do you see that as another place you differentiate yourself from her?

“Absolutely. Ever since I announced I was exploring a run for president I have talked about her hawkish approach to the world … based on that same unilateralism, muscular approach that I have compared to the ‘neocons.’ Yes, it a huge a difference between her and I and our approach to the world. Her approach to Iran as to the secretary of state, her approach to Syria, Libya, Russia, Venezuela, it is all very close to the ‘neocon’ approach: muscular, unilateral. I don’t think that is in our long-term best interest. We need a new approach.”

How would you characterize your approach?

“It is strong alliances and building trust and credibility with other nations around the world.”

You have also accused her of flip-flopping — what issues do you think she has flip-flopped on?

“Well certainly, immigration. She is getting a lot of credit for coming out in favor of the Dream Act and the path to citizenship for undocumented Americans. But there was a bill when we were both in the Senate, introduced by John McCain from Arizona and Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts: ‘The McCain-Kennedy Path to Citizenship.’ There were only nine of us in the Senate that then signed on as co-sponsors and I am one of the nine. I sure would have liked to have had her help back then in 2005. Certainly, gay marriage. I have been an early supporter, a consistent supporter of marriage equality. So, whether it is flip-flop or coming late to the issue, I think it’s very similar.”

You were a Republican, then an Independent, then a Democrat, so why should Democrats across the country trust you?

“That’s a fair questions and I would answer: look at my record. It has been very, very consistent whether it is on fiscal responsibility, or an approach to the environment, or an approach to civil liberties, or an approach to building our middle class. I have a very, very consistent record on all of these issues. It used to be there was a home in the Republican Party for those philosophies … but there became less of an opportunity for those of us with those views to stay in the Republican Party. We were primaried — as I was — because of those views, and so I became an Independent and I never changed my views, and then I became a Democrat where I believe is my home and the best fit for those issues.”

Even you would have to admit that you’re starting off with a pretty big deficit in name recognition across the country — how will you break through?

“It’s a long path to the nomination. It is a long path between here in May until Iowa and New Hampshire when the primaries start and the caucuses start. I think my issues align with the Democratic Party and we will be debating those issues. We know that those that are going to be voting in the primaries and the caucuses are going to be listening. I think they are going to like the answers to the questions they ask when I give them.”

What is the one thing you would want every voter to know about you?

“My judgment. I think that’s what people want from their leader, especially in times of high pressure. Americans can look at my record: making decisions and showing good judgment in times of high pressure over and over again, and making the right call.”

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