Inside President Donald Trump’s push for Ukraine probe of Democratic rival

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — When Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, endeavored in early 2019 to have former Vice President Joe Biden investigated in Ukraine, one of his points of contact was the country’s former prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, whose ouster in March of 2016 — and Biden’s involvement in it — has become the subject of controversy.

During an appearance on CNN Thursday night, Giuliani said “of course” he asked the Ukrainians to investigate Biden, before backtracking.

“I didn’t ask them to look into Joe Biden,” Giuliani said. “I asked them to look into the allegations that related to my client, which tangentially involved Joe Biden in a massive bribery scheme.”

The “bribery scheme” Giuliani has accused Biden of dates back to 2014, when the then-vice president led the Obama administration’s efforts to root out corruption in Kiev in the wake of the Ukrainian revolution. As part of his efforts, Biden called for the dismissal of Shokin, who had ostensibly been leading a probe into Burisma, an oil company that had recently added the president’s son, Hunter Biden, to its board of directors.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, about eight times, to work with Giuliani to investigate Biden. In response, the Biden campaign called on the president to release a transcript of the call “so that the American people can judge for themselves.”

“If these reports are true,” Biden said in that statement, “then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country. This behavior is particularly abhorrent because it exploits the foreign policy of our country and undermines our national security for political purposes.

“It means that he used the power and resources of the United States to pressure a sovereign nation — a partner that is still under direct assault from Russia — pushing Ukraine to subvert the rule of law in the express hope of extracting a political favor.”

In an interview with ABC News in May of 2019, Shokin, the former prosecutor, suggested that the then-vice president sought his dismissal as part of an effort to protect his son and the company for which he worked.

“Biden was acting not like a U.S. vice president, but as an individual,” Shokin told ABC News, “like the individual interested in having me removed — having me gone so that I did not interfere in the Burisma investigation.”

The assertion that Biden acted to help his son has been undercut by widespread criticism of Shokin from several high-profile international leaders who said Biden’s recommendation was well justified.

A Biden campaign spokesman rejected the premise of Shokin’s allegation, saying Biden had “acted at all times in a manner consistent with well-established executive branch ethics standards.”

Regardless, Shokin and Giuliani connected in 2019. The two spoke only once, via Skype, according to Shokin. The bulk of their conversation focused on an issue Shokin had with his visa application to visit the U.S., but he conceded that Biden’s name was mentioned — though he was unsure by whom.

Shokin insisted Giuliani did not attempt to “dig up dirt on Joe Biden” and scoffed when pressed repeatedly about whether his interaction with Giuliani about Biden constituted election meddling, denying it out of hand.

“The thing is that I am not a politician,” Shokin said, “and for me to give a political assessment of some actions is very difficult.”

Daria Kaleniuk, a Ukrainian anti-corruption advocate, perceived Shokin’s relationship with Giuliani in a different light, regardless of Shokin’s insistence.

“[Giuliani] is a private lawyer, private attorney of President Trump, and I think what he is doing actually is very risky for relationships between Ukraine and between the United States,” Kaleniuk said. “I don’t want my country to be used as a political football.”

Giuliani’s overtures to Ukrainian officials has come under renewed attention as a result of a mysterious whistleblower complaint surrounding the president’s conduct during a phone call regarding Ukraine.

On Friday, Trump told reporters that “there was nothing said wrong” during a July of 2019 phone conversation with Zelensky and accused the whistleblower on Twitter of being “highly partisan.”

While details of the call remain unclear, a Ukrainian readout of the conversation cited a discussion about “investigations into corruption cases that have hampered interaction between Ukraine and the U.S.A.”

In the Oval Office on Friday, Trump declined to say whether he brought Biden up during his phone call with Zelensky.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump administration demands UNC, Duke revise joint Middle East studies program

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

akrassel/iStock(WASHINGTON) —  The Department of Education has ordered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University to remodel their joint Middle East studies program, alleging that it inappropriately uses federal grants to advance “ideological priorities” and that the curriculum does not spend enough time highlighting “positive” imagery of Christianity and Judaism.

An Aug. 29 letter from the Education Department demanded that the universities revise the curriculum of the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies by Sept. 22 or risk losing federal funding.

“It seems clear foreign language instruction and area studies advancing the security and economic stability of the United States have taken ‘a back seat’ to other priorities at the Duke-UNC CMES,” the letter said.

In a statement to ABC News, a UNC-Chapel Hill spokesperson said: “The Consortium deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education and has always been strongly committed to complying with the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program. In keeping with the spirit of this partnership, the Consortium is committed to working with the Department to provide more information about its programs.”

A spokesperson from Duke University declined to comment directly and referred ABC News back to UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Education Department was asked in April to look into the universities’ joint program by Republican North Carolina Rep. George Holding, who claimed he’d seen “reports of severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric at a taxpayer-funded conference.”

In a letter responding to Holding in June, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she was “troubled” by Holdings’ concerns and has directed the Office of Postsecondary Education to “examine the use of funds under this program.”

“The Department of Education’s findings paint a deeply troubling picture,” Holding tweeted Friday. “The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies’ use of federal taxpayer funds to promote a biased, ideologically driven agenda is irresponsible and immoral.”

The Education Department said in the letter the program places “a considerable emphasis” on the “understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.”

The universities have been instructed to provide a “revised schedule of activities” for the next year and to explain how each offering promotes foreign language learning and advances national security interest.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump administration demands UNC, Duke revise joint Middle East studies program

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

akrassel/iStock(WASHINGTON) —  The Department of Education has ordered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University to remodel their joint Middle East studies program, alleging that it inappropriately uses federal grants to advance “ideological priorities” and that the curriculum does not spend enough time highlighting “positive” imagery of Christianity and Judaism.

An Aug. 29 letter from the Education Department demanded that the universities revise the curriculum of the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies by Sept. 22 or risk losing federal funding.

“It seems clear foreign language instruction and area studies advancing the security and economic stability of the United States have taken ‘a back seat’ to other priorities at the Duke-UNC CMES,” the letter said.

In a statement to ABC News, a UNC-Chapel Hill spokesperson said: “The Consortium deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education and has always been strongly committed to complying with the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program. In keeping with the spirit of this partnership, the Consortium is committed to working with the Department to provide more information about its programs.”

A spokesperson from Duke University declined to comment directly and referred ABC News back to UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Education Department was asked in April to look into the universities’ joint program by Republican North Carolina Rep. George Holding, who claimed he’d seen “reports of severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric at a taxpayer-funded conference.”

In a letter responding to Holding in June, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she was “troubled” by Holdings’ concerns and has directed the Office of Postsecondary Education to “examine the use of funds under this program.”

“The Department of Education’s findings paint a deeply troubling picture,” Holding tweeted Friday. “The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies’ use of federal taxpayer funds to promote a biased, ideologically driven agenda is irresponsible and immoral.”

The Education Department said in the letter the program places “a considerable emphasis” on the “understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.”

The universities have been instructed to provide a “revised schedule of activities” for the next year and to explain how each offering promotes foreign language learning and advances national security interest.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump denies knowing whistleblower’s identity, calls controversy ‘political hack job’

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Friday denied knowing the identity of a whistleblower who filed a formal complaint about a call the president had earlier this summer with a foreign leader, but attacked the person as “partisan” and called the unfolding controversy “just another political hack job.”

“I do not know the identity of the whistleblower,” Trump said during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Oval Office Friday morning. “I’ve had conversations with many leaders. They’re always appropriate. Always appropriate. At the highest level they are always appropriate.”

Asked by a reporter if the call in question was one he had July 25 with the president of Ukraine, Trump claimed he didn’t know but he then characterized that conversation as “beautiful.”

The call the whistleblower has complained about involved Ukraine, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Trump did not name Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in several tweets earlier Friday taking issue with news reports about a call he said he had with “a certain leader,” saying “there was nothing said wrong, it was pitch perfect!”.

“It’s a ridiculous story. It’s a partisan whistleblower,” he said. “And anything I do, I fight for this country. I fight so strongly for this country. It’s just another political hack job.”

Trump was asked whether the discussion was about former Vice President Joe Biden, the current front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary. The president said “it doesn’t matter what I discussed,” but later suggested that someone should look into Biden.

“It doesn’t matter what I discuss, but I will say this: Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden’s statement, because it was disgraceful where he talked about billions of dollars that he’s not giving to a certain country unless a certain prosecutor is taken off the case,” Trump asserted. “So somebody ought to look into that. And you wouldn’t, because he’s a Democrat. And the fake news doesn’t look into things like that. It’s a disgrace.”

According to a readout released from the White House, Trump spoke with Zelensky on July 25 “to congratulate him on his recent election.”

A more extensive readout from the Ukrainian president’s office, however, noted that the two also spoke about “investigations into corruption cases that have hampered interaction between Ukraine and the U.S.A.”

The president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has publicly and privately urged in recent months for Ukrainian officials to investigate ties between Biden’s diplomatic efforts in the country and any connections between his son’s business ventures.

In his tweets Friday morning, Trump attacked the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, who’s demanding details of the whistleblower complaint.

“The Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners, headed up again by Little Adam Schiff, and batting Zero for 21 against me, are at it again! They think I may have had a “dicey” conversation with a certain foreign leader based on a “highly partisan” whistleblowers … statement,” Trump tweeted.

“Strange that with so many other people hearing or knowing of the perfectly fine and respectful conversation, that they would not have also come forward. Do you know the reason why they did not? Because there was nothing said wrong, it was pitch perfect!” Trump added.

DNI Inspector General Michael Atkinson in a Sept. 9 letter to the House Intelligence Committee noted that the complaint rose to a level of “urgent concern” and “appeared credible” enough to warrant congressional notification.

The DNI’s general counsel and the Department of Justice, however, have disputed that characterization of the complaint, resulting in a constitutional showdown between members of Congress and the Trump administration regarding matters of potentially privileged material.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump denies knowing whistleblower’s identity, calls controversy ‘political hack job’

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Friday denied knowing the identity of a whistleblower who filed a formal complaint about a call the president had earlier this summer with a foreign leader, but attacked the person as “partisan” and called the unfolding controversy “just another political hack job.”

“I do not know the identity of the whistleblower,” Trump said during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Oval Office Friday morning. “I’ve had conversations with many leaders. They’re always appropriate. Always appropriate. At the highest level they are always appropriate.”

Asked by a reporter if the call in question was one he had July 25 with the president of Ukraine, Trump claimed he didn’t know but he then characterized that conversation as “beautiful.”

The call the whistleblower has complained about involved Ukraine, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Trump did not name Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in several tweets earlier Friday taking issue with news reports about a call he said he had with “a certain leader,” saying “there was nothing said wrong, it was pitch perfect!”.

“It’s a ridiculous story. It’s a partisan whistleblower,” he said. “And anything I do, I fight for this country. I fight so strongly for this country. It’s just another political hack job.”

Trump was asked whether the discussion was about former Vice President Joe Biden, the current front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary. The president said “it doesn’t matter what I discussed,” but later suggested that someone should look into Biden.

“It doesn’t matter what I discuss, but I will say this: Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden’s statement, because it was disgraceful where he talked about billions of dollars that he’s not giving to a certain country unless a certain prosecutor is taken off the case,” Trump asserted. “So somebody ought to look into that. And you wouldn’t, because he’s a Democrat. And the fake news doesn’t look into things like that. It’s a disgrace.”

According to a readout released from the White House, Trump spoke with Zelensky on July 25 “to congratulate him on his recent election.”

A more extensive readout from the Ukrainian president’s office, however, noted that the two also spoke about “investigations into corruption cases that have hampered interaction between Ukraine and the U.S.A.”

The president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has publicly and privately urged in recent months for Ukrainian officials to investigate ties between Biden’s diplomatic efforts in the country and any connections between his son’s business ventures.

In his tweets Friday morning, Trump attacked the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, who’s demanding details of the whistleblower complaint.

“The Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners, headed up again by Little Adam Schiff, and batting Zero for 21 against me, are at it again! They think I may have had a “dicey” conversation with a certain foreign leader based on a “highly partisan” whistleblowers … statement,” Trump tweeted.

“Strange that with so many other people hearing or knowing of the perfectly fine and respectful conversation, that they would not have also come forward. Do you know the reason why they did not? Because there was nothing said wrong, it was pitch perfect!” Trump added.

DNI Inspector General Michael Atkinson in a Sept. 9 letter to the House Intelligence Committee noted that the complaint rose to a level of “urgent concern” and “appeared credible” enough to warrant congressional notification.

The DNI’s general counsel and the Department of Justice, however, have disputed that characterization of the complaint, resulting in a constitutional showdown between members of Congress and the Trump administration regarding matters of potentially privileged material.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Public invited to reception, funeral Mass for legendary journalist Cokie Roberts

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Samantha Sergi/ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The family of legendary ABC News and NPR journalist Cokie Roberts has invited the public to help celebrate her life at a Friday reception and then at a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday.

On Friday, a reception in her memory will be held at the National Press Club on the 13th Floor of 529 14th St. NW in Washington, D.C. All are invited to gather in the NPC Ballroom between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The family says the public is welcome as well at the funeral Mass on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle at 1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW in Washington.

Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory will serve as principal celebrant and homilist at the service, which will include eulogies from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Cokie’s husband, Steve Roberts.

The Mass will be streamed on ABC News Live as well.

Besides her family and close friends, many of her colleagues and admirers in Washington and around the country are expected to attend.

She was a longtime advocate for children and her family says, in lieu of flowers, those who wish to further honor her can consider a contribution in her memory to the Children’s Inn at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Public invited to reception, funeral Mass for legendary journalist Cokie Roberts

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Samantha Sergi/ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The family of legendary ABC News and NPR journalist Cokie Roberts has invited the public to help celebrate her life at a Friday reception and then at a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday.

On Friday, a reception in her memory will be held at the National Press Club on the 13th Floor of 529 14th St. NW in Washington, D.C. All are invited to gather in the NPC Ballroom between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The family says the public is welcome as well at the funeral Mass on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle at 1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW in Washington.

Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory will serve as principal celebrant and homilist at the service, which will include eulogies from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Cokie’s husband, Steve Roberts.

The Mass will be streamed on ABC News Live as well.

Besides her family and close friends, many of her colleagues and admirers in Washington and around the country are expected to attend.

She was a longtime advocate for children and her family says, in lieu of flowers, those who wish to further honor her can consider a contribution in her memory to the Children’s Inn at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump announces sanctions on Iran’s national bank ahead of military options meeting

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced “the highest level of sanctions” on Iran’s national bank on Friday, following an attack on Saudi oil facilities last weekend. The decision comes as the president will convene a meeting of his senior advisers Friday afternoon to consider options to retaliate against Iran for the strike, according to three U.S. officials.

“This will mean no more funds going to the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] to fund terror. This is on top of our oil sanctions and our financial institution sanctions,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “This is very big. We’ve now cut off all source of funds to Iran.”

“These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country,” Trump said.

Trump vowed on Wednesday that the U.S. would “substantially increase” sanctions on Iran but hadn’t provided additional details until the announcement in the Oval Office on Friday.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will all participate in Friday afternoon’s meeting. A presidential decision on next steps is expected, according to one official, but it is not guaranteed.

After having met Saudi and Emirati leadership in the region this week and learning how they view the Saudi oil facilities attack, Pompeo said he’ll “be able to give the president some important information about how it is we should think about proceeding.”

“Everything is on the table,” one official said, including the deployment of more U.S. forces to help defend the Saudis, no additional forces, a limited proportional airstrike, no military action, or striking a broader range of targets. In earlier national security meetings, officials had decided to let the Saudis take the lead.

The U.S. is “always prepared” to use a military option against Iran, the president said in the Oval Office on Friday.

But while a military response is still possible, a senior administration official told ABC News that the Pentagon will push for a more measured reaction.

The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, has not made a formal request to the Pentagon to send additional forces to the region. But U.S. Central Command is reportedly considering sending U.S. air defense systems to Saudi Arabia to enhance their ability to defend against a future threat.

“So it would be inappropriate for me to talk specifics about another country’s air defense systems, other than to say in this particular case, clearly there was an attack on this oil facility, and U.S. Central Command is in consultation with the Saudis to discuss potential ways to look at mitigating future attacks,” said Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Pat Ryder.

Two U.S. officials said the U.S. has satellite images that show the staging of the drones and cruise missiles at a base in southwestern Iran that could have been the weapons used in Saturday’s attack. One official said that the imagery provides at least circumstantial evidence that Iran perpetrated the strike, but the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are continuing to assess the exact launch location. A proportional or limited response could be for the U.S. to target that base.

The U.S. currently has 500 troops in Saudi Arabia at Prince Sultan air base outside of Riyadh and a U.S. Patriot missile battery at that location. With 100-mile range, that air defense system was not capable of defending the attack on the oil facilities approximately 200 miles away. Saudi Patriot air defense systems are deployed to the southern part of the country to defend against ballistic missile attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump announces sanctions on Iran’s national bank ahead of military options meeting

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced “the highest level of sanctions” on Iran’s national bank on Friday, following an attack on Saudi oil facilities last weekend. The decision comes as the president will convene a meeting of his senior advisers Friday afternoon to consider options to retaliate against Iran for the strike, according to three U.S. officials.

“This will mean no more funds going to the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] to fund terror. This is on top of our oil sanctions and our financial institution sanctions,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “This is very big. We’ve now cut off all source of funds to Iran.”

“These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country,” Trump said.

Trump vowed on Wednesday that the U.S. would “substantially increase” sanctions on Iran but hadn’t provided additional details until the announcement in the Oval Office on Friday.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will all participate in Friday afternoon’s meeting. A presidential decision on next steps is expected, according to one official, but it is not guaranteed.

After having met Saudi and Emirati leadership in the region this week and learning how they view the Saudi oil facilities attack, Pompeo said he’ll “be able to give the president some important information about how it is we should think about proceeding.”

“Everything is on the table,” one official said, including the deployment of more U.S. forces to help defend the Saudis, no additional forces, a limited proportional airstrike, no military action, or striking a broader range of targets. In earlier national security meetings, officials had decided to let the Saudis take the lead.

The U.S. is “always prepared” to use a military option against Iran, the president said in the Oval Office on Friday.

But while a military response is still possible, a senior administration official told ABC News that the Pentagon will push for a more measured reaction.

The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, has not made a formal request to the Pentagon to send additional forces to the region. But U.S. Central Command is reportedly considering sending U.S. air defense systems to Saudi Arabia to enhance their ability to defend against a future threat.

“So it would be inappropriate for me to talk specifics about another country’s air defense systems, other than to say in this particular case, clearly there was an attack on this oil facility, and U.S. Central Command is in consultation with the Saudis to discuss potential ways to look at mitigating future attacks,” said Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Pat Ryder.

Two U.S. officials said the U.S. has satellite images that show the staging of the drones and cruise missiles at a base in southwestern Iran that could have been the weapons used in Saturday’s attack. One official said that the imagery provides at least circumstantial evidence that Iran perpetrated the strike, but the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are continuing to assess the exact launch location. A proportional or limited response could be for the U.S. to target that base.

The U.S. currently has 500 troops in Saudi Arabia at Prince Sultan air base outside of Riyadh and a U.S. Patriot missile battery at that location. With 100-mile range, that air defense system was not capable of defending the attack on the oil facilities approximately 200 miles away. Saudi Patriot air defense systems are deployed to the southern part of the country to defend against ballistic missile attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Bill de Blasio ends 2020 presidential campaign

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday morning that he is ending his 2020 presidential campaign.

“Getting out there, being able to hear people’s concerns, address them with new ideas has been an extraordinary experience,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “But I have to tell you, at the same time I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this primary election and it’s clearly not my time. So I’m gonna end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City, and I’m gonna keep speaking up for working people.”

The mayor launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination in mid-May, saying, “Every New Yorker knows we know [President Donald Trump’s] tricks, we know his playbook. I know how to take him on.”

De Blasio had failed to qualify for the third round of Democratic primary debates, hosted by ABC News earlier this month, meaning that he failed to reach 2 percent or more in at least four national polls or early voting state polls and to receive donations from at least 130,000 unique donors by Aug. 28.

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

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Bill de Blasio ends 2020 presidential campaign

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday morning that he is ending his 2020 presidential campaign.

“Getting out there, being able to hear people’s concerns, address them with new ideas has been an extraordinary experience,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “But I have to tell you, at the same time I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this primary election and it’s clearly not my time. So I’m gonna end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City, and I’m gonna keep speaking up for working people.”

The mayor launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination in mid-May, saying, “Every New Yorker knows we know [President Donald Trump’s] tricks, we know his playbook. I know how to take him on.”

De Blasio had failed to qualify for the third round of Democratic primary debates, hosted by ABC News earlier this month, meaning that he failed to reach 2 percent or more in at least four national polls or early voting state polls and to receive donations from at least 130,000 unique donors by Aug. 28.

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

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump admin reverses decision to deny immigrants’ access to medical care

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

krblokhin/iStock(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will resume accepting applications to delay deportations for non-citizens and their families legally seeking medical treatment in the country, USCIS confirmed to ABC News.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the administration decided to reevaluate the policy and backtrack on the decision to deny all applications. The full reversal comes after the agency initially canceled the application review process, sent letters to those with pending applications and later allowed pending applications to continue while refusing to accept new ones.

In the statement to ABC News on Thursday, USCIS indicated that it was Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan who made the decision to revert back to the policy that was in place prior to the abrupt denials. McAleenan oversees the subsidiary immigration agency.

“At the direction of acting Secretary McAleenan, USCIS is resuming its consideration of non-military deferred action requests,” a USCIS spokesperson said in a statement.

Civil rights advocates started to challenge the policy shift in court earlier this month. While the grounds of their legal challenge appear to be alleviated on this issue, other aggressive measures of Trump’s immigration agenda continue to be litigated.

Congressional Democrats were outraged about the initial policy move and called for the testimony of two young immigrants in front of the House Oversight Committee last week.

“I want to live,” Maria Isabel Bueso told lawmakers at the hearing.

She suffers from a rare genetic disorder and underwent treatment in the U.S. while participating in medical research trials.

“I am a human being with hopes and dreams in my life,” she said. “This is not a partisan issue. This is a humanitarian issue and our lives depend on it.”

The Oversight Committee indicated on Thursday that they had received a Homeland Security statement informing them of the reversal.

“In these dark days of continuing government assaults on human rights and human dignity, this appears to be a moment of good news,” Chairman Jamie Raskin said in a statement. “It is remarkable that it takes emergency hearings in Congress and a national uproar to protect seriously ill children from facing deportation.”

In a statement to ABC News on Thursday, USCIS confirmed that it was Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan who made the decision to revert back to the policy that was in place prior to the abrupt denials. McAleenan oversees the subsidiary immigration agency.

“At the direction of acting Secretary McAleenan, USCIS is resuming its consideration of non-military deferred action requests,” a USCIS spokesperson said in a statement.

Civil rights advocates started to challenge the policy shift in court earlier this month. While the grounds of their legal challenge appear to be alleviated on this issue, other aggressive measures of Trump’s immigration agenda continue to be litigated.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump admin reverses decision to deny immigrants’ access to medical care

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

krblokhin/iStock(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will resume accepting applications to delay deportations for non-citizens and their families legally seeking medical treatment in the country, USCIS confirmed to ABC News.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the administration decided to reevaluate the policy and backtrack on the decision to deny all applications. The full reversal comes after the agency initially canceled the application review process, sent letters to those with pending applications and later allowed pending applications to continue while refusing to accept new ones.

In the statement to ABC News on Thursday, USCIS indicated that it was Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan who made the decision to revert back to the policy that was in place prior to the abrupt denials. McAleenan oversees the subsidiary immigration agency.

“At the direction of acting Secretary McAleenan, USCIS is resuming its consideration of non-military deferred action requests,” a USCIS spokesperson said in a statement.

Civil rights advocates started to challenge the policy shift in court earlier this month. While the grounds of their legal challenge appear to be alleviated on this issue, other aggressive measures of Trump’s immigration agenda continue to be litigated.

Congressional Democrats were outraged about the initial policy move and called for the testimony of two young immigrants in front of the House Oversight Committee last week.

“I want to live,” Maria Isabel Bueso told lawmakers at the hearing.

She suffers from a rare genetic disorder and underwent treatment in the U.S. while participating in medical research trials.

“I am a human being with hopes and dreams in my life,” she said. “This is not a partisan issue. This is a humanitarian issue and our lives depend on it.”

The Oversight Committee indicated on Thursday that they had received a Homeland Security statement informing them of the reversal.

“In these dark days of continuing government assaults on human rights and human dignity, this appears to be a moment of good news,” Chairman Jamie Raskin said in a statement. “It is remarkable that it takes emergency hearings in Congress and a national uproar to protect seriously ill children from facing deportation.”

In a statement to ABC News on Thursday, USCIS confirmed that it was Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan who made the decision to revert back to the policy that was in place prior to the abrupt denials. McAleenan oversees the subsidiary immigration agency.

“At the direction of acting Secretary McAleenan, USCIS is resuming its consideration of non-military deferred action requests,” a USCIS spokesperson said in a statement.

Civil rights advocates started to challenge the policy shift in court earlier this month. While the grounds of their legal challenge appear to be alleviated on this issue, other aggressive measures of Trump’s immigration agenda continue to be litigated.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

O’Rourke visits marijuana dispensary amid call for fed legalization, reparations for ex-offenders

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(OAKLAND, Calif.) — Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke visited a marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday and presented his sweeping legalization proposal, which includes directing revenue from a federally regulated industry towards reparations for those who faced served time for non-violent marijuana offenders. O’Rourke said these individuals would receive grants of about $1,200 per month served in jail or prison.

The plan appears to be the most progressive and detailed on the issue among the top 2020 candidates and draws contrasts with front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden, the only one to stop short of supporting full federal marijuana legalization. Biden supports medicinal legalization, decriminalization for recreational and expunging prior marijuana convictions.

Dropped on the day O’Rourke is holding a discussion with community leaders at a marijuana dispensary in Oakland called “Blunts and Moore” and making his campaign’s first trip to Colorado, the policy proposal outlines principles for making marijuana regulated similarly to that of alcohol and tobacco while outlining a policy framework that would give those who were targeting by the “war on drugs” policies of the last few decades a competitive advantage in the new government-supervised marijuana industry. Outside the store, O’Rourke said the $1,200 a month, in addition to re-entry services and other benefits provided to those impacted by harsh sentences, “may not correct all of the wrongs that we have perpetrated but goes some distance in making sure that person has the resources to get back on their feet.”

The former city councilman of El Paso’s criticism of the war on drugs traces back to 2009 when he called for a debate within city government on the subject. The effort failed after a veto from the mayor, but two years later he co-wrote a book detailing the impacts of marijuana prohibition on violence at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has also co-sponsored several pieces of federal legislative proposals aimed at legalizing and regulating marijuana as a U.S. congressman.

“We need to not only end the prohibition on marijuana, but also repair the damage done to the communities of color disproportionately locked up in our criminal justice system or locked out of opportunity because of the War on Drugs,” ​said Beto O’Rourke said in a statement when releasing the plan.​ “These inequalities have compounded for decades, as predominantly white communities have been given the vast majority of lucrative business opportunities, while communities of color still face over-policing and criminalization. It’s our responsibility to begin to remedy the injustices of the past and help the people and communities most impacted by this misguided war.”

Under his new plan, taxes on marijuana sales would go towards grants to those previously incarcerated for non-violent marijuana offenses, funding treatment, housing and re-entry programs. O’Rourke’s plan also aims to waive licensing fees for businesses getting involved in the emerging industry to individuals convicted of marijuana offenses, with the majority of licenses going to minority-owned businesses.

O’Rourke’s proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana is built around concepts similar to how alcohol and tobacco is controlled by the government. Sales would require identification and proof-of-age (although the age isn’t specified in his plan). Laws would restrict smoking in public places and keep production and sales away from schools and churches.

There would also be restrictions on advertisements, particularly prohibiting the targeting of children. Taxes would also benefit the development of marijuana breathalyzer technology and government regulators would oversee every step from production to sale for quality and safety while establishing sustainability standards.

His plan would also include “an aggressive advertising campaign that outlines the dangers associated with marijuana use, with a strong focus on deterring driving under the influence and use by children.”

Sen. Kamala Harris has also called for full legalization of marijuana and earlier this summer introduced a bill on Capitol Hill, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, that would direct tax revenue from the industry towards ex-offenders.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

O’Rourke visits marijuana dispensary amid call for fed legalization, reparations for ex-offenders

Posted on: September 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(OAKLAND, Calif.) — Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke visited a marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday and presented his sweeping legalization proposal, which includes directing revenue from a federally regulated industry towards reparations for those who faced served time for non-violent marijuana offenders. O’Rourke said these individuals would receive grants of about $1,200 per month served in jail or prison.

The plan appears to be the most progressive and detailed on the issue among the top 2020 candidates and draws contrasts with front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden, the only one to stop short of supporting full federal marijuana legalization. Biden supports medicinal legalization, decriminalization for recreational and expunging prior marijuana convictions.

Dropped on the day O’Rourke is holding a discussion with community leaders at a marijuana dispensary in Oakland called “Blunts and Moore” and making his campaign’s first trip to Colorado, the policy proposal outlines principles for making marijuana regulated similarly to that of alcohol and tobacco while outlining a policy framework that would give those who were targeting by the “war on drugs” policies of the last few decades a competitive advantage in the new government-supervised marijuana industry. Outside the store, O’Rourke said the $1,200 a month, in addition to re-entry services and other benefits provided to those impacted by harsh sentences, “may not correct all of the wrongs that we have perpetrated but goes some distance in making sure that person has the resources to get back on their feet.”

The former city councilman of El Paso’s criticism of the war on drugs traces back to 2009 when he called for a debate within city government on the subject. The effort failed after a veto from the mayor, but two years later he co-wrote a book detailing the impacts of marijuana prohibition on violence at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has also co-sponsored several pieces of federal legislative proposals aimed at legalizing and regulating marijuana as a U.S. congressman.

“We need to not only end the prohibition on marijuana, but also repair the damage done to the communities of color disproportionately locked up in our criminal justice system or locked out of opportunity because of the War on Drugs,” ​said Beto O’Rourke said in a statement when releasing the plan.​ “These inequalities have compounded for decades, as predominantly white communities have been given the vast majority of lucrative business opportunities, while communities of color still face over-policing and criminalization. It’s our responsibility to begin to remedy the injustices of the past and help the people and communities most impacted by this misguided war.”

Under his new plan, taxes on marijuana sales would go towards grants to those previously incarcerated for non-violent marijuana offenses, funding treatment, housing and re-entry programs. O’Rourke’s plan also aims to waive licensing fees for businesses getting involved in the emerging industry to individuals convicted of marijuana offenses, with the majority of licenses going to minority-owned businesses.

O’Rourke’s proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana is built around concepts similar to how alcohol and tobacco is controlled by the government. Sales would require identification and proof-of-age (although the age isn’t specified in his plan). Laws would restrict smoking in public places and keep production and sales away from schools and churches.

There would also be restrictions on advertisements, particularly prohibiting the targeting of children. Taxes would also benefit the development of marijuana breathalyzer technology and government regulators would oversee every step from production to sale for quality and safety while establishing sustainability standards.

His plan would also include “an aggressive advertising campaign that outlines the dangers associated with marijuana use, with a strong focus on deterring driving under the influence and use by children.”

Sen. Kamala Harris has also called for full legalization of marijuana and earlier this summer introduced a bill on Capitol Hill, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, that would direct tax revenue from the industry towards ex-offenders.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

It would be ‘wrong’ to get fired because of sexual orientation: Trump’s Labor nominee

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(NEW YORK) — The son of a conservative icon, Eugene Scalia, told a Senate panel on Thursday that it would be “wrong” for employers to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In his first testimony as President Donald Trump’s nominee to become Labor secretary, Scalia also promised to take “a careful look” at a recent Trump administration proposal that would allow federal contractors to factor in a person’s religion when hiring.

Critics of the plan say it would enable employers to discriminate against LGBTQ workers and other groups by claiming the employee didn’t share their religious views.

“Do you believe it is wrong for an employer to terminate someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity?” asked Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia.

“I do believe it’s wrong,” Scalia replied. “I think that most of my clients had policies against that. Certainly my firm did. And it’s something that would not have been tolerated by me or my firm, or most of my clients.”

Scalia also was asked about an article he wrote in 1985 in college titled “Trivializing the issues behind gay rights.” In the article, he said he wasn’t sure where he stood on the issue of gay rights but suggested at one point that families with “homosexual lifestyles” are not “equally acceptable or desirable as the traditional family life.”

Scalia said “I certainly have changed” on how he views many issues since college.

“I wouldn’t write those words today,” Scalia said when asked about the passage by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut. “In part because I now have friends and colleagues to whom that would cost pain, and I would not want to do that.”

Scalia has been embraced by conservatives as a person who would follow the law and court precedent. But the top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, called him “an elite corporate lawyer with a long history of working for corporations and against workers.”

Scalia has spent most of his career at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He spent one year as the Labor Department’s solicitor during the Bush administration. His father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, died in 2016.

The AFL-CIO, one of the country’s largest unions, is opposing the nomination on the grounds that he represented clients against lower-wage workers, including a casino owner who wanted to force dealers to split their tips with floor supervisors. The union described this as wage “theft” by the casino.

“After spending a lifetime attacking the rights and dignity of working people, Scalia is ready for another chance to ruthlessly advance corporate interests,” the AFL-CIO said in a statement. “His specialties include eroding labor rights, unraveling consumer protections, endangering Americans’ retirement security and blaming workers for their own deaths.”

Scalia defended his time as a private attorney, noting the critical role lawyers play in a democracy by defending clients’ legal rights even if the client is not well-liked.

“I am not necessarily my clients,” he said. “I will seek to defend them, to vindicate their rights but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily think that what they did was proper.”

On the proposed Labor Department rule, Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones said: “I’m all about religious freedom. I really am. But I don’t want that religious freedom to be used to discriminate against people in the workplace.”

Scalia said he was aware of “strong views” on the rule.

“If confirmed, I’m going to take a careful look at that rule-making to see that we get that balance right between our interests in protecting religious liberty on the one hand, and on the other hand not discriminating improperly on other grounds,” he told the panel.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

It would be ‘wrong’ to get fired because of sexual orientation: Trump’s Labor nominee

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(NEW YORK) — The son of a conservative icon, Eugene Scalia, told a Senate panel on Thursday that it would be “wrong” for employers to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In his first testimony as President Donald Trump’s nominee to become Labor secretary, Scalia also promised to take “a careful look” at a recent Trump administration proposal that would allow federal contractors to factor in a person’s religion when hiring.

Critics of the plan say it would enable employers to discriminate against LGBTQ workers and other groups by claiming the employee didn’t share their religious views.

“Do you believe it is wrong for an employer to terminate someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity?” asked Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia.

“I do believe it’s wrong,” Scalia replied. “I think that most of my clients had policies against that. Certainly my firm did. And it’s something that would not have been tolerated by me or my firm, or most of my clients.”

Scalia also was asked about an article he wrote in 1985 in college titled “Trivializing the issues behind gay rights.” In the article, he said he wasn’t sure where he stood on the issue of gay rights but suggested at one point that families with “homosexual lifestyles” are not “equally acceptable or desirable as the traditional family life.”

Scalia said “I certainly have changed” on how he views many issues since college.

“I wouldn’t write those words today,” Scalia said when asked about the passage by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut. “In part because I now have friends and colleagues to whom that would cost pain, and I would not want to do that.”

Scalia has been embraced by conservatives as a person who would follow the law and court precedent. But the top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, called him “an elite corporate lawyer with a long history of working for corporations and against workers.”

Scalia has spent most of his career at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He spent one year as the Labor Department’s solicitor during the Bush administration. His father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, died in 2016.

The AFL-CIO, one of the country’s largest unions, is opposing the nomination on the grounds that he represented clients against lower-wage workers, including a casino owner who wanted to force dealers to split their tips with floor supervisors. The union described this as wage “theft” by the casino.

“After spending a lifetime attacking the rights and dignity of working people, Scalia is ready for another chance to ruthlessly advance corporate interests,” the AFL-CIO said in a statement. “His specialties include eroding labor rights, unraveling consumer protections, endangering Americans’ retirement security and blaming workers for their own deaths.”

Scalia defended his time as a private attorney, noting the critical role lawyers play in a democracy by defending clients’ legal rights even if the client is not well-liked.

“I am not necessarily my clients,” he said. “I will seek to defend them, to vindicate their rights but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily think that what they did was proper.”

On the proposed Labor Department rule, Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones said: “I’m all about religious freedom. I really am. But I don’t want that religious freedom to be used to discriminate against people in the workplace.”

Scalia said he was aware of “strong views” on the rule.

“If confirmed, I’m going to take a careful look at that rule-making to see that we get that balance right between our interests in protecting religious liberty on the one hand, and on the other hand not discriminating improperly on other grounds,” he told the panel.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump denies report that ‘promise’ he made to foreign leader prompted whistleblower complaint

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Thursday reacted to a Washington Post story that a “promise” he made to a foreign leader had caused a whistleblower in the intelligence community to make a formal complaint, calling it “Presidential Harassment!”

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump called the Post account “Another Fake News story,” saying “Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies.”

“Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially “heavily populated” call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” he tweeted.

As Trump was tweeting, the inspector general for intelligence community was on Capitol Hill being questioned behind closed doors by the House Intelligence Committee on the matter. He was expected to brief members on the handling of the complaint as opposed the content, Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Wednesday.

Schiff and other Democrats are angry that the Trump administration had blocked the whistleblower complaint from being forwarded promptly to Congress, within the seven days they say the law requires.

The acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, originally was called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday but now has agreed to do so in public session Sept. 26.

Schiff accused his McGuire’s office of improperly withholding the intelligence community’s whistleblower complaint from Congress.

Schiff issued a subpoena last week for the complaint, described as “of urgent concern” by the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson

“The director has said essentially that he is answering to a higher authority and refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint. This is deeply troubling,” Schiff said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “Ignoring the subpoena, ignoring our request. No DNI — no director of national intelligence — has ever refused to turn over a whistleblower complaint.”

A spokesperson for the ODNI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

An administration official confirmed to ABC News that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel advised the ODNI that it did not have to inform Congress of the whistleblower’s complaint within seven days, because the complaint did not concern conduct by a member of the intelligence community.

The complaint involves conduct by someone outside the intelligence community, according to a letter to Schiff from Jason Klitenic, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, obtained by ABC News.

According to that letter, obtained by ABC News, Klitenic wrote “The complaint here involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch.”

The letter was first obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday.

Klitenic also argued that the complaint doesn’t meet the definition of “urgent concern” that would require the DNI to forward the matter to Congress.

In the Sep. 13 letter, Klitenic wrote that DOJ also agreed with the ODNI’s assessment “that the complaint did not state an urgent concern,” which he said further absolved ODNI of its legal requirement to inform Congress.

A DOJ official would not comment on whether Attorney General William Barr was ever directly involved in the matter.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal demanded the whistleblower material, telling ABC News that the failure to hand over the information amounts to a “cover-up.”

“That whistleblower material must be made available to Congress,” Blumenthal said Thursday. “The failure to do so amounts to a cover-up and the whistleblower information has to be provided to Congress. Not just to the intelligence committee but to the Congress.”

He added: “This information is of the utmost concern because it bears on our security as well the integrity of the intelligence community.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he expects to see the material at some point.

“I’m on the Intelligence Committee and I expect that I’ll have a chance to see that, but I’m not going to talk about classified matters in public,” Cornyn said.

There are numerous examples of the president’s conversations with foreign leaders raising concerns — in 2017, the president shared intelligence with Russian officials in the Oval Office and in 2018 it was reported that the president ignored a message — “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” — from national security advisers — regarding Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin after his election.

The Washington Post
reports the complaint was filed on “Aug. 12, a date on which Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey. White House records indicate that Trump had had conversations or interactions with at least five foreign leaders in the preceding five weeks.”

The calls Trump made during the previous five weeks include Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and U.K. politician and now prime minister, Boris Johnson.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump denies report that ‘promise’ he made to foreign leader prompted whistleblower complaint

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Thursday reacted to a Washington Post story that a “promise” he made to a foreign leader had caused a whistleblower in the intelligence community to make a formal complaint, calling it “Presidential Harassment!”

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump called the Post account “Another Fake News story,” saying “Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies.”

“Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially “heavily populated” call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” he tweeted.

As Trump was tweeting, the inspector general for intelligence community was on Capitol Hill being questioned behind closed doors by the House Intelligence Committee on the matter. He was expected to brief members on the handling of the complaint as opposed the content, Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Wednesday.

Schiff and other Democrats are angry that the Trump administration had blocked the whistleblower complaint from being forwarded promptly to Congress, within the seven days they say the law requires.

The acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, originally was called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday but now has agreed to do so in public session Sept. 26.

Schiff accused his McGuire’s office of improperly withholding the intelligence community’s whistleblower complaint from Congress.

Schiff issued a subpoena last week for the complaint, described as “of urgent concern” by the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson

“The director has said essentially that he is answering to a higher authority and refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint. This is deeply troubling,” Schiff said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “Ignoring the subpoena, ignoring our request. No DNI — no director of national intelligence — has ever refused to turn over a whistleblower complaint.”

A spokesperson for the ODNI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

An administration official confirmed to ABC News that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel advised the ODNI that it did not have to inform Congress of the whistleblower’s complaint within seven days, because the complaint did not concern conduct by a member of the intelligence community.

The complaint involves conduct by someone outside the intelligence community, according to a letter to Schiff from Jason Klitenic, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, obtained by ABC News.

According to that letter, obtained by ABC News, Klitenic wrote “The complaint here involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch.”

The letter was first obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday.

Klitenic also argued that the complaint doesn’t meet the definition of “urgent concern” that would require the DNI to forward the matter to Congress.

In the Sep. 13 letter, Klitenic wrote that DOJ also agreed with the ODNI’s assessment “that the complaint did not state an urgent concern,” which he said further absolved ODNI of its legal requirement to inform Congress.

A DOJ official would not comment on whether Attorney General William Barr was ever directly involved in the matter.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal demanded the whistleblower material, telling ABC News that the failure to hand over the information amounts to a “cover-up.”

“That whistleblower material must be made available to Congress,” Blumenthal said Thursday. “The failure to do so amounts to a cover-up and the whistleblower information has to be provided to Congress. Not just to the intelligence committee but to the Congress.”

He added: “This information is of the utmost concern because it bears on our security as well the integrity of the intelligence community.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he expects to see the material at some point.

“I’m on the Intelligence Committee and I expect that I’ll have a chance to see that, but I’m not going to talk about classified matters in public,” Cornyn said.

There are numerous examples of the president’s conversations with foreign leaders raising concerns — in 2017, the president shared intelligence with Russian officials in the Oval Office and in 2018 it was reported that the president ignored a message — “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” — from national security advisers — regarding Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin after his election.

The Washington Post
reports the complaint was filed on “Aug. 12, a date on which Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey. White House records indicate that Trump had had conversations or interactions with at least five foreign leaders in the preceding five weeks.”

The calls Trump made during the previous five weeks include Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and U.K. politician and now prime minister, Boris Johnson.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Warren won’t say if she’d raise middle class taxes to pay for Medicare for All

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took the stage at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to big applause Tuesday night, waving broadly to the cheering crowd — before sitting down in the hot seat to face questions about health care, one of the most pressing issues of the 2020 race.

Colbert pressed the candidate famous for her array of plans that she says would make America more equitable, drilling down on how exactly a Warren administration would plan to pay specifically for Medicare for All — and whether or not the middle-class would see a tax hike were she to make it to the White House.

“You keep being asked in the debates, how are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle class taxes?” Colbert asked. “How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle-class taxes?”

“So, here’s how we’re going to do this,” Warren started. “Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations … and hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs going down.”

“But will their taxes go up?” Colbert asked again.

“But here’s the thing–” Warren started.

“But here’s the thing,” Colbert countered, “I’ve listened to these answers a few times before.”

The “Medicare for All” plan was written by Warren’s progressive opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but Warren supports it. Warren has a history of answering broadly about the plan’s overall cost while artfully sidestepping the question of middle class tax hikes, on more than one occasion appearing to hedge.

At the ABC/Univision debate in Houston, ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked her about taxes directly, adding that her fellow 2020 contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., has been candid about the fact that middle-class taxes would have to go up for the plan, which he wrote, to work.

“Will you make that same admission?” Stephanopoulos asked Warren at the podium.

Warren did not, instead emphasizing what American families would pay in total cost.

Pressed several times, she eventually said, “What we’re talking about here is what’s going to happen in families’ pockets, what’s going to happen in their budgets,” Warren said. “And the answer is on Medicare for All, costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals and costs are going to go up for giant corporations, but for hard-working families across this country, costs are going to go down.”

It’s nearly an identical answer to the one she gave at the second Democratic debate in Detroit, when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if she was “with Bernie” on not just Medicare, but on his mode of paying for it.

“Costs will go up for billionaires and go up for corporations,” Warren said. “For middle-class families, costs, total costs will go down.”

The responses have led reporters to challenge Warren on her stance, following up on a potential tax increase to pay for Medicare for All.

Asked for comment, the Warren campaign pointed to the current costs of the health care system and the bottom-line savings they argue Medicare for All would bring.

In an especially testy back-and-forth with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews following the Detroit debate, Matthews drilled down repeatedly.

“Your pay won’t go up. You dodged that tonight. Jake Tapper kept saying how much are your taxes going to go up.”

“How much are your costs going to go down?” Warren said.

“No, no, no, different question. How much will your taxes go up?” Matthews said. “Why don’t you want to answer that question?”

“The question is how much are you going to have to dig in your pocket to pay?” Warren countered.

“I know that’s the answer you’d like to give, but will your taxes go up?”

“There is an answer to the question of your costs,” Warren said. “Because it’s costs that matter to people.”

During several interviews after the ABC/Univision debate, Warren was asked again. One reporter asked when Warren would come out with her own health care plan — which she said she didn’t feel the need to do because a good plan was already out there — and if it would raise taxes on the middle class.

Again, Warren said, “Middle-class families are going to pay less.”

But despite Warren’s refusal to answer the question of taxes when it comes to implementing a single-payer health care system, she has been clear on the dozens of plans she has put out.

None of the plans — and she has developed a reputation for having many — would raise taxes on the middle class, she said recently.

“Could you do what you want to do with all your plans and not have a tax on the middle class?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Warren after the ABC/Univision debate.

“Sure!” Warren responded.

“Really?” Cuomo asked, skeptical.

“Yea!” Warren replied.

“…No tax on the middle class?” Cuomo pushed.

“Nope.”

So far, Warren has focused her attention, and her answers, on out-of-pocket cost.

Those costs, Warren specified in the last debate, include “every time an insurance company says, ‘Sorry, you can’t see that specialist,’” or “every time they don’t get a prescription filled because they can’t pay for it.”

And experts like Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, have said they support the view that Americans, and specifically middle-class Americans, pay a lot, including premiums, deductibles, copays, and taxes already in place — costs which might be reduced on average by Medicare for All.

Levitt has also noted, however, that it would be difficult for a Medicare for All model to leave the middle-class tax bracket unchanged.

“One of the goals of Medicare for All is to make the financing of health care more progressive, with higher-income people paying more. However, a health care system that exempts the middle-class entirely from contributing might be challenging to sustain politically,” Levitt wrote on Twitter recently.

Warren is on record saying that none of her plans would raise the middle-class taxes; however, Medicare for All was developed by Sanders, who has made clear his plan would cause a tax increase, saying it would ultimately balance out.

Warren has continued to demonstrate she supports Sanders’ Medicare for All with unflagging gusto — but she’s also maintained her noncommittal status on what burden the average tax brackets would bear.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Warren won’t say if she’d raise middle class taxes to pay for Medicare for All

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took the stage at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to big applause Tuesday night, waving broadly to the cheering crowd — before sitting down in the hot seat to face questions about health care, one of the most pressing issues of the 2020 race.

Colbert pressed the candidate famous for her array of plans that she says would make America more equitable, drilling down on how exactly a Warren administration would plan to pay specifically for Medicare for All — and whether or not the middle-class would see a tax hike were she to make it to the White House.

“You keep being asked in the debates, how are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle class taxes?” Colbert asked. “How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle-class taxes?”

“So, here’s how we’re going to do this,” Warren started. “Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations … and hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs going down.”

“But will their taxes go up?” Colbert asked again.

“But here’s the thing–” Warren started.

“But here’s the thing,” Colbert countered, “I’ve listened to these answers a few times before.”

The “Medicare for All” plan was written by Warren’s progressive opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but Warren supports it. Warren has a history of answering broadly about the plan’s overall cost while artfully sidestepping the question of middle class tax hikes, on more than one occasion appearing to hedge.

At the ABC/Univision debate in Houston, ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked her about taxes directly, adding that her fellow 2020 contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., has been candid about the fact that middle-class taxes would have to go up for the plan, which he wrote, to work.

“Will you make that same admission?” Stephanopoulos asked Warren at the podium.

Warren did not, instead emphasizing what American families would pay in total cost.

Pressed several times, she eventually said, “What we’re talking about here is what’s going to happen in families’ pockets, what’s going to happen in their budgets,” Warren said. “And the answer is on Medicare for All, costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals and costs are going to go up for giant corporations, but for hard-working families across this country, costs are going to go down.”

It’s nearly an identical answer to the one she gave at the second Democratic debate in Detroit, when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if she was “with Bernie” on not just Medicare, but on his mode of paying for it.

“Costs will go up for billionaires and go up for corporations,” Warren said. “For middle-class families, costs, total costs will go down.”

The responses have led reporters to challenge Warren on her stance, following up on a potential tax increase to pay for Medicare for All.

Asked for comment, the Warren campaign pointed to the current costs of the health care system and the bottom-line savings they argue Medicare for All would bring.

In an especially testy back-and-forth with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews following the Detroit debate, Matthews drilled down repeatedly.

“Your pay won’t go up. You dodged that tonight. Jake Tapper kept saying how much are your taxes going to go up.”

“How much are your costs going to go down?” Warren said.

“No, no, no, different question. How much will your taxes go up?” Matthews said. “Why don’t you want to answer that question?”

“The question is how much are you going to have to dig in your pocket to pay?” Warren countered.

“I know that’s the answer you’d like to give, but will your taxes go up?”

“There is an answer to the question of your costs,” Warren said. “Because it’s costs that matter to people.”

During several interviews after the ABC/Univision debate, Warren was asked again. One reporter asked when Warren would come out with her own health care plan — which she said she didn’t feel the need to do because a good plan was already out there — and if it would raise taxes on the middle class.

Again, Warren said, “Middle-class families are going to pay less.”

But despite Warren’s refusal to answer the question of taxes when it comes to implementing a single-payer health care system, she has been clear on the dozens of plans she has put out.

None of the plans — and she has developed a reputation for having many — would raise taxes on the middle class, she said recently.

“Could you do what you want to do with all your plans and not have a tax on the middle class?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Warren after the ABC/Univision debate.

“Sure!” Warren responded.

“Really?” Cuomo asked, skeptical.

“Yea!” Warren replied.

“…No tax on the middle class?” Cuomo pushed.

“Nope.”

So far, Warren has focused her attention, and her answers, on out-of-pocket cost.

Those costs, Warren specified in the last debate, include “every time an insurance company says, ‘Sorry, you can’t see that specialist,’” or “every time they don’t get a prescription filled because they can’t pay for it.”

And experts like Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, have said they support the view that Americans, and specifically middle-class Americans, pay a lot, including premiums, deductibles, copays, and taxes already in place — costs which might be reduced on average by Medicare for All.

Levitt has also noted, however, that it would be difficult for a Medicare for All model to leave the middle-class tax bracket unchanged.

“One of the goals of Medicare for All is to make the financing of health care more progressive, with higher-income people paying more. However, a health care system that exempts the middle-class entirely from contributing might be challenging to sustain politically,” Levitt wrote on Twitter recently.

Warren is on record saying that none of her plans would raise the middle-class taxes; however, Medicare for All was developed by Sanders, who has made clear his plan would cause a tax increase, saying it would ultimately balance out.

Warren has continued to demonstrate she supports Sanders’ Medicare for All with unflagging gusto — but she’s also maintained her noncommittal status on what burden the average tax brackets would bear.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Bush staffer urges ‘fellow Latinos’ to vote Trump out of office in 2020

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

adamkaz/iStock(WASHINGTON) — A former staffer in the George W. Bush White House has urged his “fellow Latinos” to vote President Trump out of office, saying Republicans “have lost control of the monster they helped create.”

“I am a Republican,” Abel Guerra wrote in an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on Wednesday. “I worked in the George W. Bush White House. And I say to my fellow Latinos: I’m not asking you to become a Democrat. But I am asking you to vote President Trump out of office.”

“From day one, Trump spewed his white-supremacist views, promising to halt the invasion of immigrants and spurring a rhetoric of resentment and retaliation against the ‘other,’” wrote Guerra, who was the associate director of public liaison during the Bush administration from 2001 to 2004.

The op-ed also invoked the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that claimed the lives of 22 people in August. Authorities have since revealed that the shooter traveled for at least 10 hours to specifically target “Mexicans” at the store, which sits near the southern border.

“Fueled by the president’s vitriol, a killer sought out immigrants to slaughter,” Guerra wrote of the shooting. “The shooting isn’t just a tragedy; it’s a massacre, a direct hit against our community.”

Guerra went on to say that Republicans must either show sincere compassion to the Latin-American community or face dire political consequences.

“Republicans need to dust off their moral compass and remember what they stand for — and what they stand against. If they do not, they will lose Latinos forever and relegate themselves once more to minority status, likely unable to regain control of Congress or the White House again,” he wrote.

At a rally on Monday in New Mexico, Trump made a direct appeal to Latino voters and touted his electoral appeal with that key voting demographic in the 2020 presidential election.

“They understand they do not want criminals coming across the border,” Trump said of Hispanic Americans. “They do not want people taking their jobs. They want to have that security. They want the wall. They want the wall.”

Trump also said his administration is “working night and day to deliver a future of limitless opportunities for our nation’s Hispanic American citizens, including millions and millions of extraordinary Mexican-Americans who enrich our society, and strengthen our country, serve in our military and contribute immensely to other shared American family.”

As Guerra notes, by the 2020 election, Hispanics will be the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the electorate with 32 million people eligible to vote.

According to exit poll data from the 2016 presidential election, Trump received 28 percent of the Hispanic vote. An ABC News/Washington Post poll this month had Trump’s approval rating among Hispanics at 25 percent, far below the 50 parent approval among whites.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Bush staffer urges ‘fellow Latinos’ to vote Trump out of office in 2020

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

adamkaz/iStock(WASHINGTON) — A former staffer in the George W. Bush White House has urged his “fellow Latinos” to vote President Trump out of office, saying Republicans “have lost control of the monster they helped create.”

“I am a Republican,” Abel Guerra wrote in an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on Wednesday. “I worked in the George W. Bush White House. And I say to my fellow Latinos: I’m not asking you to become a Democrat. But I am asking you to vote President Trump out of office.”

“From day one, Trump spewed his white-supremacist views, promising to halt the invasion of immigrants and spurring a rhetoric of resentment and retaliation against the ‘other,’” wrote Guerra, who was the associate director of public liaison during the Bush administration from 2001 to 2004.

The op-ed also invoked the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that claimed the lives of 22 people in August. Authorities have since revealed that the shooter traveled for at least 10 hours to specifically target “Mexicans” at the store, which sits near the southern border.

“Fueled by the president’s vitriol, a killer sought out immigrants to slaughter,” Guerra wrote of the shooting. “The shooting isn’t just a tragedy; it’s a massacre, a direct hit against our community.”

Guerra went on to say that Republicans must either show sincere compassion to the Latin-American community or face dire political consequences.

“Republicans need to dust off their moral compass and remember what they stand for — and what they stand against. If they do not, they will lose Latinos forever and relegate themselves once more to minority status, likely unable to regain control of Congress or the White House again,” he wrote.

At a rally on Monday in New Mexico, Trump made a direct appeal to Latino voters and touted his electoral appeal with that key voting demographic in the 2020 presidential election.

“They understand they do not want criminals coming across the border,” Trump said of Hispanic Americans. “They do not want people taking their jobs. They want to have that security. They want the wall. They want the wall.”

Trump also said his administration is “working night and day to deliver a future of limitless opportunities for our nation’s Hispanic American citizens, including millions and millions of extraordinary Mexican-Americans who enrich our society, and strengthen our country, serve in our military and contribute immensely to other shared American family.”

As Guerra notes, by the 2020 election, Hispanics will be the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the electorate with 32 million people eligible to vote.

According to exit poll data from the 2016 presidential election, Trump received 28 percent of the Hispanic vote. An ABC News/Washington Post poll this month had Trump’s approval rating among Hispanics at 25 percent, far below the 50 parent approval among whites.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Acting ICE chief defends agents, scolds lawmakers for political rhetoric

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

danielfela/iStock(WASHINGTON) — In an interview with ABC News, the nation’s top immigration enforcement official scolded lawmakers for heated political rhetoric that he said put his agents’ safety at risk and declared that “everyone” should “take a deep breath,” an admonition that could apply to President Donald Trump as well as critics of his policies.

“We’re not Nazis,” he said in a wide-ranging interview this week, referencing comparisons from Democrats who’ve described migrant detention centers as “concentration camps.”

The plea by acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence is likely to solicit pushback. Critics say his agency’s tactics have grown increasingly aggressive, including one incident in which ICE officers smashed the window of a car with a man sitting inside with his young children. He was dragged out and arrested, then deported. Agency officials said the force was justified because the man had previously been deported and had reentered the U.S. – a felony.

But Albence insists that not enough is being done to tell the side of the agents who are responsible for enforcing President Donald Trump’s most controversial immigration policies.

The comments drew a contrast with Trump’s approach to the immigration debate. Trump has declared a “war” on illegal migration and in June said ICE would start targeting “millions” of undocumented immigrants.

Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people…….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019

Despite the threats, ICE has not hit the record number of annual removals made during the Obama administration. Those numbers hit a peak in 2011 when the agency removed more than 400,000 people from the country. Under Trump, fewer than 260,000 were removed in the first full budget year of his presidency.

To explain these results, Albence pointed to the changing demographics of more recent border crossers, noting that the Central American families crossing in record numbers over the past year are more difficult to deport than single adult men from Mexico.

He also said a lack of cooperation from state and local law enforcement was to blame.

“Unfortunately the politics of this have gotten so bad that they would rather put these politics over public safety,” Albence said.

When Trump announced earlier this year he would take a “tougher” approach in immigration enforcement, some local police chiefs spoke out against the move. They argued that Trump’s public shows of force to create deterrent effects for border crossers can make immigrant communities fearful, putting obstacles in the way of fighting local crime.

Albence rejected the idea that his agency was responsible for instilling fear in any way.

“No I don’t think I have to address the fear,” Albence told ABC News. “If you are here in this country illegally you are subject to arrest and, if ordered removed by an immigration judge, removal from this country. That hasn’t changed.”

Albence also blamed those stagnant laws and congressional inaction for the dilemma his agency faces in attempting to detain more families and children long-term. Currently the agency has a capacity to hold a maximum 3,000 family members with two detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania.

Border Patrol has been forced to release tens of thousands of family members since the migration influx started putting major strains on holding cells back in March.

And while the Trump administration continues to litigate its recent move to lift detention limits on families and children, Albence insisted that indefinite detention is not on the table.

“There is no such thing as indefinite detention,” Albence argued. “When individuals are in our custody just as if they’re arrested for a criminal violation. There is a process that they are going through.”

As the administration continues to take aggressive action, the enforcement push has been complicated by a thorough shake-up of Trump’s Homeland Security agency earlier this year. Albence took over the top job at ICE in June. His predecessor, Mark Morgan, had the job less than two months before transitioning to acting chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The heads of all three domestic immigration agencies – ICE, CBP, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – agencies currently work in an “acting” capacity.

Albence, who has made a career in immigration enforcement, said he’s not interested in becoming the agency’s permanent director.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Acting ICE chief defends agents, scolds lawmakers for political rhetoric

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

danielfela/iStock(WASHINGTON) — In an interview with ABC News, the nation’s top immigration enforcement official scolded lawmakers for heated political rhetoric that he said put his agents’ safety at risk and declared that “everyone” should “take a deep breath,” an admonition that could apply to President Donald Trump as well as critics of his policies.

“We’re not Nazis,” he said in a wide-ranging interview this week, referencing comparisons from Democrats who’ve described migrant detention centers as “concentration camps.”

The plea by acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence is likely to solicit pushback. Critics say his agency’s tactics have grown increasingly aggressive, including one incident in which ICE officers smashed the window of a car with a man sitting inside with his young children. He was dragged out and arrested, then deported. Agency officials said the force was justified because the man had previously been deported and had reentered the U.S. – a felony.

But Albence insists that not enough is being done to tell the side of the agents who are responsible for enforcing President Donald Trump’s most controversial immigration policies.

The comments drew a contrast with Trump’s approach to the immigration debate. Trump has declared a “war” on illegal migration and in June said ICE would start targeting “millions” of undocumented immigrants.

Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people…….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019

Despite the threats, ICE has not hit the record number of annual removals made during the Obama administration. Those numbers hit a peak in 2011 when the agency removed more than 400,000 people from the country. Under Trump, fewer than 260,000 were removed in the first full budget year of his presidency.

To explain these results, Albence pointed to the changing demographics of more recent border crossers, noting that the Central American families crossing in record numbers over the past year are more difficult to deport than single adult men from Mexico.

He also said a lack of cooperation from state and local law enforcement was to blame.

“Unfortunately the politics of this have gotten so bad that they would rather put these politics over public safety,” Albence said.

When Trump announced earlier this year he would take a “tougher” approach in immigration enforcement, some local police chiefs spoke out against the move. They argued that Trump’s public shows of force to create deterrent effects for border crossers can make immigrant communities fearful, putting obstacles in the way of fighting local crime.

Albence rejected the idea that his agency was responsible for instilling fear in any way.

“No I don’t think I have to address the fear,” Albence told ABC News. “If you are here in this country illegally you are subject to arrest and, if ordered removed by an immigration judge, removal from this country. That hasn’t changed.”

Albence also blamed those stagnant laws and congressional inaction for the dilemma his agency faces in attempting to detain more families and children long-term. Currently the agency has a capacity to hold a maximum 3,000 family members with two detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania.

Border Patrol has been forced to release tens of thousands of family members since the migration influx started putting major strains on holding cells back in March.

And while the Trump administration continues to litigate its recent move to lift detention limits on families and children, Albence insisted that indefinite detention is not on the table.

“There is no such thing as indefinite detention,” Albence argued. “When individuals are in our custody just as if they’re arrested for a criminal violation. There is a process that they are going through.”

As the administration continues to take aggressive action, the enforcement push has been complicated by a thorough shake-up of Trump’s Homeland Security agency earlier this year. Albence took over the top job at ICE in June. His predecessor, Mark Morgan, had the job less than two months before transitioning to acting chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The heads of all three domestic immigration agencies – ICE, CBP, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – agencies currently work in an “acting” capacity.

Albence, who has made a career in immigration enforcement, said he’s not interested in becoming the agency’s permanent director.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Warren won’t say if she’d raise middle class taxes to pay for her health care plan

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took the stage at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to big applause Tuesday night, waving broadly to the cheering crowd — before sitting down in the hot seat to face questions about health care, one of the most pressing issues of the 2020 race.

Colbert pressed the candidate famous for her many plans, drilling down on how exactly a Warren administration would plan to pay for Medicare for All — and whether or not the middle class would see a tax hike were she to make it to the White House.

“You keep being asked in the debates, how are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle class taxes?” Colbert asked. “How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle class taxes?”

“So, here’s how we’re going to do this,” Warren started. “Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations … and hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs going down.”

“But will their taxes go up?” Colbert asked again.

“But here’s the thing–” Warren started.

“But here’s the thing,” Colbert countered, “I’ve listened to these answers a few times before.”

On this question, Warren has a history of answering broadly about overall cost while artfully sidestepping the question of middle class tax hikes, on more than one occasion appearing to hedge.

At the ABC/Univision debate in Houston, ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked her about taxes directly, adding that her fellow 2020 contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT., has been candid about the fact that middle class taxes would have to go up for the plan, which he wrote, to work.

“Will you make that same admission?” Stephanopoulos asked Warren at the podium.

Warren did not, instead emphasizing what American families would pay in total cost.

Pressed several times, she eventually said, “What we’re talking about here is what’s going to happen in families’ pockets, what’s going to happen in their budgets. And the answer is on Medicare for All, costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals and costs are going to go up for giant corporations, but for hard-working families across this country, costs are going to go down.”

It’s nearly an identical answer to the one she gave at the second Democratic debate in Detroit, when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if she was “with Bernie” on not just Medicare, but on his mode of paying for it.

“Costs will go up for billionaires and go up for corporations,” Warren said. “For middle class families, costs, total costs will go down.”

The responses have led reporters to challenge Warren on her stance, following up on a potential tax increase to pay for Medicare for All.

Asked for comment, the Warren campaign pointed to the current costs of the health care system and the bottom-line savings they argue Medicare for All would bring.

In an especially testy back-and-forth with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews following the Detroit debate, Matthews drilled down repeatedly.

“Your pay won’t go up. You dodged that tonight,” Matthews said. “Jake Tapper kept saying how much are your taxes going to go up.”

“How much are your costs going to go down?” Warren said.

“No, no, no, different question. How much will your taxes go up?” Matthews said. “Why don’t you want to answer that question?”

“The question is how much are you going to have to dig in your pocket to pay?” Warren countered.

“I know that’s the answer you’d like to give, but will your taxes go up?” Matthews asked.

“There is an answer to the question of your costs,” Warren said. “Because it’s costs that matter to people.”

During several interviews after the ABC/Univision debate, Warren was asked again. One reporter asked when Warren would come out with her own health care plan — which she said she didn’t feel the need to do because a good plan was already out there — and if it would raise taxes on the middle class.

Again, Warren said, “Middle class families are going to pay less.”

But despite Warren’s refusal to answer the question of taxes when it comes to implementing a single-payer health care system, she has been clear on the dozens of plans she has put out.

None of the plans — and she has developed a reputation for having many — would raise taxes on the middle class, she said recently.

“Could you do what you want to do with all your plans and not have a tax on the middle class?,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Warren after the ABC/Univision debate.

“Sure!” Warren responded.

“Really?” Cuomo asked, skeptical.

“Yea!” Warren replied.

“…No tax on the middle class?” Cuomo pushed.

“Nope,” Warren said.

So far, Warren has focused her attention, and her answers, on out-of-pocket cost.

Those costs, Warren specified in the last debate, include “every time an insurance company says, ‘Sorry, you can’t see that specialist,’” or “every time they don’t get a prescription filled because they can’t pay for it.”

And experts like Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, have said they support the view that Americans, and specifically middle-class Americans, pay a lot, including premiums, deductibles, copays and taxes already in place — costs which might be reduced on average by Medicare for All.

Levitt has also noted, however, that it would be difficult for a Medicare for All model to leave the middle-class tax bracket unchanged.

“One of the goals of Medicare for All is to make the financing of health care more progressive, with higher-income people paying more. However, a health care system that exempts the middle-class entirely from contributing might be challenging to sustain politically,” Levitt wrote on Twitter recently.

Warren is on record saying that none of her plans would raise the middle class taxes; however, Medicare for All was developed by Sanders, who has made clear his plan would cause a tax increase, saying it would ultimately balance out.

Warren has continued to demonstrate she supports Sanders’ Medicare for All with unflagging gusto — but she’s also maintained her noncommittal status on what burden the average tax brackets would bear.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Warren won’t say if she’d raise middle class taxes to pay for her health care plan

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took the stage at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to big applause Tuesday night, waving broadly to the cheering crowd — before sitting down in the hot seat to face questions about health care, one of the most pressing issues of the 2020 race.

Colbert pressed the candidate famous for her many plans, drilling down on how exactly a Warren administration would plan to pay for Medicare for All — and whether or not the middle class would see a tax hike were she to make it to the White House.

“You keep being asked in the debates, how are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle class taxes?” Colbert asked. “How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle class taxes?”

“So, here’s how we’re going to do this,” Warren started. “Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations … and hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs going down.”

“But will their taxes go up?” Colbert asked again.

“But here’s the thing–” Warren started.

“But here’s the thing,” Colbert countered, “I’ve listened to these answers a few times before.”

On this question, Warren has a history of answering broadly about overall cost while artfully sidestepping the question of middle class tax hikes, on more than one occasion appearing to hedge.

At the ABC/Univision debate in Houston, ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked her about taxes directly, adding that her fellow 2020 contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT., has been candid about the fact that middle class taxes would have to go up for the plan, which he wrote, to work.

“Will you make that same admission?” Stephanopoulos asked Warren at the podium.

Warren did not, instead emphasizing what American families would pay in total cost.

Pressed several times, she eventually said, “What we’re talking about here is what’s going to happen in families’ pockets, what’s going to happen in their budgets. And the answer is on Medicare for All, costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals and costs are going to go up for giant corporations, but for hard-working families across this country, costs are going to go down.”

It’s nearly an identical answer to the one she gave at the second Democratic debate in Detroit, when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if she was “with Bernie” on not just Medicare, but on his mode of paying for it.

“Costs will go up for billionaires and go up for corporations,” Warren said. “For middle class families, costs, total costs will go down.”

The responses have led reporters to challenge Warren on her stance, following up on a potential tax increase to pay for Medicare for All.

Asked for comment, the Warren campaign pointed to the current costs of the health care system and the bottom-line savings they argue Medicare for All would bring.

In an especially testy back-and-forth with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews following the Detroit debate, Matthews drilled down repeatedly.

“Your pay won’t go up. You dodged that tonight,” Matthews said. “Jake Tapper kept saying how much are your taxes going to go up.”

“How much are your costs going to go down?” Warren said.

“No, no, no, different question. How much will your taxes go up?” Matthews said. “Why don’t you want to answer that question?”

“The question is how much are you going to have to dig in your pocket to pay?” Warren countered.

“I know that’s the answer you’d like to give, but will your taxes go up?” Matthews asked.

“There is an answer to the question of your costs,” Warren said. “Because it’s costs that matter to people.”

During several interviews after the ABC/Univision debate, Warren was asked again. One reporter asked when Warren would come out with her own health care plan — which she said she didn’t feel the need to do because a good plan was already out there — and if it would raise taxes on the middle class.

Again, Warren said, “Middle class families are going to pay less.”

But despite Warren’s refusal to answer the question of taxes when it comes to implementing a single-payer health care system, she has been clear on the dozens of plans she has put out.

None of the plans — and she has developed a reputation for having many — would raise taxes on the middle class, she said recently.

“Could you do what you want to do with all your plans and not have a tax on the middle class?,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Warren after the ABC/Univision debate.

“Sure!” Warren responded.

“Really?” Cuomo asked, skeptical.

“Yea!” Warren replied.

“…No tax on the middle class?” Cuomo pushed.

“Nope,” Warren said.

So far, Warren has focused her attention, and her answers, on out-of-pocket cost.

Those costs, Warren specified in the last debate, include “every time an insurance company says, ‘Sorry, you can’t see that specialist,’” or “every time they don’t get a prescription filled because they can’t pay for it.”

And experts like Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, have said they support the view that Americans, and specifically middle-class Americans, pay a lot, including premiums, deductibles, copays and taxes already in place — costs which might be reduced on average by Medicare for All.

Levitt has also noted, however, that it would be difficult for a Medicare for All model to leave the middle-class tax bracket unchanged.

“One of the goals of Medicare for All is to make the financing of health care more progressive, with higher-income people paying more. However, a health care system that exempts the middle-class entirely from contributing might be challenging to sustain politically,” Levitt wrote on Twitter recently.

Warren is on record saying that none of her plans would raise the middle class taxes; however, Medicare for All was developed by Sanders, who has made clear his plan would cause a tax increase, saying it would ultimately balance out.

Warren has continued to demonstrate she supports Sanders’ Medicare for All with unflagging gusto — but she’s also maintained her noncommittal status on what burden the average tax brackets would bear.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Rep. Joe Kennedy to announce primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(BOSTON) — Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, will formally announce a 2020 primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey on Saturday in Boston, according to a source familiar with his plans, before kicking off a statewide tour to promote his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

He informed Markey of his decision Wednesday, according to another source familiar with their conversation.

Kennedy’s intentions were first reported by the Boston Globe — teeing up one of the cycle’s marquee intraparty clashes.

Within a couple of hours, Markey’s campaign insisted he is the “right choice” in a statement Wednesday.

“In 2013, Ed Markey asked voters to send him to the U.S. Senate to fight for the people of Massachusetts,” said John Walsh, Markey’s senior campaign adviser. “Since then, he has fought on the front lines to show them they were right. … Elections are about choices, and Ed looks forward to spending the next 14 months campaigning hard every day to show the people of the Commonwealth why he’s the right choice.”

Walsh also made clear Markey is ready for any political fight ahead, asserting, “Now he wants to continue that leadership on the issues that matter most — climate change, income inequality, gun reform, universal health care, reproductive freedom, and immigrant rights.”

The highly anticipated primary will pit the young scion of the Massachusetts political dynasty against a veteran progressive who has spent 43 years in Congress — and has no plans to give up the Senate seat he waited decades to fill.

Markey, 73, a co-author of the Green New Deal, has spent months preparing for a possible challenge, and has been endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who taught Kennedy at Harvard Law School, back in February.

In response to the expected announcement, the presidential contender told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday night, “I endorsed Ed Markey last February. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in the United States Senate. Joe, I have known Joe since before he got into politics. He was my student, he and his wife Lauren met in my class, and I have nothing but good things to say about him.”

When pressed if Kennedy’s bid is “ill-advised” by a reporter, Warren responded, “I have no criticism.”

Kennedy, 38, has echoed his former professor in recent interviews about his potential candidacy and pitch to Massachusetts primary voters.

“This is about standing up to Donald Trump every single day, but it’s also about addressing the failures and fissures and the way that this, our government, our society has been broken long before Trump got in office,” he recently told reporters. “That’s going to require, I believe, a different approach and new ideas in order to tackle.”

Markey also faces several lesser-known Democratic primary challengers who have already declared in the race, including labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and businessman Steve Pemberton.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Top intelligence official to brief Congress on whistleblower complaint

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 26, after Chairman Adam Schiff accused his office of withholding an intelligence community’s whistleblower complaint from Congress.

Schiff, D-Calif., issued a subpoena last week for the complaint, described as “urgent” by the intelligence community’s inspector general.

The chairman said Wednesday that Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson would brief the committee behind closed doors on Thursday morning regarding the handling of the complaint, but likely not the content. Next Thursday’s hearing with Maguire will be public.

“The director has said essentially that he is answering to a higher authority and refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint. This is deeply troubling,” Schiff said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.

“Ignoring the subpoena, ignoring our request. No DNI — no director of national intelligence — has ever refused to turn over a whistleblower complaint,” he added.

A spokesperson for the DNI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The complaint involves conduct by someone outside the intelligence community, according to a letter to Schiff from Jason Klitenic, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, obtained by ABC News.

According to the letter, “The complaint here involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch.”

The letter was first obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday.

Klitenic also argued that the complaint doesn’t meet the definition of “urgent concern” that would require the DNI to forward the matter to Congress, according to the Times.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Top intelligence official to brief Congress on whistleblower complaint

Posted on: September 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 26, after Chairman Adam Schiff accused his office of withholding an intelligence community’s whistleblower complaint from Congress.

Schiff, D-Calif., issued a subpoena last week for the complaint, described as “urgent” by the intelligence community’s inspector general.

The chairman said Wednesday that Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson would brief the committee behind closed doors on Thursday morning regarding the handling of the complaint, but likely not the content. Next Thursday’s hearing with Maguire will be public.

“The director has said essentially that he is answering to a higher authority and refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint. This is deeply troubling,” Schiff said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.

“Ignoring the subpoena, ignoring our request. No DNI — no director of national intelligence — has ever refused to turn over a whistleblower complaint,” he added.

A spokesperson for the DNI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The complaint involves conduct by someone outside the intelligence community, according to a letter to Schiff from Jason Klitenic, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, obtained by ABC News.

According to the letter, “The complaint here involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch.”

The letter was first obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday.

Klitenic also argued that the complaint doesn’t meet the definition of “urgent concern” that would require the DNI to forward the matter to Congress, according to the Times.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.