Seymour Sales and Service







President Trump, first lady to host Macrons at Mount Vernon

Posted on: April 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — In a nod to history and the special relationship between the United States and one of the nation’s oldest allies, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will host French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife for a rare private dinner at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.

“The setting will serve as a beautiful reminder of France’s unique status as America’s very first ally going all the way back to the American Revolution,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

The 18th-century home of America’s first president and founding father was specifically chosen as a backdrop for the first dinner of the first state visit of Trump’s administration. Last July, the Macrons hosted the Trumps for a dinner above Paris inside its most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower.

“President Trump is eager to host the Macrons for this special event, as he remembers fondly the dinner the couples shared together in the Eiffel Tower on the eve of Bastille Day last July,” said a senior administration official.

In addition to dinner, the Macrons and Trumps will receive a tour of the grounds from Mount Vernon Regent Sarah Coulson and Mount Vernon President Doug Bradburn, and visit the gravesite of George Washington.

“Our crews have been working around the clock to freshen up the estate in preparation for the visit,” said Melissa Wood, spokeswoman for the Mount Vernon estate.

The grounds will close at 1 p.m. on Monday afternoon in anticipation of the event.

Over the years, Mount Vernon has been the host site for visits from foreign dignitaries such as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and former French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

In 1961, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy planned the first White House state dinner outside of Washington, D.C., in honor of President Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan and his daughter, Naseem Akhtar Aurangzeb. Four boats transported guests up the Potomac River to a tent, decorated by Tiffany’s, on the sprawling grounds of Mount Vernon.

The White House has remained tight-lipped about specific details of the visit, but like Kennedy, Melania Trump “was involved in every aspect of the planning of the state visit,” her press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, told ABC News.

The estate holds particular symbolism for the United States and France, as Washington welcomed his close friend and Frenchman Marquis de Lafayette to his estate three years after fighting alongside each other in the Revolutionary War.

After fighting for the United States, Lafayette went on to serve an important role in the French Revolution. In 1790, as a symbol of his appreciation for the United States and shared democratic ideals, Lafayette sent Washington the key to Bastille prison, which remains on display at Mount Vernon more than 200 years later.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DNC suing Trump and Russia because US has ‘not imposed sufficient costs" on Moscow for election meddling: Perez

Posted on: April 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — The chairman of the Democratic National Committee said the party’s civil lawsuit against the Trump campaign and Russia aims to deter Moscow from interfering in the 2018 midterm elections.

“We have to deter misconduct,” Tom Perez told ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday. “We’ve got elections coming up in November. It’s hard to win elections when you have interference in elections. And they’ve done it with impunity. And I’m concerned that it’s going to happen again.”

The Democratic Party is working to create a “strong voter protection infrastructure,” Perez added. “And one way to make sure we protect voters this November is to make sure we are doing our level best to insure that interference never occurs again.”

The Democratic National Committee filed a sweeping lawsuit in federal court Friday alleging collusion between Russians and Trump campaign operatives in the 2016 election and naming the Russian government, the Trump campaign, Trump family members, WikiLeaks and others. The suit claims a wide-ranging “Russia-Trump conspiracy” and is based on the same anti-racketeering statutes that have been used against underworld criminals.

The Trump campaign in a statement Friday called the lawsuit “frivolous” and a “last-ditch effort” to validate the “baseless” claim that Trump conspired with the Kremlin.

“This is a sham lawsuit about a bogus Russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional, and nearly insolvent Democratic Party,” said Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager.

Stephanopoulos on “This Week” asked Perez about criticism from David Axelrod, a fellow Democrat who worked as chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. Axelrod tweeted Friday night that the DNC suit was “spectacularly ill-timed” and would support Trump’s portrayal of the federal Russia investigation as “a partisan vendetta.”

Perez responded, “We’ve done our homework.”

“Over the course of the last year, we have seen story after story, brick after brick in the conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign to affect the outcome of the election,” the DNC chief said. “We have a strong case. That’s why we brought it.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is subject of ‘epic battle’ by prosecutors for his cooperation: Alan Dershowitz

Posted on: April 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) —  Alan Dershowitz said prosecutors are engaged in “an epic battle for the soul and cooperation of Michael Cohen,” the longtime lawyer to President Donald Trump whose office and hotel room were raided by the FBI this month.

Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor emeritus, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday that prosecutors could potentially be threatening Cohen with a long prison term if he fails to cooperate.

There is “a sword of Damocles hanging over his head,” said Dershowitz, who appeared on a “This Week” panel of lawyers discussing the implications of the April 9 raids on Cohen’s hotel room, home, office, safety deposit and cell phones.

“After those raids, how serious is the threat to Cohen and Trump?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Oh, it’s a very serious threat,” Dershowitz said. “They have enormous abilities to really put pressure” on a witness.

But the law professor also said he’s not sure whether Cohen will “flip” to become a prosecution witness who could possibly give some kind of evidence against his client, Trump.

“I think it’s very hard not to flip when they’re threatening you with long imprisonment, but I don’t think we know enough,” Dershowitz said.

He added that Trump has “a unique weapon” on his side in any investigation — the presidential pardon. However, he said in regard to Cohen, “I don’t think he’s going to be pardoned.”

Cohen is under criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York and has been for months, court documents released on April 13 and obtained by ABC News confirm. According to the documents, Cohen “is being investigated for criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings.” Cohen’s attorney said the investigation started, in part, following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties to Trump associates.

After the April 9 raids by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, Cohen and Trump’s attorneys argued that many of the items seized fall under attorney-client privilege and therefore should not be viewed by prosecutors until they, or a neutral third party, have an opportunity to review them.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Meet the prosecutor experts say could be Robert Mueller’s Supreme Court closer

Posted on: April 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Special counsel Robert Mueller built a team of more than a dozen prosecutors to investigate Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, but experts say one member might best be considered “the closer”: Michael Dreeben.

“I don’t have many insights into his legal approach except to say there is no human being, on the planet, with more knowledge about federal criminal law than Michael Dreeben, and no one with more expertise than him,” said Leah Litman, a constitutional law professor at University of California at Irvine.

Dreeben is one of the government’s most venerated and tested Supreme Court specialists. His career at the Office of the Solicitor General, the lawyers who represent the federal government before the high court, spans nearly three decades. He has argued more than 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, making him “only the second person to reach that rare milestone this century,” declared Chief Justice John Roberts during the court hearing that marked the occasion.

And he could prove a powerful asset in a case that could eventually pit the Justice Department against the president of the United States.

One of his particular areas of expertise has been in search and seizure law, explained Matt Olsen, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General and now an ABC News contributor. Dreeben has recently argued, for example, that federal prosecutors should have access to digital data stored outside the United States and that the government’s collection of cell-tower records does not violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.

In fact, it was that topic that brought Dreeben into court this week. He made an early appearance for the Mueller team in federal court in Washington to argue the government’s position that former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s criminal case should not be dismissed and that certain seized evidence should be admissible.

At the hearing, Dreeben sought to assure the judge that the special counsel is checked in his authority by both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who must approve actions that might be beyond Mueller’s mandate, and by Congress, which exercises oversight of the Department of Justice.

Peter Carr, a Spokesman for the special counsel’s office, declined to comment for this report. While few know where the Mueller case will head next, legal analysts expect Dreeben to play a key role in ensuring that special counsel prosecutors stay on the right side of the Constitution.

“I can imagine Michael being responsible for a host of pressing constitutional issues that might arise, ranging from the indictability of a sitting president to the lawfulness of the use of the pardon power,” said Paul Rosenzweig, a former Whitewater investigator and senior fellow at the conservative think tank R Street Institute.

Another potential constitutional brawl “would be a fight for a compelled interview if the president refused to sit down with Mueller,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School, who noted that the law in this area remains unsettled.

Most prosecutors on the Mueller team have maintained a low profile, but there have been hints in recent weeks that some Trump supporters plan to challenge the integrity of the probe by highlighting the political leanings of some of the prosecutors on the case. Veteran appellate lawyers told ABC News they cannot imagine any critique of that nature sticking to Dreeben.

 “I have no idea what his politics are, but I know he is as faithful to the Constitution and laws of the United States as anyone who has ever served in government. Period. He is the consummate public servant,” said Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama.

Katyal said that Dreeben cares more about fairness than winning. He recalled an incident when Dreeben told him, “We won this case in the court of appeals, but we really should have lost it. So let’s tell the Supreme Court to hear the case and rule against us.”

Marty Lederman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center who worked with Dreeben at the Justice Department for over a decade, said the veteran prosecutor is not swayed by politics.

“With him and others like him on the team you can be confident that the prosecution will go where it ought to,” Lederman said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Presidents Trump, Macron solidify political bromance with state visit

Posted on: April 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Their relationship began with a show of machismo –- an extended, white-knuckle handshake on their first meeting last year in Belgium.

 Emmanuel Macron had reportedly studied Donald Trump’s style of domineering power-grabbing handshakes, apparently prepared to avoid being outdone by his counterpart. Instead, it was President Trump who at one point in the 5-second-long handshake attempted to withdraw his hand from Macron’s firm grasp.

The maneuver marked the start of what has become a close partnership between the two leaders, who recently joined forces along with the United Kingdom to strike Syria earlier this month.

“It’s no secret that President Trump and President Macron enjoy a good working relationship. I may say a close personal relationship,” a senior administration official said in a briefing with reporters.

President Macron has already feted Trump in grand style, inviting him to be his guest of honor at France’s elaborate Bastille Day celebrations last summer. The president and first lady dined with Macron and his wife at the Eiffel Tower and sat side-by-side as French military tanks, planes and troops rolled down the Champs-Elysee in the elaborate military parade.

The event so inspired Trump that he has since called on the Pentagon to look into organizing a military parade in the United States. That parade is now set to take place on Veterans Day.

By extending an invitation to host Macron for a state visit in the United States, Trump is in many ways returning the favor and celebrating the deeply-rooted historical ties between the two countries and marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. This will be the president and first lady’s first time hosting a foreign leader to the full ceremonial honors of a state visit and sends a symbolic message about the value Trump places on his close ties with the French president.

“This will be a visit of symbolism of the strength and history of the U.S.-French relationship,” says Heather A. Conley, senior vice president for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It will be more symbolism than substance.”

The events

When Macron arrives in Washington on Monday for a three-day visit, he and his wife will stay at Blair House, the presidential guest house, and will dine privately with the president and first lady at George Washington’s Mount Vernon home and pay a visit to the first president’s tomb. 

“President Trump is eager to host the Macrons for this special event, as he remembers fondly the dinner the couples shared together in the Eiffel tower on the eve of Bastille day last July,” a senior administration official said.

President Trump will officially welcome Macron to the White House on Tuesday with an elaborate welcome ceremony on its South Lawn, complete with honor guards and marching bands. They are scheduled to engage in bilateral meetings and partake in a joint news conference. Macron will also dine with Vice President Mike Pence at the State Department for a luncheon that is traditionally hosted by the Secretary of State, and visit the tomb of the unknown soldier.

The day will conclude with a formal white-tie state dinner that has been in the works for several months at the personal direction of First Lady Melania Trump.

Anita McBride, who served as chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush, said the dinner will be a chance for the first lady to showcase her skills as a hostess. McBride predicted that Melania Trump has put a keen interest in creating an elegant evening.

“Mrs. Trump wants her guests to have a wonderful, sensory experience. The flowers and lighting in the room. She pays great attention to detail. It’s really a chance for her to show how they entertain,” McBride said.

The White House is closely guarding the invite list, with plans to only release the names of the invitees after the final guest has arrived for the evening, which is sure to include both French and American dignitaries. But the guest list is one of the most important and trickiest matters to navigate — to strike the right balance and set the desired tone.

Several offices and departments are involved in the process, with recommendations flowing in from the State Department, the Office of Public Liaison — which largely manages the White House’s relationship with outside groups — and the offices of Cabinet Affairs and legislative affairs, McBride said.

But the most important suggestions of all, she added, are those that come from the first couple.

“The most important list of all is who the first family wants to have there,” said McBride.

As for what’s on the menu, the White House has yet to reveal what will be served but says the first lady has personally selected and taste-tested the dishes.

While some modern state dinners have been hosted in a large event tent on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday’s dinner will be in its State Dining Room. Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Melania Trump, says the setting is a “nod to tradition and the historic relationship between the two countries.”

She added that there has been an effort on the part of the first lady’s office “to keep things elegant and more traditional than perhaps some of the last few state dinners.”

The live musical accompaniment for the evening will be “classical and traditional,” says Grisham.

She suggested the entertainment will be a departure from the modern artists who made a splash at some of former President Obama’s state dinners, which included live performances from A-list artists like Gwen Stefani and Beyonce Knowles.

On Wednesday, Macron will deliver an address to a joint session of Congress, which Elysée Palace says will be a “very important moment” of Macron’s visit.

“The French president will introduce himself to the American people, will send a message of friendship, of respect and affection toward the American nation,” the Elysée Palace says. “Our common history is incredible, a history of friendship that started 250 years ago. The central message that we will see at the Congress will be: Do you want to continue to write history together?”

Macron will also make a public address at George Washington University, and hold his own news conference at the conclusion of his U.S. visit.

The Issues

Amid all the pomp and circumstance of the ceremonial visit, there will also be the work of high-level diplomacy between the two leaders and their delegations.

Macron has described his relationship with Trump as “extremely direct and frank,” telling the BBC in January: “Sometimes I manage to convince him, and sometimes I fail.”

Macron appeared to test the limits of that frankness when he seemed to take credit recently for convincing President Trump not to pull U.S. troops out of Syria in the immediate future; Trump had said days before that the U.S. mission in Syria was nearly complete and that troops would be coming home “very soon.”

“We convinced him that it was necessary to stay there long-term,” Macron said during an extended televised interview on Sunday.

The White House then came out to refute Macron’s assertion.

“The U.S. mission has not changed — the President has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

And Macron himself also sought to walk back the comments, later attempting to clarify: “I did not say that either the U.S. or France will remain militarily engaged in the long term in Syria.”

After the joint strike earlier this month and the public fissure around Macron’s comments on the duration of a U.S. military commitment, one issue to watch will be whether the two countries come to any sort of shared understanding around next steps for war-torn Syria. A senior administration official said the leaders would “discuss probably in some detail the way forward on Syria” but said it’s “difficult to say right now” how far those discussions will go.

“The question around Syria would be, ‘Now what?'” says Conley. “President Macron very much wants to see a diplomatic process come through. He wants more U.S. engagement … [and] wants to talk to President Trump about what the U.S. policy towards Syria will be at the same moment where President Trump has publicly announced that his desire is to remove U.S. forces from Syria.”

Conley added that it will be interesting to see how the “leaders comment publicly on their two positions on Syria and a diplomatic process moving forward.”

While the Elysée Palace has made clear they don’t have high expectations for producing substantive agreements, the French delegation will try their hand at the art of persuasion in presenting the French position on issues of disagreement, namely the Iran nuclear deal, trade, and the Paris Climate Accord.

“We hope that this State visit will be useful and allow us to present our arguments, to convince and move forward. But on these three topics, we do not expect to obtain results, make deals [or] agreements during the visit. For example, on the Iran deal, we know that President Trump has not made a decision yet. We do not think there will be a diplomatic breakthrough during the State visit,” the Elysée Palace said.

A senior administration official said the Iran nuclear deal is sure to be a “a major topic of discussion” during the meetings but said that any decisions as it relates to the United States’ continuing participation in the agreement would come in mid-May, when the president faces a deadline on whether to continue to keep the U.S. a party to the deal.

Even as both U.S. and French officials say there’s no expectation that a final decision will be reached on the Iran deal during the visit, Conley says Macron is uniquely suited among European leaders to make potential headway with Trump as he seeks to convince him not to withdraw the United States from the pact.

“This visit will be dubbed the ‘Save the Iran Nuclear Agreement’ trip,” Conley said. “The French have historically been the toughest EU of the three –- that’s U.K., France, and Germany -– on being tough on Iran, getting the toughest compliance possible. So in some ways, President Macron is the best to provide the president with … the toughness that he wants about and towards Iran, but trying to do so in a way that preserves the Iran nuclear agreement.”

But as it relates to the Paris Climate Accord — the historic pact on climate change to which President Obama had previously committed the United States and has since been adopted by every other country in the world — the Elysée Palace says President Macron will refrain from trying to convince President Trump to get back on board with the agreement.

“We are not trying to get the United States back into the Paris Accord,” the Elysée Palace said. “What we are doing is describing the consequences of climate change. We continue scientific and economic cooperation with the U.S. This goes beyond the U.S. Federal state; working with American cities, NGOs, companies. By working collectively, the United States will reach their objective of decreasing gas emissions. On the political aspect, it can show the Trump administration the positive consequences of actions to fight climate change in terms of job creations and innovation.”

Asked if Paris Climate Accord is set to be discussed, a senior administration official said, “I don’t have any insight on that for you” and said the topic is not on the agenda “unless it’s brought up by President Macron.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sessions told White House counsel he would consider resigning if Rosenstein were fired, sources say

Posted on: April 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a phone conversation with White House counsel Don McGahn he would consider resigning if President Donald Trump were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, sources familiar with the matter confirms to ABC News.

The conversation happened a week ago and just days after a meeting at the White House between Roseinstein and Trump. Sources said at the time the meeting was focused on congressional requests for documents from the Justice Department.

Sessions’ phone conversation was first reported by the Washington Post.

Amid speculation that Trump was considering firing both Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he declared earlier this week: “They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months, and they’re still here.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘The next generation is us’: Chicago teen hopes to change community, gun policy through voting

Posted on: April 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Arieyanna Williams remembers being 9 years old and staring at the two bloody handprints on a wall near the front door of her aunt’s home in Chicago.

She pressed one of her small palms against the blood-stained concrete wall as a final goodbye to her father.

The night before, Williams was watching classic television shows with her mother while her four younger sisters were sound asleep. She was drifting to sleep when her mother received that frantic phone call from her aunt that forever changed all of their lives.

Her aunt told them the bad news: Williams’ father had been shot and killed.

“We cried all night long,” Williams said.

After being shot, Williams’ father tried to seek help from his sister and walked a block to her home where he collapsed at her front door, leaving the bloody handprints behind.

He later died in an ambulance from his wounds.

“It felt very unreal,” Williams told ABC News after she placed her hand on her father’s handprints.

Now 17 years old, Williams remembers her father, not as a man gunned down in a gang-related conflict, but as a man who loved her deeply.

“He would always tell me he loved me,” Williams said. “He spent time with me and he’d always make sure I had everything I needed.”

And his death and those of her two uncles and others in her community have inspired her to advocate for peaceful solutions to conflict and for what she sees as the need for gun policy reform.

She turns 18 in a few months and is eager to vote for the first time in Illinois’ general election in November.

“The only time you have a voice is when you get to vote,” Williams said.

Life after death

For a while, she thought she had lost her voice, lost herself.

“After my father’s death, I became angry,” Williams told ABC News. “I got into fights — I felt alone.”

Williams also wrote poetry as a way to give voice to her pain.

 “I often wrote about my father … how he didn’t get to see me grow up to what I wanted to be,” Williams said. “I’d also write about my future.”

Writing was also an activity she could do indoors — it was often far too dangerous to play outside in her inner-city Chicago neighborhood where sometimes innocent bystanders were shot and killed in random acts of crime-related violence.

So she would stay safe within the walls of her home and play video games with her four sisters, sing karaoke and listen to her favorite boy band, One Direction.

As a freshman at North Lawndale High School, Williams wouldn’t say much to anyone.

“I would separate myself from everyone,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to be there.”

It wasn’t until sophomore year that Williams’ life began to get better. She met the man she calls her “guardian angel,” Gerald Smith.

In his leadership development class, Smith took notice of the introverted, articulate teen who he praises as an “outstanding writer.”

 “I recognized she had the ability to be a leader,” Smith told ABC News. “I’ve been blessed with a gift to recognize leadership. I recognize it even when students don’t see it themselves.”

“He introduced the Peace Warriors to me,” Williams told ABC News of the group of minority students from Chicago who for a decade have been addressing issues of gun violence. “I thought this isn’t going to change anything for me, but Mr. Smith was persistent. He told me it could help me not forget about situations but help resolve my anger.”

Smith eventually broke down all the walls Williams tried to subtly build and she joined the Peace Warriors.

Life as a Peace Warrior

“After joining, I wanted to make friends,” Williams said. “We all bonded over our hurt and it made us family…that’s the thing about Peace Warriors, we’re a family.”

The Peace Warriors are a student based organization that seeks peaceful resolutions to conflicts using Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violence philosophies. They work to serve as examples to peers in the hopes of decreasing violence in their community.

There are currently a total of 120 Peace Warriors at North Lawndale College Prep High School.

After joining the organization, Williams says she’s seen a change in herself. She devotes her time teaching principles of peaceful conflict resolution in her school and surrounding schools in the Chicago area.

And through that work, she has found her voice.

“I’ve seen a difference in myself,” Williams said. “I feel like I was born to be a leader, but I didn’t see it until joining the Peace Warriors.”

Williams sees herself as a role model to the younger generation, including her four younger sisters — one, a freshman at the same school is set to become a future Peace Warrior, according to Smith.

Smith also has seen a tremendous change in his once quiet student.

“She’s quiet, but when she talks everyone listens,” Smith said. “If you walk into a room you may not even notice her, but she is the heart of the Peace Warriors.”

She and her fellow Peace Warriors found common ground with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who faced tragedy in February after a gunman went on a shooting rampage, killing 17 people.

Williams said she walked into that March 3 meeting with the Parkland students, observed her surroundings and introduced herself. She didn’t want to insert herself into conversation immediately but listened.

“At first the conversation was tense,” Williams said. “They shared their stories and I sat there thinking we’re from two different worlds. We see this kind of stuff every day.”

One Parkland student admitted she recognized her “white privilege” and wanted to use her platform to give the Peace Warriors representing Chicago and all inner cities across America a voice on a national platform.

Williams along with her Peace Warrior companions attended the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, D.C. later that month. Williams did not take the stage but felt as though she was solidly represented by her friends.

“I felt like they were speaking for me because we share the same story,” Williams said. “It’s like we could cry because we finally got to say what we wanted to say – we were finally heard.”

In response to the Parkland High School shooting, Illinois House members pushed measures for gun reform including setting the minimum age to possess a semiautomatic assault weapon at 21, a ban on bump stocks and setting a 72-hour waiting period for the sale of any assault weapon.

Amid her journey calling for peace against gun violence in her community and meeting with the students of the Parkland High School shooting, Smith took heed to Williams’ interest in policies.

“I see her as a social activist and having a career in politics,” Williams told ABC News. “I see her ability to affect policy.”

‘18 for 18’

Williams will turn 18 on June 4 and she plans to use her platform to encourage other 18-year-olds in her community to get to the polls to vote.

“What do they support? Stricter gun laws? Do they believe in nonviolent neighborhoods? Are they going to provide more jobs for the community to help decrease gang activity? Can they use the titles they hold to better our communities?” Williams said. “I want whoever I vote for to have the ability to listen and not be so influenced by money.”

Williams has ideas stashed away on how lawmakers can improve their communities like more after-school programs, increased social media involvement, and more peace rallies and marches. 

She also has a strong message for whoever will be voted in office.

“If you don’t see and hear us, you won’t be running in the next election,” Williams said. “The next generation is us.”

In the meantime, Williams is focusing on walking across the stage to get her hands on her high school diploma. She has Michigan State set on her mind as the college of her choice. There, she will study education in preparation to become a teacher.

She hopes to one day teach at North Lawndale.

“It’s all about going back where I came from and not forgetting where I came from.”

Although graduation is not too far away, Williams’ work as a Peace Warrior will continue.

“Arieyanna is going to go places I can’t even fathom,” Smith told ABC News. “She left a legacy here.”

For Williams’ the mission is unfinished and she is determined to see it through.

“Students say Chicago will never see change, but I believe we will,” Williams said. “It takes one step at a time.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

EPA chief recorded a single, one-hour meeting on day 1 of Morocco trip

Posted on: April 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Jason Andrew/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) —  The Environmental Protection Agency has released new details about Administrator Scott Pruitt’s schedule in Morocco last year that show he was scheduled for only one meeting on the first day of the costly trip.

The new details about Pruitt’s schedule came in an updated response to a records request from ABC News and other news organizations on the Morocco trip, which generated controversy both about his spending habits and his justification for being there. Earlier this month, the EPA released the six-page schedule from Pruitt’s 47-hour North Africa trip with four pages blacked out.

On Friday the EPA made public an un-redacted version of the schedule after criticism from government watchdog groups about the agency’s lack of transparency.

The newly released version of the calendar showed the four previously blacked out pages of his calendar did not include any additional meetings beyond those already released.

“The four-page redaction to the Morocco schedule is simply a calendar entry for a Senior Staff Meeting at EPA Headquarters in DC, which the Administrator did not attend because he was in Morocco,” EPA Spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement. “The entry includes all attendees invited to the meeting, which is the reason for the extensive redaction.”

The reason the redacted section from December 11 was so long, Wilcox said, was because the four pages were consumed by a list of attendees for the meeting in Washington.

The document release, however, did not address questions from Democratic lawmakers about the number and nature of Pruitt’s meetings.

“For a trip … that included at least 10 EPA staff, your official business consisted of one full working day, and two days each with one, one-hour meeting,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a top Democratic on the committee with oversight of EPA, wrote in recent letter to Pruitt.

Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, told ABC News on Friday the EPA should not have blacked out the staff meeting in its initial response. The agency’s explanation for the redaction – citing it as part of its “deliberative process” privilege – was improper.

“There have certainly been lots of questions raised as to how the EPA is handling FOIA requests under the current administration and I think that this adds to that growing list of questions as to what is going on when it comes to EPA and FOIA,” he told ABC News.

The trip is already under review by the EPA’s inspector general as part of an ongoing audit of Pruitt’s travel costs. Multiple Democrats have asked for more information on what prompted the Morocco trip and what Pruitt discussed with Moroccan officials, including the ranking member of the Senate committee with oversight of EPA, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.

In a letter to the EPA inspector general, Carper wrote that he was especially concerned that the EPA listed promoting U.S. exports of natural gas as one of the topics on the trip. Carper wrote in the letter that natural gas is not part of the agency’s mission “to protect human health and the environment.”

In response to questions about those allegations, an EPA spokesman told ABC News that two career EPA officials traveled with Pruitt on the trip, not only political staff, and that liquid natural gas was not the only topic on the agenda, as described in an EPA press release. 

After spending two days in Paris due to travel delays, Pruitt arrived in Rabat, Morocco on December 11, with one meeting listed on his schedule for that day. The next day he held several meetings and toured an energy park before traveling to Marrakesh and having breakfast with the director of the Moroccan renewable energy agency. He then flew back to Washington on December 13.

Congressional sources conservatively estimated the trip cost at least $40,000, including a first-class flight that cost nearly $17,000 for Pruitt alone. Federal guidelines allow officials to fly first-class on international trips but the expense caught the attention of investigators who were already looking into the cost of Pruitt’s international and domestic travel.

The EPA did not publicly announce the trip to Morocco ahead of time but said in a press release after the trip that Pruitt met with Moroccan leaders on U.S. environmental priorities, the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement, and the benefit of liquid natural gas imports for the country. Pruitt also toured a green energy facility during the visit.

The EPA’s inspector general agreed to review Pruitt’s personal travel this week, according to Whitehouse’s office, in addition to ongoing audits of the cost of his official travel and security detail.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Missouri Gov. Greitens charged with second felony

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has been charged with felony computer tampering related to his alleged use of a donor list from his veterans’ charity for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign, according to the state’s attorney general.

It’s the second felony charge the Missouri Republican is facing. Greitens also faces a felony charge related to accusations from his former mistress who alleges he bound her hands with tape, put a blindfold on her, took a partially nude photo of her and then threated to release the photo if she mentioned his name, according to a Missouri House committee report.

That charge is for invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a partially or fully nude photo and “subsequently transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”

He faces a criminal trial on that charge on May 14.

Greitens’ attorneys had made a motion to get those charges dismissed but a judge ruled on Thursday that case can proceed.

The latest charge alleges Greitens obtained an electronic donor list without permission from The Mission Continues charity he founded and then used that list for political fundraising as he was preparing to run for the governorship.

Greitens started the organization in 2007 but left it in 2014, before he ran for governor.

The governor has denied all the allegations but he did pay a fine to the state ethics commission for not reporting the list as an in-kind contribution on campaign disclosure forms.

Multiple elected officials in the state, including the GOP leaders in both chambers of the state legislature. Additionally both Senate candidates – incumbent Democratic Sen. Clarie McCaskill and her GOP opponent, Attorney General Josh Hawley – have called on Greitens to resign from office.

The controversy around Greitens, once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, has consumed Missouri politics.

On Tuesday, Greitens tweeted that he would not be resigning the governorship and said he will be proven innocent in court.

Hawley’s office announced Tuesday that his office may have found evidence of a felony by Greitens in an investigation involving the veterans charity. He turned it over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who has jurisdiction in the matter. It was her decision to charge Greitens.

Hawley said in a statement on Friday that his office is ready to assist as needed.

“St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner reviewed the evidence turned over to her by my office and determined that there is probable cause to file criminal charges against the Governor. The Office stands ready to assist the Circuit Attorney’s Office where appropriate and if needed. These are serious charges—and an important reminder that no one is above the law in Missouri. Like all criminal defendants, Governor Greitens is presumed innocent under the law until proven guilty,” he said.

The governor is fighting for his political life.

But a Missouri state house committee released a bombshell investigative report last week detailing an alleged nonconsensual sexual encounter with his former hairdresser.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but said it was consensual. He claims he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”

That bipartisan investigative committee – comprised of five Republicans and two Democrats – is expected to release a second report next week focused on the charity.

Statehouse officials have also said they could hold a special session after the regular legislative session ends in May to focus on the impeachment of the governor.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Coons announces opposition to Pompeo, cuts off path to favorable committee vote

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, announced Friday that he will not vote to support the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state, officially closing the door on Pompeo’s chances of being favorably recommended out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ahead of a full Senate floor vote.

Coons, the last Democrat on the panel to announce his position, said in a statement that he was encouraged by Pompeo’s commitment to the diplomatic corps that he laid out in his confirmation hearing but concluded that the current CIA director and former congressman would embolden rather than temper President Donald Trump’s most bellicose instincts.

“I do not make this decision lightly or without reservations,” Coons said in a statement. “I remain concerned that Director Pompeo will not challenge the President in critical moments. On vital decisions facing our country, Director Pompeo seems less concerned with rule of law and partnership with our allies and more inclined to emphasize unilateral action and the use of force.”

Coons also said he was concerned with some of Pompeo’s past statements made over his political career on “a range of issues.”

Republicans on the 21-person committee hold a slim one-seat majority over Democrats. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also opposes Pompeo’s nomination to be the nation’s top diplomat. That meant Pompeo needed the support of at least one Democrat on the committee to get the simple majority needed for a favorable recommendation.

But with Coons’ announcement, all ten Democrats on the committee have now announced that they would not support Pompeo.

Coons’ position is not a surprise. He had said as late as Thursday afternoon that he was “leaning against” Pompeo’s nomination and he also voted against him to serve as CIA director last year.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Pompeo’s nomination Monday.

With the option of a favorable recommendation off the table, they can still report the nomination to the Senate floor with an unfavorable recommendation or simply take no action. And the full Senate will still vote on his confirmation, which is likely to succeed.

But the fact that Pompeo’s confirmation will not be referred favorably to the full Senate is an almost unprecedented rebuke from the committee of jurisdiction. The last time any cabinet-level nominee who was reported unfavorably by a committee but went on to be confirmed by the full Senate was 73 years ago when Henry Wallace was confirmed to be the secretary of commerce on March 1, 1945.

Past secretaries of state, including Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton have breezed through their respective confirmations, receiving strong tallies from both sides of the aisle.

While Pompeo will not receive the support of any of the ten Senate Foreign Committee Democrats, at least one member of the caucus has announced she will vote for him: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who is facing a tough re-election fight in a state that voted heavily for President Donald Trump in 2016.

If no other Republican besides Paul opposes Pompeo in the Senate floor vote, Heitkamp’s support means he will have just enough votes to be confirmed, including Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Strong fundraising numbers boost Senate Democrats in battle to control upper chamber

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Most Democratic Senate candidates brought in strong fundraising hauls for the first quarter of 2018, the latest reports show, a positive sign for a party defending multiple seats and leaving some Republicans playing catch up in the race for campaign cash.

Democrats are defending more seats on the map in November than the GOP in their uphill battle to win control of the Senate. They need a treasure trove of dollars to defend their seats plus pick up the two they need to control the upper chamber.

Adding to the financial pressures are the number of seats the party is defending, meaning as the election gets closer, resources will get tighter and, if the candidates don’t have the cash to get themselves across the finish line, they may not be able to count on the party to bail them out.

But several Democratic contenders in competitive contests were in good financial shape in the first quarter of this year, especially those Democrats running for reelection in red states won by Donald Trump in 2016. There are, however, three quarters left to go.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and Montana Sen. Jon Tester all outraised their GOP rivals.

And two Democratic challengers – Beto O’Rourke in Texas and Jacky Rosen in Nevada – outraised the GOP incumbents they are challenging.

“Senate Democrats’ strong fundraising reflects the wave of grassroots support and enthusiasm that will help propel our campaigns to victory in November,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee, in a statement.

Republicans acknowledge the political climate across the country makes it tougher on them to fundraise.

“Most of the incumbents that are running are Democrats and normally incumbents have a much easier time raising money,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant. “They have some natural advantages in terms of fundraising that way. Secondly, it’s no secret that there’s a lot of enthusiasm on the Democratic side and I think that’s reflected in fundraising numbers.”

He added: “The Democrats are raising a lot of money but they’re going to need a lot of money.”

But other Democrats didn’t do as well as some of their brethren, falling behind in the money race, in seats the party will need to put in the win column in November.

In West Virginia, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was outraised by one of his GOP rivals – former coal industry executive Don Blankenship – by around half a million dollars. The other two Republican contenders haven’t released their fundraising data.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown was outraised by GOP Rep. Jim Renacci by a little more than $1 million.

In Arizona, Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema was outraised by one of the Republican candidates – Martha McSally – by about $25,000.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson raised $3.2 million but his GOP rival, Gov. Rick Scott, entered the race on April 9 so he didn’t have to file a first-quarter fundraising report.

This could end up being a $100 million race given the state’s expensive media market and the fact Scott has the personal wealth to invest in the contest. He put $83 million of his own money into his two gubernatorial campaigns, according to local newspapers, meaning Democrats are going to need a lot of cash to stay competitive.

In other races, not all the fundraising information was available.

And not all Senate campaign data is available on the Federal Election Commission website at this time. Some campaigns have released their fundraising numbers and local media has reported on others.

Republicans have a two-vote advantage in the upper chamber. They are defending eight seats this year, while Democrats are defending 24 plus the two independents who caucus with them.

Here’s a look at where the numbers are at in some of key races that will decide which party controls the Senate.

Missouri: McCaskill outraised her GOP rival, state Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Hawley raised $1.29 million in the first quarter of 2018, the Kansas City Star reported, with $2.12 million cash on hand.

McCaskill, in contrast, raised $3.9 million and has $11.5 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.

Florida: Nelson raised $3.2 million and has $10.5 million cash on hand, according to his campaign. Scott did not have to file a report.

West Virginia: Manchin raised $949,000 in the first quarter and has $5.4 million in the bank, according to FEC reports.

GOP candidate Don Blankenship, raised $1.6 million and had $214,000 cash on hand. The other two GOP candidates haven’t released their first quarter numbers.

Pennsylvania: Casey raised $2.2 million and has $10 million cash on hand, according to his campaign. And Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Lou Barletta, raised $1.26 million and has $1.63 million cash on hand, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

North Dakota: Heitkamp raised $1.6 million and $5.3 million cash on hand while her GOP rival Kevin Cramer raised $1.13 million and has $1.86 million cash on hand, according to a local newspaper.

Nevada: Heller reportedly raised about $1.1 million. Rosen raised $2.57 million and has $3.5 million cash on hand, according to her FEC report.

Indiana: Donnelly raised $1.6 million and $6.4 million cash on hand, according to his FEC report.

Republican Rep. Luke Messer raised $389,000 and has $1.867 million cash on hand while GOP Rep. Todd Rokita raised $426,000 and had $1.86 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.

Arizona: Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema raised $2.5 million and has $6.69 cash on hand, according to FEC reports.

Republican candidate Martha McSally raised $2.75 million and has $3.18 million cash on hand, according to her campaign.

Of the other two GOP primary candidates, former state Sen. Kelli Ward raised $467,000 for her campaign and KelliPAC, an independent super PAC supporting her, raised another $500,000, according to her campaign.

And Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio raised more than $500,000 with $250,000 cash on hand, according to a local news report.

Texas: Cruz raised $3.2 million across three fundraising committees and has $8.2 million cash on hand, according to the Texas Tribune.

O’Rourke raised $6.7 million and has around $8 million in the bank, according to his campaign.

Wisconsin: Baldwin raised $3.7 million and has $7.8 million cash on hand. And in the GOP primary, Kevin Nicholson raised $1 million and has $800,000.00 cash on hand, while state Sen. Leah Vukmir raised nearly $600,000 and had around $650,000 cash on hand, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Montana: Tester raised $2 million and had $6.8 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports. He easily outraised his four GOP rivals, none of whom raised over 500,000, according to their FEC reports.

Ohio: Brown raised $3.3 million and had $11.8 million cash on hand, according to local reports.

Renacci raised about $4.5 million through his various fundraising committees and had $4.2 million in the bank, according to a campaign statement.

Tennessee:
Former Gov. Phil Bredesen reported $3.2 million in the first quarter, which included a $1.4 million loan from himself. He has $1.7 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.

GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn raised $2 million and has $6 million cash on hand, according to her FEC filings.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read Former FBI Director James Comey’s memos

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department on Thursday turned over to Congress declassified copies of former FBI director James Comey’s memos – his contemporaneous notes about his conversations and encounters with President Donald Trump before he was fired last year.

The 15-page disclosure includes Comey’s account of the briefing he gave Trump at Trump Tower about some of the allegations about his contacts with Russia, as well as his later meetings with Trump at the White House, during one in which Comey said that the president asked him for his loyalty and in another in which Comey says Trump told him: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”

Comey says he took that as the president wanting him to end the investigation into retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s fired former national security adviser.

Comey also said that then-chief of staff Reince Priebus asked him whether Flynn was under government surveillance and that Trump claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin told him Russia had “some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.”

Trump, who has previously dismissed the memos as “fake,” claimed on Thursday night that the memos exonerated him in the ongoing Russia investigation while criticizing Comey’s conduct.

You can read the declassified and partially redacted memos HERE.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DNC files federal lawsuit against Russia, Trump campaign and associates

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and numerous others close to the president, alleging they were part of a broad attempt to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The lawsuit cites the hacking of DNC documents and records by the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DNC files federal lawsuit against Russia, Trump campaign and associates

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and numerous others close to the president, alleging they were part of a broad attempt to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The lawsuit cites the hacking of DNC documents and records by the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Rosenstein told Trump he’s not a target of investigation of his personal lawyer: Sources

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Embattled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump a week ago that he is not a target of the investigation of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, two sources close to Trump told ABC News.

Rosenstein on his own brought up the probe of Cohen to the president during that meeting, sources said.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the matter.

The president has repeatedly threatened both publicly and privately to fire Rosenstein, as he has also done with both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties to Trump associates.

However, on Wednesday, Trump seemed to take a different tack, responding to a reporter’s question about the fate of the three officials by saying “they’re still here.”

“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months,” Trump said while in Florida. “And they’re still here. We want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us. And we have to get back to business.”

At the same time, as ABC News has reported, the president has been “less inclined” to sit down for an interview with Mueller since an FBI raid on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room on April 9, according to sources.

Trump’s legal team last met with Mueller’s office about a potential Trump interview on the same day as the Cohen raid.

Now with longtime Trump friend and surrogate Rudy Giuliani’s joining the Trump legal team, he will be part of all negotiations with Mueller’s office going forward.

The former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor says his job is to help Mueller get “what he needs to wrap it up” and to “try to negotiate a way to get this over with.”

Giuliani’s joining comes after the Trump team searched for several weeks to fill a void left by the abrupt departure of the president’s lead attorney, John Dowd. Dowd quit in part because he felt the President was taking less of his advice, sources told ABC News.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Rosenstein told Trump he’s not a target of investigation of his personal lawyer: Sources

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Embattled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump a week ago that he is not a target of the investigation of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, two sources close to Trump told ABC News.

Rosenstein on his own brought up the probe of Cohen to the president during that meeting, sources said.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the matter.

The president has repeatedly threatened both publicly and privately to fire Rosenstein, as he has also done with both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties to Trump associates.

However, on Wednesday, Trump seemed to take a different tack, responding to a reporter’s question about the fate of the three officials by saying “they’re still here.”

“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months,” Trump said while in Florida. “And they’re still here. We want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us. And we have to get back to business.”

At the same time, as ABC News has reported, the president has been “less inclined” to sit down for an interview with Mueller since an FBI raid on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room on April 9, according to sources.

Trump’s legal team last met with Mueller’s office about a potential Trump interview on the same day as the Cohen raid.

Now with longtime Trump friend and surrogate Rudy Giuliani’s joining the Trump legal team, he will be part of all negotiations with Mueller’s office going forward.

The former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor says his job is to help Mueller get “what he needs to wrap it up” and to “try to negotiate a way to get this over with.”

Giuliani’s joining comes after the Trump team searched for several weeks to fill a void left by the abrupt departure of the president’s lead attorney, John Dowd. Dowd quit in part because he felt the President was taking less of his advice, sources told ABC News.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

In memos, Comey describes Trump’s reactions to dossier, concerns over Flynn

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In newly released copies of memos written by James Comey, the former FBI Director describes what he says were Donald Trump’s strenuous and repeated objections to claims that prostitutes visited his Moscow hotel room in 2013 as well as the president’s “serious reservations” about his embattled National Security Adviser.

“There were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes,” Comey recalled Trump saying in one of the memos.

ABC News obtained copies of the memos, which are partially redacted, on Thursday after the Justice Department turned over 15 pages of declassified material to Congress. Top House Republicans had requested the documents and threatened to subpoena for them. DOJ plans to transmit unredacted copies of the memos on Friday.

The memos, which emerged as a flash point in the ongoing Trump-Russia probe, detail Comey’s recollections of exchanges with the president about Russian campaign interference and the broader Russia investigation. They include notes of conversations about the Trump Tower briefing on the Russia allegations, on a private White House dinner, and on controversial meetings during which Comey says Trump asked for his loyalty and for him to end the Flynn investigation. Trump has denied making those requests.

Some of Comey’s notes closely mirror the account of the interactions with Trump he has provided in congressional testimony, in his new book and in recent television interviews. But the newly released memos also feature previously unreported details and exchanges, including Trump’s complaints about Gen. Michael Flynn’s judgment. He expressed concern that Flynn, who served briefly as his National Security Adviser, did not alert him about a head of state’s congratulatory call. (The name of the head of state is redacted in the memos released Thursday.)

Comey said Trump pointed to his head when describing Flynn, and said, “The guy has serious judgment issues.”

“I did not comment at any point during this topic and there was no mention or acknowledgement of any FBI interest in or contact with General Flynn,” Comey wrote.

In a meeting several days later, then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked Comey, “Do you have a FISA order on Michael Flynn?” according to Comey’s memo. The question from Priebus came after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned the White House that Flynn was susceptible to blackmail regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Flynn later became one of the most senior Trump aides to cut a deal with prosecutors and agree to assist the Mueller investigation. He pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment late Thursday.

Other memos from Comey shed light on Trump’s reactions to allegations, some of them salacious, in the so-called dossier –- an unverified, opposition-research document prepared by a former British intelligence officer, and paid for by Trump’s political rivals.

One memo describes a meeting in which Comey says Trump remarked that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told him that Russia has “some of the most beautiful hookers in the world,” without explaining when the conversation took place, according to Comey’s notes.

In a joint statement, Reps. Devin Nunes, R-California, Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, and Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, the chairmen who requested declassified versions of the memos last week, described the documents as “Defense Exhibit A” in a criminal case for obstruction of justice, arguing that they show Comey was motivated by animus, and did not feel that Trump was attempting to obstruct the Russia investigation in real time.

“While former Director Comey went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented, and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation,” they wrote.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the memos are “strong corroborating evidence” of Comey’s claims that Trump “wanted his personal loyalty, that he wanted to end the Russia investigation, and that he wanted Michael Flynn to walk.”

“President Trump’s interference was a blatant effort to deny justice, and Director Comey was right to document it as it happened — in real time,” Cummings said.

Comey said in a CNN interview Thursday he was “fine” with his memos being released to the public.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

In memos, Comey describes Trump’s reactions to dossier, concerns over Flynn

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In newly released copies of memos written by James Comey, the former FBI Director describes what he says were Donald Trump’s strenuous and repeated objections to claims that prostitutes visited his Moscow hotel room in 2013 as well as the president’s “serious reservations” about his embattled National Security Adviser.

“There were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes,” Comey recalled Trump saying in one of the memos.

ABC News obtained copies of the memos, which are partially redacted, on Thursday after the Justice Department turned over 15 pages of declassified material to Congress. Top House Republicans had requested the documents and threatened to subpoena for them. DOJ plans to transmit unredacted copies of the memos on Friday.

The memos, which emerged as a flash point in the ongoing Trump-Russia probe, detail Comey’s recollections of exchanges with the president about Russian campaign interference and the broader Russia investigation. They include notes of conversations about the Trump Tower briefing on the Russia allegations, on a private White House dinner, and on controversial meetings during which Comey says Trump asked for his loyalty and for him to end the Flynn investigation. Trump has denied making those requests.

Some of Comey’s notes closely mirror the account of the interactions with Trump he has provided in congressional testimony, in his new book and in recent television interviews. But the newly released memos also feature previously unreported details and exchanges, including Trump’s complaints about Gen. Michael Flynn’s judgment. He expressed concern that Flynn, who served briefly as his National Security Adviser, did not alert him about a head of state’s congratulatory call. (The name of the head of state is redacted in the memos released Thursday.)

Comey said Trump pointed to his head when describing Flynn, and said, “The guy has serious judgment issues.”

“I did not comment at any point during this topic and there was no mention or acknowledgement of any FBI interest in or contact with General Flynn,” Comey wrote.

In a meeting several days later, then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked Comey, “Do you have a FISA order on Michael Flynn?” according to Comey’s memo. The question from Priebus came after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned the White House that Flynn was susceptible to blackmail regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Flynn later became one of the most senior Trump aides to cut a deal with prosecutors and agree to assist the Mueller investigation. He pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment late Thursday.

Other memos from Comey shed light on Trump’s reactions to allegations, some of them salacious, in the so-called dossier –- an unverified, opposition-research document prepared by a former British intelligence officer, and paid for by Trump’s political rivals.

One memo describes a meeting in which Comey says Trump remarked that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told him that Russia has “some of the most beautiful hookers in the world,” without explaining when the conversation took place, according to Comey’s notes.

In a joint statement, Reps. Devin Nunes, R-California, Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, and Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, the chairmen who requested declassified versions of the memos last week, described the documents as “Defense Exhibit A” in a criminal case for obstruction of justice, arguing that they show Comey was motivated by animus, and did not feel that Trump was attempting to obstruct the Russia investigation in real time.

“While former Director Comey went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented, and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation,” they wrote.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the memos are “strong corroborating evidence” of Comey’s claims that Trump “wanted his personal loyalty, that he wanted to end the Russia investigation, and that he wanted Michael Flynn to walk.”

“President Trump’s interference was a blatant effort to deny justice, and Director Comey was right to document it as it happened — in real time,” Cummings said.

Comey said in a CNN interview Thursday he was “fine” with his memos being released to the public.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Appeals court rules against Trump administration sanctuary city policy

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A federal appeals court upheld a nationwide injunction that blocked the Trump administration from linking a federal grant program to cooperation with immigration enforcement Thursday.

The program, known as the Byrne JAG grant, is the “primary provider” of federal criminal justice funding to state and local governments, according to the court. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had tied the funds to grant recipient’s compliance with three conditions.

“From now on, the department will only provide Byrne JAG grants to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities,” Sessions wrote in a July statement.

The City of Chicago argued that it was “unlawful and unconstitutional.”

A lower court agreed to two of the three conditions, issuing a nationwide injunction. The appellate court upheld that decision Thursday.

“The attorney general in this case used the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement,” the court wrote in its opinion. “But the power of the purse rests with Congress, which authorized the federal funds at issue and did not impose any immigration enforcement conditions on the receipt of such funds.”

A DOJ spokesman, however, said that the department acted with proper authority.

“The Justice Department believes it exercised its authority, given by Congress, to attach conditions to Byrne JAG grants that promote cooperation with federal immigration authorities when the jurisdiction has an illegal alien who has committed a crime in their custody,” said DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley.

John Cohen, an ABC News consultant and former acting Homeland Security undersecretary, said that he has seen no lack of cooperation from state and local law enforcement officials in his experience.

“In speaking with law enforcement officials across the nation, I have found none that are unwilling to work with ICE and CBP to locate, arrest and detain those undocumented or unauthorized immigrants involved in criminal activity,” Cohen said.

The court went on to lay out the “sometimes-clashing interests” between federal law enforcement and local government. In this case, Chicago determined that people unlawfully in the U.S. might avoid contacting local police to report crimes if they fear it will bring the scrutiny of the federal immigration authorities.

Cohen said that the administration has overstated the threat of illegal immigration.

“While demonizing state and local officials and embellishing the threat posed by illegal immigrants may further the president’s political agenda, it is undermining the very operational relationships that are vital to protecting our communities from violence,” Cohen said.

In its decision, the court wrote that its role in this case was not to assess the “optimal immigration policies for our country,” but rather to protect one of its “bedrock principles,” the separation of powers.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pompeo faces unprecedented Senate opposition for top US diplomat spot

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, CIA director Mike Pompeo, is facing stiff opposition to his becoming the nation’s top diplomat – and it may be unprecedented.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote on Pompeo’s nomination on Monday and right now it’s not clear if he has the votes to receive a positive recommendation.

If the Senate panel rejects Pompeo’s nomination – and it’s looking increasingly likely that it will – it would be a first.

Never before in at least a century has a secretary of state nominee received an unfavorable recommendation from the Foreign Relations Committee, according to information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

“We have found no case of a Secretary of State nominee receiving other than a favorable report by the Committee on Foreign Relations,” the Historical Office confirmed in an e-mail.

Pompeo will still get a vote before the full Senate even with an unfavorable recommendation.

But with many Democrats who just last year voted to confirm him as CIA director now publicly opposing him as the next secretary of state, Pompeo’s confirmation is on a razor’s edge.

Just how unprecedented is this scenario? The last time any cabinet-level nominee who was reported unfavorably by a committee but went on to be confirmed by the full Senate was 73 years ago when Henry Wallace was confirmed to be the Secretary of Commerce on March 1, 1945.

Here’s the math on the Senate panel vote

Republicans on the 21-member panel hold a slim one-seat majority over Democrats.

So far, every single Democrat in the committee has announced their opposition to Pompeo, with the exception of Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who, as of Thursday afternoon was still “leaning against” his nomination. Coons also opposed Pompeo’s nomination to be director of the CIA last year.

Despite the Democrats’ opposition, Republicans could squeak out a favorable recommendation for Pompeo were it not for Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul has adamantly refused to support Trump’s nominee due to his objections to some of Pompeo’s foreign policy positions.

And Pompeo fared no better after meeting with Paul in person on Thursday. After the meeting, Paul reiterated that he was still a ‘no’ on Pompeo despite the president saying Wednesday of Paul: “He’s never let me down.”

Why does this vote matter?

It is very unusual for a secretary of state nominee to face such opposition.

Past secretaries of state, including Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton have breezed through their respective confirmations.

“I realize we’re in an atmosphere now where that is just not going to be the case,” Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said Thursday on the Senate floor. “I realize my Democratic friends in many cases feel like that in supporting Pompeo, it’s a proxy for support of the Trump administration policies, which many of them abhor. I understand that.”

“I hope that the members on the other side of the aisle that have not yet said how they are going to vote will think about the circumstances that we’re in today and feel like that they can support a highly qualified Secretary of State…,” Corker went on.

Last year, Pompeo had little trouble clinching the confirmation to be the director of the CIA. He received a favorable recommendation from the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, and he was confirmed by the full Senate in a 66-32 vote.

At the time, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Tim Kaine of Virginia – both Democrats who sit on the Foreign Relations panel – voted in favor of his nomination. This time around, they’re voting no.

What happens after the panel vote?

Even if Pompeo receives an unfavorable recommendation, it’s not game over for him.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can still bring his nomination to the floor for a vote before the full Senate, where Republicans have a one-seat advantage over Democrats.

However, with Paul opposing the nomination and GOP Sen. John McCain, battling brain cancer at home in Arizona, Republicans, it seems, would need at least one Democrat to vote with them in order to secure Pompeo’s confirmation.

On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a vulnerable Democrat facing an uphill Midterm election battle, announced she will vote to confirm Pompeo.

In a statement, Heitkamp said Pompeo “demonstrated during this nomination process and during our meeting in March that he is committed to empowering the diplomats at the State Department so they can do their jobs in advancing American interests.”

As long as no other Republican defects, and with Heitkamp’s vote secured, Pompeo could become the next head of the State Department.

Last year, the votes against Rex Tillerson, 56-43, made Senate history when he was confirmed as secretary of state.

It’s possible Pompeo will beat that record.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani joining Trump legal team along with others

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump has expanded his legal team and hired an old friend, former New York city Mayor Rudy Giuliani, ABC News has confirmed — a move which comes on the heels of shake-ups on the president’s legal team.

In a statement, President Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow confirmed the hiring along with two other attorneys.

“Rudy is great. He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country,” President Trump said in a statement released by his attorneys.

‘It is an honor to be a part of such an important legal team, and I look forward to not only working with the President but with Jay, Ty, and their colleagues,” Giuliani said in a statement.

The legal team also announced the hiring of Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin.

According to a statement released by the team: “Jane and Marty are highly respected former federal prosecutors with decades of experience. They have a nationwide practice and reputation for excellence and integrity.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for details.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DOJ to make Comey memos available to Congress after subpoena threat: Sources

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Karl Moor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department will make former FBI director James Comey’s memos detailing his interactions with President Donald Trump available to three congressional committees as early as Thursday, two sources tell ABC News.

The Republican chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Judiciary committees requested copies of the memos in both redacted and de-classified/un-redacted form last week. On Monday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein requested more time to fulfill the request, citing department rules regarding the handling of memos with classified information or pertaining to ongoing criminal investigations.

It’s unclear what form of the memos lawmakers will have access to.

The memos have not been previously available to the full membership of the three committees – and have only been reviewed by a select number of lawmakers and aides. Republicans have suggested that they want to make the memos – a central part of the investigation surrounding Trump’s firing of Comey and questions of potential obstruction of justice – available to the public.

Republicans have been critical of Rosenstein and DOJ’s production of documents to Capitol Hill, as they continue to investigate the FBI’s handling of the Clinton and Russia investigations.

Democrats have accused Republicans of providing Trump a pretext for eventually firing or removing Rosenstein, who supervises special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

On Wednesday, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said that chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., had notified him of plans to subpoena DOJ for the memos. A spokesperson for Goodlatte has not responded to requests for comment.

Earlier this week, two House conservatives and Trump allies, Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, met with Rosenstein to press him on the pace of document production, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DOJ to make Comey memos available to Congress after subpoena threat: Sources

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Karl Moor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department will make former FBI director James Comey’s memos detailing his interactions with President Donald Trump available to three congressional committees as early as Thursday, two sources tell ABC News.

The Republican chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Judiciary committees requested copies of the memos in both redacted and de-classified/un-redacted form last week. On Monday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein requested more time to fulfill the request, citing department rules regarding the handling of memos with classified information or pertaining to ongoing criminal investigations.

It’s unclear what form of the memos lawmakers will have access to.

The memos have not been previously available to the full membership of the three committees – and have only been reviewed by a select number of lawmakers and aides. Republicans have suggested that they want to make the memos – a central part of the investigation surrounding Trump’s firing of Comey and questions of potential obstruction of justice – available to the public.

Republicans have been critical of Rosenstein and DOJ’s production of documents to Capitol Hill, as they continue to investigate the FBI’s handling of the Clinton and Russia investigations.

Democrats have accused Republicans of providing Trump a pretext for eventually firing or removing Rosenstein, who supervises special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

On Wednesday, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said that chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., had notified him of plans to subpoena DOJ for the memos. A spokesperson for Goodlatte has not responded to requests for comment.

Earlier this week, two House conservatives and Trump allies, Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, met with Rosenstein to press him on the pace of document production, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Conservative caucus members say they deserve powerful place at the table

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — As House Republicans prepare to select their next speaker, two key Freedom Caucus members told ABC News they want their conservative group to have a seat at the leadership table.

“We need to be more involved in the process. I am for somebody from the Freedom Caucus either being Speaker of the House, House Majority Leader, or Majority Whip or else the culture is not going to change,” Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said he thinks Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is ready to be speaker, but warned, “If you got the same old people doing the same old jobs, you don’t get any new ideas and that’s why the American people turn to the other party for new ideas. We’ve got to have those ideas. We’re much younger and much more in touch with the American people than the Democrats are.”

Blum, however, cautioned that Freedom Caucus members are unwilling to make concessions to gain prominent leadership positions.

“If you say I want to be in House leadership, then you’ve got to get on the team. Get on the team is French for ‘hand in your voting card to leadership,’” he said.

Blum, who co-stars with Buck in a new Facebook video series called “The Swamp,” outlined changes he would like to see Washington embrace.

“We should have term limits. We should have a life-time ban on lobbying. We should cut our pay every year that we don’t balance the budget. We should get rid of this 87-million dollar slush fund for sexual harassment,” he said, referring to the fund used to pay out millions of taxpayer dollars to privately settle workplace claims filed by Hill staffers.

Asked whether they think President Donald Trump is fulfilling his campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” Buck and Blum agreed that progress is being made.

“Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos- all those folks are helping to drain the swamp and the fact that they are being attacked means that they’re doing a good job,” said Buck.

Buck and Blum were cautiously optimistic about midterm elections come November. When Bruce asked if Republicans can hold onto the House in the fall, Blum said, “I do, but I think it’s going to be very close. Six, seven months is a lifetime in politics, but let’s see where we are in seven months.”

Blum was more partisan in his response. “It is never good to drain the swamp by electing Democrats.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DOJ inspector general has referred McCabe case to federal prosecutors for possible charge

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Federal prosecutors in Washington have been asked by the Justice Department’s inspector general to determine whether the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, should be charged for allegedly “lacking candor” on multiple occasions with internal investigators and with then-FBI director James Comey, according to a source familiar with the matter.

In a report made public by lawmakers last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that McCabe repeatedly misled investigators looking into how sensitive investigative information ended up on in a national newspaper in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

Horowitz’s office then referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, indicating Horowitz believes McCabe committed a federal crime with his actions. It’s unclear exactly when the referral was made.

McCabe has become a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, who allege that McCabe’s time at the top of the FBI was emblematic of political bias in the FBI’s law enforcement work. McCabe has denied any wrongdoing and insists he clarified any problematic statements to investigators as soon as possible.

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article that questioned whether McCabe was hampering the federal probe of the Clinton Foundation.

Ahead of the story’s publication, McCabe authorized an FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to speak with the newspaper about the probe and his own efforts to keep it moving forward, including the contents of a phone call months earlier about the matter with a senior Justice Department official, the report released Friday said.

“Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing … that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” according to the report.

Meanwhile, McCabe, first head of the FBI field office in New York and then in Washington, told the inspector general’s office that after the Wall Street Journal report was published, “they each received calls from McCabe admonishing them for leaks contained in the” article, the report said. “At no time did McCabe disclose to either of them that McCabe had authorized [an FBI attorney] to disclose information … to the WSJ reporter.”

The day after the article’s publication, McCabe spoke face-to-face with Comey, who expressed concern about information contained in the news article, according to the inspector general’s report. According to what McCabe later told the internal investigator, he informed Comey that he had authorized the FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to disclose details about his previous phone call with a senior Justice Department official. Comey disputed that version telling investigators he was “very concerned” that the article included “sensitive FBI information,” and that McCabe “definitely did not tell me that he authorized” the disclosure, according to the report.

The inspector general began investigating McCabe in August 2017, after the FBI’s Inspection Division told the inspector general’s office that the deputy director may have lacked candor when questioned about his role in disclosing sensitive information to a reporter.

In its report released Friday, the inspector general’s office said McCabe “lacked candor” in July 2017 when he told investigators – under oath – “that he was not aware of [the FBI attorney] having been authorized to speak to reporters around October 30,” and he “lacked candor” again four months later when he acknowledged authorizing the disclosure but “stated that he told Comey on October 31, 2016, that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ.”

Representatives for McCabe noted that two business days after speaking with investigators in July 2017, McCabe contacted the inspector general’s office “and corrected his prior statements.” “Mr. McCabe thought further about his discussion with the OIG investigators and realized that he needed to correct the record,” they said in a “factsheet” distributed to reported.

Nevertheless, the inspector general also concluded that McCabe “lacked candor” in May 2017 when interviewed by officials from the FBI’s Inspection Division. He told them he had not authorized the disclosure to the Wall Street Journal and did not know who did, the report said.

The representatives for McCabe said the inspector general’s “account of Mr. McCabe’s interactions with the … investigators is incomplete and misleading.”

“Mr. McCabe never deliberately misled Inspection Division (INSD) investigators,” the “factsheet” said. “[W]hen Mr. McCabe turned back to the draft statement they prepared for him several months later, he declined to sign it and instead contacted INSD to correct the inaccurate facts about his relationship to the WSJ article.”

Beyond the accuracy of McCabe’s statements to investigators, the inspector general’s report released Friday also took sharp issue with McCabe’s move to authorize the media disclosure in the first place.

“[W]e concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the [Clinton Foundation] Investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior Department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception,” the report said.

“We therefore concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in this manner violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.”

But representatives for McCabe said he “had full authority to authorize sharing information with the media” as deputy director.

“Their interaction with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was not done in secret: it took place over the course of several days and others knew of it, including Director Comey. It was done to protect the institutional reputation of the FBI as a non-political and professional investigative agency, and therefore was squarely within the public interest exception to the FBI’s prohibition on sharing sensitive material,” a “factsheet” from McCabe’s representatives said.

In 2015, while McCabe was head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, his wife ran for state senate in Virginia as a Democrat. She lost the election in November 2015, and three months later McCabe became deputy director, giving him an oversight role in the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. After the Wall Street Journal story was published in October 2016, McCabe recused himself from the Clinton matter.

McCabe first joined the FBI in 1996, investigating organized crime cases in New York. Over the next several years, he shifted his focus to rooting out international terrorists, and in 2012 he became the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division at headquarters in Washington.

In October 2013, McCabe took over the FBI’s entire national security branch, and the next year he moved to become the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. McCabe stepped down as deputy director in January, and he was fired by Sessions in May.

“The rush to judgment – and the rush to terminate Mr. McCabe – were unprecedented, unseemly, and cruel,” Michael Bromwich, an attorney for McCabe, said in a statement. “His treatment was far more harsh and far less fair than he deserved, and his reward for the loyalty he showed to his country over the course of his career was a truncated form of administrative due process, including the lack of any right to appeal outside the Department of Justice.”

The U.S. attorney’s office and a spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment for this article.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mention of Trump, Mueller and riot gear in Pittsburgh police email causes stir

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Pittsburgh’s police department found itself in the spotlight Thursday because of a few key words in an email from a head detective: President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller and riot gear.

The email, sent Wednesday by Major Crimes Commander Victor Joseph, asked detectives who wear plain clothes to bring uniforms and “riot gear” to work in case President Donald Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller and detectives are needed to help monitor possible protests. The email was reported by WTAE and confirmed by Pittsburgh’s mayor.

The email

“We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District,” the email from Joseph begins.

“There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller. This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing,” Joseph wrote. Because of this, “all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice,” he wrote.

The measures were precautionary, Joseph wrote. “We may be needed to assist in the event that there is a large scale protest,” he said in the email.

The department, backed by the mayor’s office, said it has no inside knowledge of whether the president might fire special counsel Robert Mueller. But social media filled with questions on specifically what protest — and on what day — the Pittsburgh police were preparing for.

“We receive information regularly about potential events and/or threats, assess the credibility of the information and plan for a potential event. In this case, we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President’s decision-making process,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich clarified in a statement.

The department also emphasized that it “receives information daily that we evaluate and prepare for if the event should occur,” including anything from extreme weather to protests.

“Often the events we prepare for do not occur. However, through an abundance of caution, we attempt to adequately prepare for an appropriate response,” the statement said.

Though the department didn’t cite a specific protest, the progressive organization MoveOn.org does have plans for nationwide demonstrations in the event the president fires Mueller. In a statement, a campaign director said MoveOn has “laid the groundwork for more than 900 non-violent and lawful protests nationwide, including one planned in the Pittsburgh area.”

More than 350,000 Americans are signed up to participate across the country, according to MoveOn.org.

In his statement, campaign director David Sievers also emphasized that the protests would be nonviolent. “We hope such protests are never triggered, but if they ever are, police everywhere have an obligation to respect Americans’ right to peacefully protest,” he said.

The social media circulation

On social media, news quickly circulated that a commander with the city’s police force was calling for riot gear, citing a “belief” that Trump would soon fire the special counsel leading the investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign and potential involvement with Russia.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto responded from his own Twitter and called for an end to the “conspiracies.”

“This is an internal email from a Commander to his plainclothes Detectives. It doesn’t claim to know what the President will do. It doesn’t say people can’t lawfully assemble. It says you may be needed to help, bring your uniform,” he tweeted.

The mayor, who runs his own Twitter account, had a little fun with his responses to various Twitter users alleging different backstories. One said Peduto was trying to scare his constituents into thinking Trump was firing Mueller.

Communications director for the mayor, Timothy McNulty, described the directions in the email as “fairly normal operating procedure.”

“I don’t have every last police memo that was issued but I know for a fact that detectives work protests wearing uniforms, it’s very common,” McNulty said.

Tension surrounding the investigation

The email came in the midst of building tensions in the investigation — which the president has repeatedly called a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”

Last week, the residences and office of the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was raided by the FBI. The president called it “an attack on our country, in a true sense” and said the situation was “now on a whole new level of unfairness.”

But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thwarted a bipartisan measure to protect Mueller’s job. It would not be necessary, McConnell said, because Trump would not fire Mueller.

A day later, the president responded to questions about Mueller and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation. “They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months. And they’re still here,” Trump said during a press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mention of Trump, Mueller and riot gear in Pittsburgh police email causes stir

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Pittsburgh’s police department found itself in the spotlight Thursday because of a few key words in an email from a head detective: President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller and riot gear.

The email, sent Wednesday by Major Crimes Commander Victor Joseph, asked detectives who wear plain clothes to bring uniforms and “riot gear” to work in case President Donald Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller and detectives are needed to help monitor possible protests. The email was reported by WTAE and confirmed by Pittsburgh’s mayor.

The email

“We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District,” the email from Joseph begins.

“There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller. This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing,” Joseph wrote. Because of this, “all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice,” he wrote.

The measures were precautionary, Joseph wrote. “We may be needed to assist in the event that there is a large scale protest,” he said in the email.

The department, backed by the mayor’s office, said it has no inside knowledge of whether the president might fire special counsel Robert Mueller. But social media filled with questions on specifically what protest — and on what day — the Pittsburgh police were preparing for.

“We receive information regularly about potential events and/or threats, assess the credibility of the information and plan for a potential event. In this case, we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President’s decision-making process,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich clarified in a statement.

The department also emphasized that it “receives information daily that we evaluate and prepare for if the event should occur,” including anything from extreme weather to protests.

“Often the events we prepare for do not occur. However, through an abundance of caution, we attempt to adequately prepare for an appropriate response,” the statement said.

Though the department didn’t cite a specific protest, the progressive organization MoveOn.org does have plans for nationwide demonstrations in the event the president fires Mueller. In a statement, a campaign director said MoveOn has “laid the groundwork for more than 900 non-violent and lawful protests nationwide, including one planned in the Pittsburgh area.”

More than 350,000 Americans are signed up to participate across the country, according to MoveOn.org.

In his statement, campaign director David Sievers also emphasized that the protests would be nonviolent. “We hope such protests are never triggered, but if they ever are, police everywhere have an obligation to respect Americans’ right to peacefully protest,” he said.

The social media circulation

On social media, news quickly circulated that a commander with the city’s police force was calling for riot gear, citing a “belief” that Trump would soon fire the special counsel leading the investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign and potential involvement with Russia.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto responded from his own Twitter and called for an end to the “conspiracies.”

“This is an internal email from a Commander to his plainclothes Detectives. It doesn’t claim to know what the President will do. It doesn’t say people can’t lawfully assemble. It says you may be needed to help, bring your uniform,” he tweeted.

The mayor, who runs his own Twitter account, had a little fun with his responses to various Twitter users alleging different backstories. One said Peduto was trying to scare his constituents into thinking Trump was firing Mueller.

Communications director for the mayor, Timothy McNulty, described the directions in the email as “fairly normal operating procedure.”

“I don’t have every last police memo that was issued but I know for a fact that detectives work protests wearing uniforms, it’s very common,” McNulty said.

Tension surrounding the investigation

The email came in the midst of building tensions in the investigation — which the president has repeatedly called a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”

Last week, the residences and office of the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was raided by the FBI. The president called it “an attack on our country, in a true sense” and said the situation was “now on a whole new level of unfairness.”

But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thwarted a bipartisan measure to protect Mueller’s job. It would not be necessary, McConnell said, because Trump would not fire Mueller.

A day later, the president responded to questions about Mueller and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation. “They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months. And they’re still here,” Trump said during a press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Republican senators won’t commit to endorsing Trump in 2020

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Two Senate Republicans, both of whom are leaving the Senate after their current terms, said they would not necessarily back President Donald Trump for re-election in 2020, with one of them speculating that he may not even seek the Oval Office again.

“I have no idea who’s going to run for president in 2020, and I’m not about to say who I will support for that, so we have no idea who’s going to run. Whether the president runs again or not is questionable, candidly,” Sen. Bob Corker, who is retiring from the Senate this year, said on CNN.

The president announced in February that he would run for a second term, and has already named his 2016 digital strategist Brad Parscale as his campaign manager.

Corker added during the interview that he would like to see who else is included in the field of 2020 Republican candidates before making a decision on whom to endorse.

The Tennessee senator, who also chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has had a complex relationship with Trump. He had previously questioned the president’s fitness for office, which led to Trump calling him names on Twitter, but eventually the two men reconciled.

He has been asked several times in recent days if he would support the president for re-election.

Just on Wednesday, he said his position changes by the hour and that many of his colleagues are likewise conflicted.

“Any Republican senator that hasn’t been conflicted over this presidency is either comatose or is pretty useless in their blindness,” Corker said during a breakfast with reporters on Wednesday.

Sen. Ron Johnson, also appearing on CNN on Thursday, chastised an anchor for asking if he would support the current Republican president for re-election, calling it a “gotcha question.”

“It could be a completely different world by 2020. We have a 2018 election first,” Johnson said. Johnson, who was re-elected to his seat in 2016, has said that he will not seek re-election again.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Republican senators won’t commit to endorsing Trump in 2020

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Two Senate Republicans, both of whom are leaving the Senate after their current terms, said they would not necessarily back President Donald Trump for re-election in 2020, with one of them speculating that he may not even seek the Oval Office again.

“I have no idea who’s going to run for president in 2020, and I’m not about to say who I will support for that, so we have no idea who’s going to run. Whether the president runs again or not is questionable, candidly,” Sen. Bob Corker, who is retiring from the Senate this year, said on CNN.

The president announced in February that he would run for a second term, and has already named his 2016 digital strategist Brad Parscale as his campaign manager.

Corker added during the interview that he would like to see who else is included in the field of 2020 Republican candidates before making a decision on whom to endorse.

The Tennessee senator, who also chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has had a complex relationship with Trump. He had previously questioned the president’s fitness for office, which led to Trump calling him names on Twitter, but eventually the two men reconciled.

He has been asked several times in recent days if he would support the president for re-election.

Just on Wednesday, he said his position changes by the hour and that many of his colleagues are likewise conflicted.

“Any Republican senator that hasn’t been conflicted over this presidency is either comatose or is pretty useless in their blindness,” Corker said during a breakfast with reporters on Wednesday.

Sen. Ron Johnson, also appearing on CNN on Thursday, chastised an anchor for asking if he would support the current Republican president for re-election, calling it a “gotcha question.”

“It could be a completely different world by 2020. We have a 2018 election first,” Johnson said. Johnson, who was re-elected to his seat in 2016, has said that he will not seek re-election again.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Trump visits Key West for briefing on drug interdiction efforts

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(KEY WEST, Fla.) — Fresh off his two-day summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Donald Trump made a short jaunt to Key West, Florida, on Thursday for a briefing on the military’s efforts to counter smuggling of illegal drugs.

The president visited the Joint Interagency Task Force-South for an update with members of NORTHCOM and SOUTHCOM on drug interdiction efforts, a key issue pushed by the president dating back to his campaign promise to stop drugs from “pouring” into the U.S.

The visit comes as the president ratchets up his immigration rhetoric following his recent order to deploy the National Guard to assist in patrol efforts at the southern border.

Just prior to his departure from his private Mar-a-Lago club, where he’s expected to spend the rest of the weekend, the president slammed California again in a tweet over its “sanctuary city” policies and said the federal government would not pay the state for the National Guard’s mission.

Trump’s tweet appeared to contradict an exchange Wednesday evening between Gov. Jerry Brown — a Democrat — and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, where the two indicated that an agreement was reached between the state and federal government on funding and the role National Guard troops would play at the southern border.

“This order from the governor, in his capacity as the commander-in-chief of the California National Guard, is being issued after securing the federal government’s commitment to fund the mission,” Brown’s office said in a press release.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.