Senate measure to repeal Obamacare fails

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — With the failure Wednesday afternoon of the 2015 House bill that would just repeal the Affordable Care Act, Congress’ two best chances to scrap Obamacare in one fell swoop dissipated before senators’ eyes.

That amendment, which also contained a provision to delay the implementation of a repeal by two years to allow lawmakers to come up with a replacement system, failed 45-55, with seven Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in opposition.

The Senate will now continue voting on measures from both parties, with the Republican ones mostly geared toward scrapping individual aspects of Obamacare one by one — still in pursuit of the goal Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., laid out Wednesday morning.

“Ultimately, we want to get legislation that will finally end the Obamacare status quo through Congress and to the president’s desk,” he said.

The straight repeal-only option was based on 2015 piece of legislation that passed both chambers of Congress but was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.

Although that language cleared the House and Senate back then, some Senate Republicans acknowledge now that the vote was symbolic. It was used by some at the time to send a message to Obama and to their constituents back home even though they knew it would be vetoed. And before Wednesday’s vote, some Republicans said they would not back the repeal-only option this time.

Senate Republicans’ first attempt at passing their replacement legislation failed last night, with nine Republicans joining all of the chamber’s Democrats to defeat it, 43-57.

That outcome was not a surprise, given that the bill was previously pulled from the Senate floor because of lack of support.

Republicans from several factions of the party stated their objections to it for a variety of reasons, including its proposed cuts to Medicaid, failure to cut premiums sufficiently and failure to repeal Obamacare entirely.

Republican leadership is expected to move through various versions of repeal, including limited repeal options that would scrap only portions of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual and employer mandates.

After those votes, the full Senate, even Democrats, will be able to offer additional amendments.

That so-called vote-a-rama later this week could open the floodgates for all senators to introduce as many amendments as they want.

That process could last until senators are physically exhausted.

Democrats have said they have hundreds of amendments to offer and are preparing for a marathon.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Senate measure to repeal Affordable Care Act fails

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — With the failure Wednesday afternoon of the 2015 House bill that would just repeal the Affordable Care Act, Congress’ two best chances to scrap Obamacare in one fell swoop dissipated before senators’ eyes.

That amendment, which also contained a provision to delay the implementation of a repeal by two years to allow lawmakers to come up with a replacement system, failed 45-55, with seven Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in opposition.

The Senate will now continue voting on measures from both parties, with the Republican ones mostly geared toward scrapping individual aspects of Obamacare one by one — still in pursuit of the goal Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., laid out Wednesday morning.

“Ultimately, we want to get legislation that will finally end the Obamacare status quo through Congress and to the president’s desk,” he said.

The straight repeal-only option was based on 2015 piece of legislation that passed both chambers of Congress but was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.

Although that language cleared the House and Senate back then, some Senate Republicans acknowledge now that the vote was symbolic. It was used by some at the time to send a message to Obama and to their constituents back home even though they knew it would be vetoed. And before Wednesday’s vote, some Republicans said they would not back the repeal-only option this time.

Senate Republicans’ first attempt at passing their replacement legislation failed last night, with nine Republicans joining all of the chamber’s Democrats to defeat it, 43-57.

That outcome was not a surprise, given that the bill was previously pulled from the Senate floor because of lack of support.

Republicans from several factions of the party stated their objections to it for a variety of reasons, including its proposed cuts to Medicaid, failure to cut premiums sufficiently and failure to repeal Obamacare entirely.

Republican leadership is expected to move through various versions of repeal, including limited repeal options that would scrap only portions of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual and employer mandates.

After those votes, the full Senate, even Democrats, will be able to offer additional amendments.

That so-called vote-a-rama later this week could open the floodgates for all senators to introduce as many amendments as they want.

That process could last until senators are physically exhausted.

Democrats have said they have hundreds of amendments to offer and are preparing for a marathon.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump has been ‘clear’ about his feelings on Jeff Sessions, press secretary says

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

US Department of Justice(WASHINGTON) — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that President Trump has “been very clear” about his feelings toward Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“He’s obviously disappointed but also wants the attorney general to continue to focus on the things that the attorney general does. He wants him to lead the Department of Justice. He wants to do that strongly. He wants him to focus on things like immigration, leaks and a number of other issues,” Sanders told reporters at the White House.

She added, “You can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job and that’s where they are.”

Sanders also confirmed that Sessions was at the White House Wednesday “for other meetings” but he did not meet with the president.

Sessions’ chief of staff, Jody Hunt, recently informed White House chief of staff Reince Priebus that Sessions has no plans to resign from his post, despite growing pressure from Trump, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The president recently called Sessions — one of Trump’s staunchest supporters during the presidential campaign — “beleaguered” and “weak.” And Trump told reporters Tuesday that he would not have chosen Sessions for attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the federal probe of Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s presidential election.

“We will see what happens. Time will tell,” Trump said in response to a question Tuesday about Sessions’ possible resignation.

The Washington Post first reported Hunt’s conversation with Priebus.

Trump’s public disparagement of Sessions continued Wednesday morning, with the president questioning Sessions’ decision to keep the acting FBI director on board.

“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” Trump wrote in two tweets.

Even with the status of his tenure as attorney general unclear, Sessions and his team have been moving ahead with his fight against sanctuary cities. On Tuesday the Department of Justice announced that it will be tightening requirements for cities and other jurisdictions around the country that want key federal grants. In order to receive grants in the next fiscal year, the DOJ will require cities and other jurisdictions to certify that they are in compliance with a law that allows federal authorities to obtain immigration-related information on “any individual” from local police.

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said today that President Trump has “been very clear” about his feelings toward Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“He’s obviously disappointed but also wants the attorney general to continue to focus on the things that the attorney general does. He wants him to lead the Department of Justice. He wants to do that strongly. He wants him to focus on things like immigration, leaks and a number of other issues,” Sanders told reporters at the White House.

She added, “You can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job and that’s where they are.”

Sanders also confirmed that Sessions was at the White House today “for other meetings” but he did not meet with the president.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sessions’ chief of staff, Jody Hunt, recently informed White House chief of staff Reince Priebus that Sessions has no plans to resign from his post, despite growing pressure from Trump, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The president recently called Sessions — one of Trump’s staunchest supporters during the presidential campaign — “beleaguered” and “weak.” And Trump told reporters yesterday that he would not have chosen Sessions for attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the federal probe of Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s presidential election.

“We will see what happens. Time will tell,” Trump said in response to a question Tuesday about Sessions’ possible resignation.

The Washington Post first reported Hunt’s conversation with Priebus.

Trump’s public disparagement of Sessions continued this morning, with the president questioning Sessions’ decision to keep the acting FBI director on board.

“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” Trump wrote in two tweets.

 

 

 

 

Even with the status of his tenure as attorney general unclear, Sessions and his team have been moving ahead with his fight against sanctuary cities. On Tuesday the Department of Justice announced that it will be tightening requirements for cities and other jurisdictions around the country that want key federal grants. In order to receive grants in the next fiscal year, the DOJ will require cities and other jurisdictions to certify that they are in compliance with a law that allows federal authorities to obtain immigration-related information on “any individual” from local police.

Former Trump campaign adviser meets with House Intelligence Committee

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — Former Trump campaign adviser J.D. Gordon appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday for an interview with the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian election interference.

Gordon, who told ABC News he was appearing for a “closed meeting” with the committee, advised Trump on foreign policy during the presidential campaign.

Gordon played a role in putting together the Republican Party platform, which was criticized for taking a pro-Russian position on the defense of Ukraine. He also met with then-Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak at the GOP Convention in Cleveland in July 2016, a meeting first reported by USA Today.

CNN has reported that Gordon tried to make changes to the GOP platform on Ukraine to align it with Trump’s own position and comments.

Gordon is one of several Trump campaign advisers and associates that have been contacted by congressional investigators. Former Trump aide Michael Caputo has appeared before the House committee, while longtime adviser Roger Stone and campaign digital director Brad Parscale are expected to appear for interviews in the coming weeks.

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign, met with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators on Tuesday and has provided documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee as well.

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Rep. Steve Scalise discharged from hospital six weeks after shooting

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., was discharged from MedStar Washington Hospital Center on Tuesday, the hospital said in a statement on Wednesday, nearly six weeks after he and three others were shot at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia.

The House majority whip “is now beginning a period of intensive inpatient rehabilitation,” the hospital said. “He is in good spirits and is looking forward to his return to work once he completes rehabilitation.”

The statement added, “He and his family are grateful for the care he received from the trauma team as well as the other doctors, nurses and staff of MedStar Washington Hospital Center. The family also appreciates the outpouring of prayers and support during this time.”

Dr. Jack Sava, the director of trauma at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, said after the shooting that Scalise had “sustained a single rifle wound that entered in the area of the left hip. It traveled directly across toward the other hip in what we call a transpelvic gunshot wound. The round fragmented and did substantial damage to bones, internal organs and blood vessels.”

“I understand he was awake on scene, but by the time he was transported by helicopter to the MedStar trauma center, he was in shock,” Sava said. “When he arrived, he was in critical condition with an imminent risk of death.” His condition later improved.

The shooter, identified by police as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, was killed in a shootout with police.

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Senate continues voting on Obamacare repeal options

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate is in the thick of a potentially dayslong process to find a health care plan that Republicans might be able to actually pass.

Senators will vote on numerous possibilities for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The votes are being held in the hope that Republicans can reach some kind of consensus that would allow both chambers of Congress to pass a piece of health care legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set the scene as he kicked off the second day of health care-related votes Wednesday morning.

“Ultimately, we want to get legislation that will finally end the Obamacare status quo through Congress and to the president’s desk,” he said.

The Senate is expected to vote on a straight repeal-only option based on a piece of legislation from 2015 that passed both chambers of Congress but was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.

Although that language cleared the House and Senate back then, some Senate Republicans acknowledge now that the vote was symbolic. It was used by some at the time to send a message to Obama and to their constituents back home even though they knew it would be vetoed. More recently, several Republicans have said they won’t back a straight repeal-only option like that one; as of now, it will likely fail.

Senate Republicans’ first attempt at passing their own replacement legislation failed last night, with nine Republicans joining all of the chamber’s Democrats to defeat it, 43-57.

That outcome was not a surprise, given that the bill had previously been pulled from the Senate floor due to lack of support.

Republicans from several factions of the party had previously stated their objections to it for a variety of reasons, including its proposed cuts to Medicaid, failure to cut premiums sufficiently and failure to repeal Obamacare entirely.

Republican leadership is expected to move through various versions of repeal, including possible limited repeal options that would only scrap portions of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual and employer mandates.

After those votes, the full Senate — even Democrats — will be able to offer additional amendments.

That so-called “vote-a-rama” later this week could open the floodgates for all senators to introduce as many amendments as they want.

That process could last until senators are physically exhausted.

Democrats have said they have “hundreds” of amendments to offer and are preparing for a marathon.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump says transgender people won’t be allowed to serve in the US military ‘in any capacity’

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that after consulting with his generals and military experts, transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military “in any capacity.”

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

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Justice Dept. tells White House: Jeff Sessions has no plans to resign

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — One of the Justice Department’s highest officials has notified the White House that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has no plans to resign from his post, a U.S. official told ABC News.

In recent days, Jody Hunt, the chief of staff to Sessions, informed White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus about Sessions’ plans, despite growing pressure from President Donald Trump, the official said.

Sessions, one of President Trump’s staunchest supporters during the presidential campaign, has recently been called “beleaguered” and “weak” by the commander-in-chief. And President Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he would not have chosen Sessions for attorney general if he had known Sessions would be recusing himself from the federal probe looking at Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s presidential election.

Asked on Tuesday whether Sessions would be asked to resign, President Trump said, “We will see what happens. Time will tell.”

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Lewandowski says Trump will likely speak privately with Sessions after public rebukes

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s close adviser and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said the president will likely have a private conversation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the coming days, following his recent spate of public criticism against the former Alabama senator.

“I don’t think he’s humiliating Jeff Sessions,” Lewandowski told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Wednesday on Good Morning America.

Whether or not Trump decides to fire Sessions, Lewandowski said he believes the president will speak with the attorney general in person.

“I think the president is going to have that conversation with Sen. Sessions,” he said. “I know the president is thankful for the work that Jeff has done.”

Lewandowski said Trump’s decision about whether to keep Sessions in the role will ultimately be one that’s “thought out” with “a plan in place.”

Lewandowki’s comments come a day after Trump said he is “disappointed” in Sessions, adding to a barrage of public rebukes.

“He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else,” Trump said on Tuesday during a joint press conference alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

“So I think that’s a bad thing — not for the president, but for the presidency. I think it’s unfair to the presidency, and that’s the way I feel,” Trump added.

Trump said he wants Sessions to be “much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking, like, rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level.”

“These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen,” the president said.

“We will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell,” he added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s close adviser and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said the president will likely have a private conversation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the coming days, following his recent spate of public criticism against the former Alabama senator.

“I don’t think he’s humiliating Jeff Sessions,” Lewandowski told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Wednesday on Good Morning America.

Whether or not Trump decides to fire Sessions, Lewandowski said he believes the president will speak with the attorney general in person.

“I think the president is going to have that conversation with Sen. Sessions,” he said. “I know the president is thankful for the work that Jeff has done.”

Lewandowski said Trump’s decision about whether to keep Sessions in the role will ultimately be one that’s “thought out” with “a plan in place.”

Lewandowki’s comments come a day after Trump said he is “disappointed” in Sessions, adding to a barrage of public rebukes.

“He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else,” Trump said on Tuesday during a joint press conference alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

“So I think that’s a bad thing, not for the president, but for the presidency. I think it’s unfair to the presidency, and that’s the way I feel,” Trump added.

Trump said he wants Sessions to be “much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking, like, rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level.”

“These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen,” the president said.

“We will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell,” he added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

What’s next in the Senate health care debate

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

BananaStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Despite all the activity on the Senate floor on Tuesday — including a standing ovation for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was diagnosed with brain cancer and flew back at the last minute to cast the decisive vote — the chamber only passed a procedural measure to move forward and kick off debate on the repeal-and-replace legislation that the House passed back in May.

Now the work begins. Over the next few days, senators will introduce amendments changing the House version and decide the final text of a bill they will vote on and try to pass.

After the vote Tuesday to move ahead to debate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced two possible amendments that would swap out the House text entirely and replace it with new language.

The first was a package that included the repeal-and-replace draft Senate leadership wrote up this summer but never made it to a floor vote, which failed on a series of procedural votes Tuesday night.

But the Senate has yet to consider the second possibility that McConnell introduced, which would swap out the House version with the text of a bill lawmakers voted on back in 2015 that repeals the Affordable Care Act with a two-year delay to leave allow time to pass a replacement.

This language passed both chambers of Congress back then, but even Senate Republicans acknowledge that it was a vote to send a message to President Barack Obama and to their voters back home because they knew it was going to get vetoed. Recently, several Republicans have said they won’t back a straight repeal option like this; as of now, it will likely fail.

Once those two options are voted on, the Senate will have more debate time — 18 hours divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Then a so-called “vote-a-rama” begins, opening the floodgates for all senators to introduce as many amendments as they want. The vote-a-rama can last until senators reach literal physical exhaustion.

Democrats have said they have “hundreds” of amendments to offer and are preparing for a marathon.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and other Republicans have said leadership will likely continue to offer more limited repeal options that narrow the scope of repeal until they get something to pass.

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President Trump revels in ‘amazing few days’ at Ohio rally

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Merriman/Getty Images(YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio) — President Donald Trump went back into campaign mode at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio on Tuesday evening.

He started by running through “what an amazing few days it’s been,” listing a number of public events he has held in the past week, including addressing a Boy Scout Jamboree on Monday and the procedural health care vote passage today in the Senate.

“We have spent the entire week celebrating with the hard-working American men and women who are making us make America great again,” Trump said.

“I’m here to cut through the fake news filter and to speak straight to the American people,” he said.

At points, he appeared to enjoy the chanting crowds, which called out frequent campaign maxims like “drain the swamp,” “lock her up,” and “build the wall” at various points.

“Don’t even think about it — we will build the wall,” he said in response to one of the chants.

“Is there any place that’s more fun, more exciting, and safer than a Trump rally?” he asked.

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House approves Russia sanctions curbing President Trump’s power

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

eurobanks/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed sweeping sanctions that punish Russia for its election meddling and aggression toward its neighbors.

The legislation passed by a count of 419-3, sending a strong bipartisan message to the White House that Congress will maintain its check on power over President Donald Trump.

“The multitude of threats posed to our national security by Iran, Russia, and North Korea cannot be understated,” Speaker Paul Ryan noted following the vote. “These bad actors have long sought to undermine the United States and disrupt global stability. Our job in Congress is to hold them accountable. The bill we just passed with overwhelming bipartisan support is one of the most expansive sanctions packages in history. It tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries in order to keep Americans safe.”

Three Republicans — Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, John Duncan of Tennessee and Thomas Massie of Kentucky — voted against the measure.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where an earlier version passed behind another bipartisan tally 98-2.

But with the upper chamber now consumed with health care reform, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said it’s possible the package may not face a vote on final passage before the August recess.

Corker also lamented the process for getting the legislation passed.

“It would have been much cleaner just to send Russia and Iran over. That was the language everyone agreed to,” Corker told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, urged his Republicans colleagues to take up the bill as soon as possible.

“Senate Republican leaders should move this bill as soon as possible, so that it can be on the president’s desk without delay. Passing the bill on a bipartisan basis will send a strong signal to the White House that the Kremlin needs to be held accountable for meddling in last year’s election,” Schumer wrote in a statement.

The White House has also sent contradictory signals on whether the president will sign the legislation, though it appears to have veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

“He’s going to study that legislation and see what the final product looks like,” incoming White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Monday.

In a statement later, Sanders added, “While the president supports tough sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia, the White House is reviewing the House legislation and awaits a final legislative package for the president’s desk.”

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Tillerson resignation rumors ‘false,’ State Department says

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The State Department is pushing back on a new wave of rumors that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is planning on resigning.

“That is false,” spokesperson Heather Nauert said when asked about the rumors at the department’s briefing Tuesday. “The secretary has been very clear: He intends to stay here at the State Department. We have a lot of work that is left to be done ahead of us. He recognizes that. He’s deeply engaged in that work.

“He does, however, serve at the pleasure of the president, just as any Cabinet official,” she added, in what could be taken as a nod to the president’s open criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and speculation that he might resign, too.

Tillerson has had some tension with the White House over staffing at the State Department and his independence to make decisions about the nation’s foreign policy agency, senior administration officials told ABC News. But he’s also remarked about his commitment to service and the call he heard to take this role.

“I’m still developing myself as a values-based servant leader, and this new opportunity that I have to serve our country has provided me with new ways of learning … so it gives me a chance to grow as a leader,” he told the Boy Scouts of America in an emotional address Friday.

Senior aide R.C. Hammond has said Tillerson will stay in the role as “as long as there are rogue regimes pursuing nuclear weapons or terrorists seeking safe haven,” according to Buzzfeed News.

Tillerson has also been out of the public eye since Friday, and Nauert said today that he’s “taking a little time off.”

“He does have the ability to go away for a few days on his own … just taking a little time off,” she said. “He’s got a lot of work. He just came back from that mega-trip from overseas — as you all well know, many of you were there for the G-20, and his other travel as well, so he’s entitled to taking a few days himself.”

She later clarified that the vacation was planned in advance and was not in response to any resignation rumors.

Last Thursday, he met with the president, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and other top officials at the Pentagon, before briefing members of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill; meanwhile, his public schedule listed only “meetings and briefings” at the State Department.

Nauert also spoke to Tillerson’s thoughts on Trump’s politically charged speech to the Boy Scouts –- just three days after Tillerson’s own. Nauert said that Trump addressed the Boy Scouts Jamboree at Tillerson’s invitation, but the secretary could not attend.

Tillerson is “aware of the president’s comments,” but didn’t express an opinion on what he said, according to Nauert.

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House approves Russia sanctions

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

eurobanks/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The House of Representatives today passed sweeping sanctions that punish Russia for its election meddling and aggression toward its neighbors.

The bill — already approved by the Senate — also punishes Iran and North Korea.

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Donald Trump says he’s ‘disappointed’ in Jeff Sessions

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is “disappointed” in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, adding to a recent spate of public criticisms.

“He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else. So I think that’s a bad thing, not for the president but for the presidency. I think it’s unfair to the presidency, and that’s the way I feel,” Trump said at a joint news conference.

Trump said that he wants Sessions “to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level,” he said.

“These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen,” he said.

“We will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell,” he added.

The joint news conference took place alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is visiting the White House.

Before giving his official remarks about Hariri’s visit, Trump praised today’s health care vote, calling it a “big step” and thanking Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for making “a tough trip to get here and vote.”

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President Trump says he’s ‘disappointed’ in Jeff Sessions

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is “disappointed” in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, adding to a recent spate of public criticisms.

“He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else. So I think that’s a bad thing, not for the president but for the presidency. I think it’s unfair to the presidency, and that’s the way I feel,” Trump said at a joint news conference.

Trump said that he wants Sessions “to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level,” he said.

“These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen,” he said.

“We will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell,” he added.

The joint news conference took place alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is visiting the White House.

Before giving his official remarks about Hariri’s visit, Trump praised today’s health care vote, calling it a “big step” and thanking Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for making “a tough trip to get here and vote.”

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John McCain returns to Senate, says they’re not ‘president’s subordinates’

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was welcomed back to the Senate floor with a round of applause after returning to D.C. less than a week after disclosing his brain tumor diagnosis.

Senators from both sides of the aisle gave their colleague a standing ovation when he arrived on the floor to cast his vote Tuesday.

McCain decided to return to Washington quickly to be able to vote on a procedural motion that would allow senators to debate the Republican health care plan that would replace Obamacare.

McCain cast his vote in favor of the motion. It passed, allowing Republicans to advance their health care bill.

Following a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence, McCain was given the opportunity to address his colleagues.

He stressed the importance of the Senate, issuing what appeared to be a warning to President Donald Trump.

“We are not the president’s subordinates. We are his equal,” McCain said of the legislative branch.

McCain also spoke at length about the at-times acrimonious relations within the Senate and urged his colleagues to work across the aisle.

“Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we can all agree that they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately,” he said.

“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet. To hell with them!” he said in a line that was met by applause.

“What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions?” he asked.

McCain wrapped up his speech by saying that he has “every intention” of returning to the Senate after treating his tumor, warning that his return will give “many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me.”

President Trump, who has a turbulent history with McCain, praised him as an “American hero” for coming back to vote.

During a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is visiting the White House Tuesday, Trump opened his remarks by saying that McCain is a “very brave man” who “made a tough trip to get here and vote.”

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John McCain greeted with standing ovation when he returns to D.C. after diagnosis

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was welcomed back to the Senate floor with a round of applause after returning to D.C. less than a week after disclosing his brain tumor diagnosis.

Senators from both sides of the aisle gave their colleague a standing ovation when he arrived on the floor to cast his vote Tuesday.

McCain decided to return to Washington quickly to be able to vote on a procedural motion that would allow senators to debate the Republican health care plan that would replace Obamacare.

McCain cast his vote in favor of the motion.

President Donald Trump, who has a turbulent history with McCain, praised him as an “American hero” for coming back to vote.

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Senate Republicans push for crucial vote on health care despite lack of support

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — They may not have enough support, but Senate Republican leaders are continuing to push forward with a procedural vote on health care legislation.

In what is a pivotal moment for his party’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has planned a vote to open up debate on the House health care bill that was passed by a tight margin in May. The vote is so crucial for Republicans that, although he was diagnosed with brain cancer last week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is expected to return to the Senate today.

If the bill makes it to the floor, it’s anyone’s guess where the legislation ends up. Most senators don’t know exactly what it is they’re going to be voting on.

The Senate could end up with a version of a replacement plan for Obamacare or the GOP can go the repeal-only route. Sen. Ted Cruz’s amendment to the health care bill – the “Consumer Freedom Amendment” – could also be considered. Cruz’s “bare-bones” amendment would allow insurers to sell plans to consumers that do not include “essential benefits” so long as they offer a plan that does meet Obamacare requirements.

“This morning, [McConnell] informed me that the plan for today is to take up the 2015 clean repeal bill as I’ve urged,” Sen. Paul wrote on Twitter. ”If we cannot pass full, clean 2015 repeal, I’ve also been told we will vote on whatever version of CLEAN repeal we can pass,” Sen. Paul wrote on Twitter.

But Republicans can only afford to lose two votes. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have all said they plan on voting against a motion to proceed if the Senate goes the repeal-only route.

If the vote fails, Senate Republicans have several options going forward.

They could return to the drawing board to work on another replacement plan, reach out to Democrats to hash out a bipartisan fix to Obamacare, or move on to tax reform or other legislative items.

President Trump has already put on the pressure on senators in his party.

“For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise. Over and over again they said repeal and replace, repeal and replace. But they can now keep their promise to the American people,” Trump said Monday at the White House.

He also argued that “Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare.”

Trump also said last week during a meeting with all Republican senators that they should not leave for August recess “until this is complete and until we all go over to the Oval Office. I’ll sign it, and we can celebrate for the American people.”

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Jared Kushner set to face questions in Russia probe for second day

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — Members of the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia election interference will question White House senior adviser Jared Kushner Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Kushner, who is also President Trump’s son-in-law, was interviewed Monday by Senate Intelligence Committee staff, and denied colluding with Russia during the presidential campaign in an 11-page statement released before the session.

“The record and documents I have voluntarily provided will show that all of my actions were proper,” Kushner said in a statement outside the White House Monday after his closed-door interview.

“I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” he said. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses.”

In Tuesday’s closed-door session, Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Tom Rooney, R-Fla., will lead questioning for Republicans, according to Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the committee, will play the same role for Democrats.

Other members who are present at the start of the interview will have the opportunity to question Kushner, but it’s unclear how many lawmakers will actually get to do so.

Kushner’s attorneys have told the panel they will have a “limited” amount of time with President Trump’s son-in-law, Schiff told reporters Monday evening, and will have to plan accordingly.

“We have to figure out the allocation of time,” he said.

The California Democrat has not ruled out bring Kushner back before the committee for additional interview sessions or a public hearing.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters Monday the interview is a “preliminary” appearance, while Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called on Kushner to testify publicly.

Kushner will be under oath for Tuesday’s interview, according to a committee source, which is expected to last roughly two hours.

House members spent Monday reviewing Kushner’s statement about his meetings and interactions with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.

While several members approached by ABC News Monday declined to share their questions before Kushner’s appearance, Kushner is expected to face questions about his controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer set up by Donald Trump Jr. in June of 2016, along with his meeting in December with Kremlin-linked banker Sergey Gorkov.

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Trump and Jeff Sessions ‘need to either get together or separate,’ White House spokesman Anthony Scaramucci says

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci likened the tension between President Trump and Attorney General Sessions to a divorce.

When you start not liking each other, Scaramucci told ABC News on Tuesday, “You either reconcile or you separate.”

“They need to either get together or separate,” he said of the president and the nation’s top law enforcement official.

When asked when they will get together, Scaramucci replied, “I don’t know if they will.”

The president has been vocal in criticizing Sessions on Twitter in recent days, calling him “beleaguered” and accusing him of being “very weak” on Hillary Clinton’s “crimes” and “leakers.”

While Sessions was one of the president’s earliest and most loyal campaign supporters on Capitol Hill, the president has grown increasingly frustrated with his attorney general over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia inquiry, a decision that infuriated the president and led Sessions to then offer his resignation to the president. The president rejected Sessions’ offer at the time.

But since the president has taken to publicly rebuking his attorney general in recent days, Sessions has only signaled resolve to stay on in his post as attorney general.

At a news conference last week, Sessions said he plans to continue in the job “so as long as that is appropriate.”.

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Trump hails John McCain as ‘American hero’ after deriding his war record before

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is hailing Sen. John McCain as an “American hero” as the Arizona senator, under treatment for a brain tumor, returns to the Capitol for a vote on the Republican health care bill.

So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero! Thank you John.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

But during the presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump denigrated the war record of McCain, who served many years in the U.S. Navy and who during the Vietnam War was captured by the North Vietnamese, held as a prisoner of war and tortured.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said of the Republican senator at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit in Iowa. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Now Trump is saluting McCain for returning to Washington, D.C., for the vote to start debate on the GOP Senate leadership’s health care legislation.

“So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero!” Trump tweeted. “Thank you John.”

The president also wished the senator well last week during a White House event when news broke of his diagnosis.

“I can tell you, we hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him. He’s a crusty voice in Washington, plus we need his vote,” Trump said of the 80-year-old McCain, who has served in the Senate for about three decades.

Trump’s comments in 2015 were not the first time he questioned whether McCain was a military hero.

In January 2000, when McCain was the GOP nominee for president, Trump told NBC News in an interview, “You would say that maybe he wasn’t an actual war hero. He was captured, but maybe not a war hero.”

McCain, who has in the past gone against his party’s thinking, has also been critical of Trump.

During the 2016 election, McCain revoked his endorsement Trump for president following the release of a 2005 recording in which Trump can be heard making lewd comments about women.

Last Thursday, while the Arizona senator was at home recovering from surgery, his Senate office issued a statement quoting McCain criticizing the Trump administration after The Washington Post reported that Trump had ended a covert CIA program aiding rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin. Making any concession to Russia, absent a broader strategy for Syria, is irresponsible and short-sighted,” the statement said.

During an event in May, following Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, McCain said the saga involving the president and Comey “is reaching the point where it’s of Watergate size and scale.”

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Senate committee issues subpoena for Paul Manafort to appear at hearing

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been issued a subpoena compelling him to participate in a hearing about Russian interference in the election.

“While we were willing to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request to cooperate with the committee’s investigation without appearing at Wednesday’s hearing, we were unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee,” according to a joint statement from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member of the committee.

“Mr. Manafort, through his attorney, said that he would be willing to provide only a single transcribed interview to Congress, which would not be available to the Judiciary Committee members or staff. While the Judiciary Committee was willing to cooperate on equal terms with any other committee to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request, ultimately that was not possible,” the statement said.

It continued, “Therefore, yesterday evening, a subpoena was issued to compel Mr. Manafort’s participation in Wednesday’s hearing. As with other witnesses, we may be willing to excuse him from Wednesday’s hearing if he would be willing to agree to production of documents and a transcribed interview, with the understanding that the interview would not constitute a waiver of his rights or prejudice the committee’s right to compel his testimony in the future.”

Manafort, 68, joined the Trump campaign on March 29, 2016, when he was named campaign convention manager for the mid-July festivities in Cleveland.

Manafort was “volunteering his considerable insight and expertise because of his belief that Mr. Trump is the right person for these difficult times,” a news release from the Trump campaign said at the time.

Manafort, who was initially hired to wrangle delegates, organized and directed the Republican National Convention, which was held in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 19-21.

Manafort’s departure from the campaign came on Aug. 19, the day after The Associated Press reported that Manafort’s firm had lobbied in the United States on behalf of the ruling Ukrainian political party even though Manafort did not disclose his work as a foreign agent, as mandated by federal law.

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President Trump calls Attorney General Jeff Sessions ‘very weak’ on ‘Clinton crimes’

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump continued his public criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a series of early-morning tweets on Tuesday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

ABC News has reached out to the Justice Department for reaction to the president’s comments.

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What’s in the Russia sanctions bill that Trump might veto

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — President Trump is facing a stark foreign policy choice: Sign off on punishing new sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election or veto a rare bipartisan piece of legislation that would hurt his push for better relations with Russia.

Over the weekend, Congress reached an agreement on a bill to slap Russia, Iran, and North Korea with new sanctions while removing President Trump’s ability to alter them without Congressional approval. The House is set to vote on the bill Tuesday.

The legislation requires the executive branch to get a resolution of approval for any changes to sanctions — a significant constriction on the president’s powers by his own party in Congress.

The White House has expressed reservations about that aspect of the bill after the Senate passed similar legislation last month. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that the White House wanted the “flexibility” to deal with Russia, and White House legislative director Marc Short expressed opposition to the “unusual precedent of delegating foreign policy to 535 members of Congress.”

There were also concerns among Republicans and in the oil and gas industry over a rule in the Senate bill that would bar American companies and individuals from working with Russian-sanctioned companies and individuals on big oil and gas projects.

The compromise for the two parties and the two chambers is to combine the Russian, Iranian, and North Korean sanctions into one bill, with moderate technical changes.

The bill would set into law Russian sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for Russia’s cyber-attack on the Democratic Party and interference in the election, including the end of Russia’s access to two diplomatic compounds in the U.S. — one of which they are said to have used for espionage. It would also add penalties for Russian interference in Ukraine, Syria and the 2016 election hack.

The Trump administration would also be barred from making any changes to those sanctions or any others without Congressional approval. They can apply for waivers, including if Russia makes progress on implementing the peace deal in Ukraine known as the Minsk agreement.

American businesses could also work with Russian entities on certain oil and gas projects outside of Russia as long as they don’t involve a sanctioned Russian individual or company owning a 33 percent stake or more.

While the bill would require Congressional approval on any changes, it does also give the President the ability to ask Congress to lift some of them if the White House can certify that certain conditions have been met — like Russian progress on the Minsk agreement or “significant” Russian efforts to “reduce the number and intensity of [its] cyber intrusions.” Like other sanctions, it also defers to the administration to designate new individuals and entities that are violating them and should be added.

The bill also includes new sanctions against Iran for its ballistic missile program and human rights violations, as well as on North Korea targeting its shipping industry and its use of forced labor abroad — two major sources of income for its missile and nuclear programs. It also requires the administration to report to Congress on the ties between Iran and North Korea and whether North Korea should be re-listed as a state sponsor of terrorism within 90 days.

The resolution comes weeks after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a similar bill that codified existing sanctions against Russia and introduced some new ones against it and Iran in a 98-2 vote.

That legislation got stuck in the House, with lawmakers squabbling over technical details and pointing fingers between the two parties. The House had also voted nearly unanimously in May for North Korea sanctions, and Republican leadership wanted the Senate to take up that package.

The compromise isn’t a done deal, with Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, telling Reuters Monday night, “We still have a little work to do.”

But elsewhere, there was bipartisan praise for an agreement that strongly rebukes Trump over his praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin, his calls for the U.S. and Russia to work together and his skepticism of the U.S. intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in the election.

“North Korea, Iran, and Russia have in different ways all threatened their neighbors and actively sought to undermine American interests,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce, R-California, said in a joint statement, noting that the bill will “now exclusively focus on these nations and hold them accountable for their dangerous actions.”

“A nearly united Congress is poised to send President Putin a clear message on behalf of the American people and our allies, and we need President Trump to help us deliver that message,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It’s unclear if Trump will do that, with the White House sending mixed signals on its view of the legislation.

After initially telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that the President supports the bill, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Monday that Trump “wants to make sure we get the best deal for the American people … He’s gonna study that legislation and see what the final product looks like.”

But given the overwhelming majorities that approved the sanctions in Congress and the intense scrutiny over Trump’s ties to Russia, the president could face a public backlash if he vetoes the final bill — and doing so could lead to an embarrassing override by Congress.

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John McCain set for Senate return on Tuesday following cancer diagnosis

Posted on: July 24th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Following the announcement last week that he has brain cancer, Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, is set to return to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, according to a statement from his office.

“Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea,” said the statement released Monday night.

The Arizona senator’s office and the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix announced Wednesday night that McCain had surgery on July 14 to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

“Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot,” the hospital said in a statement.

According to the hospital, McCain and his family are reviewing further treatment options, which may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

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Timeline leading up to Jeff Sessions’ recusal and the fallout

Posted on: July 24th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ meetings with the Russian ambassador during the campaign continue to cause problems for him months after they were disclosed publicly.

Recent comments by President Donald Trump suggest that Sessions’ recusal created a strain between the two men, and although Trump made his feelings known in a candid interview, Sessions responded last week by saying that he intends to stay on at the Department of Justice.

This is far from the first time Sessions’ contact with the Russia ambassador while he was part of the 2016 campaign has affected his standing.

Here is a rundown of what is known about Sessions’ involvement with the Trump campaign, the timing of his meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States and several other key instances where members of Trump’s inner circle have been publicly questioned about their connections with Russian officials.

Feb. 28, 2016: Sessions becomes the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s presidential bid.

March 3, 2016: The Trump team named Sessions as the chairman of his National Security Advisory Committee. In the statement announcing the appointment, Trump said it is “an honor” to have Sessions on the team, and Sessions detailed how he could help.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to recommend and facilitate discussions among exceptional and experienced American military and diplomatic leaders to share insight and advice with Donald Trump, regardless of their political views,” Sessions said in that statement.

Mid-July, 2016, on the sidelines of the RNC: Sessions spoke at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, held during the Republican National Convention. After his speech, Sessions spoke to a small group of ambassadors after giving a speech and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak was among them.

A DOJ official told ABC News that this second interaction was a brief encounter after a public event attended by a number of ambassadors.

Aug. 19, 2016: Trump’s then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned following the hiring of new leadership and reports questioning Manafort’s ties to Russia. Ukrainian officials said that Manafort’s name appears in “black accounts” linked to the country’s former pro-Russian president.

Sept. 8, 2016: Sessions meets with ambassador Kislyak in Sessions’ office in Washington.

A DOJ official emphasized to ABC News that this meeting with the Russian ambassador was listed publicly and attended by staff.

Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores released a statement noting that Sessions’ meeting with Kislyak was one of many that he held in his capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee.

“Last year, the senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian, German and Russian ambassadors. He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee,” Flores said.

The focus of the various meetings that Sessions had with the ambassadors would not be about the election, but sometimes the ambassadors would make superficial comments about the election, a DOJ official said.

Nov. 8, 2016: Trump wins the election.

Nov. 18, 2016: Sessions announced as Trump’s pick for U.S. attorney general.

Jan. 10, 2017: At the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, the topic of Russia came up when Sessions was questioned by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Here is the relevant part of that exchange:

Franken: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

Sessions: “Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is sworn in as president.

Feb. 9, 2017: Sessions is sworn in as attorney general.

Feb. 13, 2017: Then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is asked to resign after it becomes public that there were discrepancies in his account of his interactions with Russian officials during the transition. He previously told Vice President Mike Pence that he had not discussed sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak during their calls after the election — and Pence went on to say as much during televised interviews.

It was later revealed that the White House had been notified by the acting-attorney general that sanctions were discussed during the calls. Click here to see a full timeline of Flynn’s saga.

Feb. 15, 2017: Sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News that in the time leading up to the presidential election, U.S. authorities were looking into communications between several Trump associates and suspected Russian intelligence officials.

The New York Times first reported that according to several current and former U.S. officials, several Trump associates inside and outside the campaign — including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort — had repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before election.

Manafort told ABC News on Feb. 15 that the report published in the Times is “completely ridiculous.”

“No, never, I never spoke to the Putin government and I never had any involvement with anything like this,” Manafort said.

“I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today,” Manafort said.

March 1, 2017: News breaks that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador twice in 2016, which appears to contradict his statement during his confirmation hearing.

A White House official responded to ABC News, dismissing the claims as an attempt to deflect from Trump’s “successful” address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

“This is the latest attack against the Trump Administration by partisan Democrats. General Sessions met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is entirely consistent with his testimony. It’s no surprise Senator Al Franken is pushing this story immediately following President Trump’s successful address to the nation,” the White House official said.

Democrats call for Sessions to resign. Among them is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said that that Sessions “lied under oath.”

March 2, 2017: Sessions speaks briefly to NBC and makes quick remarks about the ongoing situation.

“I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign and those remarks are unbelievable to me and false and I don’t have anything else to say about that,” he said as he was seen getting into a car.

When asked whether he would recuse himself from being involved in the DOJ’s investigation into Russian involvement in the election, Sessions said, “I’ve said that whenever it’s appropriate I will recuse myself. There’s no doubt about that.”

In a statement released March 2, Sessions said he had met with “relevant senior career department officials” in the previous several weeks to discuss whether he should recuse himself and, “having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.”

Later that day, he held a news conference reiterating his decision.

He defended his earlier actions during the confirmation hearing, saying that his reply to Sen. Franken “was honest and correct as I understood it at the time.”

“In the end, I have followed the right procedure, just as I promised the committee I would,” Sessions said of the decision to recuse himself.

“A proper decision, I believe, has been reached,” he said.

June 6, 2017: ABC News learns that Sessions had recently offered to resign as Trump continued to express frustration with the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the election-tampering investigation.

During the day’s White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer, in response to questioning on whether Trump has confidence in Sessions, said, “I have not had that discussion with [President Trump].”

June 13, 2017: Sessions testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and issued a sweeping denial of any personal involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I have never met with, or had any conversation with, any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States,” Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.”

The attorney general explained that he had met with “a senior ethics official” at the Justice Department in February as media reports emerged questioning his involvement in the investigation, given his role in Trump’s campaign. Sessions said from that moment, until the announcement of his recusal March 2, he “did not access any information about the investigation.”

“I have no knowledge about this investigation as it is ongoing today beyond what has been publicly reported,” said Sessions, who later explained that he never received a briefing or read the reports on the intelligence community’s conclusion that there were attempts to meddle in the election.

Sessions said the move to step away from oversight of the probe was not because of his actions or meetings with the Russian ambassador; instead, he pointed to his position as chairman of the Trump campaign’s national security committee.

“I recuse myself not because of any asserted wrongdoing or any belief that I may have been involved in any wrongdoing in the campaign, but because a Department of Justice regulation… required it,” Sessions said. “That regulation states in effect that department employees should not participate in investigations either came pain if they served as a campaign adviser.”

July 19, 2017: Trump had a sit-down interview with The New York Times, during which he launched into a blistering rebuke of Sessions and his decision to recuse himself from anything relating to presidential campaigns, including, most notably, the 2016 campaign.

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said in the interview.

When asked whether Sessions gave the president a “heads up” before the recusal, Trump said: “Zero.”

“So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy,” Trump said, referring to Rod Rosenstein.

July 20, 2017: Asked for his reaction to Trump’s comments, Sessions maintained that he will remain at his position “as long as that is appropriate.”

“We in this Department of Justice will continue every single day to work hard to serve the national interest, and we wholeheartedly join in the priorities of President Trump,” he said at a news conference.

“I have the honor of serving as attorney general, it’s something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself. We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” he said.

July 24, 2017 — Trump calls Sessions “beleaguered”

Trump posted a tweet that included an apparent slight against Sessions, writing: “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?”

So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017

Sessions did not immediately respond to the tweet.

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President Trump criticizes Senate Republicans for not doing ‘their job’ in Obamacare fight

Posted on: July 24th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump was critical of Senate Republicans for their work — or lack thereof — on health care reform during remarks at the White House on Monday.

“So far Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare. They now have a chance, however, to hopefully, hopefully fix what has been so badly broken for such a long time. And that is through replacement of a horrible disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump said Monday.

“Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare, which is what it is,” he said while standing in front of a group of Americans the White House referred to as “victims of Obamacare.”

“For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise,” he added.

He went on to say the Senate “is very close to the votes it needs to pass a replacement,” though there do not appear to be enough votes to pass a motion to proceed to a vote on a repeal without having a replacement plan in place.

The latest whip count had at least three Republican senators against a repeal of Obamacare without a replacement plan in place. In addition to those votes, Senate Republicans are down a vote while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is recovering from recent surgery during which doctors discovered a brain tumor. There can only be two Republican “no” votes for any vote to pass.

During his remarks, Trump then moved on to placing some blame for the failure to come up with a replacement health care bill on the Democrats.

“The problem is we have zero help from the Democrats they’re obstructionists. That’s all they are good at, obstructionism. Making things not work,” he said.

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Jared Kushner denies colluding with Russia, says Trump ran ‘smarter campaign’

Posted on: July 24th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, is expected to deny that he colluded with Russia during the presidential campaign in a closed-door interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday morning.

“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts,” Kushner is expected to tell congressional investigators, according to an 11-page statement he released Monday morning detailing his four meetings with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and transition period.

“I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 [security clearance] form, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest,” the statement said.

 Accompanied by his attorney Abbe Lowell, Kushner arrived on Capitol Hill this morning for the committee meeting, flashing a smile and giving a quick wave but not answering questions from reporters. The meeting was conducted in a SCIF, or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, and lasted more than two hours.

As Kushner was walking out of the committee meeting, a protester tried to force a Russian flag into his hand, asking Kushner to sign it. The man was pushed back by security.

Arriving for Senate Intel interview, Jared Kushner ignores question from @marykbruce on whether he regrets meeting with Russian lawyer. pic.twitter.com/GvPxb8q6lh

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 24, 2017

The panel, which is one of several congressional committees investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, has interviewed dozens of individuals as part of its probe.

Kushner is one of Trump’s closest confidants, an adviser who has been at his side since the beginning of the campaign. Kushner is the first member of Trump’s family to appear before Congress as part of a Russia probe.

His contacts with Russian officials are a focus of congressional investigators and for investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a separate probe into Russian election interference.

On the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russian lawyer

Kushner was one of several Trump associates to meet with a Russian attorney linked to the Kremlin in Trump Tower in New York in June 2016.

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, organized the meeting with Russia lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after receiving a message from a business associate who said the attorney promised to share incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, according to an email exchange he released.

He invited Kushner and Paul Manafort, the then-campaign chairman, to the meeting.

Though Donald Trump Jr. has said nothing came of the controversial meeting, lawmakers hope to interview all the participants as they continue to investigate whether Trump’s campaign worked with Russia during the presidential election.

“The committee’s going to reach out to everybody we feel has some contribution to make,” Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said to reporters last week.

Kushner, in his statement, said he did not know who would be attending the meeting and described it as a “waste of our time.” He arrived to the meeting late, as participants were discussing Russian adoptions. He also said he asked his assistant to call him 10 minutes into the meeting to give him an excuse to leave early.

“No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted,” he wrote in his statement.

Manafort and Trump Jr. are in discussions with the Senate Judiciary Committee about sitting for closed-door interviews. Both men have expressed a willingness to cooperate with congressional investigators.

ABC News first reported Kushner’s interview with Senate investigators last week.

Kushner, who has been cooperating with investigators, is also expected to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

“There is a lot we want to know,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Cali., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “His counsel has said they will make him available for two hours, so we expect this is just going to be the first interview.”

On his meeting with Russian banker

Kushner is also expected to face questions about a meeting he had after the election last fall with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russian bank Vnesheconombank, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

The White House and the bank initially provided conflicting explanations for the meeting.

Kushner, in his statement, said the meeting lasted less than half an hour, and that he “expressed the same sentiments I had with other foreign officials I met.”

“There were no specific policies discussed,” he said. “We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind.”

Kushner served as Trump’s liaison to foreign governments during the transition.

On his meeting with Russian ambassador

In December, Kushner met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, at Trump Tower and discussed establishing a possible secret back channel for diplomatic communications between Russian and the United States.

Kushner denied discussing “an on-going secret form of communication” or “a ‘secret back channel'” with Kislyak in his statement Monday.

“During the meeting, after pleasantries were exchanged, as I had done in many of the meetings I had and would have with foreign officials, I stated our desire for a fresh start in relations,” he said.

After Kislyak asked if he could convey information regarding Syria to Kushner and now-former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, Kushner “asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to Gen. Flynn,” according to his statement.

“The ambassador said that would not be possible, and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the inauguration. Nothing else occurred,” Kushner said.

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Congressional Democrats to roll out economic agenda

Posted on: July 24th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democratic congressional leaders are launching a revamped messaging campaign Monday as part of the party’s new appeal to voters before the 2018 midterm elections.

The campaign features a new package of economic priorities Democrats are calling A Better Deal.

Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, progressive champion Sen. Elizabeth Warren and several other Democratic leaders will rally in a swing Virginia district Monday to roll out the new platform.

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” previewing Monday’s event and the future focus on this agenda, Schumer was introspective about the mistakes Democrats made during last year’s presidential election.

“We didn’t tell people what we stood for,” he said. “I don’t know why it didn’t happen in the campaign,” he said. “We all take blame, not any one person.”

Monday’s event represents their first stab at laying out what the party says it stands for, beginning with a three-pronged legislative agenda: increasing minimum wage, providing tax credits for worker training, going after prescription drug costs and reviewing corporate mergers and monopolies.

Schumer said the focus on these sorts of pocketbook issues resonates both with the so-called Obama coalition and also Democratic voters who abandoned their party to vote for Trump.

“We were too cautious, we were too namby-pamby. This is sharp, bold and will appeal to both the old Obama coalition … and the Democratic voters who deserted us for Trump.”

The plan appears to have the blessing of the progressive wing of the party. Sen. Bernie Sanders will appear in a video message supporting the party’s new campaign.

However, one of the key ideas supported by Sanders — a single payer health care system — isn’t going to be a focus. Schumer said the single-payer proposals remained on the table and in discussion among his peers.

Schumer said for now he hopes to work with Republicans to stabilize individual insurance markets, but only after Republicans fully put aside their Obamacare repeal and replace plan.

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