President Obama to Offer Legal Status to Millions of Undocumented Immigrants

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is set to announce a sweeping executive action to “secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules,” the White House announced in advance of the president’s 8 p.m. address to the nation Thursday night.

“That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair,” President Obama will say, according to excerpts of his remarks prepared for delivery. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability — a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

The action will be finalized Friday with the signing of a presidential memorandum at a rally in Las Vegas. It fulfills, at least in part, the promise Obama first made in 2008 as a candidate to lift the threat of deportation from millions of people living in the U.S. illegally.

The move means nearly half the nation’s undocumented immigrants — roughly 5 million people — will be eligible for temporary legal status and work permits.

“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half century,” the president will say, according to excerpts. “And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.”

The announcement is expected to set off celebrations on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and at watch parties organized by immigrant advocacy groups all around the country. It also no doubt will unleash a flurry of protests from critics who have asserted Obama is exceeding his constitutional authority and setting a dangerous new precedent.

The White House said the president’s primary focus, in light of limitations on his executive power, is on keeping families united. The biggest group that will benefit is an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and who have children that were born here as American citizens.

Obama’s order will also extend legal status to a larger universe of so-called Dreamers, who first came to the U.S. illegally as children and either are now attending school, have graduated high school or served in the military. As many as 270,000 more undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for legal status under the program, which Obama first unveiled in 2012, administration officials said.

All immigrant applicants must have clean criminal record, provide their biometric information, and pay a fee of around $500, officials said. The legal status will only last three years but can be renewed. The president’s executive action does not create a pathway to citizenship or allow access to federal health care benefits.

The application process won’t begin until the spring of 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to deportation relief, Obama has also directed that immigration enforcement agencies focus on those who have committed felonies and those who have crossed the border within the last year. By forgoing crackdowns on those without criminal records and who have been here longer, the White House claims it will be able to devote more resources to border enforcement and cracking down on those who pose a threat.

“Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Ahead of the president’s address, Republicans were sharply critical of Obama’s move to circumvent Congress, some vowing to sue the administration and others warning it would spoil any attempt at bipartisan compromise over the next two years.

“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just not how our democracy works,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a short video statement posted on YouTube. “The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor,’ but he sure is acting like one. And he’s doing it a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

Even some congressional Democrats questioned Obama’s unilateral action, expressing preference for a more permanent solution through legislation.

“It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. “I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the president shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own.”

Said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, “I am concerned if the president’s action goes too far, that number one it will set the cause back, that it will inflame our politics, get us into a kind of retribution situation with the opponents of immigration reform, and really change the subject from immigration to the president and whether he should’ve done what he did.”

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GOP Governors: Enough About Immigration Already

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(BOCA RATON, Fla.) — Republican governors huddled in Florida for their annual conference and a victory celebration to note their huge wins earlier this month during the midterm elections where they even gained seats in bright blue states, but the issue of immigration has overshadowed the party.

The Republican Governors Association conference being held this year at the posh Boca Raton Resort and Club coincides with the news of the president’s intention to announce major executive action on immigration reform and through most of the events that were open to reporters the governors were pressed over and over on the topic. One thing was clear: they are sick of the issue or at least being asked about it.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who just won re-election and is a possible 2016 presidential contender, said today it was the press and the president who were “obsessed” with the issue.

“This didn’t just come about in the last two weeks. All the media acted like this came up since the election,” Walker said, noting he believes no Republican or Democratic gubernatorial candidate even dealt with the issue that much on the campaign trail. “I would argue actually, most of the U.S. senators didn’t talk about that and yet you have fallen into the trap that the president of the United States has done to try and get you to divert your attention away from the real issues in this country.”

Walker stressed he and other governors here got elected because they are “actually talking about issues that people care about in our states.”

“You can keep asking about it, but that doesn’t change the fact… we responded to the issues people care about instead of obsessing over the things you are talking about now that aren’t even in the top 10 list of most Americans,” Walker said at a press conference with several other governors, including two other possible 2016 contenders Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Kasich, who sounded a more moderate tone over immigration at Wednesday’s events, said he hopes the president’s action is a “really small one,” adding he would tell President Obama: “Do what you feel you absolutely have to do, but you can’t go so far.”

These governors know whatever they say about immigration could put them on shaky political ground when it comes to 2016. It’s an issue Mitt Romney had to deal with in 2012 and no Republican candidate wants to have to face in a general election in 2016. GOP candidates routinely make more conservative points during the primaries, especially on the issue of immigration, in order to win the more conservative voting base. Of course, it’s not always easy to moderate in the general election as Romney’s “self-deportation” comments proved.

That’s another reason why changing the topic could be quite helpful.

On Wednesday, many of the country’s most watched governors came together for an event titled “Republican Governors: The Road Ahead” and the majority of the event focused on immigration and the president’s pending action. After almost half of the event was completely focused on the issue, it was clear the governors were getting antsy.

Jindal even tried himself to move the conversation to another topic saying to moderator, NBC’s Chuck Todd: “We’ve now spent 30 minutes talking about the president breaking the law.”

He wasn’t the only governor on the stage tired of the topic. To laughs from the crowd, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Todd: “Here’s what I’m thinking: You will probably not be invited to do a moderation for a presidential debate.”

The governors also met with donors and discussed strategy in private meetings at the pink-colored resort during the gathering. The party heads into January with 31 governorships, the most for either party in 16 years.

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Everything You Need to Know About Obama’s Immigration Announcement

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — In a rare primetime nationally televised address, President Obama Thursday night will unveil the most sweeping executive action on immigration in decades. He plans to circumvent Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, boost visas for valuable high-skilled workers, and strengthen security along the Southwest border.

“Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken, unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long,” Obama said in a video message posted to Facebook.

Who gets relief, and who doesn’t, under Obama’s plan? How will immigration enforcement change inside the country and along the border? And what will the immediate impact be on families, businesses and communities? Here’s everything you need to know:

The Announcement

The president will speak live at 8 p.m. ET from the East Room of the White House. On Friday, he will travel to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas to further detail his plans and rally supporters. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will also attend, officials said. The school is the same place where Obama announced a second-term push for immigration reform in Jan. 2013.

The Action

The White House says Obama will “maximize the use of his authority” to extend temporary legal status to more than five million undocumented immigrants.

Who Gets Relief?

  • 4.1 million undocumented parents and families of U.S. citizens who have been in country more than five years with no criminal record.
  • 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, so-called Dreamers, will be newly eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Current age limits for the program will be dropped, sources say.
  • 400,000 highly-skilled workers will be eligible for visas.
  • Some other smaller categories for relief will bring the number affected above five million.

Who Gets Left Out?

  • Undocumented parents of DACA recipients will not be eligible for legal status.
  • Undocumented agricultural workers will not be addressed.

Border Security

Obama will direct more resources on border security with an emphasis on deporting new arrivals. Guidance to law enforcement will be to focus on criminal aliens rather than those living quietly in the shadows with no arrest record.

The Legal Argument

The White House believes Obama’s acts are effectively bullet-proof in court, backed up by the precedent of more than a dozen presidents who have used discretion in enforcement of immigration law and granted temporary legal status to thousands of immigrants on their watch. Advocates have been told the dreamer families were left out because White House believes inclusion of non-citizen families would jeopardize the legal underpinning of the plan.

The Caveats

Obama will sign his executive order Friday at the event in Las Vegas, but it will take several weeks for many of the new initiatives to roll out, people familiar with the plan say. Terms of the action will take effect in six months, giving time for congressional action to replace the order with legislation and allow advocacy groups to organize people to apply for relief.

Nothing in Obama’s plan will create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and any legal status received would be temporary. Officials have said the eligible immigrants — as under DACA — would not be entitled to federal benefits such as Medicaid, health care subsidies, etc.

While up to as many as five million undocumented immigrants would be eligible to apply for relief under Obama’s new order, it is expected that fewer will actually apply and be approved. So bottom line: five million is the high end, but a rough estimate.

The Public View

A majority — 52 percent — of Americans said they would like to see Obama act unilaterally on immigration in the absence of congressional action, with 44 percent opposed, in an early September ABC News/Washington Post survey. But when asked about plans to extend legal status and work permits to undocumented immigrants now living and working in the U.S., a majority were opposed — 50 percent saying they do not back the idea, up four percentage points from the year before.

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Takata Airbag Safety Exec Denies Need for Nationwide Recall

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A vice president of Takata, the airbag company that has been subject to a series of recalls in recent years, told a congressional committee on Thursday that he does not believe a nationwide recall of Takata’s airbags is necessary.

Takata feels “strongly” that Takata recalls should continue to focus on “regions of high absolute humidity. Our best information supports the view that these regions must be the priority for the replacement of airbags,” Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata’s senior vice president of global quality assurance, told the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday morning.

The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration has called for a series of regional recalls to be expanded to a nationwide recall to replace Takata airbags installed in cars.

Senators had their first opportunity to question a Takata representative since its airbags were linked to five deaths related to faulty deployments. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sought to link Takata airbags to a sixth death, holding a press conference with a young woman who lost her sister in a 2003 automobile crash in Arizona.

Kim Kopf detailed how her sister Charlene Weaver was killed after a car accident while riding as a passenger in a 2004 Subaru Impreza. Kopf and her family maintain Weaver was killed after she was struck by an airbag in the passenger’s seat.

Kopf noted that the car her sister was a passenger in has yet to be recalled for airbag related reasons though similar models in humid states have been placed on the recall list.

“The American people have a right to know about the story behind this airbag recall,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who chaired the hearing. “That’s why we’re here today.”

Shimizu maintained that the main causes of airbag malfunctions are the age of the airbags, their exposure to humidity, and “potential production issues, which we have worked to identify and address.”

So far, automakers including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota have recalled several million cars because of defective airbags.

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CIA Praise, of Sorts, for Glenn Greenwald’s Book on Edward Snowden

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A CIA reviewer has halting praise for journalist Glenn Greenwald’s book on the Edward Snowden affair, calling it the book “the most complete, though far from the most objective account” of the leaker who exposed the National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance programs.

The review, written by a veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology and Directorate of Operations, was posted recently on the CIA’s website, in a regularly-updated section called the “Intelligent Officer’s Bookshelf.” The Agency veteran and others often review espionage-related popular nonfiction and fiction books for the site.

The reviewer describes Greenwald’s account in No Place to Hide of being contacted by Snowden and eventually meeting him in Hong Kong, before taking issue with what he called Greenwald’s “core arguments” presented later.

“Greenwald is appalled at the concept implied in the [third] chapter’s title ["Collect It All"] and analyzes it with the presumption of illegality while dismissing without comment the intelligence issues that led to its adoption,” the reviewer says. “Greenwald also ignores other interpretations regarding the legality of the NSA’s collection programs…”

Greenwald’s book is reviewed along with two others that cover the Snowden affair, and the reviewer concludes that Greenwald’s “sums up the common themes of these three books: Snowden’s acts were justified because he chose to seek ‘reform of the surveillance state.’”

A disclaimer at the bottom of the website notes that the opinions “expressed in this journal are those of the authors” and shouldn’t be “construed as asserting or implying U.S. government endorsement…”

In January, America’s top intelligence officials, including CIA Director John Brennan, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the purported severe damage Snowden’s disclosures had done to U.S. national security.

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Republican Governors Weigh 2016 Prospects

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

RGA(BOCA RATON, Fla.) — The first day of this year’s annual Republican Governors Association conference was overshadowed by the president’s pending executive action on immigration. But, there was one more issue Wednesday — besides the victory lap after this year’s big Republican wins — on everyone’s mind: 2016.

At least six attendees at the conference are mulling a bid for the top office. The RGA’s outgoing chairman New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been very vocal that he is considering a run saying Wednesday that running the RGA was his “first priority over the last year,” but now, “I’ve got some decisions to make, I’m not shy as you know, I’ll let you know.”

When asked if he thinks the next GOP nominee should be a governor, he was clear: “I do because we are better at it than people who do not have the experience of running large enterprises.”

Considering the number of GOP governors at the conference this week, Christie and another possible 2016 contender Indiana Gov. Mike Pence were asked if they had made pacts to play nice in what will likely be a nasty intra-party brawl.  

“No, no pacts,” Christie said, before dead panning. “I haven’t seen Pence in the corner making any pacts with anybody, but I’ll be watching.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked when the 2016 race should begin, to which he replied, the “more legitimate question” is “when did it start.”

“I think the campaign has engaged,” Perry said. “We are talking about issues here that are going to affect the presidential election in 2016.”

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Obama Charts His Own Course On Immigration

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • HAPPENING TONIGHT: At 8 p.m. Eastern, President Obama will announce a major executive action on immigration reform, ABC’s JIM AVILA reports. “Our immigration system has been broken for decades — and every minute we fail to act, millions of people who live in the shadows but want to play by the rules and pay taxes have no way to live right by the law and contribute to our country, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest wrote yesterday on the White House website. “So tomorrow night, President Obama will address the nation to lay out the executive actions he’s taking to fix our broken immigration system.” The president will then travel to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas tomorrow “to discuss why he is using his executive authority now, and why Republicans in Congress must act to pass a long-term solution to immigration reform,” according to Earnest. Obama invited 18 senior lawmakers to the White House for dinner last night to explain his immigration decision. http://abcn.ws/11imwJ5
  • POLLING NOTE: A majority – 52 percent – of Americans said they would like to see Obama act unilaterally on immigration in the absence of Congressional action, with 44 percent opposed, in an early September ABC News-Washington Post survey. But, according to ABC’s DEVIN DWYER, when asked about plans to extend legal status and work permits to undocumented immigrants now living and working in the U.S., a majority were opposed – 50 percent saying they do not back the idea, up four percentage points from the year before.
  • OBAMA’S 6-YEAR EVOLUTION ON IMMIGRATION IN 60 SECONDS: It has been a long road to immigration reform — and quite a transition for President Obama. It all started during a 2008 town hall with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. “I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days,” Obama said. “But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible.” Six years later, with President Obama set to deliver a prime time address to announce his executive action on immigration. ABC’s SERENA MARSHALL and JORDYN PHELPS take a look at how he got here. http://abcn.ws/1qteZTI

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’S JEFF ZELENY: President Obama’s executive order on immigration will stir a Washington firestorm like we haven’t seen in a while, but Republican leaders are already trying to impose discipline in how they react. Some lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz suggest that presidential nominations should be blocked. Other Republicans believe the spending bill to keep the government running should be held up. But conversations with leading Republicans across the capital elicit one common theme: The GOP should take a stern, but measured approach. Sen. John Cornyn summed it up best when he told us: “We don’t need to make this story about us. We need to keep this focused on the president.” There will certainly be a legal challenge — Republicans are already looking for a compelling plaintiff to be the face of a lawsuit — but the only true weapon Congress yields is the power of the purse. The only question is whether Republicans try to exercise it now, which could threaten the spending bill to keep the government running after Dec. 11, or whether they follow through with that measured approach and decide not to fund certain appropriations bills next year.

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The first day of this year’s annual Republican Governors Association conference was overshadowed by the president’s pending executive action on immigration. But, there was one more issue—besides the victory lap after this year’s big wins—on everyone’s mind here at the posh Boca Raton Resort and Club: 2016. At least six attendees at the conference are mulling a bid for the top office. The RGA’s outgoing chairman New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been very vocal that he is considering a run saying Wednesday that running the RGA was his “first priority over the last year,” but now “I’ve got some decisions to make, I’m not shy as you know, I’ll let you know.” When asked if thinks the next GOP nominee should be a governor, he was clear: “I do because we are better at it than people who do not have the experience of running large enterprises.” Considering the number of GOP governors at the conference this week, Christie and another possible 2016 contender Indiana Gov. Mike Pence were asked if they had made pacts to play nice in what will likely be a nasty intra-party brawl.  “No, no pacts,” Christie said, before dead panning. “I haven’t seen Pence in the corner making any pacts with anybody, but I’ll be watching.” And Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked when the 2016 race should begin. Perry said the “more legitimate question” is “when did it start.” “I think the campaign has engaged,” Perry said. “We are talking about issues here that are going to affect the presidential election in 2016.”

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Without playing the who-started-it blame game, President Obama’s executive order on immigration ends a long and complicated chapter in the Obama legacy – the one holding his bipartisan promise. Recall, of course, that this was the biggest priority of the president’s second term – the one he hoped and trusted would finally provide the kind of Democratic and Republican cooperation that had frustrated the president over his first term. That’s the news backdrop for former Sen. Jim Webb’s announcement of a presidential exploratory committee. “Let’s fix our country. Together,” he said in his announcement video, in what seems like an early campaign tagline. There are few reasons to believe Webb can seriously challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. He doesn’t fit the profile of someone who would even exploit her biggest political vulnerabilities, on the left. But Webb is hoping that this is a different kind of moment – that he can be more than this cycle’s Jon Huntsman. The frustration is sure there, if Webb can be the one who taps into it.

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

JOHN MCCAIN ON THE ONE ISSUE THAT MAY DECIDE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Sen. John McCain told ABC’s JEFF ZELENY, host of “The Fine Print,” that it’s “imperative” that the GOP demonstrate responsible governance in the majority as the party looks ahead to the presidential race in 2016. “I think that the 2016 election will largely be decided by whether Republicans in the majority know how to govern or not,” McCain said during a recent interview on Capitol Hill. If we are just obstructionists and viewed that way by the American people then I don’t think we will succeed.” That’s particularly important, McCain said, if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee in 2016, as many expect she will. “One of the things is: We Republicans show we can govern, she is going to have a problem with following a very unpopular administration — I know what that’s like,” McCain joked, referring to his role following President George W. Bush as the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1vskFyt

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

GOP GOVERNORS MOSTLY HOSTILE ON OBAMA IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVE ACTION. Potential Republican presidential candidates at the Republican Governors Association annual conference gave very different responses to the president’s decision to announce major executive action on immigration reform, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. At the gathering at the posh Boca Raton Resort and Club, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dodged, Texas Gov. Rick Perry threatened, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused the president of throwing a “temper tantrum” and Ohio Gov. John Kasich sounded a more moderate tone. Christie, the RGA’s outgoing chairman, refused to weigh in saying, “We will have to wait and see what he says and what he does and what the legal implications are.” Christie, never known to be less than vocal or shy, was asked several times his thoughts on the president’s decision and he refused each time saying, “I am not going to articulate the basis of a yet unknown candidacy.” Other governors weren’t shy and didn’t hesitate to critique the president, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal calling it “absolutely an overreach of power.” http://abcn.ws/1ucK9JR

MEET THE FAILED KEYSTONE PIPELINE BILL’S BIGGEST WINNER, AND LOSER. Despite his sponsoring the House version of the Keystone a bill that died in the Senate Tuesday night, there is perhaps no bigger winner from the legislation’s defeat than Louisiana GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy. And there is likely no bigger loser than the state’s Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Democrat who is on the defensive as she heads to a Dec. 6 runoff election against Cassidy. Cassidy’s campaign was quick to seize on the bill’s defeat, which came up shy of passing by just one vote, as an example of Landrieu’s failed leadership. But even if the bill had passed, it was unclear how Landrieu, 58, would have translated a legislative victory into an electoral one. ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS takes a look at the several major hurdles the embattled Democrats faces on the road to re-election. http://abcn.ws/1p1u4ek

‘DEVASTATING’ FAILURES LEAD SECRET SERVICE TO CONSIDER RAISING WHITE HOUSE FENCE. ABC’s MIKE LEVINE reports the security failures that recently let a man with a small knife in his pocket jump the perimeter fence and make it “practically unencumbered” deep into the White House were “devastating,” and now the U.S. Secret Service may make the fence taller, the new head of the agency said Wednesday in his first appearance before lawmakers at the helm. “Without question, the agency has been severely damaged in recent years by failures,” dating back to the Cartagena, Colombia, prostitution scandal in 2012, Acting Director Joseph Clancy told a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. “The range of shortcomings” is “what hits the hardest,” he said. http://abcn.ws/1ubSWLX

WATCH BARACK OBAMA AS DINING CRITIC. Before he was president and had his own kitchen staff with a dedicated pastry chef, Barack Obama was a state senator in Illinois looking for a good bite to eat in his hometown of Chicago. He did his part to drum up business for Dixie’s Kitchen and Bait Shop during a newly unearthed segment from a restaurant review program on local channel WTTW where he showed how to remain diplomatic while doling out culinary criticisms, ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY reports. Obama’s episode of the much-loved local show “Check Please!” never aired. http://abcn.ws/1vqBZUK

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@JimWebbUSA: A message from Jim Webb http://webb2016.com/ 

@politicalwire: GOP leaders are warning their rank-and-file about talking about impeaching President Obama http://politicalwire.com/2014/11/20/gop-leaders-warn-about-talking-impeachment/ …

@jgm41: Here’s what @GeorgeHWBush is thankful for this year #TIMEThanks http://wp.me/p5HMd-f5hk  via @TIME

@MysteryPollster: HuffPollster: Buried lede? Partisanship now driving perceptions of healthcare *quality* http://huff.to/1ytfxYW 

@CoryBooker: Yes, I do meditate. RT @iamhuman108 Do you meditate?

Former Sen. Jim Webb Exploring Possible Run for the White House

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb is exploring whether to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

Webb announced his intention to form an exploratory committee in a message posted Thursday on his website, Webb 2016 Exploratory Committee.

In his post, Webb asks, “Is it possible that our next President could actually lay out a vision for the country, and create an environment where leaders from both parties and from all philosophies would feel compelled to work together for the good of the country, despite all of the money and political pressure that now demands they disagree?”

Webb suggests he’s the person for the job because of his one term in the Senate as a Democrat from 2007-20012 while also serving as Navy secretary during the Reagan administration in 1987 and 1988.

An exploratory committee is generally the first step in gauging the public’s interest in one’s potential candidacy as well as what kind of fundraising support is available.

Should Webb decide to run in 2016, one of his likely challengers will be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who many believe is just biding her time before making her candidacy official at some point in 2015.

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GOP Governors Mostly Hostile on Obama Immigration Executive Action

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Potential Republican presidential candidates at the Republican Governors Association annual conference gave very different responses to the president’s decision to announce major executive action on immigration reform Thursday.

At the gathering at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dodged, Texas Gov. Rick Perry threatened, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused the president of throwing a “temper tantrum” and Ohio Gov. John Kasich sounded a more moderate tone.

Christie, the RGA’s outgoing chairman, refused to weigh in, saying, “We will have to wait and see what he says and what he does and what the legal implications are.”

Christie, never known to be less than vocal or shy, was asked several times his thoughts on the president’s decision and he refused each time, saying, “I am not going to articulate the basis of a yet-unknown candidacy.”

He did note his work in the state on the issue, including legislation he signed last year that gave tuition breaks to New Jersey residents who are the children of undocumented working immigrants, as well as his opposition to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Asked specifically about a pathway to citizenship, Christie said he would share his thoughts on that issue: “If I run for president.”

Other governors weren’t shy and didn’t hesitate to critique the president, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal calling it “absolutely an overreach of power.”

“This is not how the president should be doing this. If he wants change then he should go to the House, go to the Senate and pass a bill changing the law. He’s not the first president to ever disagree with Congress, but he is becoming the first president to consistently throw a temper tantrum and ignore Congress time and time again,” Jindal said in an interview with ABC News.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — also considering a possible run for the White House — said the president is acting without the “consent of the governed.”

“I think it would be a profound mistake for the president to overturn America’s immigration laws with a stroke of a pen,” Pence said.

Gov. Perry, also considering attempting another run in 2016, said he sees a “very real possibility” that his state of Texas sues the president over his executive action, something the man who will take over for him in January, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, has already been saying. Perry noted that he believes if the president does move forward he could even endanger his party’s chances of regaining power in Washington, saying it would be sticking a “a finger in the eye of the American people with no thought about it.”

“I think the president is taking a major, major political chance with what he’s doing,” Perry said at an RGA session with four other possible 2016ers, including Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, Pence and Jindal.

“He’s putting his party in jeopardy, and I think he’s putting members of the Senate and the House in jeopardy,” Perry said.

“The president is going to take this action supposedly tomorrow. It is unconstitutional, in his own words, in his own words,” Perry added. “The American people are not for this…you will not get Americans to support an immigration reform bill until the border is secure…not until that point.”

Kasich, who recently won re-election by a massive margin, consistently gave a more moderate position than his GOP counterparts, although he did call unilateral action on the part of the president a “mistake.” He did call on Republican leaders to work with the president on immigration. He even said he wouldn’t oppose citizenship eventually for these immigrants after a “laborious and tough process” because “we’ve got to think about what’s going to bring about healing,” adding “everybody in this country has to feel like they have an opportunity.”

The governors gathered here are celebrating their recent big wins, including in blue states like Maryland, Illinois and Massachusetts. In January there will be 31 governors in state house across the country, which is the most for either party in 16 years. They spent a total of $130 million in the cycle.

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Secret Service Arrests Man Outside White House Who Had Weapon in His Car

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Secret Service arrested a 41-year-old Iowa man one block from the White House on Wednesday after a search of his car uncovered a rifle and ammunition, law enforcement officials confirmed to ABC News.

The man, R.J. Kapheim, from Davenport, Iowa, approached a uniform division officer on the corner of 15th St and E St NW at 12:54 p.m. and “stated that someone in Iowa told him to go to the White House,” Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor said.

He was not threatening in any way, but his behavior was deemed suspicious.

Officers located and conducted a search of his vehicle, a 2013 Volkswagen Passat with Iowa tags.

It was parked on Constitution Ave between 16th St NW and 15th St NW. The weapon and ammunition were found in the car.

He is being held on charges of possessing an unregistered firearm, among others forthcoming, Mainor said.

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Obama to Announce Major Immigration Executive Action Thursday

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama will announce a major executive action on immigration reform in prime time on Thursday, sources told ABC News.

The president will then travel to Las Vegas on Friday.

The most controversial aspect of Obama’s planned action is likely to be an order to, on a temporary basis, exempt from deportation and grant work permits to as many as five million undocumented immigrants.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is being dispatched to Capitol Hill on Thursday for lunch with Senate Democrats, a move that presaged the announcement.

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Keystone Goes Down

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • KEYSTONE PIPELINE FAILS IN THE SENATE: The controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline failed to win approval in a Senate vote last night by one vote, a blow to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu who hoped to be able to push it through, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Landrieu, who is in a tight December run-off to keep her Senate seat, had sponsored the bill and had expressed confidence earlier in the day that she and other supporters had rounded up the 60 votes necessary to approve the long stalled project. The final vote was 59-41. Shortly after the vote was tallied, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will become the Senate Majority Leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January, said he will bring up the issue again “early next year.” http://abcn.ws/1uFIXDY
  • HAPPENING TODAY: President Obama delivers remarks this morning at a ConnectED conference on digital learning, with superintendents and other educators from across the country. It’s part of an initiative to connect more schools to high-speed internet.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Does 2016 start today? Or maybe the real question is hasn’t it already started? Well, even if it has today is an important marker in the run-up to the next presidential contest. The Republican Governors Association’s annual conference, this year held in Boca Raton, will meet and likely celebrate their huge gains earlier this month, but it will also showcase many of the potential 2016 contenders that could come out of statehouses this cycle. This afternoon many of the top presidential possibilities will come together for a session titled “Republican Governors: The Road Ahead.” It will feature Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The current, but outgoing, chairman New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be on hand at an earlier press briefing and of course the many events over the week closed to the press. Today’s events will be ones to watch for all 2016 observers.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Let’s stipulate that Democrats won’t win or lose a single election over the fact that Rep. Tammy Duckworth won’t be able to vote in private caucus meetings while she’s pregnant. But it’s hard not to read the criticism of Democrats’ decision to keep her from voting as a broader critique of party leadership and the public image being projected. According to Roll Call, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz were among House Democrats speaking up to allow Duckworth, who happens to also be a disabled veteran whose doctors have advised her not to travel, to participate in leadership decisions. Pelosi is citing longstanding House policies in opposing proxy voting, and Duckworth is dropping the fight. But coming after a rerun of the “war on women” strategy – used to less effect by Democrats this time around – Jon Stewart is on the case. Bad feelings are likely to linger inside Democratic circles, particularly with a Democratic wipeout nonetheless re-empowering the same leadership team the party had for a decade now. http://bit.ly/1ySpVJA

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

CLINTON TOURISM IN ARKANSAS: GO ALONG FOR THE RIDE ON A ‘BILLGRIMAGE.’ The first Billgrims came 10 years ago. After the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library Nov. 18, 2004, travelers descended on Arkansas like never before. Suddenly, the state was welcoming people from all around the world who came to tour Bill Clinton’s library and, along the way, visit other historic landmarks related to the former president. ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ goes on a trip known as a “Billgrimage.” http://abcn.ws/1F077vV

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

FLIP FLOP? WHITE HOUSE CONCEDES OBAMA SHIFT ON IMMIGRATION ACTION. President Obama has long declared he does not have the legal authority to do what he is about to do on immigration: bypass Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants through an executive order. “[I]f we start broadening that [the deferred action program for undocumented immigrant youth], then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally… So that’s not an option,” he said last year. How could the president now do what he plainly said was illegal as recently as last fall? That’s what ABC’s JONATHAN KARL asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Tuesday’s White House briefing. In what appears to be a rare acknowledgement of a presidential flip flop, Earnest explained “obviously there are some things that have changed on this.” Watch the exchange here. http://abcn.ws/1BKOv4X

LOOK WHO’S COMING TO WASHINGTON: DC gets a high profile visitor today when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visits the White House and a progressive gathering, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. He’s had a tough week with the departure of a top aide and now a new poll is out showing lower approval ratings. In a Quinnipiac University poll, de Blasio has a 49 to 36 percent job approval rating, similar to a 50 to 32 percent survey in August, but look at the racial divide. African-American New Yorkers approve of de Blasio 71 to 14 percent, Hispanic voters approve 56 to 27 percent and whites disapprove of the mayor 50 to 34 percent. Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll describes it this way: “It’s a tale of two cities under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Black voters think the mayor is terrific.  White voters don’t approve.  And the racial gap gets wider every time we ask.” http://bit.ly/1xMMn7w

WHY WASHINGTON IS TALKING ABOUT A SHUTDOWN – AGAIN. Talk of a shutdown is percolating again on Capitol Hill — this time over immigration, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The political scars of last year’s government shutdown over Obamacare are still fresh, leading many Republicans to disavow suggestions they would consider shutting down the government again as an attempt to thwart President Obama’s upcoming executive action on immigration reform. http://abcn.ws/1qSLKED

NOTED: HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN. On the brink of President Obama’s expected executive action on immigration, rumors of another potential government shutdown are swirling. It was just over a year ago when, on Oct. 1, 2013, the government shut down for 16 days after Congress was unable to agree on a budget for the new fiscal year. ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI take a look at what happened the last time the government shut down. http://abcn.ws/1u6VHOH

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX

RICK SANTORUM’S ‘MADE IN AMERICA’ CHRISTMAS. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the chairman of Patriot Voices PAC, is launching the group’s second annual “Made in the USA” Christmas effort urging American shoppers to buy goods and gifts made in the United States this holiday season and to shop at local small businesses across the country. “This Christmas season, millions of hard-working American families are struggling to make ends meet,” Santorum said in a statement. “If we hope to lift up all Americans, we must first support those families and the jobs they hold.  This means supporting American companies and American made products in the check-out line.” MORE: http://bit.ly/1t4EcPC

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@HuffPostPol: Inside Rand Paul’s improbable vote to kill NSA reform http://huff.to/1uGE4us 

@scottwongDC: Happening today: Lottery for House freshmen to pick out their offices

@OKnox: Haven’t found anyone in Senate who says Blinken won’t ultimately be confirmed. Or anyone who says today’s hearing will be easy.

@markknoller: Speaker Boehner calls the Child Care Bill a “vital initiative” providing low-income parents access to “safe & affordable child care.”

@jmartNYT: Lack of support for Landrieu in her caucus is striking. She couldn’t find 1 more dem (a retiree?) to give her 60 and avoid embarrassment

Keystone Goes Down (The Note)

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • KEYSTONE PIPELINE FAILS IN THE SENATE: The controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline failed to win approval in a Senate vote last night by one vote, a blow to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu who hoped to be able to push it through, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Landrieu, who is in a tight December run-off to keep her Senate seat, had sponsored the bill and had expressed confidence earlier in the day that she and other supporters had rounded up the 60 votes necessary to approve the long stalled project. The final vote was 59-41. Shortly after the vote was tallied, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will become the Senate Majority Leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January, said he will bring up the issue again “early next year.” http://abcn.ws/1uFIXDY
  • HAPPENING TODAY: President Obama delivers remarks this morning at a ConnectED conference on digital learning, with superintendents and other educators from across the country. It’s part of an initiative to connect more schools to high-speed internet.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Does 2016 start today? Or maybe the real question is hasn’t it already started? Well, even if it has today is an important marker in the run-up to the next presidential contest. The Republican Governors Association’s annual conference, this year held in Boca Raton, will meet and likely celebrate their huge gains earlier this month, but it will also showcase many of the potential 2016 contenders that could come out of statehouses this cycle. This afternoon many of the top presidential possibilities will come together for a session titled “Republican Governors: The Road Ahead.” It will feature Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The current, but outgoing, chairman New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be on hand at an earlier press briefing and of course the many events over the week closed to the press. Today’s events will be ones to watch for all 2016 observers.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Let’s stipulate that Democrats won’t win or lose a single election over the fact that Rep. Tammy Duckworth won’t be able to vote in private caucus meetings while she’s pregnant. But it’s hard not to read the criticism of Democrats’ decision to keep her from voting as a broader critique of party leadership and the public image being projected. According to Roll Call, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz were among House Democrats speaking up to allow Duckworth, who happens to also be a disabled veteran whose doctors have advised her not to travel, to participate in leadership decisions. Pelosi is citing longstanding House policies in opposing proxy voting, and Duckworth is dropping the fight. But coming after a rerun of the “war on women” strategy – used to less effect by Democrats this time around – Jon Stewart is on the case. Bad feelings are likely to linger inside Democratic circles, particularly with a Democratic wipeout nonetheless re-empowering the same leadership team the party had for a decade now. http://bit.ly/1ySpVJA

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

CLINTON TOURISM IN ARKANSAS: GO ALONG FOR THE RIDE ON A ‘BILLGRIMAGE.’ The first Billgrims came 10 years ago. After the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library Nov. 18, 2004, travelers descended on Arkansas like never before. Suddenly, the state was welcoming people from all around the world who came to tour Bill Clinton’s library and, along the way, visit other historic landmarks related to the former president. ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ goes on a trip known as a “Billgrimage.” http://abcn.ws/1F077vV

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

FLIP FLOP? WHITE HOUSE CONCEDES OBAMA SHIFT ON IMMIGRATION ACTION. President Obama has long declared he does not have the legal authority to do what he is about to do on immigration: bypass Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants through an executive order. “[I]f we start broadening that [the deferred action program for undocumented immigrant youth], then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally… So that’s not an option,” he said last year. How could the president now do what he plainly said was illegal as recently as last fall? That’s what ABC’s JONATHAN KARL asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Tuesday’s White House briefing. In what appears to be a rare acknowledgement of a presidential flip flop, Earnest explained “obviously there are some things that have changed on this.” Watch the exchange here. http://abcn.ws/1BKOv4X

LOOK WHO’S COMING TO WASHINGTON: DC gets a high profile visitor today when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visits the White House and a progressive gathering, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. He’s had a tough week with the departure of a top aide and now a new poll is out showing lower approval ratings. In a Quinnipiac University poll, de Blasio has a 49 to 36 percent job approval rating, similar to a 50 to 32 percent survey in August, but look at the racial divide. African-American New Yorkers approve of de Blasio 71 to 14 percent, Hispanic voters approve 56 to 27 percent and whites disapprove of the mayor 50 to 34 percent. Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll describes it this way: “It’s a tale of two cities under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Black voters think the mayor is terrific.  White voters don’t approve.  And the racial gap gets wider every time we ask.” http://bit.ly/1xMMn7w

WHY WASHINGTON IS TALKING ABOUT A SHUTDOWN – AGAIN. Talk of a shutdown is percolating again on Capitol Hill — this time over immigration, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The political scars of last year’s government shutdown over Obamacare are still fresh, leading many Republicans to disavow suggestions they would consider shutting down the government again as an attempt to thwart President Obama’s upcoming executive action on immigration reform. http://abcn.ws/1qSLKED

NOTED: HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN. On the brink of President Obama’s expected executive action on immigration, rumors of another potential government shutdown are swirling. It was just over a year ago when, on Oct. 1, 2013, the government shut down for 16 days after Congress was unable to agree on a budget for the new fiscal year. ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI take a look at what happened the last time the government shut down. http://abcn.ws/1u6VHOH

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX

RICK SANTORUM’S ‘MADE IN AMERICA’ CHRISTMAS. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the chairman of Patriot Voices PAC, is launching the group’s second annual “Made in the USA” Christmas effort urging American shoppers to buy goods and gifts made in the United States this holiday season and to shop at local small businesses across the country. “This Christmas season, millions of hard-working American families are struggling to make ends meet,” Santorum said in a statement. “If we hope to lift up all Americans, we must first support those families and the jobs they hold.  This means supporting American companies and American made products in the check-out line.” MORE: http://bit.ly/1t4EcPC

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@HuffPostPol: Inside Rand Paul’s improbable vote to kill NSA reform http://huff.to/1uGE4us 

@scottwongDC: Happening today: Lottery for House freshmen to pick out their offices

@OKnox: Haven’t found anyone in Senate who says Blinken won’t ultimately be confirmed. Or anyone who says today’s hearing will be easy.

@markknoller: Speaker Boehner calls the Child Care Bill a “vital initiative” providing low-income parents access to “safe & affordable child care.”

@jmartNYT: Lack of support for Landrieu in her caucus is striking. She couldn’t find 1 more dem (a retiree?) to give her 60 and avoid embarrassment

Senate Fails to Advance NSA Reform Bill

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate failed to advance a National Security Agency reform bill that would effectively end the bulk collection of metadata, a program that came to light as part of the Edward Snowden leaks.
 
The Senate voted 58 to 42 on a procedural vote to advance the USA Freedom Act.  Sixty votes were needed to clear the first procedural hurdle.
 
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, the lead author of the bill, said support for the measure is “gaining ground” despite failing to secure 60 votes needed to advance the bill.
 
“I will continue to fight and whatever years I have left in this body, I will continue to fight to preserve our Constitution and our rights as Americans,” Leahy said after the vote.
 
Opponents of the measure argue that the current metadata collection program does not violate the privacy of Americans and the reforms included in the USA Freedom Act could take away the intelligence community’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks against the U.S.
 
“It is a mistake, it would make us less safe and we have expert testimony telling us that,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said.
 
“This program has been criticized an awful lot simply because of the leaks that Mr. Snowden made because of his theft of government property. But the fact is there cannot be one single case pointed to by anybody who can show that as a result of collection of metadata under 215 any American has had their privacy rights breached,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said.
 
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who is one of the most vocal supporters of the metadata collection program, announced her support for the program just before the vote.
 
“I’m prepared to support the bill.  I do so for very practical reasons because without it, I believe we will not have a program,” Feinstein said.
 
The bill also pitted potential 2016 challengers against one another with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, being a co-sponsor of the measure, while Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., opposed it.
 
“This is bipartisan legislation that enjoys the support of the intelligence community but also the tech community. The bill is not perfect but in my view we should take it up and consider reasonable amendments on the floor,” Cruz said.
 
“I promise you if God forbid any horrifying event like [9/11] were to happen, the first question we will be asked is why didn’t we know about it and why didn’t we prevent it and if this program is gutted, we will not be able to potentially know about it and we will not be able to prevent it,” Rubio said.
 
“In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans were eager to catch and punish the terrorists who attacked us. I, like most Americans, demanded justice. But one common misconception is that the Patriot Act applies only to foreigners — when in reality, the Patriot Act was instituted precisely to widen the surveillance laws to include U.S. citizens,” Paul said in a statement after the vote. “As Benjamin Franklin put it, ‘those who trade their liberty for security may wind up with neither.’ Today’s vote to oppose further consideration of the Patriot Act extension proves that we are one step closer to restoring civil liberties in America.”

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Judge Refuses to Throw Out Case Against Rick Perry

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Stewart F. House/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) — On Tuesday a judge in Texas refused to throw out two felony indictments against Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry is accused of illegally threatening to pull funding from an office supervised by a district attorney caught driving drunk.

Defense lawyer Tony Buzbee argued that the special prosecutor in Perry’s case wasn’t properly sworn in.

Perry, a Republican, is the longest-serving governor in Texas history and a potential presidential candidate in 2016. He and his supporters have blasted the indictments as politically motivated.

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Keystone Pipeline Fails to Get Through Senate

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC NEWS(WASHINGTON) — The controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline failed to win approval in a Senate vote Tuesday night by one vote, a blow to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu who hoped to be able to push it through.

Landrieu, a Democrat who is in a tight December run-off to keep her Senate seat, was one of the lead sponsors of the bill and had expressed confidence earlier in the day that she and other supporters had rounded up the 60 votes necessary to approve the long stalled project.

The final vote was 59-41.

Shortly after the vote was tallied, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will become the Senate Majority Leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January, said he will bring up the issue again “early next year.”

“It’s been on my agenda and it’s staying on my agenda and I’m going to do everything I can to help America become energy independent,” Landrieu said after the bill was defeated. “This fight was worth having.”

The vote was a nail-biter as it was unclear whether the measure had support of 60 senators before the vote began. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Chris Coons, D-Del., were two senators considered as potential last minute yes votes, but the two senators voted against the measure.

Landrieu said she “felt relatively certain that the coalition that was put together was strong enough to find the extra one. I say we have to work on our little muscle a little more.”

Fourteen Democrats joined all 45 Republicans in support of the measure. The White House had refrained from announcing whether President Obama would veto the measure, but many Democratic senators expected the president to veto the bill had it passed.

When the vote was called, protesters against the pipeline started shouting in the Senate chamber. The protesters, which included Greg Grey Cloud and Maria Langholz, were escorted out of the Senate chamber.

After two years of inaction on the Keystone XL pipeline measure, the Senate decided last week to vote on the bill at the urging of Landrieu, who is facing a tight December run-off race to maintain her Senate seat.

“I took that opportunity. I called for this vote, not Harry Reid, not Mitch McConnell. I called for it and I think it’s worth fighting for,” Landrieu said.

“I’m going to fight for the people of my state until the day that I leave. I hope that will not be soon, so I’m going to continue to shake this place up when I can to identify opportunities as I see them to push an important debate forward for not only Louisiana, not only my part of the country but for the entire country,” Landrieu said.

Last week, the House passed a Keystone bill proposed by her Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

Support for the pipeline has become a significant issue in the Louisiana run-off campaign.

The pipeline would carry oil from Canada’s tar sand pits to refineries in the U.S. Opponents of the bill warn that the Keystone pipeline would further damage the environment.

“XL stands for Xtra Lethal and misery follows the tar sands,” Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said today.

The White House had not said whether it would veto the legislation if it had passed, but many Democratic senators believe the president will do just that.

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White House Concedes Obama Shift on Immigration Action

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has long declared he does not have the legal authority to do what he is about to do on immigration: bypass Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants through an executive order.

“I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself,” Obama said Oct. 25, 2010.

“I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed,” he declared three years later on Feb. 14, 2013.

Later that year on Sept. 17: “[I]f we start broadening that [the deferred action program for undocumented immigrant youth], then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally,” he said. “So that’s not an option.”

How could the president now do what he plainly said was illegal as recently as last fall?

That’s what ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Tuesday’s White House briefing. In what appears to be a rare acknowledgement of a presidential flip flop, Earnest explained “obviously there are some things that have changed on this.”

Watch the exchange.

KARL: Does the president still stand by what he said last year when he said, quote, “I am not the emperor of the United States; my job is to execute laws that are passed.” Is that still operative?

MR. EARNEST: Absolutely.

KARL: He’s not a king either.

MR. EARNEST: That’s right.

KARL: Because he was asked very specifically about the idea of expanding the deferred action executive order for the dreamers to their parents. And he said Sept. 17 last year, Telemundo, very clearly, “If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that would make it very difficult to defend legally, so that is not an option.” Is that still operative when the president had said specifically that expanding the DACA executive order is not an option because it would be ignoring the law? Does he still believe that?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Jon, I don’t want to get ahead of what any sort of announcements that the president may make before the end of the year about executive actions that he may take to fix our broken immigration system. Since this interview aired, the president did direct the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a review of the law to determine what, if any, authority he could use to try to fix some of the problems that House Republicans have refused to address. So this is something that has been under consideration for some time by the attorney general of the United States and by the secretary of Homeland Security. And, you know, it –

KARL But just to be clear, so you’re saying that this is no longer operative because we’ve had a review. So when the president said that expanding DACA to apply to the parents of the dreamers, for instance, would be broadening and essentially ignoring the law in a way that would be difficult to defend legally, that it’s not an option, that statement is no longer operative?

MR. EARNEST: Well, what I’m saying is we’ll have an opportunity to evaluate the actions that the president has chosen to take after he’s announced them.

KARL: But I’m not asking about the options. I’m just saying, does the president still stand by what he said in that interview in September of last year?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Jon, there – obviously, there are some things that have changed in this. Obviously, there have – some things that have changed, right? We have been in a situation where the president has ordered a broader, in-depth review of the existing law to determine what sort of executive authority does rest with the presidency to determine what kinds of steps he could take on his own.

The other thing that we’ve seen is we’ve seen House Republicans refuse to act even on common-sense legislation that would fix so many of the problems of our broken immigration system in a way that would strengthen border security, reduce the deficit and be good for the economy.

KARL: But they had already refused to act at this point.

MR. EARNEST: Well, I guess – I guess it’s fair to say they’ve been refusing to act for quite some time. At that point it had only been a few months that they’d been refusing to act. Now it’s been almost a year and a half.

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Senate to Hold Keystone XL Vote

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate will vote Tuesday evening on the Keystone XL pipeline. There will be only one referendum on final passage, which requires 60 votes.

As of Monday’s whip count, supporters only had 59 votes, but Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., insists she has 60 — maybe even more.

Monday night, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., the lead Republican co-sponsor of the Keystone pipeline bill, was a bit more cautious, saying there are a few maybes they hope to switch to “yes.”

Two senators to keep an eye on will be Angus King of Maine and Chris Coons of Delaware, who told ABC he currently thinks it should be the president’s decision, but he is listening to the arguments of members of his caucus and his home state.

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The Spy Who Infiltrated Congress: Meet Rep.-Elect Will Hurd

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Will Hurd for Congress(WASHINGTON) — As a CIA undercover officer, Will Hurd made it his business to go unnoticed. But as a newly-elected member of Congress, this spy has thoroughly blown his former cover.

On his first trip to Washington since being elected, the Texas Republican — the first black Republican elected from that state since Reconstruction — told The Fine Print how his years working in the CIA inspired him to come out of the shadows and into the political spotlight.

“One of the other things I had to do was brief members of Congress, and when I was in the agency I was shocked by the caliber of some of our elected officials and decided to do something about it,” Hurd said. “My mamma said, ‘You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution,’ and so I decided to run.”

What shocked Hurd most, he said, was that many members didn’t even know the basic difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims while the U.S. was engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That’s okay for my brother not to know that, because he sells cable for Grande Communications, but for someone who’s making decisions on spending our billions of dollars of hard earned taxpayer dollars, that’s unacceptable,” Hurd said. “For people that are sending our boys and girls to some place like Iraq or Afghanistan, that’s unacceptable.”

Hurd hopes to put his background in intelligence and national security to good use on Capitol Hill, noting that “of the 435 members up here, nobody has my background in intelligence, national security or foreign policy.”

He warned about the need to snuff out ISIS now before they can pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland.

“They pose a real threat and we need to do everything we possibly can to eliminate them,” he said. “I think bombing them in Syria and Iraq is a good thing. I think we need to work more with our local partners, because ISIS is a threat to the Saudis, ISIS is a threat to the Jordanians, ISIS is a threat to the Turks, ISIS is a threat to the Emirates.”

Fresh off the campaign trail, Hurd said he and the other newly-elected Congressional freshmen bring with them a mandate for action.

“We all need to govern,” Hurd said. “There’s about 40 folks like me that are coming in from this past cycle and what we heard in my district and across the country is people are ready for us to get things done. I think that is the momentum that we saw from these campaigns and that I hope we bring to this body.”

And with that, Hurd said, is an expectation that Congress can turn the page on conflicts of Congresses past, such as last year’s government shutdown.

“I think it’s a new day,” Hurd said. “I don’t think we’re going to go down that road. I think passing a budget is important. I think we’re going to have the cooperation from both sides of the House to make sure that gets done.”

But for all the optimism Hurd has for the new session of Congress, his expectations are far more moderate when it comes to the physical office space he’ll receive as a low-seniority member.

“My expectations are muted to probably say the best,” he said. “We just need a place to sit and do work. And we’ll take whatever comes our way.”

For more of the interview with Hurd, and to hear about his first elected office as the student body president of Texas A&M, check out this episode of The Fine Print.

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Keystone Showdown

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • TODAY IN THE SENATE: This evening the Senate votes on the Keystone XL pipeline. There will be only one vote on final passage which requires 60 votes. According to ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ, as of yesterday’s whip count, supporters only had 59 votes but Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., insists she has 60 — maybe even more. Last night, Sen. John Hoeven, the lead Republican co-sponsor of the Keystone pipeline bill, was a bit more cautious, saying there are a few maybes they hope to switch to “yes” tomorrow. Two senators to keep an eye on will be Angus King of Maine and Chris Coons of Delaware, who told ABC he currently thinks it should be the president’s decision but he is listening to the arguments of members of his caucus and his home state.
  • WHAT WE KNOW – AND DON’T KNOW – ABOUT OBAMA’S IMMINENT IMMIGRATION ACTION. President Obama could unveil as soon as Friday his planned, unilateral overhaul of the nation’s immigration system. Details of the proposed measures remain under wraps, but senior administration officials have said Obama is prepared to “go big.” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the administration is in the “final stages” of developing the plan, which he described as comprehensive, touching all aspects of American immigration including border security. ABC’s DEVIN DWYER takes a look at what we know – and don’t know – about Obama’s immigration plan. http://abcn.ws/1xQqq8K

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The number of the day is 60. Will Sen. Mary Landrieu’s fight for the Keystone pipeline prevail or fail by one vote? She starts the day with 59 known supporters: All Republicans and a small group of Democrats. While outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to round up enough support for the bill in an urgent effort to try and salvage Landrieu’s Louisiana Senate seat, the White House isn’t helping with the arm-twisting. If President Obama carries through with his veto threat — before possibly approving it next year — there’s little incentive for a Democrat to walk the plank. Will this be the time lessons are learned that the 60th vote is the worst place to be?

ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS: Can Sen. Mary Landrieu’s “hail Mary” Keystone effort save her? It’s a big day for Landrieu as the Senate prepares to vote on whether or not to approve the Keystone Pipeline — a vote that’s only moving forward in the lame-duck session as a favor to the embattled Democrat facing a tough run-off election in three weeks’ time. The bill’s passage would be a demonstration of Landrieu’s campaign message: that her clout and ability to work across the aisle deliver real results for Louisiana. But even if the bill passes (and that’s a big “if”), it’s unclear how the legislative victory will translate into an electoral one for Landrieu, who still faces many hurdles on the road to reelection. Though Landrieu finished slightly ahead of her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy in the general election, Cassidy has since gained the endorsement of the third-place candidate Col. Rob Maness as well as a number of Republican stars, such as Sen. Rand Paul. And while Republicans have rushed in to support Cassidy, Democrats have shown little appetite to invest in the race and have even pulled some previously reserved funds. Another challenge for Landrieu is how to make up for her paltry performance among white voters. She captured only 18 percent of that constituency in the general election but needs closer to 30 percent if she is to have any hope of winning on Dec. 6.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: It must be lonely being Mary Landrieu these days – unless you count the protestors who not-so-helpfully inflated a pipeline outside her Capitol Hill home Monday. That’s just part of what makes for this peculiar scene. Landrieu is in a runoff fight for her Senate seat, a situation she’s become sort of used to in Louisiana. But after months where nearly everything done or not done by President Obama and Senate Democratic leaders were driven by politics, suddenly the policy moves are being made independent of politics – or with comfort in sacrificing Landrieu’s career. First, she may not get the votes she needs to pass the Keystone Pipeline in the Senate, which would mark a bitter disappointment that undermines her claims to Washington influence. She needs 60 votes for the bill because Democrats are effectively setting that threshold, mounting what fits the definition of what they’ve labeled a filibuster when Republicans have done the same. If it passed, a presidential veto is near certain, even though it’s an open secret that a similar bill passed in January or February – that is, not by Landrieu’s current efforts – could be signed by President Obama. And Obama has made clear that for all the timing considerations he’s thinking about with regard to immigration, the runoff in Louisiana is not among them. Maybe Landrieu’s fate was sealed when she didn’t come close to a majority Nov. 4. But do Democrats – and the outside groups that want a Democratic Senate – think they will have a better chance to secure a Senate seat in a red Southern state any time in, say, the next two decades?

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

THE SPY WHO INFILTRATED CONGRESS: MEET REP.-ELECT WILL HURD. As a CIA undercover officer, Will Hurd made it his business to go unnoticed. But as a newly-elected member of Congress, this spy has thoroughly blown his former cover. On his first trip to Washington since being elected, the Texas Republican – the first black Republican elected from that state since Reconstruction – told ABC’s JEFF ZELENY, host of “The Fine Print,” how his years working in the CIA inspired him to come out of the shadows and into the political spotlight. “One of the other things I had to do was brief members of Congress, and when I was in the agency I was shocked by the caliber of some of our elected officials and decided to do something about it,” Hurd said. “My mamma said, ‘You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution,’ and so I decided to run.” What shocked Hurd most, he said, was that many members didn’t even know the basic difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims while the U.S. was engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1uDkM9e

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

FBI WARNS FERGUSON DECISION ‘WILL LIKELY’ LEAD TO VIOLENCE BY EXTREMIST PROTESTORS. As the nation waits to hear whether a Missouri police officer will face charges for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the FBI is warning law enforcement agencies across the country that the decision “will likely” lead some extremist protesters to threaten and even attack police officers or federal agents, ABC’s MIKE LEVINE, PIERRE THOMAS, JACK DATE and JACK CLOHERTY report. Peaceful protesters could be caught in the middle, and electrical facilities or water treatment plants could also become targets. In addition, so-called “hacktivists” like the group “Anonymous” could try to launch cyber-attacks against authorities. ”The announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” the FBI says in an intelligence bulletin issued in recent days. “This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.” http://abcn.ws/1vlc1BW

OBAMA ORDERS FULL REVIEW OF HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION POLICY. ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports President Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of policy dictating how the U.S. government tries to secure the freedom of Americans held hostage by terrorists abroad, a senior Pentagon official revealed in a recent letter to a member of Congress. “As a result of the increased frequency of hostage-taking of Americans overseas, and the recognition of the dynamic threat posed by specific terrorist groups, the President recently directed a comprehensive review of the U.S. Government policy on overseas terrorist-related hostage cases, with specific emphasis on examining family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies,” Christine Wormuth, the undersecretary of defense for policy, wrote in a Nov. 11 letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., obtained by ABC News. http://abcn.ws/1xJTldt

OBAMA ‘WOULD ORDER’ U.S. TROOPS INTO COMBAT IF ISIS GOT NUCLEAR WEAPON. President Obama has been unwavering and definitive in declaring he will not deploy U.S. ground troops into combat to fight ISIS militants. Period. But for the first time since the start of the anti-ISIS offensive dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve, the president volunteered a scenario which he said would change his mind, ABC’s DEVIN DWYER reports. “If we discovered that [ISIS] had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes,” the president told reporters at a news conference in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. “I would order it.” http://abcn.ws/1yeH402

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

–SEN. TED CRUZ JOINS VINE. “A simple message: #DontMessWithTheNet!” https://vine.co/v/O50UXv7nbae

SEE THE GIANT INFLATABLE KEYSTONE PIPELINE ON MARY LANDRIEU’S LAWN. Sen. Mary Landrieu got a big surprise Monday morning when protesters placed a 30-foot-long inflatable pipeline on the front lawn of her Washington, D.C., home. ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports more than two dozen activists assembled on Landrieu’s lawn to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, a project Landrieu, D-Louisiana, has championed and pushed the Senate to vote on this week. http://abcn.ws/1A84SGX

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@daveweigel: I love that we have a political kingmaker named “King.” Next we need a bumbling senator named “Gaffe.” http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/18/steve-king-kingmaker-summit-iowa-freedom-presidential-candidates/19208555/ …

@bridgetbhc: New members have arrived for the class photo with a quite a few brave souls not wearing winter coats

@ZekeJMiller: Nancy Pelosi on Tammy Duckworth: No doctor’s note situations http://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/nancy-pelosi-tammy-duckworth-doctors-note-112966.html … via @POLITICO

@AriFleischer: A gov shutdown did not help the GOP the last 2 times it was done. I get the desire to “stop” O’s exec order, but 3rd time won’t be a charm.

@FusionIsNews: One in every 30 children in the U.S is homeless: http://fus.in/1u5FPff 

President Obama Orders Full Review of Hostage Negotiation Policy

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of policy dictating how the U.S. government tries to secure the freedom of Americans held hostage by terrorists abroad, a senior Pentagon official revealed in a recent letter to a member of Congress.

“As a result of the increased frequency of hostage-taking of Americans overseas, and the recognition of the dynamic threat posed by specific terrorist groups, the President recently directed a comprehensive review of the U.S. Government policy on overseas terrorist-related hostage cases, with specific emphasis on examining family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies,” Christine Wormuth, the undersecretary of defense for policy, wrote in a Nov. 11 letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., obtained by ABC News Monday.

Wormuth, the No. 3-ranked civilian at the Pentagon, writes that the review will seek “to integrate innovative and non-traditional solutions” that the administration hopes will improve inter-agency coordination and “strengthen the whole-of-government approach” led by the FBI and State Department during hostage negotiations.

The letter does not explicitly address whether ransom payments will be part of the assessment. The U.S. has a strict policy against paying ransoms to terrorist organizations, though many other countries permit direct payment.

In a speech Monday defending the U.S. war against the Islamic State, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that paying ransoms could endanger more Americans.

“And as for kidnapping, the United States has set a heart-rending but absolutely necessary example by refusing to pay ransom for captured Americans. Last year the U.N. Security Council and the G8 firmly endorsed an identical policy, and all of the evidence shows that where and if a country is paid a ransom, there are many more people who are taken hostage,” Kerry said.

Hunter wrote the president on Aug. 20, a day after American journalist James Foley was reported murdered by the Islamic State, urging Obama “to guarantee we are maximizing our recovery efforts.”

Since Hunter sent the letter, at least two more Americans have been murdered by the Islamic State, including Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig, whose death was reported over the weekend. Kassig had adopted the name Abdul-Rahman after he converted to Islam in captivity. At least one more American is believed to be currently held by the Islamic State.

National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the White House has no comment at this time.

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FBI Warns Ferguson Decision ‘Will Likely’ Lead to Violence by Extremist Protesters

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) –  As the nation waits to hear whether a Missouri police officer will face charges for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the FBI is warning law enforcement agencies across the country that the decision “will likely” lead some extremist protesters to threaten and even attack police officers or federal agents.

Peaceful protesters could be caught in the middle, and electrical facilities or water treatment plants could also become targets. In addition, so-called “hacktivists” like the group “Anonymous” could try to launch cyber-attacks against authorities.

“The announcement of the grand jury’s decision…will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” the FBI says in an intelligence bulletin issued in recent days. “This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.”

The FBI bulletin expresses concern only over those who would exploit peaceful protests, not the masses of demonstrators who will want to legitimately, lawfully and collectively express their views on the grand jury’s decision.

The bulletin “stresses the importance of remaining aware of the protections afforded to all U.S. persons exercising their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

Within hours of the FBI issuing its bulletin, some police departments across the country issued their own internal memos urging officers to review procedures and protocols for responding to mass demonstrations.

Still, the bulletin’s conclusions were blunt: “The FBI assesses those infiltrating and exploiting otherwise legitimate public demonstrations with the intent to incite and engage in violence could be armed with bladed weapons or firearms, equipped with tactical gear/gas masks, or bulletproof vests to mitigate law enforcement measures.”

The bulletin cites a series of recent messages threatening law enforcement, including a message posted online last week by a black separatist group that offered “a $5,000 bounty for the location” of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who fired the shots that killed Brown on Aug. 9.

In interviews with ABC News, police officials said their departments have identified a number of agitators who routinely appear at mass demonstrations.

“How many of those sympathizers are actually sympathizers?” Rick Hite, the chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan police department, wondered. Many of them see the protests as a way to “chime in with their own personal agenda,” he said.

In its new intelligence bulletin, obtained by ABC News, the FBI says “exploitation” of mass demonstrations “could occur both in the Ferguson area and nationwide.”

Overall, though, law enforcement officials contacted by ABC News – stretching from Los Angeles to the Atlanta area – remained confident that any protests in their cities would not be tainted by violence.

“We are not expecting any issues in our city,” said Billy Grogan, the chief of police in Dunwoody, Ga., outside Atlanta. “However, we are preparing just in case. I believe most departments are watching the situation closely and are prepared to respond if needed.”

A law enforcement official in Pennsylvania agreed, saying that while authorities there are not enacting any significant new measures, they are “monitoring” developments out of Ferguson.

In addition, police officials emphasized that efforts to address a big decision like the one pending in Ferguson actually begin well before that decision.

In Indianapolis, police have held two town-hall meetings in the past two months to discuss the Ferguson issue with concerned residents, and meetings like that help build a “bank of trust,” Hite said.

But it’s sometimes hard to build such trust between a community and the law enforcement officers working its streets.

With several recent cases involving allegations of excessive force by police officers, many in African-American communities can’t help but wonder why seemingly routine encounters escalate so dramatically.

In a recent interview with ABC News, Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey said people in “communities of color” often “don’t view us as people who really have the right to enforce laws or tell them what to do,” and sometimes it’s because of “the way they’ve seen us conduct ourselves in the past.”

“Not all cops, but all it takes it one,” Ramsey said. “As human beings, we tend to remember the one bad incident, not the 10 good ones that we may have experienced.”

On the other side of the spectrum, there are some uncomfortable facts that may be influencing how some police respond to African-Americans they encounter on routine patrols.

In particular, African-Americans are disproportionally represented in crime. According to the FBI, 4,379 blacks were arrested for murder last year, while 3,799 whites were arrested for murder – even though census numbers show there are six times more whites than blacks in the United States.

But as Ramsey said, crime statistics are no excuse for police bias.

And now a grand jury in Ferguson and federal prosecutors are separately looking into whether that type of bias led to Brown’s death.

It’s unclear whether the facts of the case will lead to any prosecution. Indeed, it seems few pieces of evidence are without dispute.

The day after the encounter that resulted in Brown’s death, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters that Brown “physically assaulted” Wilson inside his police car and that “there was a struggle over the officer’s weapon.” At least one shot was fired inside the car, but the fatal shot was fired when both Wilson and Brown were outside the car, according to Belmar. At least one witness said Brown was shot “with his arms up in the air,” while the police claim Wilson fired because Brown was advancing towards him.

Pressed in September to acknowledge that the Justice Department’s own civil rights investigation may not result in charges, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder would only say that “at the end of the day, it’s most important that we get it right.”

As for what’s ahead in Ferguson and communities across the country, Ramsey offered this piece of advice: “Protest. But protest peacefully. Have your voices be heard.”

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Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Difficult but Possible’

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A senior administration official said on Monday that while an agreement in the Iran nuclear talks is “difficult but possible,” it remains unclear whether a deal will be accomplished by next week’s deadline.

Talks are scheduled in Vienna this week, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry making the trip. Despite the concern that a deal may not come easily, the official said on a Monday conference call that an “extension is not and has not been a subject of negotiations at this point.”

“I think we will not know how far we’re going to get and whether we can get to a comprehensive agreement, a joint comprehensive plan of action, until we get to the 24th of November,” the official added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed deep concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The official, however, said that any deal President Obama signs off on will be “a good one.” He added that the president will act in the interests of the U.S., Israel, and partners around the world.

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Obama ‘Would Order’ US Troops into Combat If ISIS Got Nuclear Weapon

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has been unwavering and definitive in declaring he will not deploy U.S. ground troops into combat to fight ISIS militants. But for the first time since the start of the anti-ISIS offensive dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve, the president volunteered a scenario which he said would change his mind.

“If we discovered that [ISIS] had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes,” the president told reporters at a news conference in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. “I would order it.”

There is no indication that ISIS currently possesses or could easily obtain a nuclear weapon, officials say.

Still, Obama’s declaration of a potential nuclear weapon in the hands of ISIS is a noteworthy new “red line” – and a very high bar for a U.S. offensive role on the ground.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs and Obama’s top military adviser, has consistently kept the door open to deployment of U.S. ground troops in combat situations ever since anti-ISIS military operations began, but has yet to formally recommend it.

Last week, Dempsey testified on Capitol Hill that the Pentagon is “certainly considering” whether to embed U.S. military advisers with Iraqi combat units deployed to the front lines. Obama has also maintained openness to the idea, but already rejected one recommendation to do so.

“Yes, there are circumstances in which [Dempsey] could envision the deployment of U.S. troops. That’s true everywhere, by the way,” Obama said Sunday. “That’s his job, is to think about various contingencies. And, yes, there are always circumstances in which the United States might need to deploy U.S. ground troops.”

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Kerry: US Not Intimidated by ISIS

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

State Dept Photo(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at a foreign policy forum on Monday, speaking to the reasons behind the United States’ decision to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and the examples of progress seen in the fight thus far.

“We are confronting [ISIS] not because it’s easy, but because it’s necessary,” Kerry said. “[ISIS'] leaders assume that the world would be too intimidated to oppose them,” Kerry added, noting that the group is “very, very wrong.”

Referring to ISIS as “morally and intellectually bankrupt,” he said that as the U.S.-led coalition continues to deprive the group of finances, they will also be “just plain bankrupt.”

ISIS itself has helped the U.S. government build its coalition of nations. “[ISIS] is a coalition multiplier,” Kerry said, “governments that can’t agree on almost anything else agree on the imperative of confronting and defeating these terrorists.”

He also noted the death of American aid worker Peter Kassig on Sunday. He called the American policy to refuse to pay ransom difficult “but absolutely necessary,” noting that paying ransoms would likely lead to more kidnappings.

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Government Pension Agency Reports Large Deficit

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation released its annual report on Monday, showing that the nation’s pension system is running a higher deficit than the year before.

According to the report, the PBGC’s deficit hit $62 billion in the 2014 fiscal year. This increase, the PBGC says, is consistent with estimates from the fiscal year 2013 projections.

The deficit for the government’s single-employer program dropped to $19.3 billion — down from $27.4 billion in 2013, while the multi-employer program saw its deficit jump from $8.3 billion in 2013 to $42.4 billion in 2014.

The large jump is attributed to “the fact that several additional large multi-employer plans are expected to become insolvent within the next decade.”

In all, about 41 million workers are covered by the two programs.

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What We Know – and Don’t Know – About Obama’s Imminent Immigration Action

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

State Department photo by William Ng(WASHINGTON) — President Obama could unveil as soon as Friday his planned, unilateral overhaul of the nation’s immigration system. Details of the proposed measures remain under wraps, but senior administration officials have said Obama is prepared to “go big.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said over the weekend that the administration is in the “final stages” of developing the plan, which he described as comprehensive, touching all aspects of American immigration including border security.

What immigration executive actions are on the table?

The most controversial aspect of Obama’s planned action will be an order to, on a temporary basis, exempt from deportation and grant work permits to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.

Obama has said he is prepared to expand a 2012 program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — that has so far shielded more than half a million young immigrants from deportation. Under terms of the program, implemented by executive action, only migrants who came to the U.S. before age 16, are under age 31, have lived here five years, completed schooling and have no criminal record are eligible for relief in two-year, renewable increments.

The president is said to be considering modifications to the existing criteria, which could expand the number of immigrant youth eligible to apply. Immigration advocates say Obama may also create a new deferred action program that could benefit millions of undocumented immigrant adults who are parents of American citizens or legal residents.

Aside from deferred action, the White House is weighing whether to further refine guidance for which immigrants should be prosecuted and deported if they are apprehended by authorities. Obama has previously directed the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize removal of immigrants with criminal records to help ease a backlog of cases. Tightening or loosening the definition of what crimes would merit prioritization (e.g. violent versus nonviolent) could provide additional relief to tens of thousands, according to immigration policy groups.

What about the border?

Administration officials say the president will announce steps to strengthen enforcement and security along the southwest border, where thousands of immigrant children flooded into the U.S. over the summer. While funding from Congress would be necessary for a significant surge of new resources there, Obama could direct a reallocation of existing enforcement manpower and tools from different border regions and interior enforcement areas.

“We’ve got severe resource constraints right now at the border not in apprehending people, but in processing and having enough immigration judges and so forth,” Obama said Sunday. “And so what’s within our authority to do is reallocating resources and re-prioritizing since we can’t do everything.”

Would Obama’s actions be permanent and include pathway to citizenship?

None of the proposed Obama executive actions would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The White House says all executive actions can be overturned, both through action by Congress or by the next president, making any expansion of relief for undocumented immigrants through deferred action programs temporary and tenuous.

“That’s why…it continues to be my great preference to see Congress pass comprehensive legislation, because that is not reversed by a future president, it would have to be reversed by a future Congress,” Obama said Sunday.

Have presidents taken executive action on immigration before?

Democrats point out that two Republican presidents, Ronald Reagan in 1987 and George H.W. Bush in 1989, both took executive actions that granted temporary legal status to thousands of undocumented immigrants who were not covered in the sweeping 1986 immigration overhaul passed by Congress and signed into law.

Republicans argue those circumstances were targeted and narrow, and that current proposals to extend relief to as many as 5 million immigrants would be sweeping and unprecedented, without any accompanying action by Congress or demonstrated, forthcoming bipartisan initiative.

Would Obama’s action be legal?

The legality of Obama’s proposed actions remains open to debate, though generally experts say the president has considerable leeway in enforcement discretion.

“Legally, the president has wide authority to act administratively on immigration,” said Cornell University law professor and immigration expert Stephen Yale-Loehr. “The federal courts have often noted that the president has broad executive authority to shape the enforcement and implementation of immigration laws, including exercising prosecutorial discretion to defer deportations and streamline certain adjudications.”

Some Republicans have called the expected Obama immigration plan “unconstitutional,” and have considered taking the administration to court.

When will Obama announce his action?

The president could unveil his executive action as soon as Friday, when Congress will begin a one-week recess for the Thanksgiving holiday, but no later than the end of the year, as Obama has repeatedly promised, administration officials say.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has asked the White House to wait until after Congress passes a measure to keep the government running past Dec. 11 in order to avoid complicating the budget process. But some administration officials have dismissed those concerns, seeing no advantage to waiting – even possible political gain, if Republicans were to raise threat of a government shutdown.

“Any executive action that I take is going to require some adjustments to how DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, operates, where it’s deploying resources, et cetera; how are folks processed; what priorities are set up,” Obama said Sunday. “And so I want to make sure that we’ve crossed all our T’s and dotted all our I’s — that that’s my main priority.”

How does the American public feel about executive action on immigration?

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll on the issue of immigration found widespread public frustration with the status quo, but skepticism about extending legal status and work permits to millions of undocumented.

A majority — 52 percent — of Americans said they would like to see Obama act unilaterally on immigration in the absence of Congressional action, with 44 percent opposed, in the September survey.

But when asked about plans to extend legal status and work permits to undocumented immigrants now living and working in the U.S., a majority were opposed — 50 percent saying they do not back the idea, up four percentage points from the year before.

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Chief of Staff for NYC Mayor’s Wife Takes Leave of Absence

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Johnny Nunez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Rachel Noerdlinger, the Chief of Staff to the wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, announced Monday she would take a leave of absence in order to spend more time with her son, Khari, who was recently arrested for criminal trespassing.

Noerdlinger thanked de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray for their “unwavering support.”

In addition to her son’s arrest, Noerdlinger recently come under criticism when it was revealed that she had omitted her relationship with an ex-convict during a background check.

“I can handle criticism and scrutiny of me,” Noerdlinger said in a statement, “even when it’s mean-spirited…but increasingly, my son has been subjected to attacks that have nothing to do with the public interest, and everything to do with derailing this administration.” She also said that she didn’t want to be “a distraction.”

Last month, an official told ABC News that a probe into Noerdlinger’s background check had been launched.

“These past two months have been extremely difficult for both of us,” Noerdlinger said, “and his arrest on Friday heightens the need for me to devote my full attention to Khari, my number one priority.”

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Protestors Place Giant Inflatable Keystone Pipeline in Mary Landrieu’s Front Yard

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Arlette Saenz/ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., got a big surprise Monday morning when protestors placed a giant inflatable pipeline on the front lawn of her Washington, D.C. home.
 
More than two dozen activists assembled on Landrieu’s front lawn to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, a project Landrieu has championed and pushed the Senate to vote on this week.
 
“If she wants this pipeline so badly, it can go through her front yard and not any one of ours,” Karthik Ganapathy, communications manager for 350.org, an environmental advocacy group, said.
 
The demonstrators argued the 1700 mile long pipeline that would extend from Canada down through Texas could lead to oil spills along the route and could accelerate the impact of climate change.
 
“For somebody that had the gulf oil spill and the devastation that that brought to her state as well as the entire gulf coastline and the gulf, she should understand how important it is that we don’t have these types of environmental disasters,” Art Tanderup, a Nebraska farmer and member of the Cowboy Indian Alliance, a group which protests the pipeline, said. “Unfortunately, cleaning up the gulf was a piece of cake compared to what it’s going to be to clean up a tar sands spill in the Ogallala aquifer.”
 
“Keystone XL is going to be the turning point.  We either go backwards in time with Keystone XL or we move forward and say this country is going to do what it should have been doing for several years and work ourselves away from these dirty tar sands and get us into that clean energy environment,” Tanderup added.
 
The Senate is slated to hold a vote on authorization of the pipeline on Tuesday and is currently just one vote short of crossing the 60-vote threshold.

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Waiting for Action — And Reaction — On Immigration

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • OBAMA DEFENDS EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY ON IMMIGRATION: Showing no signs of backing down, President Obama strongly pushed back against critics questioning his authority to bypass Congress and act unilaterally to reform the nation’s immigration system, ABC’s MARY BRUCE, JIM AVILA and CHRIS GOOD report. “There is a very simple solution to this perception that somehow I’m exercising too much executive authority: pass a bill I can sign on this issue,” he said at a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia. If Congress does act, Obama said, “Metaphorically, I’ll crumple up whatever executive actions that we take and we’ll toss them in the wastebasket because we will now have a law that addresses these issues.” http://abcn.ws/1uhol2Y
  • TOM COLE: PRESIDENT BEING ‘CYNICAL’ WITH IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVE PLAN: ABC’s BEN BELL reports Rep. Tom Cole, R-Ok., called President Obama “political” and “cynical” and said he was trying to “pick a fight” with his plan to take executive action on immigration in the coming days. “He had plenty of opportunity to do things when he had complete Democratic control … so it’s been a political weapon rather than a problem to be solved in my view from the president’s standpoint,” Cole said during an interview on “This Week.” “I think he’s actually trying to bait us into doing some of these extreme things,” he added later in the interview. http://abcn.ws/1ztTWQP

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: President Obama should always take public advice offered by former President Bill Clinton with the sharply flavored grains of salt that accompany it. Yet Clinton’s comments over the weekend, on a subject he knows particularly well, seems like the kind of advice the current president is already following. “I think that he should minimize the chances of being a lame duck,” Clinton told Politico’s Mike Allen. In suggesting that “lame duck” is a mindset, or at least a choice – and not an inevitable byproduct of the calendar – Clinton offered Obama a path to both consequence and confrontation. And on the two big agenda items now in front of the White House – Keystone and immigration – Obama is acting pretty much like this month’s midterms never really happened. It may be that he’s following Clinton’s advice, with an Obama twist. These last two years won’t be about welfare deals on one end or school uniforms on the other. But early signals from the president suggest he’s plotting a way to be more than a little relevant in the coming 26 months.

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: What a week this could be. Tomorrow, we expect the Senate will vote on the Keystone XL pipeline and it could get sent to the president’s desk. This could give the president a chance to use his veto pen, something that he’s only use twice previously in his presidency. And this week could also bring the president’s decision to issue an executive order on immigration reform, although if it does happen this week it would only be at the end at the very earliest. Whenever it does happen, expect an angry GOP response, but even some Democrats like Harry Reid would like the president to wait until next month after the spending bill is done.  What else is going on this week? Giddy GOP governors ecstatic after their victories this month will gather at the Republican Governors Association annual conference, this year in Florida. Even after the AP’s call this weekend of the Alaska gubernatorial race with GOP Gov. Sean Parnell losing they have much more to rejoice and expect to see quite an excited group when they gather later this week.

 

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

STATE DEPARTMENT SHUTS DOWN EMAIL AFTER HACKING ATTACK. The State Department’s unclassified email network has been temporarily shut down to update security protocols in the wake of a suspected hacking attack that occurred in early October. According to ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ and PIERRE THOMAS, a senior State Department official confirmed Sunday that “the Department recently detected activity of concern in portions of its unclassified email system.” The official stressed that “there was no compromise of any of the Department’s classified systems.” As a result of that incident the State Department scheduled an outage this weekend of some Internet systems to implement security improvements to its main unclassified network. http://abcn.ws/11h3AKA

POSITIVE CONVERSATION ABOUT SEN. TED CRUZ DROPS SHARPLY ON FACEBOOK AFTER NET NEUTRALITY COMMENTS. The percentage of conversation about Sen. Ted Cruz that was positive on Facebook fell after the Texas Republican criticized net neutrality, calling it “Obamacare for the Internet.” ABC’s BEN BELL reports that positive interactions related to Cruz on Facebook dropped from 52 percent over the period of Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 to 34 percent from Nov. 5 to Nov. 11, following the firebrand Texas senator’s reaction to Obama’s embrace of net neutrality, according to data supplied by Facebook. http://abcn.ws/1uiNRF5

TRANSCANADA CEO: ‘HIGH PROBABILITY’ KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE WILL BE BUILT. Russ Girling, head of the company proposing the Keystone XL Pipeline, expressed confidence that the project would soon be under way, ABC’s JESSICA PUCKETT reports. “There is a very high probability this pipeline gets built,” Girling said today on ABC News’ “This Week.” “The need for transportation continues to grow, and the place where these producers want to put those barrels is into the Gulf Coast of the U.S. So, our shippers have not wavered one bit in the past six years.” Legislation authorizing Keystone has been in the works since 2008. On Friday, the House voted 252-161 in favor of building the pipeline. http://abcn.ws/1qMQSK8

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

– SEASONED SENATORS DOLE OUT ADVICE: AVOID MISTAKES AND DUNGEON OFFICES. Everyone’s a newbie at some point in their Senate career. After years on Capitol Hill, senators have come to learn a thing or two about surviving in the halls of Congress. As 12 senators-elect learned their way around the halls of the Senate this week during freshman orientation, several senators told ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ some of the advice they wish they had when they started in the Senate. http://abcn.ws/14nkXvq

–HERE’S WHY OBAMACARE ‘ARCHITECT’ JONATHAN GRUBER IS UNDER FIRE. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber may not have been a household name, at least before this week, despite his being described as the “architect” of Obamacare and, previously, Romneycare in Massachusetts. He sparked a furor last week after video surfaced of his talking about the “stupidity” of the American people, among other insults aimed at the voting public. ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE has more on what you need to know about Gruber and the controversy that’s still swirling. http://abcn.ws/14nYIpd

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@TheFix: Want to understand why nothing gets done in Washington? It’s a trust thing. http://wapo.st/1zvUp50 

@moody: How Republicans used secret Twitter accounts to share internal polling data with super PACs. http://cnn.it/1uxwmCE 

@ShorensteinCtr: Who influences U.S. policy most? Research compares economic elites, interest groups, average voters @JournoResource http://hvrd.me/EodJS 

@politicalwire: Mitt Romney: “This idea of poking Republicans with a stick in the eye is not a good idea.” http://politicalwire.com/2014/11/17/bonus-quote-of-the-day-568/ …

@rollcall: Saying Farewell to Retiring Obscure Caucus Members http://roll.cl/1xlWSRD  via @ClarkMindock