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Trump cites Russia probe as motivation for revoking former CIA director’s clearance

Posted on: August 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In a striking admission after his unprecedented move to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance, President Donald Trump said in a new interview that his true motive for targeting Brennan was his role in the start of the Russia investigation.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Mr. Trump said in a Wednesday interview with The Wall Street Journal. “And these people led it. So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

Reading off a statement from the president from the briefing room podium prior to his interview, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday the president’s move to revoke Brennan’s clearance was related to “risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.”

“Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations – wild outbursts on the internet and television – about this Administration,” according to the president’s statement. “Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the Nation’s most closely held secrets and facilitates the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos.”

Trump is also expanding his review of revoking potential clearances from nine other current and former officials, all with different levels of involvement in the government’s ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with members of Trump’s campaign, Sanders added.

In citing the Russia investigation as his motive for attacking Brennan, the move amounts to one of the rare instances since the firing of former FBI Director James Comey where Trump has shown a willingness to move beyond threats and actually use the powers of the presidency to punish people he believes had a role in the Russia probe.

Brennan responded Wednesday to the news that his clearance was revoked by describing the act as part of “a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

With closing arguments wrapped, Manafort case goes to jury

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — Closing arguments concluded Wednesday in the financial crimes trial of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump, and the case is now in the hands of 12 jurors who will begin deliberations Thursday morning to decide Manafort’s fate.

In their closing argument, prosecutors attempted to paint Manafort as a liar and a schemer, calling attention to the mountain of financial records provided to the court.

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it’s littered with lies,” special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres said in federal court on Wednesday, telling jurors that Manafort is “not above the law.”

Manafort is on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, where special counsel Robert Mueller has accused Manafort of shielding millions of dollars in off-shore bank accounts from American tax-collectors. During his closing arguments, Andres reminded jurors of the $60 million Manafort is accused of hiding in 31 separate bank accounts.

“He lied to his tax preparers, he lied to his bookkeeper, because he wanted to hide that money and avoid paying taxes,” Andres added.

Andres wrapped his closing statement after 90 minutes, then it was on to the defense.

Speaking for Manafort’s defense team, attorney Richard Westling implored jurors to see their client as a respected political operative and successful businessman, highlighting Manafort’s work on numerous presidential campaigns. Westling argued that the volume of documents provided by the special counsel did not amount to meaningful evidence of guilt.

“Sitting here today, Mr. Manafort is innocent and he will continue to be innocent until you render a decision,” Westling said. “If you are thinking this evidence adds up to something, you shouldn’t.”

Taking over for the defense, lead attorney Kevin Downing returned to the matter of Rick Gates, casting blame on the prosecution’s star witness and longtime business associate of Manafort. Downing reminded jurors of Gates’ confession to embezzling money from Manafort and engaging in multiple extra-marital affairs.

“The government was so desperate to make a case against Mr. Manafort, it made a deal with Mr. Gates,” Downing said, accusing Gates “fabricating” his testimony to make a deal with Manafort.

Gates pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal authorities. Having initially been charged alongside Manafort, Gates has since cooperated with the special counsel as part of their investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 campaign.

Prior to the defense team’s closing statements, special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres sought to downplay Gates’ role in the trial, asking jurors to look at the paper trail.

“The government is not asking you to take everything Mr. Gates said at face value… we are not asking you to like him,” Andres said, adding, “The star witness, in this case, is the documents.”

If found guilty, Manafort, 69, faces a prison sentence of up to 305 years. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Special counsel prosecutors rested their case on Monday after bringing more than two dozen accountants and associates of Manafort to the stand. On Tuesday, Manafort’s defense team declined to mount a defense or bring any witnesses to the stand.

After the judge instructed jurors Wednesday afternoon, the 12-person panel will deliberate and return their verdict.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

With closing arguments wrapped, Manafort case goes to jury

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — Closing arguments concluded Wednesday in the financial crimes trial of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump, and the case is now in the hands of 12 jurors who will begin deliberations Thursday morning to decide Manafort’s fate.

In their closing argument, prosecutors attempted to paint Manafort as a liar and a schemer, calling attention to the mountain of financial records provided to the court.

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it’s littered with lies,” special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres said in federal court on Wednesday, telling jurors that Manafort is “not above the law.”

Manafort is on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, where special counsel Robert Mueller has accused Manafort of shielding millions of dollars in off-shore bank accounts from American tax-collectors. During his closing arguments, Andres reminded jurors of the $60 million Manafort is accused of hiding in 31 separate bank accounts.

“He lied to his tax preparers, he lied to his bookkeeper, because he wanted to hide that money and avoid paying taxes,” Andres added.

Andres wrapped his closing statement after 90 minutes, then it was on to the defense.

Speaking for Manafort’s defense team, attorney Richard Westling implored jurors to see their client as a respected political operative and successful businessman, highlighting Manafort’s work on numerous presidential campaigns. Westling argued that the volume of documents provided by the special counsel did not amount to meaningful evidence of guilt.

“Sitting here today, Mr. Manafort is innocent and he will continue to be innocent until you render a decision,” Westling said. “If you are thinking this evidence adds up to something, you shouldn’t.”

Taking over for the defense, lead attorney Kevin Downing returned to the matter of Rick Gates, casting blame on the prosecution’s star witness and longtime business associate of Manafort. Downing reminded jurors of Gates’ confession to embezzling money from Manafort and engaging in multiple extra-marital affairs.

“The government was so desperate to make a case against Mr. Manafort, it made a deal with Mr. Gates,” Downing said, accusing Gates “fabricating” his testimony to make a deal with Manafort.

Gates pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal authorities. Having initially been charged alongside Manafort, Gates has since cooperated with the special counsel as part of their investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 campaign.

Prior to the defense team’s closing statements, special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres sought to downplay Gates’ role in the trial, asking jurors to look at the paper trail.

“The government is not asking you to take everything Mr. Gates said at face value… we are not asking you to like him,” Andres said, adding, “The star witness, in this case, is the documents.”

If found guilty, Manafort, 69, faces a prison sentence of up to 305 years. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Special counsel prosecutors rested their case on Monday after bringing more than two dozen accountants and associates of Manafort to the stand. On Tuesday, Manafort’s defense team declined to mount a defense or bring any witnesses to the stand.

After the judge instructed jurors Wednesday afternoon, the 12-person panel will deliberate and return their verdict.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House revoking security clearance of John Brennan, mulling others

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The White House is revoking the security clearance of John Brennan, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and mulling pulling them for several other former intelligence chiefs and other officials.

Reading aloud a statement from President Trump at the top of Wednesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that the president has decided to revoke Brennan’s security clearance citing “erratic behavior” and “lying”.

Brennan has been a major critic of the president’s since leaving public service.

Sanders said the president is also more broadly reviewing access to classified information by government officials and named others who are also now under specific review: James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, James Comey, a former FBI director who Trump fired last year, Michael Hayden, a former Director of the National Security Agency, Sally Yates, a former Deputy Attorney General, Susan Rice, a former National Security Advisor, Andrew McCabe, a former deputy director of the FBI, Peter Strzok a recently fired FBI agent, Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer and Bruce Ohr, a former associate deputy attorney general.

In an exchange with ABC News’ Jon Karl, Sanders denied that the president is going after his political opponents with this action.

“No. If there were others that weren’t, that we deemed necessary, we would certainly take a look and review those as well,” Sanders said.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Prosecution presents closing arguments in Manafort trial

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — Closing statement are underway in the financial crimes trial of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump, and prosecutors are taking the opportunity to paint Manafort as a liar and a schemer.

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it’s littered with lies,” special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres said in federal court on Wednesday, telling jurors that Manafort is “not above the law.”

Manafort is on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, where special counsel Robert Mueller has accused Manafort of shielding millions of dollars in off-shore bank accounts from American tax-collectors. During his closing arguments, Andres reminded jurors of the $60 million Manafort is accused of hiding in 31 separate bank accounts.

“He lied to his tax preparers, he lied to his bookkeeper, because he wanted to hide that money and avoid paying taxes,” Andres added.

If found guilty, Manafort, 69, faces a prison sentence of up to 305 years. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Special counsel prosecutors rested their case on Monday after bringing more than two dozen accountants and associates of Manafort to the stand. On Tuesday, Manafort’s defense team declined to mount a defense or bring any witnesses to the stand.

After closing statements from both sides, a 12-person jury will deliberate and return their verdict.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House economic office faces criticism over incorrect African American economic figures

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The White House Council of Economic Advisers is facing backlash from economists after it acknowledged providing incorrect economic figures to press secretary Sarah Sanders regarding African American unemployment.

Sanders during Tuesday’s briefing brushed off accusations of racism against President Trump amid his contentious feud with former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman with a familiar pivot, citing economic gains by African Americans during Trump’s time in office.

“This President, since he took office, in the year and a half that he’s been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African Americans,” Sanders said. “When President Obama left, after eight years in office – eight years in office, he had only created 800 – or 195,000 jobs for African Americans.”

But that claim was false, by a factor of roughly 15 times the number Sanders provided.

According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 700,000 jobs have been added for African Americans during Trump’s time in office, nearly 3 million were added for black workers during President Obama’s tenure.

As reporters started to raise issue with the misleading figure in the briefing, the Council of Economic Advisers’ Twitter account posted a graph showing changes in minority employment from the 20 months following Obama’s election with the 20 months following Trump’s election.

The account then tweeted “apologies” to Sanders for their “miscommunication.”

Sanders soon also took to Twitter to acknowledge the rare “correction,” though she wrongly insisted that the jobs numbers provided for Obama during the briefing “were correct.”

Several economists
and former top Obama officials were quick to point out, however, that there were still basic flaws in the logic of the CEA’s correction.

The graph measured employment numbers for President Obama and President Trump starting in November of 2008, and 2016, respectively, months before either president took office and began to implement their economic policies. Furthermore, President Obama entered office in the midst of the 2008 economic crisis when black unemployment was at 12.7%, while President Trump entered office in a period of sustained growth in the economy.

President Obama’s former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman offered his own reaction expressing dismay at the CEA’s handling of the controversy.

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Progressive candidates bounce back in key Midwest races

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A slate of primaries in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin on Tuesday delivered key answers in some of this midterm cycle’s most pivotal races.

There were historic wins for a diverse crop of candidates that includes a transgender woman and a Muslim nominee, and a slew of progressives prevailed only a week after they fell short in a number of high-profile races in Kansas, Michigan and Missouri.

Here are some of the top takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries:

A resurgence for progressives

It was a big night for progressives, as candidates backed by the Working Families Party swept their primaries in three of the four states Tuesday night.

The liberal factions of the Democratic Party fell short last week in the Michigan gubernatorial primary, in which former state Senate leader Gretchen Whitmer won the Democratic nomination over two insurgent candidates — former Detroit Public Health Director Abdul El-Sayed and businessman Shri Thanedar — who embraced true progressive ideals like “Medicare for All.”

Despite that setback, progressives responded Tuesday night, surging to victory in several races, including Randy Bryce in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, Christine Hallquist in Vermont’s gubernatorial race and Jahana Hayes in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District, among others.

“Tonight’s results are nothing less than seismic. You can feel the progressive earthquake from Milwaukee to Danbury to Burlington,” said Joe Dinkin, Working Families Party campaigns director. “A new generation of trailblazing progressives are running, and they’re running without the backing of any political machines.”

Marquee Midwest races set, GOP comeback bid falls short

The most high-profile races of the night included gubernatorial primaries in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and the GOP primary to take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin for one of the Badger State’s U.S. Senate seats.

In Wisconsin, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers emerged victorious in the crowded Democratic primary to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a longtime foe of the party that has already survived two re-election campaigns and a recall election. Evers has the benefit of already having won a statewide election and is arguably the most palatable choice in the general election in a state that narrowly went to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

In the GOP primary for the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race, state Sen. Leah Vukmir utilized the backing of the state party and was able to defeat U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kevin Nicholson, who was backed to the tune of $10 million from GOP mega-donor Richard Uihlein and outside groups like the Club for Growth.

In Minnesota, Republicans face a setback in a gubernatorial race they were hoping to target. Former presidential candidate and two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty lost the GOP gubernatorial primary to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, an unexpected result that bolsters Democratic hopes of holding onto the governor’s mansion. Democrats nominated Rep. Tim Walz in the governor’s race, who represents a rural district in the southern part of the state.

There were no surprises in the four congressional districts that are expected to be competitive this cycle. In the state’s 1st and 8th congressional districts, which both have retiring Democratic incumbents, Republicans got their preferred candidates in former U.S. Treasury Department official Jim Hagedorn and St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber. Trump carried both districts by more than 15 points in 2016, and the GOP is expected to invest heavily in these two open-seat races.

Diverse women make history on night of firsts

Tuesday also provided two more historic results in an already historic midterm cycle.

In Vermont, Democrats nominated Hallquist in the gubernatorial race, making her the first openly transgender individual to win a major party’s nomination for governor in U.S. history. Hallquist, the former head of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, faces a tough race in November against incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, who easily survived a primary challenge from first-time candidate Keith Stern, who mounted a serious challenge to the incumbent by running to his right.

In Minnesota, state Rep. Ilhan Omar is likely to join Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib as the first two Muslim women in Congress come November. Omar won the Democratic nomination in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, which was vacated by Rep. Keith Ellison, who won the Democratic nomination in the state’s attorney general race Tuesday night. Omar is a Somali-born hijab-wearing refugee, and was favored to win after running on a strong progressive platform. She was also endorsed by progressive darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who celebrated Omar’s win on Twitter Tuesday evening.

Educators win big

An understated storyline on Tuesday were the wins by multiple candidates with backgrounds in education.

Tony Evers, a top official in the Wisconsin’s public school system, won the Democratic primary in the state’s gubernatorial race, and education figures to be a major issue in his bid to unseat GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

In Connecticut, former National Teacher of the Year and first-time candidate Jahana Hayes will win the Democratic primary for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District.

Hayes will be the Democratic nominee in the race to replace Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who did not seek re-election after mishandling a sexual harassment scandal involving her chief of staff. Sen. Chris Murphy encouraged Hayes to run, however, he did not issue a formal endorsement in the race. Hayes’ Republican opponent in the general election has not been called yet.

In Minnesota, former high school teacher and curren Congressman Tim Walz emerged victorious in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, while Iraq War veteran and former Teach for America participant Dan Feehan won the Democratic primary in the seat Walz vacated to run for governor.

There was one instance of an educator falling short Tuesday. In Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, currently Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat, ironworker Randy Bryce defeated Janesville schoolboard member Cathy Myers despite his history of arrests, including one for drunk driving.

A historic night in the wake of #MeToo

The #MeToo movement that brought down former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has now also ushered in two female candidates to replace him.

Sen. Tina Smith won the Democratic primary, according to the AP’s projection, in Tuesday night’s special election to replace Franken after he resigned due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Smith has occupied the seat for the last several months, appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to fill the seat earlier this year.

In a contest to finish out Franken’s term, Smith will compete against state Sen. Karin Housley, who won the Republican primary, according to the AP’s projection.

Both garnered commanding leads in their primaries: Housley captured over 62 percent of the vote and Smith picked up more than 76 percent, according to unofficial results from the Minnesota secretary of state.

This matchup arises after the #MeToo movement toppled goliath men from power across the political, media and Hollywood landscapes. But these two contenders weren’t alone on Tuesday. They were among 58 women featured on the ballot for either congressional or statewide executive elections, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Some (possibly) ethically questionable candidates survive

In Minnesota, Ellison defeated a wide-ranging field of candidates to land on the general election ballot for attorney general. His victory, however, is overshadowed by allegations of domestic abuse, which he denies, from a former girlfriend and her family.

“I am honored to have earned the overwhelming support of DFLers to be Minnesota’s next Attorney General,” Ellison said in a statement after his victory. “As the People’s Lawyer, I will be on the front lines to defend the rights and freedoms of all Minnesotans. As your Attorney General, I will fight every day to put Minnesota families ahead of powerful special interests, to increase access to affordable health care, make our economy more fair, and expand opportunity for all.”

The accusations surfaced when the son of his former girlfriend, Karen Monahan, posted on Facebook that he witnessed the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee abusing his mother. Monahan then confirmed her son’s account in a Twitter post.

Ellison responded to in a statement that reads: “I never behaved in this way.”

Despite the disturbing claims against him, the first Muslim congressman will advance to the general election, after easily overcoming the crowded primary.

He is set to face Republican Doug Wardlow in November.

Another candidate with a questionable background is Wisconsin’s Bryce.

In a race to fill Ryan’s soon-to-be vacated seat, Bryce will challenge former Ryan aide Bryan Steil, who was projected to win the Republican primary by the AP.

Bryce brings a rap sheet with nine arrests for various offenses since the 1990s. The most serious arrest for the Army veteran came in April 1998 when he was caught driving under the influence. Two of his most recent arrests in 2011 and 2018 came during protests of Ryan and policies of the GOP.

His history of run-ins with the law did not undermine his campaign from gaining support within the Democratic Party. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backed him in the primary, he raised nearly $5 million for his campaign and earned a national profile along with the support of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In 2016, with the support of a substantial white working-class population, the district swung in favor of then-candidate Trump. But Democrats are eyeing his background as an ironworker to flip the seat.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

HUD to revisit rule intended to curb housing segregation

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration wants to change a rule aimed at forcing cities to actively combat housing segregation — a move which worries fair housing advocates.

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, put in place by the Obama administration, was designed to help cities and counties identify the causes of housing segregation and discrimination and create a plan to improve to address those problems.

Fighting discrimination in housing is seen as one of HUD’s biggest responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act since where someone lives often determines access to jobs, education, and resources.

Under the AFFH rule, public housing agencies in dozens of cities have conducted studies and gathered public input on how to improve housing equality in their community. New Orleans’ plan, for example, proposed expanding affordable housing options in areas with lots of economic opportunities and investing in public transit, schools, and parks in underserved communities.

In Philadelphia, officials identified challenges to housing equality that included gaps in outreach to non-English speakers and outlined plans for improving access and awareness to affordable housing.

Debby Goldberg, vice president of housing and special projects at the National Fair Housing Alliance, said the country is desperately in need of affordable housing and that her organization completely disagrees with HUD’s assertion that the rule needs to be changed but thinks a lot of progress is being made.

“The rule is very clear that there are two kinds of strategies that we need, given our history of segregation in this country, which the government played a very significant role in creating. We have to do two things, one is we have to expand the housing choices available to people so that where you live isn’t limited by the color of your skin, your national origin, whether you have kids or whether you have a disability. And we have to look at places that have been segregated and disinvested for a long time and figure out ways to make sure that people who live in those neighborhoods have access to all the community resources and amenities that people elsewhere have,” she told ABC News.

However, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week that it plans to change the rule to reduce some of the requirements on local governments.

Goldberg said housing advocates are worried HUD is trying to eliminate the AFFH rule and go back to the system that was in place before 2015, which both HUD and a federal government watchdog found were insufficient.

HUD didn’t release specific details on how it will change the rule but said that, among other things, it wants to increase housing options in low-income communities.

HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan said they have heard from some officials that the Obama-era rule was confusing and that some cities and counties were worried they could be pushed to put low-income housing in wealthier areas instead of investing in distressed neighborhoods.

“We certainly don’t want a regulation to discourage investment in places that need it most. We were getting a lot of comments about mostly not understanding, finding it difficult to use, a lot of functionality complaints. If nothing else I think one of the reasons for all of this is to make it clear to people and to reduce the burdens when those burdens become excessive,” Sullivan told ABC News.

Secretary Ben Carson said the rule “dictated unworkable requirements” and actually blocked development of new affordable housing.

“It’s ironic that the current AFFH rule, which was designed to expand affordable housing choices, is actually suffocating investment in some of our most distressed neighborhoods that need our investment the most,” Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “We do not have to abandon communities in need. Instead, we believe we can craft a new, fairer rule that creates choices for quality housing across all communities.”

Goldberg said HUD’s argument is a complete mischaracterization of the rule and that the majority of jurisdictions were able to navigate the rule with minimal problems.

“I don’t know where HUD comes up with the concept or the notion that this prevents investment in certain neighborhoods and only promotes housing mobility or new housing only in high-income neighborhoods,” Goldberg told ABC News.

HUD didn’t release specific details of how it will change that rule this week but announced that it is beginning the process of changing it to focus on expanding development and reducing regulations on local governments. HUD previously delayed deadlines for cities to submit plans on how they would combat housing discrimination required by the rule, prompting a lawsuit from several advocacy groups.

Secretary Ben Carson told the Wall Street Journal the rule could tie HUD grants to more relaxed zoning regulations as an incentive for cities to allow more development.

At the time, Carson compared the rule to busing policies and a socialist experiment in an op-ed during the presidential campaign, arguing that the rule would force cities to build housing targeted at minority or low-income populations in wealthier areas.

In cities like New York, average rent has increased and income has stagnated, leading to fewer housing options for people who are priced out of increasingly expensive neighborhoods. The NYC Department of Public Housing and Development says on its website there are more than 970,000 low-income households for less than 450,000 available low-income homes for rent.

Carson’s op-ed referenced New York as an example of issues created by the AFFH rule that cities were concerned it would block investment in low-income neighborhoods, but the department told ABC News that was not the case at all. A spokeswoman said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan that Carson mentioned has actually exceeded goals and on track to fund 300,000 affordable homes, and that despite concern the rule would prevent construction it actually provided more guidance for the city’s efforts.

“HUD’s rule was intended to confront segregated living patterns and housing discrimination that continue to persist across our country fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, disparities that will not be wiped away simply by lessening land use regulations and increasing supply. While New York City will continue to forge ahead with its process and invest significant resources in pursuing fair housing, we need strong leadership at the federal level to push all localities to confront the legacy of structural segregation,” the department said in a statement to ABC News.

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Omarosa Manigault addresses Trump arbitration filing in ‘Daily Show’ interview

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Omarosa Manigault Newman addressed a legal filing by the Trump campaign — sort of — as she continued her book tour for “Unhinged” on Tuesday night with an appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”

Manigault, who has spent the past two days plugging her book while also releasing secret audio recordings made during her time in the White House, was hesitant to talk too much about the arbitration.

“As of today, Donald Trump has decided to sue me or bring litigation against me to silence me and to not allow me to tell my story,” she told told host Noah. “I just have a whole host of attorneys who are telling me to not give Trump the ammunition.”

The Trump campaign, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., filed arbitration against the reality TV star on Tuesday morning in New York for allegations that she violated her non-disclosure agreement with the campaign by releasing tapes she recorded of her firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly, a subsequent conversation with Trump himself, and a 2016 discussion with campaign aides about the candidate’s possible use of the N-word.

Manigault told MSNBC on Tuesday afternoon, after the administration filed the arbitration, “I don’t believe that I have violated, but I will leave it to the lawyers to sort it out.”

Most of her conversation with Noah centered on the content of the recordings or the need to make them at all. Manigault said she felt like she needed to tape conversations to protect herself, she said.

“I knew I had to cover my back and document what I saw as an opportunity to kind of blow the whistle on a lot of the corruption going on in the White House, and I knew that I needed to document that corruption, otherwise people would not take it seriously,” Manigault said.

Manigault, who rose to prominence and befriended the president on his show, “The Apprentice,” said she wanted to be a billionaire just like Trump — and she was blinded by the loyalty in joining the administration.

“I wanted to lead one of his companies. He inspired me. I wanted to be a billionaire,” she told Noah. “I grew up in the Westlake projects [in Youngstown, Ohio] and I wanted to be wealthy and that’s who I thought I could aspire to be, but boy has he been a great disappointment. And because I did have this blind spot and was blindly loyal, and I looked like the biggest dummy following this person because I didn’t have that same perspective. And sometimes you have to step back in order to get a clear view, and I recognized that I was going down the wrong path with Trump.”

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Joe Biden cancels campaign event due to illness ‘under doctor’s orders’

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) — Former Vice President Joe Biden canceled plans to campaign for Democrats in Illinois this week due to an undisclosed illness, state Democrats announced Tuesday.

Biden was scheduled to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker at an event in Springfield, Illinois, on Thursday, but he canceled, citing “doctor’s orders,” according to the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association.

“Everyone who knows Vice President Biden knows that he gives our party and our country his all, but unfortunately he is sick and is under doctor’s orders not to travel,” Doug House, president of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association, said late Tuesday. “The cancellation is of course disappointing, but it is clear that the circumstances are simply unavoidable.”

A source with ties to Biden said the illness is not serious, but the former vice president is under the weather and needs a few days’ rest

House did not provide details about the nature of the illness, but he indicated that Biden would “be back campaigning for Democrats in Illinois and across the country in no time.”

Biden was listed as keynote speaker at the 2018 Illinois State Fair Democrat Day.

“While Biden’s trip to Springfield is cancelled, our event will continue,” House said. “We remain excited for what will be the largest brunch in our history and look forward to hearing from our incredible slate of Democratic leaders who are ready to energize our party and lead us to victory up and down the ticket this November.”

Biden, a staunch critic of President Donald Trump, has been working hard to improve voter turnout ahead of this year’s midterm election as his party battles to regain control of at least one chamber of Congress.

“It’s up to us, America. Speak out. Rise up. Be heard. The price to be paid for putting our values at risk must be clear. Now,” he said in a late-June tweet. “And show up to vote this November — in numbers like we’ve never seen.”

Democrats would need to win at least 24 seats to gain a majority in the House, where at least 41 Republicans are planning to retire, resign or run for another office, according to an analysis by ABC News.

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Progressive Christine Hallquist becomes 1st transgender gubernatorial nominee for major party

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Christine Hallquist, who is running as a progressive Democrat in Vermont, made history on Tuesday as she became the first transgender gubernatorial candidate nominated by a major political party.

Advancing a progressive platform focused on economic and social justice, including a $15 minimum wage, environmentally sustainable rural development and expanding access to internet services, Hallquist edged out challengers in a crowded primary.

“I am so proud to be the face of the Democrats tonight,” Hallquist said, addressing supporters at a victory party Tuesday night.

Describing her push for education reform, a living wage, and Medicare for All, Hallquist said, “this is called being a civil society.”

She will face incumbent Gov. Phil Scott in November, whose approval ratings with his GOP base have tumbled following recent efforts to tighten gun control in Vermont. If Hallquist pulls off an upset in the general election, she will become the nation’s first transgender governor.

“Christine’s victory is a defining moment in the movement for trans equality and is especially remarkable given how few out trans elected officials there are at any level of government,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement.

Hallquist joins three other openly LGBTQ candidates for governor this year — a historically high number. Gubernatorial candidates Lupe Valdez of Texas, Kate Brown of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado, all Democrats, are out as LGBTQ.

Hallquist is the former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, a member-owned utilities group, and has stressed that while media coverage often focuses exclusively on her identity as a transgender woman, she wants to be seen as more than an LGBTQ candidate. Hallquist points out that she’s also an engineer, an innovator and a progressive.

During her primary race, she received the backing of Justice Democrats, a progressive political action committee founded by former Bernie Sanders campaign leaders, including The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur, which helped propel leftist superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to her victory over longtime New York 14th Congressional District incumbent Joe Crowley earlier this summer.

Some commentators have dubbed the 2018 midterm cycle the “Year of the Woman” due to the record numbers of female candidates for elected office, and governor’s races have so far proved no exception: Out of 36 gubernatorial races in 2018, 21 likely have women candidates running, according to Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics.

With general elections still to come, however, it remains to be seen whether Hallquist and other progressive women will sweep governor’s seats nationwide with a “blue wave.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WH press secretary: Can’t offer ‘guarantee’ there is no N-word recording

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that she could not offer a “guarantee” that the president has never been recorded using the N-word.

“I can’t guarantee anything,” Sanders said when asked to rule out that such a recording exists. “I can tell you the president addressed this question directly. I can tell you I have never heard it. I can tell you if myself or the people in this building serving this country every single day doing our very best to help people all across this country and make it better, if at any point we felt that the president was who some of his critics claim him to be, we certainly wouldn’t be here.”

During the White House press briefing, she referred reporters to the president’s own tweet where he claims the word is not in his vocabulary.

Sanders also disputed that there’s a pattern of the president insulting African-Americans, casting the president as an “equal opportunity” attacker.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with race and everything to do with the president calling out someone’s lack of integrity… the fact is the president’s an equal opportunity person that calls things like he sees it. He always fights fire with fire and he doesn’t hold back,” she said as she defended the president for “voicing his frustration” with Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Earlier in the day, Trump fired off an incendiary tweet at his former aide who has written in her new book, “Unhinged,” that a tape exists of Trump using the N-word from his days on “The Apprentice.”

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” Trump tweeted.

Asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl during the press briefing why the president would hire someone who he now describes in such terms and whether his language is appropriate, Sanders defended the president for “voicing his frustration” and described his decision to hire her as generous.

“The president wanted to give her a chance,” Sanders told Karl. “And he made clear when General Kelly came on and he voiced concerns that this individual didn’t have the best interests of the White House and the president and the country at heart, the president said do what you can to get along. If you can’t, he gave him full authority to carry out the decision to let her go.”

The president’s tweet came after he denied claims of racism made late Monday by Manigault Newman.

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday, Manigault Newman responded to Trump’s name-calling.

“If he says that publicly, what would he say privately? He has no respect of women and African-American women and having the chief of staff lock me up for two and a half hours to harass me and tell me that things can be ugly for me and there is damage for my reputation. He is unfit to be in this office and to be serving as the president of the United States.”

Another taped conversation

Manigault Newman also released yet another recording Tuesday morning that she says records a conference call among several Trump campaign aides in which she has said the group discussed how they would deal with the potential fallout of the release of any N-word tape.

Describing a clip she provided to CBS, Manigault Newman said on CBS “This Morning” that the call contradicted denials recently issued by former Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson and former campaign aide Lynne Patton, who in their most recent statements disputed Manigault Newman’s previous descriptions of the call.

In the audio, Pierson can be heard saying she wanted more info on how the word might have been used so they could “maybe try to figure a way to spin it.”

Patton then recalled how she personally asked the president about the existence of the audio and said Trump denied it, though Patton added that Trump still asked, “Why don’t you just go ahead and put it to bed?”

Soon after in the conversation, Pierson can be heard saying, “He said it [the N-word]. No, he said it. He’s embarrassed.”

But no officials on the call, including Manigault Newman, say they have personally heard the audio of the alleged tape.

Both Patton and Pierson Tuesday issued a joint statement in response to the audio release, arguing it does not contradict their previous denials.

But the joint statement does not directly address the portion of the recording where Pierson is heard saying the president “said it” and was “embarrassed.”

Trump goes on the defensive

Trump has spent much of the past two days attacking the former “Apprentice” star after Manigault Newman leaked a recording of her firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. Trump said Monday he spoke to “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett, and claimed Burnett said no tapes exist of Trump using “that word.”

“I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up,” Trump tweeted.

There was some confusion over whether Manigault Newman had actually heard him use the word on tape or whether someone made the claim to her. She attempted to clear up that discrepancy — in her book she says she didn’t hear it herself — when she said she heard him use the N-word after the book had gone to press.

Trump counselor offers an explanation

Talking to White House reporters on the North Lawn driveway Tuesday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, suggested she had actually briefed the president during the campaign regarding the possible release of an N-word tape.

“It was my job to tell the president every rumor, innuendo, fact, fiction,” Conway said.

Trump, after calling her a “low-life” a day earlier, referred to Manigault Newman as “deranged” in Monday’s tweets.

Manigault Newman released audio of her conversation with Kelly Sunday and then followed that up by releasing a conversation with Trump himself on Monday’s “Today” show. She played just a brief clip — not independently verified by NBC — in which the president seemed surprised by her exit and said he was not responsible.

It’s unclear whether Manigault Newman recorded any other conversations during her time at the White House when she was the most senior African-American in the West Wing.

Trump has been accused of racist behavior many times over the past two years since he took office. He has been accused of racial insensitivity in everything from his criticism of NFL players’ protests to LeBron James’ intelligence and his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the Charlottesville riots in August 2017.

Two days ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told ABC News’ “This Week” that the president’s words on racism “ring hollow.”

“He has not gone far enough,” Cummings said. “I think it’s a low bar for the president of the United States to simply say he’s against racism. He’s got to do better than that.”

Trump counselor Conway appeared on the same show Sunday and said she wouldn’t be working for Trump if he were racist.

“I have never a single time heard him use a racial slur about anyone,” Conway said. “I also never heard Omarosa complain that he had done that, and so the only thing that’s changed is that she’s now selling books.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House sources: Special counsel’s team never requested to speak with Omarosa Manigault Newman while she was a White House staffer

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Sources close to the White House tell ABC News that the team that worked with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office for interviews with Trump administration employees never had Omarosa Manigault-Newman on their list and the special counsel never requested to speak with her while she a White House staffer.

Sources go on to tell ABC News as far as the White House is aware she never met with the special counsel during that time. Mueller’s team contacted the Trump legal team anytime they had a request to speak with an administration member.

Manigault Newman claimed on MSNBC this afternoon that she has been interviewed by the special counsel’s office.

It’s unclear when that alleged interview would have happened.

The special counsel has not responded to an ABC News request for comment.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.

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Omarosa: Trump trying to ‘silence me’; campaign files arbitration and alleges she violated nondisclosure

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Michael Reynolds – Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Apprentice contestant turned White House aide Omarosa Manigault- Newman says her former boss, President Donald Trump is trying to “silence” her.

Her latest comments come on the heels of his campaign filing arbitration against the reality tv star on Tuesday morning in New York for allegations that she violated her non-disclosure agreement with the Trump campaign.

“I don’t believe that I have violated, but I will leave it to the lawyers to sort it out,” she told MSNBC. “It is interesting that he is trying to silence me. And what is he trying to hide or (is) afraid of? If he had not said anything that is derogatory or demeaning to African-Americans and women, why would he go to the extent to shut me down?”

In a statement to ABC News, a senior Trump campaign official confirmed to ABC News the: “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. has filed an arbitration against Manigault-Newman with the American Arbitration Association in New York City, for breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign. President Trump is well known for giving people opportunities to advance in their careers and lives over the decades, but wrong is wrong, and a direct violation of an agreement must be addressed and the violator must be held accountable.”

Like all employees of the Trump presidential campaign, Manigault-Newman was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. That agreement, as described by a source familiar with its contents, tells ABC News it sought to protect the president, the Trump family, Trump Organization.

In her new book, “Unhinged”, Manigault-Newman says she was offered a position in the Trump 2020 re-election campaign but was asked to sign another non-disclosure agreement. A source familiar with that agreement tells ABC News the difference between the previous agreement she signed and the new one was that this new agreement included Vice President Mike Pence and his family.

ABC News has reached out to Manigault-Newman for response.

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Manafort attorneys opt to skip defense, proceed to closing arguments

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ALEXANDRIA, Va) — Attorneys for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who is on trial for financial crimes in federal district court Alexandria, Virginia, will not call additional witnesses to present a defense.

“The defense rests,” Manafort’s lead attorney Kevin Downing said in court on Tuesday.

Government prosecutors from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office rested their case on Monday, so without a defense, the jury is expected to begin deliberations following closing arguments.

Legal experts told ABC News this strategy is common but risky.

“This is very common after prosecution rests to file a motion saying they didn’t meet the burden beyond a reasonable doubt,” said former homeland security official and ABC New contributor John Cohen. “Typically, this doesn’t work.”

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

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump campaign files arbitration against Omarosa for violating nondisclosure contract

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Michael Reynolds – Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A senior Trump campaign official confirms to ABC News, the campaign has filed arbitration against Omarosa Manigault-Newman Tuesday morning in New York for allegations that she violated her non-disclosure agreement with the Trump campaign.

In a statement to ABC News, the official says: “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. has filed an arbitration against Manigault-Newman with the American Arbitration Association in New York City, for breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign. President Trump is well known for giving people opportunities to advance in their careers and lives over the decades, but wrong is wrong, and a direct violation of an agreement must be addressed and the violator must be held accountable.”

ABC News has reached out to Manigault-Newman for response.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.

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President Trump says no tape exists of him using N-word, calls himself ‘champion of civil rights’

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump fired back at claims of racism made by former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman late Monday, saying no tape exists of him using the N-word and referring to himself as a “true champion of civil rights.”

Trump blasted Manigault, who served as Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison until her firing in January, for the claims in her new book that she heard tapes of him saying the N-word.

He has spent much of the last two days blasting the former “Apprentice” star after Manigault leaked a recording of her firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. On Monday, he said he spoke to “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett and said no tapes exist of him using “that word.”

Trump claimed “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.”

There was some confusion over whether Manigault had actually heard him use the word on tape or if she was just told about him using it. She attempted to clear up that discrepancy — in her book she says she didn’t hear it herself — when she said she heard him use the N-word after the book had gone to press.

After calling her a “low-life” a day earlier, he referred to Manigault as “deranged” in Monday’s tweets.

Manigault released audio of her conversation with Kelly on Sunday and then followed that up by releasing a conversation with Trump himself on Monday’s “Today” show. She played just a brief clip — not independently verified by NBC — in which the president seemed surprised by her exit and said he was not responsible.

It’s unknown whether Manigault recorded any other conversations during her time at the White House, when she was the most senior African-American in the West Wing.

Trump has been accused of racist behavior many times over the past two years since he took office. He’s been accused of racial insensitivity in everything from his criticism of NFL players’ protests to LeBron James’ intelligence and his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the Charlottesville riots in August 2017.

Just two days ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told ABC News’ “This Week” that the president’s words on racism “ring hollow.”

“He has not gone far enough,” Cummings said. “I think it’s a low bar for the president of the United States to simply say he’s against racism. He’s got to do better than that.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on the same show Sunday and said she wouldn’t be working for Trump if he was racist.

“I have never a single time heard him use a racial slur about anyone. I also never heard Omarosa complain that he had done that, and so the only thing that’s changed is that she’s now selling books,” Conway said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Trump says no tape exists of him using N-word, calls himself ‘champion of civil rights’

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump fired back at claims of racism made by former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman late Monday, saying no tape exists of him using the N-word and referring to himself as a “true champion of civil rights.”

Trump blasted Manigault, who served as Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison until her firing in January, for the claims in her new book that she heard tapes of him saying the N-word.

He has spent much of the last two days blasting the former “Apprentice” star after Manigault leaked a recording of her firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. On Monday, he said he spoke to “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett and said no tapes exist of him using “that word.”

Trump claimed “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.”

There was some confusion over whether Manigault had actually heard him use the word on tape or if she was just told about him using it. She attempted to clear up that discrepancy — in her book she says she didn’t hear it herself — when she said she heard him use the N-word after the book had gone to press.

After calling her a “low-life” a day earlier, he referred to Manigault as “deranged” in Monday’s tweets.

Manigault released audio of her conversation with Kelly on Sunday and then followed that up by releasing a conversation with Trump himself on Monday’s “Today” show. She played just a brief clip — not independently verified by NBC — in which the president seemed surprised by her exit and said he was not responsible.

It’s unknown whether Manigault recorded any other conversations during her time at the White House, when she was the most senior African-American in the West Wing.

Trump has been accused of racist behavior many times over the past two years since he took office. He’s been accused of racial insensitivity in everything from his criticism of NFL players’ protests to LeBron James’ intelligence and his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the Charlottesville riots in August 2017.

Just two days ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told ABC News’ “This Week” that the president’s words on racism “ring hollow.”

“He has not gone far enough,” Cummings said. “I think it’s a low bar for the president of the United States to simply say he’s against racism. He’s got to do better than that.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on the same show Sunday and said she wouldn’t be working for Trump if he was racist.

“I have never a single time heard him use a racial slur about anyone. I also never heard Omarosa complain that he had done that, and so the only thing that’s changed is that she’s now selling books,” Conway said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Trump calls Omarosa a ‘dog’ and ‘lowlife’

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Trump fired off a nasty tweet at his former aide Omarosa Maigault Newman Tuesday, calling her a “lowlife” and a “dog.”

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” Trump tweeted.

The president’s tweet came after claims of racism made by Manigault Newman late Monday, saying no tape exists of his using the N-word and referring to himself as a “true champion of civil rights.”

Trump blasted Manigault, who served as Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison until her firing in January, for the claims in her new book that she heard tapes of him saying the N-word.

He has spent much of the last two days blasting the former “Apprentice” star after Manigault leaked a recording of her firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. On Monday, he said he spoke to “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett and said no tapes exist of him using “that word.”

Trump claimed “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.”

There was some confusion over whether Manigault had actually heard him use the word on tape or if she was just told about him using it. She attempted to clear up that discrepancy — in her book she says she didn’t hear it herself — when she said she heard him use the N-word after the book had gone to press.

After calling her a “low-life” a day earlier, he referred to Manigault as “deranged” in Monday’s tweets.

Manigault released audio of her conversation with Kelly on Sunday and then followed that up by releasing a conversation with Trump himself on Monday’s “Today” show. She played just a brief clip — not independently verified by NBC — in which the president seemed surprised by her exit and said he was not responsible.

It’s unknown whether Manigault recorded any other conversations during her time at the White House, when she was the most senior African-American in the West Wing.

Trump has been accused of racist behavior many times over the past two years since he took office. He’s been accused of racial insensitivity in everything from his criticism of NFL players’ protests to LeBron James’ intelligence and his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the Charlottesville riots in August 2017.

Just two days ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told ABC News’ “This Week” that the president’s words on racism “ring hollow.”

“He has not gone far enough,” Cummings said. “I think it’s a low bar for the president of the United States to simply say he’s against racism. He’s got to do better than that.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on the same show Sunday and said she wouldn’t be working for Trump if he was racist.

“I have never a single time heard him use a racial slur about anyone. I also never heard Omarosa complain that he had done that, and so the only thing that’s changed is that she’s now selling books,” Conway said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Trump calls Omarosa a ‘dog’ and ‘lowlife’

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Trump fired off a nasty tweet at his former aide Omarosa Maigault Newman Tuesday, calling her a “lowlife” and a “dog.”

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” Trump tweeted.

The president’s tweet came after claims of racism made by Manigault Newman late Monday, saying no tape exists of his using the N-word and referring to himself as a “true champion of civil rights.”

Trump blasted Manigault, who served as Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison until her firing in January, for the claims in her new book that she heard tapes of him saying the N-word.

He has spent much of the last two days blasting the former “Apprentice” star after Manigault leaked a recording of her firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. On Monday, he said he spoke to “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett and said no tapes exist of him using “that word.”

Trump claimed “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.”

There was some confusion over whether Manigault had actually heard him use the word on tape or if she was just told about him using it. She attempted to clear up that discrepancy — in her book she says she didn’t hear it herself — when she said she heard him use the N-word after the book had gone to press.

After calling her a “low-life” a day earlier, he referred to Manigault as “deranged” in Monday’s tweets.

Manigault released audio of her conversation with Kelly on Sunday and then followed that up by releasing a conversation with Trump himself on Monday’s “Today” show. She played just a brief clip — not independently verified by NBC — in which the president seemed surprised by her exit and said he was not responsible.

It’s unknown whether Manigault recorded any other conversations during her time at the White House, when she was the most senior African-American in the West Wing.

Trump has been accused of racist behavior many times over the past two years since he took office. He’s been accused of racial insensitivity in everything from his criticism of NFL players’ protests to LeBron James’ intelligence and his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the Charlottesville riots in August 2017.

Just two days ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told ABC News’ “This Week” that the president’s words on racism “ring hollow.”

“He has not gone far enough,” Cummings said. “I think it’s a low bar for the president of the United States to simply say he’s against racism. He’s got to do better than that.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on the same show Sunday and said she wouldn’t be working for Trump if he was racist.

“I have never a single time heard him use a racial slur about anyone. I also never heard Omarosa complain that he had done that, and so the only thing that’s changed is that she’s now selling books,” Conway said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Governors’ races take on an understated but outsize role in 2018 landscape

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Bob Falcetti/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Less than three months out from the first major election since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, much of the national focus remains on high-profile U.S. Senate and House races that could determine control of Congress.

But while millions of dollars pour into those important congressional races, voters in 36 states will choose governors this year, including 26 currently under Republican control. That has Democrats hoping for a resurgence on the state level in places where they’ve been pushed out of power.

The wide range of gubernatorial contests has seen Democrats looking to expand the map into red states where they have not been competitive for years. At the same time, Republicans are looking for unique opportunities to pick up seats in states that may tilt blue in presidential years but trend purple in off-year and statewide races.

Following the 2008 elections, the Democratic Party held 32 governorships. In the aftermath of the Republican wave election of 2010, the balance of power in governorships was flipped, and the GOP took control of 32 seats nationwide, a dramatic shift that has endured for the rest of the decade.

Wisconsin a test case for Democratic inroads
Republicans have total control of half of the state legislatures across the country and make up 56 percent of state legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Democrats are eyeing an end to the GOP dominance on the state level this cycle, a road that runs through states like Wisconsin, where the party views Gov. Scott Walker, who is running for a third full term, as particularly vulnerable.

“In Wisconsin, Scott Walker is right. He is in deep, deep trouble. It is very difficult to see how he survives,” Democratic Governors Association Chairman Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State told ABC News.

A recent NBC News/Marist poll showed Walker trailing Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, one of eight Democrats competing in Tuesday’s primary to take on Walker in November, by 13 points.

 

Other Democratic contenders in the crowded and complicated primary include former state lawmaker Kelda Roys, the African-American leader of a state firefighter union Mahlon Mitchell, former state Democratic Party chair Matt Flynn, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and state lawmaker Kathleen Vineout. Whoever emerges from the crowd Tuesday has a tall task in unseating Walker, who alongside the state GOP has built a powerful infrastructure in the state that has allowed him to win two full terms and survive a recall election in 2012.

That a state like Wisconsin, which has trended red in recent cycles and in 2016 sided with the Republican nominee for president for the first time since 1984, is in play for Democrats this year shows the breadth of the opportunity they see for pickups on the state level.

Democrats view the Midwest as a particularly fertile ground to pick up governorships this cycle. In addition to Wisconsin, the open seat races in Michigan and Iowa are possible pickup opportunities. In Illinois, GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner is viewed as the most vulnerable Republican in the country, and Democrats are hoping that the deep pockets of Hyatt hotel chain heir J.B. Pritzker will help them take back control of the governor’s mansion.

There are 15 governorships currently held by Republicans that the University of Virginia (UVA) Center for Politics rates as either “Lean Republican” or “Toss-up,” giving Democrats a vital opportunity to rebuild their strength at the state level.

“This year’s midterm is absolutely critical to regaining Democrat strength in governorships and also state legislative seats, where Democrats lost well over 900 during Obama’s two terms as president,” Larry Sabato, director of the UVA Center for Politics, told ABC News. “Redistricting is coming up in 2021-22, and most of the people elected this year will be in office then. Democrats got skunked in 2011-2012 in redrawing the lines, and they can’t afford to let that happen again.”

“With 26 GOP governorships on the chopping block and only 9 Democratic ones, this is the exact mirror of the Senate elections,” Sabato added. “Just as Democrats are disadvantaged in the Senate by having to defend so much territory, so too are Republicans in the governorships.”

Other key pickup opportunities for Democrats include blue states like Maine and New Mexico, where term-limited GOP governors are likely to give way to well-funded and established Democratic candidates. In Maine, Democrats nominated state Attorney General Janet Mills, who has the chance to be the first female governor in its history, and in New Mexico Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is looking to succeed GOP Gov. Susana Martinez.

Democrats are also hoping to compete in redder states where a favorable national political environment could help push compelling candidates over the top. States like Georgia, where Stacey Abrams is aiming to become the nation’s first female African-American governor, Kansas, where a bitter GOP primary may drag on for weeks in a recount, and South Dakota, where state lawmaker Billie Sutton is running as a “prairie populist,” hoping to appeal to the state’s overwhelmingly conservative electorate.

But despite the Democratic optimism, there are still states where Republicans see opportunities to go on offense.

GOP sees opportunity in ‘purple’ territory

Democrats’ strategy of exploiting Trump’s unpopularity to energize voters might be creating gains in some red states, but in historically blue states, a changing of the guard might be coming.

Connecticut and Minnesota voters are less than 24 hours away from shaping the ballot for the next chief executive, and with the specter of a blue wave looming over the GOP across the country, Democrats in these states are contending with a similar, deeply troubling reality: Republicans taking back the governorship.

The Nutmeg State has not supported a Republican nominee for president since 1988 and Democrats hold a tight grip on federal offices: Both Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and all five congressional representatives are Democrats. In the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, the GOP has not won a statewide election in over a decade, both U.S. Senators are Democrats, and Democratic House members outnumber their Republican counterparts 5-3.

But there is growing optimism for the Republican Party at the state level, where Connecticut’s state Senate is evenly tied and Democrats are defending a slim 9-seat majority in the state House, and the GOP controls both chambers of Minnesota’s state legislature. It wasn’t that long ago that the top office in either of these states was held by a Republican — former Gov. Jodi Rell in Connecticut who preceded Malloy before he was elected in 2010, and former Minnesota governor and now-candidate Tim Pawlenty in 2011.

In a state in which among registered voters, Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 5 to 3, Connecticut is shifting from a deep blue towards purple in the Trump era, and in a strong signal of the state’s dissatisfaction with a stagnant economy and Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy — who is not seeking re-election — the race for the state’s top office is a toss-up.

Five Republican contenders are seizing on the opening to succeed Malloy: Bob Stefanowski, Stephen Obsitnik and David Stemerman are all political outsiders coming from the upper echelons of the private sector; and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the GOP-endorsed candidate, and former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, are tethering their candidacies to their experience in local politics.

The GOP primary echoes a reappearing theme this cycle, one that is splitting the party in races with a crowded field: voters must choose between establishment, politically experienced candidates and Washington outsiders that bring a 2016 Trump-like style to the trail.

Tapping into the more rural, blue-collar parts of the state that better reflect Trump country than the Golden Coast, the Republicans have focused on blaming Malloy for the current state of the economy and promising a comeback for Connecticut by embracing the president’s agenda.

On the Democratic side, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is challenging Greenwich-based cable television executive, Ned Lamont, who secured the party’s endorsement in May. Ganim is no stranger to underdog status — he made a stunning return to Connecticut politics in 2015 when he was elected to a sixth term as mayor after serving seven years in prison for corruption.

Making the case for his candidacy, Ganim said in a statement to ABC News, “It is important for Democrats to pick a candidate to run for governor who connects with ordinary working people in the state of Connecticut and I am that candidate.”

But Lamont is confident that he will be successful as the outsider candidate Tuesday.

“I think we’re in a pretty strong position but I have to earn it every second,” Lamont told ABC News. “We’re gonna come in as an outsider, a problem-solver who makes the changes to get Connecticut moving again.”

Yet some political experts are wary about the Democrats’ grip on the state.

“You wouldn’t expect Connecticut to vote for a Republican,” said Geoffrey Skelley at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “However, Malloy is really unpopular.”

Halfway across the country, in another staunchly blue state, is a toss-up race and possible Democratic anomaly in 2018. Minnesota’s gubernatorial contest to succeed sitting Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is turning into an opportunity for Republicans to capture the governorship. Leading that effort is presumptive front-runner Pawlenty.

After serving two terms as governor from 2003-2011 and launching a comeback bid for his old job, the former governor and presidential candidate is using name recognition and a deep chest of fundraising cash to fuel Republican energy.

Pawlenty, who skipped the Republican convention, is also hinging his hopes on the Trump factor. Hillary Clinton won the state narrowly in 2016, by less than 2 percentage points.

Pawlenty faced a few stumbles early on, including losing the party’s endorsement to Jeff Johnson, the 2014 Republican nominee. But he is still favored in Tuesday’s primary, according to the NBC News/Marist poll, which puts him in the lead by 15 points.

A lot is at stake for Democrats to stem a “red wave” in this liberal stronghold, as the next governor will be involved in redrawing Minnesota’s congressional map for the next decade after the 2020 census, possibly reshaping the balance of power in Congress.

The Democratic field is a tight three-way fight between Rep. Erin Murphy, who clinched the party’s endorsement, Rep. Tim Walz and the more moderate Attorney General Lori Swanson.

According to the NBC News/Marist poll, the top two contenders are neck-in-neck: Swanson captures 28 percent support from registered voters, compared to Walz’s 27 percent. State Rep. Erin Murphy trails with only 13 percent of voters.

With a strong candidate at the top of the ticket in what is expected to be a competitive general election race, Minnesota Republicans may have a fighting chance to propel Pawlenty to the governor’s mansion.

Victories are looking more and more possible for Republicans, who are targeting governorships in Alaska, Minnesota, and Connecticut, according to Sabato.

“Realistically, that’s their playing field,” he said.

Connecticut and Minnesota are in the GOP’s crosshairs, and these deep blue states represent outliers for Democrats this cycle. But voters will ultimately decide who lands on the general ballot, and usher in a fierce yet uncertain November.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin head to the polls as primary season continues

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin head to the polls Tuesday as primary season slowly begins to give way to what promises to be a highly competitive general election in races across the country.

Governorships and U.S. Senate seats are up in all four states holding primaries, and both parties are again watching to see which candidates emerge victorious and advance to November. A combined 22 U.S. House seats are also at stake in the states voting Tuesday, many of which could factor heavily into the balance of power in Congress’ lower chamber this fall.

Here’s a look at some of the key storylines and races the ABC News Politics team will be watching on Tuesday.

Wisconsin a political barometer of the Midwest

Donald Trump’s 2016 victory in Wisconsin was the first for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, and now the state faces yet another test of its political identity on Tuesday.

Gov. Scott Walker is running for a third full term this cycle, which presents yet another chance for Democrats to defeat the former presidential candidate and longtime foe. The Democratic primary is a crowded and complicated field of eight candidates all vying to take on Walker and flip one of a number of Midwestern gubernatorial seats that fallen out of their grasp in recent years.

The top candidates on the Democratic side include Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, former state lawmaker Kelda Roys, the African-American leader of a state firefighters union, Mahlon Mitchell, former state Democratic Party chair Matt Flynn, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and state lawmaker Kathleen Vineout. Whoever emerges from the crowd Tuesday has a tall task in unseating Walker, who alongside the state GOP has built a powerful infrastructure in the state that has allowed him to win two full terms and survive a recall election in 2012.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin is also up for re-election this cycle, and the GOP primary to take her on in November has been a bitter battle between state lawmaker Leah Vukmir and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kevin Nicholson.

Vukmir won the endorsement of the state GOP last month and has the backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan, while Nicholson has attempted to paint himself as a political outsider taking on a party insider. Hope for Democratic victories in the state were bolstered by special election wins in a state Supreme Court race and for a number of state senate seats, and losing Baldwin’s seat would be a large blow to the party’s hopes of taking back control of the U.S. Senate.

The liberal Baldwin, the Senate’s first openly gay member, is one of 10 Democratic incumbents up this cycle in a state that Donald Trump won in the 2016 presidential election.

GOP on offense in Minnesota

While Republicans are likely to lose a number of U.S. House seats this cycle, the state of Minnesota presents the GOP a rare chance to go on offense in a year where they are almost exclusively playing political defense.

The retirement of Rep. Rick Nolan in the state’s 8th Congressional District and the decision by Rep. Tim Walz in the state’s 1st Congressional District to run for governor has given Republicans hopes that they could gain seats in a year where the national political environment is less than favorable.

While Donald Trump narrowly lost Minnesota in the 2016 election, he carried both the 1st and 8th congressional districts by more than 15 points — another factor that makes these open-seat races highly competitive. Army veteran Dan Feehan, a former acting assistant secretary of Defense in the Obama administration, is the candidate with the backing of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party and is on the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” list for top-tier candidates.

The Republican race in the 1st District is between state Sen. Carla Nelson and Jim Hagedorn, who has been the GOP nominee against Walz the last two cycle.

Democrats have held the 8th District in all but one congressional election since Harry Truman’s administration — Republicans held it from 2011 to 2013, but with voters leaning to Trump, it may open the door for the GOP.

(MORE: Bredesen, Blackburn win Tennessee primary elections for Senate)
Five Democrats have run to succeed Nolan, including Nolan’s former campaign manager Joe Radinovich. State Rep. Jason Metsa leads all Democrats in total fundraising. Republican candidate Pete Stauber, who campaigned with and has the backing of President Trump, leads the field in fundraising and will face former Duluth school board member Harry Welty.

Vermont Democrats poised to make history

Phil Scott has cemented himself among the rare breed of popular Northeast Republican governors and is in solid position to win re-election this cycle.

But Scott’s popularity will likely not stop Democrats in the state from making history by nominating Christine Hallquist, who would be the nation’s first transgender woman to hold a governor’s seat if she is able to win Tuesday’s primary and pull an upset against Scott in November.

Hallquist, 62, is the former chief executive of the Vermont Electric Cooperative and said she is seeking to utilize both her local experience and national profile in a potential race against Scott.

“That’s how I want to be known in Vermont,” Hallquist said of he progressive platform and executive experience in a recent interview with the Associated Press, “Nationally, I want to be known as the first trans candidate.”

Other key races to watch:

Connecticut governor: In a counter to the conventional wisdom that Democrats have the advantage in 2018, the Nutmeg State may provide an opportunity for Republicans to make inroads in a typically blue state.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy leaves office as one of the least popular governors in the nation, and several Republicans are trying to take advantage. The GOP primary has seen a similar embrace of Trump that we’ve seen in races across the country, but there’s no way to know how that strategy will play out in a state that is deep blue in presidential cycles, but much more purple in gubernatorial races and off-year elections.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who fell short in a run for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2014, has the backing of the Republican Party in advance of the primary and is running against former nominee for state treasurer, Tim Herbst, and businessmen Stephen Obsitnik, David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski.

Democrats have backed a familiar name in state politics in businessman Ned Lamont, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2006 in a challenge to then-Senator Joe Lieberman. Lamont has the state party’s backing, but will have to defeat Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.

Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District:
In the Connecticut district that includes some of the most Republican parts of the state, Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty is stepping aside after allegations that her chief of staff committed sexual assault.

Democrats have endorsed Mary Glassman, a former lieutenant governor candidate who served as First Selectman– a similar position to mayor in other states– of Simsbury. She will face Jahana Hayes, a former National Teacher of the Year and first-time candidate who received encouragement to run from Sen. Chris Murphy. Murphy, however, has not issued a formal endorsement in the race.

Republicans may have the opportunity to pick up their first congressional victory in the state in a decade, with three candidates throwing their hats in the ring for the seat– former Meriden mayor Manny Santos, businessman Rich DuPont and retired professor Ruby Corby O’Neill.

Minnesota governor: The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes is another spot where Republicans will potentially be able to reverse the tide of the “Blue Wave,” as they may be able to ride the name recognition of a former Governor who wants another crack at the office.

Tim Pawlenty, former governor and Republican presidential candidate, has decided to run for his old job, but has stumbled a bit in the early going. Pawlenty lost the party endorsement to Jeff Johnson, the previous nominee in 2014, but is still favored in Tuesday’s primary.

If Pawlenty withstands Johnson’s challenge, he will face a tough battle against the winner of a Democratic-Farmer-Labor primary with several viable candidates. The focus, however, has been on the late decision by Attorney General Lori Swanson to run for governor, a move that triggered Rep. Keith Ellison to run for the newly open Attorney General post.

Swanson faces a difficult primary against Rep. Tim Walz, who decided to run for governor over re-election in the 1st district. Along with two high-profile candidates, the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party added an additional wrinkle when it endorsed the bid of state representative Erin Murphy, who supports a statewide single-payer healthcare system.

Democrats may have a slight advantage, as Republicans have not won a statewide election in over a decade, but considering that Trump came within 2 percentage points of winning the state in 2016, Republicans may have a fighting chance.

Minnesota U.S. Senate Special Election: Democrats will have a relative advantage in both of their Senate elections, as in addition to popular Senator Amy Klobuchar running for her regularly scheduled re-election, there will also be a special election to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Al Franken.

Sen. Tina Smith, appointed to the seat earlier this year, is facing an unconventional primary challenge from Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush. Painter, a former Republican, has become a vocal anti-Trump voice on Twitter and has leveraged his social media presence during his campaign.

Smith, however, has the endorsement of most Democratic leaders in the state as well as from Senate colleague Elizabeth Warren.

Republicans have a three-way primary, but the only candidate who has filed contributions with the FEC has been state senator Karin Housley.

Minnesota 2nd Congressional District: Incumbent Rep. Jason Lewis could have a more challenging re-election bid now that a CNN report has unearthed Lewis’ previous statements. Lewis referred to women as sluts and that African-Americans have an “entitlement mentality.”

The general election is all set, however, as no Republican is running against Lewis. Presumptive Democratic nominee Angie Craig will likely attempt to take advantage of Lewis’ attacks for the general election campaign, as she is running unopposed. Craig has been backed by progressive organizations including EMILY’s List and the Human Rights Campaign.

Both Democrats and Republicans have listed the race as a target for extra funds, which makes sense for a largely suburban district that has been decided by one point or less in the last two presidential elections — Obama won it in 2012 while Trump won it in 2016.

Minnesota 3rd Congressional District:
Democrats have identified Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen’s seat as a potential target, as the 3rd district has backed Democrats in the last three presidential elections.

Paulsen has continued to survive in the suburban Twin Cities districts with a relatively moderate voting record and has distanced himself from Trump.

Democrats will seek to take advantage of a relatively favorable electorate in the 3rd District and have given extra financial support to Dean Phillips, the owner of a local coffee chain. Phillips has run on a progressive platform including Medicare-for-All and ending Citizens United.

If Democrats want to successfully take back the House of Representatives, this seat will be crucial to their path to control.

Minnesota 5th Congressional District:
DNC vice chair Keith Ellison won this seat in 2007 and became the first Muslim-American elected to Congress and may be succeeded by the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

Ellison stepped aside to run for Minnesota attorney general and the local Democratic-Farmer-Labor party has endorsed state Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born hijab-wearing refugee. Omar has run on a strongly progressive platform and has faced controversy for her criticism of Israel, but is favored in her primary race.

Four other candidates, including state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray and former State House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, are also running in the Democratic primary.

Three Republicans are running in the primary but will face a tough battle in a seat where Ellison won his last election with 69 percent of the vote.

Wisconsin 1st Congressional District: While Republicans need to defend all the seats they can in 2018, losing this seat would be especially painful as it currently belongs to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Ryan is not running for re-election and six Republicans have jumped into the race. Ryan has endorsed former staffer Bryan Steil, but arguably the most prominent candidate among Republicans is Paul Nehlen, who lost the support of the conservative website Breitbart for his white supremacist views and anti-Semitic comments.

Democrats have a pair of candidates in teacher Cathy Myers and ironworker Randy Bryce, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has backed Bryce, who has raised nearly $5 million in his campaign. Bryce, an army veteran who has gained national attention, has earned also earned the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The district swung Trump’s way in 2016 thanks to the support of its substantial white working-class population, but if Bryce wins, Democrats may be able to rely on his background as an ironworker and his pro-labor policies to earn enough support to flip the seat.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

14-year-old is running to be Vermont’s next governor

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One of the candidates in Vermont’s Democratic primary for governor is too young to vote — even too young to get his learner’s permit.

Ethan Sonneborn, 14, is on the ballot Tuesday, just a few weeks before he is set to begin his freshman year of high school.

“Just about everywhere I go people think what we’re doing is important,” he told ABC News. “We need to have leadership that’s listening to Vermonters instead of having leadership that makes Vermonters listen.”

Sonneborn’s primary comes among a surge in youth participation in politics. Last week, a group of teenagers ran in the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries in Kansas.

Vermont has no minimum age requirement to run for governor; a candidate only has to have lived in the state for four years. Vermont’s secretary of state office said that no other minor in recent history has run for governor.

Sonneborn is running on a progressive platform, supporting a carbon tax, a higher minimum wage and a worker’s bill of rights. On his campaign website, he calls himself a “proud backer” of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare-for-All” legislation.

The 14-year-old has been involved interested in politics for as long as he can remember, recently serving as a legislative page in Vermont’s legislature.

“I’ve been an activist pretty much my whole life,” he said. “I’ve been active in my community on issues that I’ve cared about.”

Sonneborn has been traveling the state, talking to Vermonters about the issues. He said that “almost nobody” in the state has told him he’s too young to run for governor, although there have been a few internet hecklers.

Sarah Anders, a spokeswoman for James Ehlers, another Democratic candidate for governor, said that Ehlers “admires Ethan’s engagement on the issues and his activism as a young person and feels that Ethan has elevated the discourse throughout the course of the gubernatorial primary.”

His parents haven’t had a huge influence on his campaign, which has been mostly self-driven. While they knew their son was interested in running for governor, they didn’t know when he announced he was running.

Sonneborn has endorsed candidates for the legislature and participated in a gubernatorial candidate forums.

Kate LaRose, a candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives, said she was honored to have Sonneborn’s endorsement.

“Ethan’s campaign and the issues he champions provide a needed response in this atmosphere—revival, interest, and youth engagement, while building our the bench strength of our democracy for years to come,” she told ABC News in a statement. “I’ve no doubt he’ll be the youngest governor of Vermont someday.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Omarosa says price of silence for ex-Trump aides is $15,000. What do campaign records show?

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Campaign finance records show several former aides to President Donald Trump have received payments of roughly $15,000 per month from campaign or party accounts, bolstering part of former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s claim that she was offered the same amount to keep quiet about her time in the White House.

The Apprentice contestant turned White House aide Manigault Newman has alleged that multiple former Trump Administration aides have been taking money for their silence since leaving their posts, a hush money payment under the guise of a no-show job that she says she turned down.

“They were not offering me a real job,” Manigault Newman told NBC on Sunday. “They didn’t really care if I showed up. In fact, there are several former employees from the White House who actually signed this agreement, who are all being paid $15,000 for their silence.”

Federal election filings reviewed by ABC News support her allegations that payments were made but do not indicate whether the payments were contingent on signing some kind of nondisclosure agreement.

All Trump campaign staffers were required to sign a nondisclosure agreement upon joining the campaign. After Trump took office, some White House staffers signed similar agreements, but it is unclear how enforceable such agreements would be for government employees.

A number of former Trump aides – including two who served in sensitive positions in the White House – have been paid roughly $15,000 per month by either the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee or America First PAC, a political action committee dedicated to Trump’s re-election for various services described only briefly in filings.

Campaign or party coffers made monthly payments to former director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller for “security services,” former personal assistant to the president John McEntee for “payroll,” former digital media director of the Trump campaign Brad Parscale for “digital consulting [and] management consulting” and former director of advertising for the Trump campaign Gary Coby for “media services [and] consulting.”

Neither the White House nor the Trump campaign has directly addressed the hush-money claim, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders broadly called Manigault Newman, who is currently promoting her forthcoming book, a disgruntled ex-employee who was spreading “lies and false accusations.”

One of Sanders’ predecessors behind the podium, however, did address the accusations and was similarly forceful in his denial. Manigault Newman alleged that Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer signed a non-disclosure agreement similar to the one she was offered, which Manigault Newman says would have prohibited her from making any comments that could damage the president.

“Which is why Sean Spicer described Donald Trump as a unicorn jumping over rainbows,” Manigault Newman told NBC News. “It’s because he signed this same agreement.”

Spicer called her claims “completely fictional,” telling ABC News that he did not sign a non-disclosure agreement and called her assertion that he was paid hush money “false.” There are no listings in federal election reports showing payments to Sean Spicer or RigWill LLC, his communications consulting firm.

Records show a number of payments to former Trump aides – or firms owned and operated by former Trump aides – who have been tied to some of the recent scandals plaguing the White House.

The RNC has been paying KS Global Group, Schiller’s private security firm, $15,000 per month since Schiller left government in October of 2017, according to the records. Schiller, the longtime Trump security adviser, was interviewed by congressional investigators as part of their ongoing probe into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections, where he answered questions about Trump’s now infamous 2013 trip to Moscow.

The RNC has said the payments were for Schiller’s help in preparing for the 2020 national political convention, but Schiller could not be reached for comment.

The Trump campaign has been paying McEntee about $14,000 per month since he left the White House in March over what sources said were “issues with his security clearance.” McEntee, who shadowed the president during much of his first term as Trump’s “body man,” was hired by the campaign within hours of being escorted from the White House.

McEntee declined to comment, but sources familiar with his role say he was working on voter engagement, surrogate messaging and campaign event planning but recently told campaign officials he intends to leave his job at the end of this month.

America First PAC, the political action committee backing Trump, and the RNC have paid Parscale, the former head of the 2016 campaign’s digital media outreach effort, who is now the campaign manager for Trump’s nascent reelection bid, in 15 separate payments of $15,000 from March 2017 to June 2018.

The RNC also made monthly $15,000 payments between mid-2017 and mid-2018, amid several other sizabale payments, to Direct Persuasion, a consulting firm owned by Gary Coby, a former RNC digital specialist who helped manage online advertising during the 2016 campaign.

The social media outreach efforts that Parscale and Coby worked on have since become a focus of the ongoing special counsel and congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

A campaign official said the payments to Parscale were not related to a “hush agreement” and were for “services rendered” but would not elaborate on what those services were. Parscale, like many other campaign officials, signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Coby declined to comment, but a source familiar with Coby’s work at the RNC were for actual digital advertising advice, not for his silence.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Omarosa says price of silence for ex-Trump aides is $15,000. What do campaign records show?

Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Campaign finance records show several former aides to President Donald Trump have received payments of roughly $15,000 per month from campaign or party accounts, bolstering part of former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s claim that she was offered the same amount to keep quiet about her time in the White House.

The Apprentice contestant turned White House aide Manigault Newman has alleged that multiple former Trump Administration aides have been taking money for their silence since leaving their posts, a hush money payment under the guise of a no-show job that she says she turned down.

“They were not offering me a real job,” Manigault Newman told NBC on Sunday. “They didn’t really care if I showed up. In fact, there are several former employees from the White House who actually signed this agreement, who are all being paid $15,000 for their silence.”

Federal election filings reviewed by ABC News support her allegations that payments were made but do not indicate whether the payments were contingent on signing some kind of nondisclosure agreement.

All Trump campaign staffers were required to sign a nondisclosure agreement upon joining the campaign. After Trump took office, some White House staffers signed similar agreements, but it is unclear how enforceable such agreements would be for government employees.

A number of former Trump aides – including two who served in sensitive positions in the White House – have been paid roughly $15,000 per month by either the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee or America First PAC, a political action committee dedicated to Trump’s re-election for various services described only briefly in filings.

Campaign or party coffers made monthly payments to former director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller for “security services,” former personal assistant to the president John McEntee for “payroll,” former digital media director of the Trump campaign Brad Parscale for “digital consulting [and] management consulting” and former director of advertising for the Trump campaign Gary Coby for “media services [and] consulting.”

Neither the White House nor the Trump campaign has directly addressed the hush-money claim, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders broadly called Manigault Newman, who is currently promoting her forthcoming book, a disgruntled ex-employee who was spreading “lies and false accusations.”

One of Sanders’ predecessors behind the podium, however, did address the accusations and was similarly forceful in his denial. Manigault Newman alleged that Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer signed a non-disclosure agreement similar to the one she was offered, which Manigault Newman says would have prohibited her from making any comments that could damage the president.

“Which is why Sean Spicer described Donald Trump as a unicorn jumping over rainbows,” Manigault Newman told NBC News. “It’s because he signed this same agreement.”

Spicer called her claims “completely fictional,” telling ABC News that he did not sign a non-disclosure agreement and called her assertion that he was paid hush money “false.” There are no listings in federal election reports showing payments to Sean Spicer or RigWill LLC, his communications consulting firm.

Records show a number of payments to former Trump aides – or firms owned and operated by former Trump aides – who have been tied to some of the recent scandals plaguing the White House.

The RNC has been paying KS Global Group, Schiller’s private security firm, $15,000 per month since Schiller left government in October of 2017, according to the records. Schiller, the longtime Trump security adviser, was interviewed by congressional investigators as part of their ongoing probe into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections, where he answered questions about Trump’s now infamous 2013 trip to Moscow.

The RNC has said the payments were for Schiller’s help in preparing for the 2020 national political convention, but Schiller could not be reached for comment.

The Trump campaign has been paying McEntee about $14,000 per month since he left the White House in March over what sources said were “issues with his security clearance.” McEntee, who shadowed the president during much of his first term as Trump’s “body man,” was hired by the campaign within hours of being escorted from the White House.

McEntee declined to comment, but sources familiar with his role say he was working on voter engagement, surrogate messaging and campaign event planning but recently told campaign officials he intends to leave his job at the end of this month.

America First PAC, the political action committee backing Trump, and the RNC have paid Parscale, the former head of the 2016 campaign’s digital media outreach effort, who is now the campaign manager for Trump’s nascent reelection bid, in 15 separate payments of $15,000 from March 2017 to June 2018.

The RNC also made monthly $15,000 payments between mid-2017 and mid-2018, amid several other sizabale payments, to Direct Persuasion, a consulting firm owned by Gary Coby, a former RNC digital specialist who helped manage online advertising during the 2016 campaign.

The social media outreach efforts that Parscale and Coby worked on have since become a focus of the ongoing special counsel and congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

A campaign official said the payments to Parscale were not related to a “hush agreement” and were for “services rendered” but would not elaborate on what those services were. Parscale, like many other campaign officials, signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Coby declined to comment, but a source familiar with Coby’s work at the RNC were for actual digital advertising advice, not for his silence.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Special counsel team wraps up in Manafort case

Posted on: August 13th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Keith Lane/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Prosecutors with the team of special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday rested the government’s case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, wrapping up more than two weeks of testimony alleging he hid millions of dollars offshore and failed to pay taxes on that money.

Manafort is facing a potential life sentence if he is convicted on 18 counts of financial charges, including money laundering and tax fraud. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The case against Manafort has barely referenced his work as President Trump’s campaign chairman and has not indicated if he may fit into the larger picture of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign that Mueller’s team is investigating.

Instead, Mueller’s prosecutors have called accountants, bookkeepers, luxury vendors and Manafort’s longtime business associate, with a final group of witnesses appearing on Friday to lay out his alleged financial transgressions.

The special counsel was planning on resting the case last week, but after a long delay on Friday the court closed shop with one witness left for Monday. The cause of the delay is not known.

One of Mueller’s last witnesses on Monday was a mortgage banker with Federal Savings Bank, which loaned money to Manafort in 2016. According to Mueller’s team, the bank’s founder and CEO Stephen Calk was given an unpaid advisory role in the Trump campaign after dining with Manafort. Prosecutors said Calk unsuccessfully sought a larger role in the Trump administration. The bank wrote in a statement to ABC News in April that the allegations are “simply not true.”

An array of witnesses over the past two weeks backed the special counsel’s claim that Manafort evaded taxes on $60 million earned from overseas lobbying and consulting work for a Russian-backed Ukrainian political party.

Earlier this week, Mueller’s star witness and Manafort’s longtime business partner Rick Gates admitted depositing millions of dollars in offshore accounts to hide income from U.S. tax collectors.

Manafort’s defense team previewed the case it is expected to launch formally next week, by blaming the financial irregularities on Gates. Under tough cross-examination from defense attorneys, Gates maintained that every action he took came at Manafort’s direction. The defense also pushed Gates to address allegations that he embezzled “several hundred thousand” dollars from Manafort to finance an apartment in London where Gates had an extra-marital affair.

The defense team is expected soon to identify its witness list, and attorneys declined to say Friday whether they plan to allow Manafort to take the stand in his own defense. Legal experts have told ABC News that is extremely unlikely.

The two parties are expected to present closing arguments on this week, and then determine final jury instructions. Both sides have told ABC News they intend to stay in the vicinity of the courthouse until a verdict is reached.

The trial could conclude as early as this week.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Special counsel team wraps up in Manafort case

Posted on: August 13th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Keith Lane/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Prosecutors with the team of special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday rested the government’s case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, wrapping up more than two weeks of testimony alleging he hid millions of dollars offshore and failed to pay taxes on that money.

Manafort is facing a potential life sentence if he is convicted on 18 counts of financial charges, including money laundering and tax fraud. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The case against Manafort has barely referenced his work as President Trump’s campaign chairman and has not indicated if he may fit into the larger picture of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign that Mueller’s team is investigating.

Instead, Mueller’s prosecutors have called accountants, bookkeepers, luxury vendors and Manafort’s longtime business associate, with a final group of witnesses appearing on Friday to lay out his alleged financial transgressions.

The special counsel was planning on resting the case last week, but after a long delay on Friday the court closed shop with one witness left for Monday. The cause of the delay is not known.

One of Mueller’s last witnesses on Monday was a mortgage banker with Federal Savings Bank, which loaned money to Manafort in 2016. According to Mueller’s team, the bank’s founder and CEO Stephen Calk was given an unpaid advisory role in the Trump campaign after dining with Manafort. Prosecutors said Calk unsuccessfully sought a larger role in the Trump administration. The bank wrote in a statement to ABC News in April that the allegations are “simply not true.”

An array of witnesses over the past two weeks backed the special counsel’s claim that Manafort evaded taxes on $60 million earned from overseas lobbying and consulting work for a Russian-backed Ukrainian political party.

Earlier this week, Mueller’s star witness and Manafort’s longtime business partner Rick Gates admitted depositing millions of dollars in offshore accounts to hide income from U.S. tax collectors.

Manafort’s defense team previewed the case it is expected to launch formally next week, by blaming the financial irregularities on Gates. Under tough cross-examination from defense attorneys, Gates maintained that every action he took came at Manafort’s direction. The defense also pushed Gates to address allegations that he embezzled “several hundred thousand” dollars from Manafort to finance an apartment in London where Gates had an extra-marital affair.

The defense team is expected soon to identify its witness list, and attorneys declined to say Friday whether they plan to allow Manafort to take the stand in his own defense. Legal experts have told ABC News that is extremely unlikely.

The two parties are expected to present closing arguments on this week, and then determine final jury instructions. Both sides have told ABC News they intend to stay in the vicinity of the courthouse until a verdict is reached.

The trial could conclude as early as this week.

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FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts fired

Posted on: August 13th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The FBI agent who came under scrutiny for anti-Trump texts he sent from a work phone during the 2016 presidential campaign has now been fired, according to his lawyer.

Peter Strzok was fired on Friday after serving in the FBI for 21 years, his lawyer Aitan Goelman said in a statement.

Goelman said that the deputy director “departed from established precedent by firing” Strzok.

Strzok’s public profile reached a tipping point in July when he testified before House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

“This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans. A lengthy investigation and multiple rounds of Congressional testimony failed to produce a shred of evidence that Special Agent Strzok’s personal views ever affected his work,” Goelman said in the statement.

“In fact, in his decades of service, Special Agent Strzok has proved himself to be one of the country’s top counterintelligence officers, leading to only one conclusion – the decision to terminate was taken in response to political pressure, and to punish Special Agent Strzok for political speech protected by the First Amendment, not on a fair and independent examination of the facts. It is a decision that produces only one winner – those who seek to harm our country and weaken our democracy,” the statement said.

ABC News has reached out to the FBI for a response.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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Omarosa unveils new audio of Trump’s call to her after firing

Posted on: August 13th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Former top White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has released new audio that she says is a recording of President Trump’s telephone call to her after Chief of Staff John Kelly fired her.

In the brief recording, which aired on NBC’s Today show Monday, the voice Manigault Newman identified as Trump’s appears to be surprised and upset about news of her departure.

“Omarosa, what’s going on? I just saw in the news you’re thinking about leaving. What happened?” the voice asks Manigault Newman.

“General Kelly — General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” Manigault Newman answers in the exchange.

“No. Nobody even told me about it,” the person responds. “You know, they run a big operation but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know that. God [expletive]. I don’t love you leaving at all.”

In the White House’s first reaction to the new audio, Hogan Gidley, deputy press secretary, declined to “talk about what [Trump and Manigault Newman] talked about on the phone,” but said the “thought of doing something like that to a fellow employee, not to mention, the leader of the free world is completely disgraceful.”

“Her character and her integrity have been impugned beyond measure,” Gidley said in an interview with “Fox and Friends” Monday.

The audio release comes a day after Manigault Newman released audio she said was of her firing by Kelly inside the White House Situation Room.

Manigault Newman served as the White House Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison from January to mid-December of 2017 but has been unsparing in her criticism of the president since her departure.

In recent interviews, she has described her former boss and “Apprentice” co-star as “unhinged” and “racist.”

Trump reacted Saturday to Manigault Newman’s media tour before the release of her coming tell-all book, calling her a “low-life.”

In a sit-down interview after the release of her new audio, Manigault Newman took on a defensive posture, fashioning herself as a whistleblower and warning her former White House colleagues “they should be concerned” about revelations still to come out of her book and media tour.

“There’s a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House, and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of this,” Manigault Newman said.

Manigault Newman said she didn’t know whether the president was as genuinely surprised by her firing as he appeared to sound on the tape but also said it should be alarming to Americans if the president truly didn’t know whether his chief of staff is ousting a top member of the White House without first informing him.

“As we heard on the recording you just played, he doesn’t even know what’s happening in the White House,” Manigault Newman said. “General Kelly, John Kelly is running the White House and Donald Trump has no clue what’s going on. He’s being puppeted. That’s very dangerous to this nation.”

Gidley, when asked on “Fox and Friends” Monday whether the president was as unaware of Manigault Newman’s firing as he appeared to sound on the tape, the deputy press secretary declined to comment on the “tick tock” of how she was dismissed.

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Trump calls Omarosa ‘wacky’ and ‘vicious’ after she unveils new audio tape of president

Posted on: August 13th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Former top White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has released new audio that she says is a recording of President Donald Trump’s telephone call to her after Chief of Staff John Kelly fired her.

In the brief recording, which aired on NBC’s Today show Monday, the voice Manigault Newman identified as Trump’s appears to be surprised and upset about news of her departure.

“Omarosa, what’s going on? I just saw in the news you’re thinking about leaving. What happened?” the voice asks Manigault Newman.

“General Kelly — General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” Manigault Newman answers in the exchange.

“No. Nobody even told me about it,” the person responds. “You know, they run a big operation but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know that. God [expletive]. I don’t love you leaving at all.”

Trump lashed out against Manigault Newman over Twitter after the release of the audio, calling her “wacky” and “vicious,” though also acknowledging he had initially resisted Kelly’s previous attempts to oust her from the West Wing.

Earlier in the morning, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley declined to “talk about what [Trump and Manigault Newman] talked about on the phone,” but said the “thought of doing something like that to a fellow employee, not to mention, the leader of the free world is completely disgraceful.”

“Her character and her integrity have been impugned beyond measure,” Gidley said in an interview with Fox and Friends Monday.

The audio release comes a day after Manigault Newman released audio she said was of her firing by Kelly inside the White House Situation Room.

Manigault Newman served as the White House director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison from January to mid-December of 2017 but has been unsparing in her criticism of the president since her departure.

In recent interviews, she has described her former boss and “Apprentice” co-star as “unhinged” and “racist.”

Trump reacted Saturday to Manigault Newman’s media tour before the release of her coming tell-all book, calling her a “low-life.”

In a sit-down interview after the release of her new audio, Manigault Newman took on a defensive posture, fashioning herself as a whistleblower and warning her former White House colleagues “they should be concerned” about revelations still to come out of her book and media tour.

“There’s a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House, and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of this,” Manigault Newman said.

Manigault Newman said she didn’t know whether the president was as genuinely surprised by her firing as he appeared to sound on the tape but also said it should be alarming to Americans if the president truly didn’t know whether his chief of staff is ousting a top member of the White House without first informing him.

“As we heard on the recording you just played, he doesn’t even know what’s happening in the White House,” Manigault Newman said. “General Kelly, John Kelly is running the White House and Donald Trump has no clue what’s going on. He’s being puppeted. That’s very dangerous to this nation.”

Gidley, when asked on “Fox and Friends” Monday whether the president was as unaware of Manigault Newman’s firing as he appeared to sound on the tape, the deputy press secretary declined to comment on the “tick tock” of how she was dismissed.

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