Paul Ryan says national anthem ‘should be celebrated everywhere and always’

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

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that while he respects the right of professional athletes to express themselves “how they see fit,” he does not believe they should sit or kneel during the national anthem.

“Look, people are clearly within their rights to express themselves how they see fit. My own view, though, is we shouldn’t do it in the anthem,” Ryan said during a news conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday, aligning himself with President Trump on the issue.

During a campaign rally for Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama on Friday, Trump urged NFL team owners to fire players who “disrespect” the U.S. flag.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now?'” Trump said. His comments drew chants of “USA!” from the crowd.

“You know, some owner … is going to say, ‘That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired,'” Trump continued.

But as popular as Trump’s comments were among the crowd in Alabama, his comments have stoked controversy across the country. Hundreds of players, owners, and teams peacefully protested during the national anthem at last weekend’s games, far more than any other display to date.

Ryan, who counts himself as a co-owner of the Green Bay Packers, expressed his disapproval of players who have refused to stand during the anthem, many of whom are protesting police brutality and racial inequality.

“The national anthem, our flag and the people who defend it and represent it – that should be celebrated everywhere and always, and that’s my opinion,” Ryan said Tuesday.

Three Packers players –- Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, and Kevin King –- sat on the bench during the anthem before Sunday’s overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

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AG Sessions defends Trump’s criticism of NFL protests: ‘The president has free speech rights, too’

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

Zach Gibson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday defended the president’s recent criticism of NFL protests, telling an audience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., that the “president has free speech rights, too.”

He called the protests by NFL team owners and players a “big mistake,” adding that it will “weaken the commitment we have to this nation.”

Sessions’ speech, which focused on First Amendment rights, came amid President Trump’s rants against NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem, suggesting in a tweet Tuesday morning that the NFL should establish rules barring players from kneeling.

The attorney general, who was hosted by the Georgetown Center for the Constitution at Georgetown University Law Center, faced backlash even before his speech began.

A group of more than 30 Georgetown Law Center faculty members condemned the “hypocrisy” of his speech.

“We acknowledge our colleague’s right to invite Attorney General Sessions to speak on campus. However, we, the undersigned, condemn the hypocrisy, about Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking about free speech,” according to a statement from the group.

“Attorney General Sessions is a key cabinet member in an administration headed by a president who spent last weekend denouncing athletes engaged in free expression and calling for them to be fired. President Trump calls African-American professional football players kneeling in quiet protest ‘sons of bitches’ and angry, armed white supremacists ‘very fine people,'” the statement continued.

Before Sessions took the stage on Tuesday, Georgetown Law faculty and others knelt outside in protest of his speech.

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Trump to visit hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico amid criticism

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he plans to visit Puerto Rico, which has been devastated by Hurricane Maria, as he faces criticism over his handling of the growing crisis.

The president said next Tuesday is the earliest he can visit the island because he does not want to “disrupt the relief efforts.”

“Puerto Rico is very important to me and Puerto Rico- the people are fantastic people,” Trump said from the Oval Office. “I grew up in New York so I know many people from Puerto Rico. I know many Puerto Ricans. These are good people and we have to help them. The island is devastated.”

Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico, told ABC News that Hurricane Maria has caused the “biggest catastrophe in Puerto Rico’s history.”

So far, there have been 16 reported deaths in the aftermath.

Recovery has been slow. Only five percent of the island has power restored after the hurricane.

“If we don’t get unprecedented collaboration from the federal government here, this could collapse into a humanitarian crisis,” Rossello told ABC News.

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Trump adviser Roger Stone says he won’t be ‘punching bag’ in Russia probe

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

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone denied allegations of collusion with Russia during the presidential election, before an appearance before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday.

In a 40-plus page statement posted by Wikileaks, Stone said he had no prior knowledge about the hacking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email or the release of those emails by Wikileaks, despite tweeting about Podesta’s “time in the barrel” before the emails appeared online.

Stone criticized members of the committee — including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the panel’s top Democrat, and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. — for making “provably false statements” about him and called on the committee to release the transcript of the interview.

“I will not let myself be a punching bag for people with ill intentions or political motives,” he said. “I will expose the truth in every forum and on every platform available to me.”

The panel, which is investigating Russian efforts to influence the presidential election and allegations of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, has conducted most of its interviews behind closed doors and has not released any transcripts.

Stone also questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s review of Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential election and their assessment of Russia’s role in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Podesta’s emails.

Stone briefly held a formal role on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He has known Trump for 40 years and had urged him to run for president for decades.

Arriving on Capitol Hill with his attorneys Tuesday morning, Stone told reporters he felt “excellent.”

Stone said he planned to tell the committee “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

Stone is among several campaign operatives the House Intelligence Committee has sought to question. The panel has met with Michael Caputo, another Trump adviser close with Stone, and John Podesta.

The panel will also interview Boris Epshteyn later this week.

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Trump’s tweets about NFL, Puerto Rico debt draw ire as island crippled by Hurricane Maria

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Trump took a break on Monday from tweeting about the controversy over NFL player protests to talk about Puerto Rico’s financial woes, but critics say the president’s message is off-base as the island faces widespread devastation.

In his first tweets since the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last week, Trump said Puerto Rico’s “broken infrastructure & massive debt” have left it in worse straits than mainland states.

Maria was the strongest storm to make landfall in Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years. The storm killed at least 16 people and caused widespread devastation that left most of the island’s 3.4 million people without power and half without water amid large-scale electricity and communications outages.

A few stores have re-opened, but most remained closed due to power outages five days after Maria blasted through. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month, according to The Associated Press.

Travelers trying to leave Puerto Rico described a chaotic scene at San Juan airport on Monday.

“It’s really hot, it is extremely hot,” Erika Camacho told ABC News. “It’s horrible, there’s no water, no electricity and there’s only two companies working. I don’t know if I’ll come back quick, but I’ll come back. The family is here.”

“We tried to get a hotel, everything is booked, the car we had to turn it in, we had no gas,” another would-be traveler, Angelica Hernandez, told ABC News. “I just wanna go home, I really do, it’s bad, and then everything we saw from the countryside, it’s just sad. I don’t think I could deal with it.”

Criticism of Trump’s response to the large-scale crisis happening on American soil is mounting from celebrities and politicians alike.

In a press conference yesterday, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said, “We are close to a humanitarian crisis, but we are trying to avoid it.”

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney echoed those sentiments, writing that the island is on the brink of a “humanitarian disaster” and called for controversies to be set aside.

Just spoke w/ fmr Gov @luisfortuno51: “PR on brink of humanitarian disaster." USVI too. DC must put aside controversies, prioritize rescue.

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 25, 2017

Sen. Marco Rubio said the island “must get power crews in ASAP.”

“He clearly doesn’t want to talk about Puerto Rico,” former Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “You know what, more than 3.5 million American citizens, along with the U.S. Virgin Islands. Not interested. Doesn’t say a word about it. Now FEMA is down there.”

“I’ve called on them to send the Navy, particularly the naval hospital ship called U.S. Comfort,” Clinton said. “I really think that would be a big help. We don’t hear a word.”

Other politicians and celebrities who spoke out about the situation include Bette Midler, Sen. Ben Sasse, John Legend and Jennifer Lopez.

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Hillary Clinton slams Trump admin. over private emails: ‘Height of hypocrisy’

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

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Hillary Clinton hit back at Donald Trump’s White House after The New York Times reported that at least six administration officials communicated about government business through private emails.

“It’s just the height of hypocrisy,” Clinton said in an interview with SiriusXM’s Zerlina Maxwell after being asked to respond to the news on Monday.

As for the repeated attacks by Trump during the 2016 election over Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, “They didn’t mean any of it,” she said. “If they were sincere about it, I think you’d have Republican members of Congress calling for an investigation. I haven’t heard that yet.”

Clinton called her use of private emails “a dumb mistake but a dumber scandal,” and said she regrets that the country “had to go through it.”

During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly called for an investigation of Clinton’s use of the emails and said in a debate that Clinton would “be in jail” if he was in charge of the law in the U.S.

A White House official who spoke with ABC News did not dispute the Monday evening New York Times report that at least six administration officials occasionally used private email to communicate about official business since President Trump took office.

The Times’ report names the following current and former officials as those who communicated at times with a personal account: White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn, Advisor Ivanka Trump, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and Senior Advisor for Policy Stephen Miller.

While it is not illegal for White House staffers to use their personal email accounts, they must forward all work-related communications to their official White House email accounts.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed this to ABC News Monday.

“All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government related work,” she said. “They are further instructed that if they receive work-related communication on personal accounts, they should be forwarded to official email accounts.”

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White House not disputing report that at least 6 Trump advisers used personal email

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A White House official who spoke with ABC News did not dispute a report Monday evening in the New York Times that at least six administration officials occasionally used private email to communicate about official business since President Trump took office.

The Times’ report names the following current and former officials as those who communicated at times with a personal account: White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn, Advisor Ivanka Trump, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and Senior Advisor for Policy Stephen Miller.

While it is not illegal for White House staffers to use their personal email accounts, they must forward all work-related communications to their official White House email accounts.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed this to ABC News Monday.

“All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government related work,” she said. “They are further instructed that if they receive work-related communication on personal accounts, they should be forwarded to official email accounts.”

On Sunday it was confirmed by Kushner’s attorney that he used a private email account to communicate with White House staffers.

“Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business. Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement.

Lowell said the emails were “usually forwarded news articles or political commentary” and “most often occurred” when someone “initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal” account. The news of Kushner’s personal email use was first reported by Politico.

The statement makes no mention of classified information but says that copies of the emails were sent to his official account for recording.

“All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address, and all have been preserved in any event,” Lowell said.

A White House official conducting business on a personal email account is not unprecedented. Before and even after the presidential election, Trump criticized his opponent Hillary Clinton for handling classified information on a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Clinton’s use of that server became a major talking point throughout her presidential campaign; the FBI soon initiated an investigation into her use of the server.

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Collins to vote ‘no’ on Graham-Cassidy bill, likely dooming it

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

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced this evening that she will vote “no” on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, becoming the third Republican to do so and likely dooming the GOP’s latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Today, we find out that there is now a fourth version of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, which is as deeply flawed as the previous iterations,” Collins said in a statement. “The fact that a new version of this bill was released the very week we are supposed to vote compounds the problem.”

Collins joined Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Collins said she had three “major concerns” with the proposed legislation from Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis. Among them were what she called the “sweeping changes and cuts” in the Medicaid program.

“The CBO’s analysis on the earlier version of the bill, incomplete though it is due to time constraints, confirms that this bill will have a substantially negative impact on the number of people covered by insurance,” Collins quipped.

Off the floor, Collins told reporters President Donald Trump called her in an attempt to sway her vote. She said she told him she’s a likely “no” but would take another look at the revised bill. Vice President Mike Pence also called the senator at her home in Maine over the weekend, she said.

“It would be a shorter list to ask me who didn’t call me,” Collins joked.

Just minutes before Collins announced her vote, the Congressional Budget Office released a preliminary analysis of the latest version of the Graham-Cassidy estimating that “millions” would lose health care.

“The number of people with comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events would be reduced by millions compared with the baseline projections for each year during the decade, CBO and JCT estimate,” the analysis released Monday states. “That number could vary widely depending on how states implemented the legislation, although the direction of the effect is clear.”

Collins’ “no” vote may well be the final nail in the coffin for the Graham-Cassidy bill. The bill needs 52 votes to pass before the Sept. 30 deadline, and with three Republican senators standing in opposition, the bill is essentially dead on arrival.

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What to know about the Republican runoff for Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat

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

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — On Tuesday, Alabama Republicans will vote in a primary runoff for the Senate seat previously occupied by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

A first round of voting failed to yield a majority for a single candidate. Now the top two candidates are competing for the GOP nomination in a race that has gained national prominence and become what some are calling a proxy war between the populist and establishment wings of the Republican Party.

Here’s a look at what to know about the Alabama primary runoff:

Why the Senate seat is open

The seat was previously held by Alabama native Jeff Sessions, who served as senator for 20 years before his nomination by President Trump to serve as attorney general.

Following Sessions’ confirmation in February, then-Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley appointed the state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, to temporarily fill Sessions’ Senate seat until the general election. Bentley later resigned after allegations that he used state resources as governor to hide an affair with one of his top aides. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey replaced Bentley as governor following the resignation, and called for a special election in April.

A history of support for Republicans

Sessions was first elected in 1997, and since then, the state has been represented by two Republican senators. In his last election, in 2014, Sessions was unchallenged and won the general election with more than 97 percent of the vote. The senior senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby, was elected for the first time in 1987 and is not up for reelection until 2022.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won Alabama with 62 percent of the vote.

Who is running

Among the nine Republicans who originally ran for the vacant seat, two emerged at front-runners and were sent to the runoff: now-incumbent Sen. Luther Strange and former judge Roy Moore.

Luther Strange

Strange officially stated his candidacy for Sessions’ seat on Dec. 6, just 18 days after Trump announced he would be picking Sessions for attorney general. He was appointed in February to temporarily fill the seat left by Sessions. Previously, Strange served as the attorney general for Alabama. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 and won the Republican primary, but lost the general election.

In August, Strange was endorsed by Trump, who tweeted that Strange “has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama. He has my complete and total endorsement!”

Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama. He has my complete and total endorsement!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017

Since then, Trump has periodically tweeted his support and encouragement for Strange. He appeared with him Friday at a campaign rally in Huntsville.

Strange has come under fire from his rival for the substantial advertising support he has received from the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that has been known to support Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Politico reported that Steven Law, the PAC’s president, said, “While he doesn’t direct what we do, McConnell has made it very clear that Luther’s race is his number one political priority right now.”

According to Politico, the fund had spent $3.5 million on the race as of late July, including an ad tying then-rival Rep. Mo Brooks to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

During the GOP debate, held last Thursday without a moderator, Strange was also attacked for how he became a United States senator. When he was tapped by Bentley for the Senate seat, Strange was the very man leading the investigation into the Alabama governor’s misconduct, raising questions about the appropriateness of the appointment.

Roy Moore

Roy Moore previously served as the chief justice for the Alabama Supreme Court, but was suspended in November 2003 for refusing federal court orders to take down a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building.

He was reelected to the position in 2013 but was again removed in May 2016 for ordering other judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, although the state’s ban on the matter had been overturned. He announced his Senate bid in late April.

Moore was endorsed by actor Chuck Norris, who said, “Judge Roy Moore is the real deal. The Washington establishment knows they won’t be able to count on him, but Alabama voters can … That’s why the Washington establishment is spending millions trying to defeat Judge Moore.”

Moore’s other notable endorsements include several Trump supporters such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former White House strategist Steve Bannon and Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson.

Moore has released advertisements highly critical of Republicans in Washington including McConnell, Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“Send them all a message,” one ad says, calling out the majority leader’s “D.C. slime machine.”

Recently, Moore has come under fire for appearing to refer to Native Americans and Asians as “reds” and “yellows” in a campaign speech.

Why this race matters

At a time when the president’s support within his own party wavers, the Alabama special election could reflect how much influence Trump has had in the first year of his presidency.

Political science experts say the outcome could be symbolic of voters’ current view on Trump.

Cynthia Bowling, chair of the political science department at Auburn University, told ABC News this summer that “if there is ever going to be an election that would signify a movement away from Trump, it would be an election where Trump’s ratings are really low,” and in a solid Republican state, like Alabama.

According to Richard Fording, a professor of political science at the University of Alabama, this election “will continue to be influenced by Trump” and that “it will flat out be a referendum on his performance as president.”

The race has further significance for Republicans; a loss could potentially shift Republicans’ tenuous authority in the Senate. The GOP currently holds 52 seats in the Senate, while Democrats hold 48 and two independents caucus with the Democrats.

An upset win in the December 12 general election for Democrat and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, who won his party’s primary in August, would be a significant gain for Democrats and make it even more difficult for Republicans to pass tightly contested legislation, such as on health care reform.

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White House sidesteps questions about Trump’s profane language on anthem protesters

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

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders deflected questions Monday about the specific words employed by President Donald Trump to describe NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem, saying only that it’s “always appropriate” to defend the flag and national anthem.

On Friday at a campaign rally for Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama, Trump diverged from talk of the state’s forthcoming Republican primary runoff to share his thoughts on the protests as he explained that he and Strange share the “same great American values.”

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out, he’s fired, he’s fired’?” asked Trump.

Questioned multiple times at Monday’s White House press briefing whether the president regrets his word choice or whether the use the term “son of a b—-” constituted going “too far,” Sanders would not specifically address the description, instead choosing to issue a defense of Trump’s greater critique.

“I think that it’s always appropriate for the president of the United States to defend our flag, to defend the national anthem and to defend the men and women who fought and died to defend it,” said Sanders.

Later asked by ABC News’ Cecilia Vega if Trump considered some of the football players who chose to kneel during the anthem to be “very fine people” — a term used by the president in describing some of the people who took part in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August — Sanders argued that the situations were dissimilar.

“I think you’re trying to conflate different things here,” said Sanders. “Look, we certainly respect the rights that people have, but I think we also need to focus. Again, this isn’t about the president being against something, which is what everyone wants to draw.

“This is about the president being for something,” she continued. “This is about the president being for respect in our country through symbols like the American flag, like the national anthem and the hundreds of thousands of people that actually stand versus the few hundred that may have knelt.”

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Republicans introduce conservative DACA fix that offers path to citizenship

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

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Two Republican senators have introduced a new bill that addresses the status of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, potentially offering them a 15-year path to citizenship.

The bill, known as the SUCCEED Act, would also prevent recipients from sponsoring family members, an attempt to address concerns from immigration hawks and President Trump.

“This, I believe, is a fair and orderly method for providing a permanent solution for the DACA children,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told reporters on Monday.

To be eligible, participants would have to pass a criminal background check and have a high school diploma or equivalent. They would also have to have been in the U.S. since June 15, 2012, and entered before the age of 16. To qualify, applicants would need to submit biometric and biographical data to the Department of Homeland Security. The SUCCEED Act would also require participants to pay off any tax liabilities and sign a waiver for future immigration benefits if they were to violate their status.

Under the proposal, Dreamers would have “conditional permanent residence” for 10 years before becoming eligible to apply for a green card, and that status could be renewed after five years. Dreamers would only be able to apply for citizenship after holding a green card for five years.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said he spoke with President Trump about the proposal shortly after Trump decided to end the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Lankford told reporters the president had said of the SUCCEED Act: “‘That’s the right way to go.'”

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have six months to reach an agreement on a legislative fix to address the end of the DACA program in March.

Meanwhile, Democrats have pushed for a vote on the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. But Republicans have been leery of supporting the Dream Act in the past, and conservatives have derided it as a form of “amnesty.”

“We think it’s a balanced resolution for a vexing problem that hasn’t been solved for 30 years, and we’ll have to take the hits,” Tillis responded when asked to address the expected criticism of the SUCCEED Act.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a senior legislator and longtime advocate of the Dream Act, told reporters Monday: “We all need to focus on a bill that has a chance of passing.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday the White House would release immigration reform principles in the coming days to help guide lawmakers working to address the end of the DACA program.

Trump and top Democrats reached an agreement earlier this month on the framework of an agreement that would pair a legislative fix for Dreamers with border security provisions.

Republicans have begun internal discussions about possible legislative proposals on border security and the status of Dreamers as well.

Tillis and Lankford said they don’t see their proposal as a standalone bill, and want to see it incorporated into a larger agreement.

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Supreme Court removes arguments on previous travel ban from calendar

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

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — After President Donald Trump issued a new proclamation Sunday prohibiting or limiting travel from eight countries, the United States Supreme Court removed cases related to the previous travel ban from its calendar.

The arguments were scheduled to be heard on October 10, after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the travel ban, with some exceptions, could be enforced until it returned to session this fall. Two district courts had previously halted the ban, which was the second such attempt by Trump to restrict travel from parts of the Middle East and Africa. His administration’s original order encountered its own legal roadblocks.

The Supreme Court instructed the parties in the cases, Trump v. International Refugee Assistance and Trump v. Hawaii, to file briefs addressing “whether, or to what extent” the latest proclamation renders the issue moot.

The newest travel ban adds Chad, North Korea and Venezuela to Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen to the list of countries from which people are restricted from traveling to the U.S. The new proclamation includes specific conditions that restrict travel on a country-by-country basis and goes into effect Oct. 18.

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What’s different about the revised Graham-Cassidy bill

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

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The authors of the latest Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare have released a revised version of their health care legislation after spending the weekend finessing the numbers in their bill with the hope of winning over the last few Republican holdouts in the Senate.

The newest draft from Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., rejiggers how changes in federal funding provided to states for health care would be phased in over time.

As a result, there would likely be less of a gap between the states poised to get additional federal dollars from this bill and the states that would lose out on funding.

The concept of block granting federal funding remains the centerpieces of the legislation. Starting in 2020, the federal government would end stop providing additional money for states that specifically expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. The bill would also end the cost-sharing subsidies the federal government currently pays to insurance companies to help keep premiums for lower-income Americans buying health insurance. Instead, the plan would designate some federal funds to be divided up to states based on their resident’s poverty levels and other factors that impact health care costs like population density.

The authors have argued it is unfair that under current law, some states receive more federal funding to help provide health insurance than others, though all states were offered the same opportunity and access to additional funds to expand their Medicaid rolls. Many Republican governors refused that available funding under current law.

The new Republican plan would essentially equalize federal funding between states that expanded Medicaid and states that did not, but the latest version makes those changes more gradually.

States that expanded Medicaid would still likely lose billions of dollars in federal funding, and the overall pot of total federal funding would still be approximately $160 billion less over the next 10 years as compared to current law, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The new draft would also appropriate $500 million specifically to states that set up waiver systems under Obamacare, which only includes Hawaii and Alaska. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski still remains undecided on the Graham-Cassidy bill and her vote is vital to the bill’s passage.

The new draft also would allocate an additional $750 million a year to states that expanded Medicaid recently, while punishing states that expanded Medicaid when first given the option under the Affordable Care Act. The states that would most likely benefit the most from this include Montana and Cassidy’s home state of Louisiana.

Before the revised bill was released, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced their opposition to the bill, putting Republicans’ efforts to pass a repeal of Obamacare in the Senate at risk of failing once again. McCain said he could not “in good conscience” support the bill because it doesn’t have bipartisan support and didn’t go through the regular order, which includes committee markups, hearings and debates. Paul wants further cuts than Obamacare and wants block grants removed from the bill. With 52 Republicans in the Senate, the Graham-Cassidy bill cannot afford another “no” vote.

Over the weekend, two more senators appeared to be leaning against voting for the Graham-Cassidy bill unless changes to the legislation were made.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Cassidy and Graham “don’t have my vote” yet and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said it would “very difficult” to “envision a scenario” where she would vote for this bill.

Republicans are pushing the Graham-Cassidy bill quickly through the Senate in hopes of meeting the Sept. 30 deadline that allows them to pass health care on a party-line simple majority vote. After Sept. 30, Republicans will need 60 votes.

The Senate Finance Committee plans on holding the first hearing today on the bill. Congress is still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to release its score of the bill, which would indicate how much the legislation will affect the government’s deficit.

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Trump says issue of NFL players kneeling ‘has nothing to do with race’

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump asserted Monday that his criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem “has nothing to do with race.”

Rather, the president said the issue is “respect for our country, flag and national anthem.”

Trump appeared to be responding to critics who say his slam of players who kneel in protest is about race.

The president sparked the controversy at a rally Friday night when he declared that football team owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out,'” the president said. in Huntsville, Alabama, before a largely white crowd.

The president’s comments spurred a strong reaction by NFL players and owners, with many players kneeling or locking arms during the “Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday as a rebuke to him.

Kneeling during the anthem was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 preseason, a practice he said was to protest against the treatment of blacks in the United States. Kaepernick is black.

The president on Monday continued hammering his argument that kneeling during the national anthem is unpatriotic.

“It is about respect for our country, flag and national anthem,” he tweeted. “NFL must respect this!”

The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!

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

He also returned to his claim that NFL fans don’t support the player protests.

Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!

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

Trump also sought to contrast the NFL with NASCAR, whose fans he said wouldn’t “put up with disrespecting our country or our flag,”

So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!

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

But one of NASCAR’s biggest stars staked out a different position that Trump. Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted Monday morning that all Americans have a right to protest peacefully.

All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK

— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump says issue of NFL players kneeling ‘has nothing to do with race’

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump asserted Monday that his criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem “has nothing to do with race.”

Rather, the president said the issue is “respect for our country, flag and national anthem.”

Trump appeared to be responding to critics who say his slam of players who kneel in protest is about race.

The president sparked the controversy at a rally Friday night when he declared that football team owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out,'” the president said. in Huntsville, Alabama, before a largely white crowd.

The president’s comments spurred a strong reaction by NFL players and owners, with many players kneeling or locking arms during the “Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday as a rebuke to him.

Kneeling during the anthem was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 preseason, a practice he said was to protest against the treatment of blacks in the United States. Kaepernick is black.

The president on Monday continued hammering his argument that kneeling during the national anthem is unpatriotic.

“It is about respect for our country, flag and national anthem,” he tweeted. “NFL must respect this!”

The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!

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

He also returned to his claim that NFL fans don’t support the player protests.

Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!

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

Trump also sought to contrast the NFL with NASCAR, whose fans he said wouldn’t “put up with disrespecting our country or our flag,”

So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!

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

But one of NASCAR’s biggest stars staked out a different position that Trump. Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted Monday morning that all Americans have a right to protest peacefully.

All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK

— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Americans back DACA by a huge margin (POLL)

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

Ethan Miller/Getty Images (NEW YORK) — A vast 86 percent of Americans support a right to residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, with support crossing the political spectrum. Two-thirds back a deal to enact such legislation in tandem with higher funding for border control.

See PDF with full results here
.

Possibly in light of President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, disapproval of his handling of immigration overall reaches 62 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll. Just 35 percent approve.

Additional hurdles for Trump are his demand for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico — again 62 percent oppose it — and substantial concerns about his immigration enforcement policies.

Americans were asked whether they support “a program that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States if they arrived here as a child, completed high school or military service and have not been convicted of a serious crime,” all elements of DACA, established by Barack Obama by executive order in 2012. Support spans demographic groups, including three-quarters of Republicans and conservatives, 86 and 87 percent of independents and moderates, and 97 and 96 percent of Democrats and liberals.

Support reaches 94 percent among Hispanics, 93 percent among blacks and 84 percent among whites. Strong support, 87 percent among Hispanics and 85 percent among blacks, declines among whites to 61 percent.

Trump early this month said he would rescind DACA, giving Congress a six-month window to act before nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants lose protection from deportation. He later reached a tentative agreement with top congressional Democrats for DACA legislation accompanied by upgraded border security.

As noted, 65 percent support that potential compromise — a bipartisan result, with 76 percent support among Republicans, 66 percent among independents and 59 percent among Democrats. Similarly, 71 percent of moderates, 66 percent of conservatives and 56 percent of liberals back the deal. Just 27 percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, are opposed.

Enforcement

Just 30 percent of Americans say Trump has immigration enforcement “about right,” compared with the 44 percent who say this was so before he took office. Nearly half (45 percent) say immigration enforcement under Trump is “too tough,” much higher than the 6 percent who say this was the case before he took office. That said, 49 percent say enforcement was “not tough enough” before Trump took office; just 22 percent say so now.

Matching the number who disapprove of Trump’s handling of immigration overall, 62 percent oppose his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border; this has held steady since Trump first proposed it. Fifty-five percent also oppose cutting legal immigration by half, another proposal backed by Trump. In contrast, 79 percent support requiring employers to verify that new hires are here legally – a current requirement, with stricter enforcement on the table.

In a general measure of suspicion, just 12 percent of Americans think undocumented immigrants commit more violent crimes than other people in the country. The vast majority instead say they commit violent crimes at either an equal or lesser rate than U.S. citizens (64 percent and 19 percent, respectively). Approval of Trump’s handling of immigration is stronger among those who think undocumented immigrants commit more violent crimes than U.S. citizens (78 percent); it drops to 33 percent among those who think crime rates are the same, and 12 percent among those who think they’re lower among undocumented immigrants.

Groups

Views on Trump’s handling of immigration are highly partisan. Three-quarters of Republicans and 61 percent of conservatives approve, vs. a third of independents and moderates, 10 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of liberals.

Differences also emerge by demographic groups. Forty-three percent of men approve, vs. 28 percent of women. Americans over age 40 are more apt than younger adults to approve, 42 vs. 24 percent among those younger than 40. And while 46 percent of whites approve, this drops to 13 percent among both blacks and Hispanics alike.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 18-21, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jared Kushner used personal email to communicate with White House officials

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

Zach Gibson – Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has used a private email account to communicate with White House staffers, his attorney confirmed to ABC News.

“Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business. Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement.

Lowell said the emails were “usually forwarded news articles or political commentary” and “most often occurred” when someone “initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal” account.

The news of Kushner’s personal email account was first reported by Politico.

The statement makes no mention of classified information, but does say that copies of the emails were sent to his official account for recording.

“All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address and all have been preserved in any event,” Lowell said.

A White House official conducting business on a personal email account is not unprecedented.

During the campaign and even as president, Trump eviscerated his opponent Hillary Clinton for handling classified information on a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.

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Mnuchin questions reported cost of flying on military jets

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought to defend his controversial use of military jets for domestic business travel and challenged ABC News’ reporting that it costs $25,000 an hour to operate the aircraft by suggesting the network check those figures with the Pentagon.

Pentagon documents show it costs $25,000 per hour to operate the Air Force’s C-37 jet — the same jet that flew Mnuchin from New York City to Washington D.C. on August 15.

“You can check with the Pentagon, because that’s not what they charge,” Mnuchin told This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz. “But it costs a lot of money,” he added.

According to Mnuchin’s spokesman, it appears the secretary was referencing the reimbursement rate the Pentagon charges outside agencies to fly on its aircraft — which is about $10,000 an hour.

While that figure is also accurate, it doesn’t change the fact that it costs the Air Force — and therefore the American taxpayer — $25,000 an hour to operate the aircraft.

See DoD's hourly cost to OPERATE one of these C-37 (Gulfstream equivalent) military jets vs. the reimbursement rate @stevenmnuchin1: pic.twitter.com/7mG4B1zL9h

— Justin Fishel (@JustinFishelABC) September 24, 2017

However, Mnuchin said in his interview that cost is “not the point,” adding that he needed to fly on a military jet in order to make a secure phone call.

“I had a secure call that day that was critical, and set up, and needed to be done at that time,” Mnuchin said. “And that’s why I used the plane.”

Mnuchin’s travel habits — including a business flight to Kentucky during the solar eclipse and a request for a military jet to take him and his wife on their European honeymoon, are under review by the Treasury Department’s inspector general. Mnuchin says he welcomes the review and denies any wrongdoing.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Treasury secretary defends use of costly government jet

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

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended his use of a costly government jet to make the short journey from New York City to Washington D.C. following an August meeting in Trump Tower.

When asked about the travel by co-anchor Martha Raddatz on ABC News’ This Week, Mnuchin responded that it was necessary for national security purposes.

“There are times when I need secure communications to be in touch with the president and National Security Council,” Mnuchin said. “I had a secure call that day that was critical and set up. It needed to be done at that time, and that’s why I used it.”

Mnuchin also confirmed that his use of the private jet on Aug. 15 is now under review, as are at least two other requests for government travel involving the secretary.

“The inspector general is reviewing my travel,” Mnuchin said. “If there’s suggestions, we’ll follow it.”

ABC News previously reported on Mnuchin’s August trip on a U.S. Air Force C-37 jet, which took less than an hour. Mnuchin was in New York to attend the now-infamous press conference in Trump Tower during which the president made highly controversial remarks on the violence in Charlottesville. Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who also flew on that government jet, flanked the president during his remarks.

The Treasury Department’s review of Mnuchin’s travel habits was triggered after ethical questions were raised about a military jet that he and his wife, Louise Linton, used to travel to Louisville and Fort Knox, Kentucky, in August. It was speculated that they may have used that taxpayer-funded trip to catch a prime view of the solar eclipse.

Investigators are also examining why Mnuchin, an independently wealthy former banker at Goldman Sachs, requested a government jet to take the couple on their European honeymoon in early August. Mnuchin has strongly denied that he used the Kentucky trip to view the eclipse, and a spokesman for the Treasury Department said the honeymoon request was made so he could communicate securely with Washington. They added that the honeymoon request was later withdrawn.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mnuchin: ‘All the options are on the table’ when responding to North Korea nuclear threats

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

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told ABC News on Sunday that President Trump is ready to defend the United States from North Korean nuclear threats, both economically and militarily.

“The president has said all the options are on the table. The president has lots of alternatives that have been presented to him, and he will make decisions at the time,” Mnuchin told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on This Week.

Trump signed an executive order last week that expands economic sanctions on North Korea, limiting the isolated totalitarian state’s trade with other countries.

Mnuchin called the sanctions “the most strong sanctions that have ever been done,” but said they are only one form of action.

“Military is one form, economics is another form — and the president will pursue all the options,” Mnuchin said.

During a four-day visit to the United Nations General Assembly last week, Trump said the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies. In response, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said leader Kim Jong Un is considering testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

Mnuchin called the threat of that potentially devastating test “unbelievable.”

“This is about someone who’s testing nuclear weapons, a hydrogen bomb that is dramatically bigger than any bomb that has been used,” Mnuchin said. “This is about sending ballistic missiles across Japan’s airspace. These things are not going to continue to be allowed, and the president has made that very clear.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mnuchin: NFL players can have the ‘First Amendment off the field’

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

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended President Trump’s comments calling for NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to be fired, saying players “have the right to have the First Amendment off the field.”

“This isn’t about Democrats. It’s not about Republicans. It’s not about race. It’s not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time,” the treasury secretary said in an interview with ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on This Week Sunday. “This is about respect for the military and first responders and the country.”

“They have the right to have the First Amendment off the field,” he added.

Mnuchin said NFL team owners and league administrators should create and enforce rules to have players stand for the anthem.

“The NFL has all different types of rules. You can’t have stickers on your helmet; you have to have your jersey tucked in,” Mnuchin said. “I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem.”

Mnuchin also accused the NFL of “picking and choosing” rules they want to enforce.

“This is a job. And the employers have the right, when the players are working, to have rules. So, you know, why didn’t they wear stickers? Why didn’t the Dallas Cowboys — why were they allowed to wear stickers in response to people they wanted to pay respect to? ” Mnuchin said. “So the NFL is picking and choosing what they want to enforce.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sen. Graham: Republican health care bill will ‘save a lot of money’

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., directly addressed fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky over his opposition to the latest bill aiming to repeal and replace Obamacare, saying the new legislation would “save a lot of money.”

“Rand Paul objects to the taxes, but when you look at the bill, Rand, we save a lot of money over time for Medicaid,” Graham said in an interview with ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on This Week Sunday. “We’ve put a cap on Obamacare growth to make it more sustainable, more affordable, more flexible.”

Graham and fellow Republican Sen. Cassidy of Louisiana both appeared on the show to talk about their legislation, the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

Despite the announced opposition of Paul and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona — as well as all Senate Democrats — Graham said he is optimistic that Republicans will be able to pass the bill.

“We’re moving forward, and we’ll see what happens next week. I’m very excited about it. We finally found an alternative to Obamacare that makes sense,” Graham said.

“I think we’re going to get the votes next week,” Graham added. “And the fight goes on. It is a fight worth having.”

McCain announced his opposition to the legislation in a statement Friday, saying he cannot in “good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy” bill.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Republican Sen. Collins: ‘Very difficult to envision’ voting for health care bill

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

Leigh Vogel/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Sunday that it would “very difficult” to envision herself voting for the Graham-Cassidy bill, which appears to put the Republicans’ latest effort to repeal Obamacare in jeopardy.

“It’s very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill,” Collins said in an interview with reporters. “I have a number of serious reservations about it.”

Collins said she wants to wait for the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill before she makes a final decision.

Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona have already publicly come out against the GOP health care bill.

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Poll: Trump seen by most Americans as doing more to divide than unite country

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Trump faces deep challenges on international and domestic issues alike, with a job approval rating mired in historic lows, a broad sense he’s done more to divide than unite the country, and a high level of public distrust that he’ll act responsibly in dealing with North Korea.

See PDF with full results here.

Views on North Korea underscore trepidations about Trump on the global stage. Even as a record number of Americans see North Korea as a threat, the public by a wide 62-37 percent does not trust Trump to act responsibly in handling the situation. Compare that with trust in U.S. military leaders; at 72 percent, it’s about double the level of trust in their commander-in-chief.

But Trump faces equal difficulties at home. His approval rating is the lowest of any president at eight months in office in polling back 71 years. The public by 66-28 percent says he’s done more to divide than to unite the country, considerably worse than the highest “divide” scores for his two predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, both 55 percent. And despite his “drain the swamp” promise, Americans by 59-39 percent say Trump has not brought needed change to Washington, 6 percentage points more than Obama’s worst rating on this gauge, which came after nearly two years in office.

Approval ratings

Eight months in, 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance in office overall, while 57 percent disapprove. Both precisely match his average ratings in four ABC News/Washington Post polls since he took office. His approval rating remains the lowest for any president at this point in polls dating back to Harry S. Truman’s presidency.

Strong critics of Trump, moreover, far outnumber strong supporters, by 48 percent vs. 26 percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. That 22-point gap is the same as Obama’s career worst. But the average edge in negative intensity throughout Obama’s two terms was just 6 points. It’s averaged 21 points to date for Trump.

There is differentiation in Trump’s approval ratings on individual issues. On immigration, just 35 percent approve, and 62 percent disapprove. On the economy, his approval advances to 43 percent, with 49 percent disapproving. And his ratings turn positive when it comes to handling the recent hurricanes that struck the United States — 56 percent approve, 31 percent do not.

Hurricane response ratings are a notable bright spot not just for Trump, but also for the federal government more broadly. It gets a 70-24 percent positive rating for its hurricane response, a result that suggests lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. About two weeks after Katrina hit, just 38 percent of Americans approved of the federal response, and 62 percent disapproved.

That said, positive views of the federal response were somewhat higher, 78 percent — among likely voters — immediately after superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012. And negative views are 19 points higher now than after Sandy, with fewer unsure.

Regardless, the hurricane response ratings are a clear positive for Trump and the government. So is response to the Trump/Democratic agreement to fund disaster relief while also raising the limit on the national debt. Sixty-five percent support it, on an unusually bipartisan level — 77 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents.

North Korea

A record 84 percent of Americans now see North Korea as a threat to the United States, and 70 percent see it as a serious threat; both have been high, but not quite this high, in four ABC/Post polls since 2003. While Trump is seen as a wild card — as noted, 62 percent don’t trust him to handle it responsibly — that’s even more so for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Eighty-nine percent don’t trust him on the issue.

Tougher sanctions are by far the preferred approach in dealing with the situation, with 76 percent supporting it. Backing for other responses falls below half: Forty-three percent for discontinuing joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, 39 percent for air strikes on North Korean military targets and 32 percent for offering North Korea financial incentives.

Showing a hardening of attitudes, support for offering North Korea aid or trade incentives to give up its nuclear weapons has fallen sharply since tensions last were this high in 2005, from 51 percent then to 32 percent now. Concurrently, support for a U.S. strike on North Korean military targets has grown sharply, about doubling from 20 percent in 2005.

Still, however, 67 percent say any U.S. strike should be retaliatory only, while just 23 percent favor a pre-emptive attack. A central reason is that 82 percent think a U.S. first strike could risk starting a larger war in East Asia; 69 percent see this as a major risk.

Compared with 12 years ago, the rise in support for air strikes is broadly based, excluding younger adults under 40 and liberals. It’s up 34 points among Republicans and 21 to 27 points among conservatives, adults age 40 and older and political moderates. Declines in support for aid or trade incentives, while again broadly based, are largest among Republicans, conservatives and whites — down 29, 26 and 25 points, respectively.

Trump

There are wide if now-customary gaps in Trump’s ratings — and not only political and ideological ones. His overall approval rating is 16 points higher among men (47 percent) than women (31 percent) and among Americans age 40 and older (45 percent) vs. those younger than 40 (29 percent). There also are sharp differences moving from rural to suburban to urban residents (54-41-28 percent approval).

He has 42 percent approval among those who aren’t college graduates vs. 29 percent among those with postgraduate degrees. Among the largest divisions, 49 percent of whites approve vs. 19 percent of nonwhites. And within the white population, Trump’s approval rating ranges from 66 percent among non-college white men to 31 percent among college-educated white women, key voting groups in the election that brought Trump to power.

Trump’s 77 percent disapproval among nonwhites matches its previous high in April, and the number who disapprove strongly, 65 percent, is a new high. He’s at a new low among conservatives — albeit one of his best groups — at 65 percent approval. His approval rating from liberals — a mere 9 percent — matches its low, while he’s gained ground among moderates, to 36 percent approval now vs. 27 and 28 percent in two midsummer polls.

Notably, Trump does less well, even in his higher-support groups, on the question of whether he’s done more to unite or to divide the country. Sixty-one percent of men say he’s done more to divide the country, as do 58 percent of older Americans — 50 and up, in this case; 62 percent of those without a college degree, nearly half of the rural population; 64 percent of suburbanites; and 55 percent of whites, as well as four in 10 conservatives and three in 10 in his own party.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 18-21, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump warns North Korea ‘won’t be around much longer’ if threats continue to escalate

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

ABC News(WASHINGTON) —  President Donald Trump continued to escalate threats to North Korea late Saturday as he responded to their foreign minister with a warning “they won’t be around much longer” if the country continues provocation.

Trump took to Twitter just after 11 p.m. to respond to statements made earlier Saturday by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who said bombing the U.S. mainland was “inevitable.”

Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!

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

Ri is currently in New York at the United Nations General Assembly and spoke on Saturday in a much-anticipated rebuttal to Trump’s message delivered on Tuesday in which he said the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies.

“Due to his lacking of basic common knowledge and proper sentiment, he tried to insult the supreme dignity of my country by referring it to as a rocket,” Ri said, referring to Trump’s new penchant for referring to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man.” “By doing so, however, he committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.”

Kim and Trump have spent the better part of the last few months hurling insults back and forth at each other. Trump tweeted early Friday morning that Kim was “obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people.”

Ri referred to the president as “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency” in Saturday’s address.

The war of words has continued to escalate as North Korea advances its development of a nuclear weapon. The country has fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean in the past month. They also conducted a nuclear test on Sept. 3, with U.S. officials saying the country exploded a hydrogen bomb at an underground facility.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Lebron James to Trump: ‘Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up’

Posted on: September 23rd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Cleveland Cavaliers star Lebron James lashed out at President Trump on Saturday on social media after the president said he was withdrawing his invitation to the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry to visit the White House.

James, in his tweet, referred to Trump’s comment that visiting the White House is “a great honor.”

“Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up,” Lebron wrote.

U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!

— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017

The three-time NBA champion later posted a two-minute video on Uninterrupted.com, a media outlet dedicated to giving athletes a platform to speak their minds, in which he criticized Trump, saying he “has tried to divide us once again.”

“He’s now using sports as the platform to try to divide us,” James said. “For him to try to use this platform to divide us even more is not something I can stand for and is not something I can be quiet about.”

James finished the monologue by encouraging “us to all come together. It’s not about a division. It’s not about dividing. We as American people need to come together even stronger.”

The president’s earlier tweet apparently was in response to Curry’s disclosure that he didn’t want to go to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

No formal White House invite had been made to the Warriors but championship teams often make such a visit. The Warriors, winner of the 2017 NBA championship, have been in discussions with the White House about whether to visit, ESPN reported.

“I don’t want to go,” Curry told the press Friday. “My beliefs stay the same.”

Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Curry, the Warrior’s star shooter, has said it was important for the team “to understand the magnitude” of its decision of whether to visit the White House.

“Just like our country, every opinion counts and matters,” Curry said, according to ESPN.

“Based on the conversations we’ve had in the past and what people have said to the media, to each other, I know pretty much where everybody kind of stands on it,” he said. “But we want to respect the opportunity to represent not only ourselves, our own beliefs, but our organization because we’re obviously in this position because we won a championship and we did something special together. So for us to just really take the time to understand the magnitude of this decision and the right thing to do, the right way to go about it is important.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday that he expects the team to meet in coming days to decide whether to go. But after Trump’s tweet, the team posted a statement to Twitter on Saturday afternoon, saying, “We accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited.”

“While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited. We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We’re disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise,” the Warriors said in the statement.

Statement from the Golden State Warriors: pic.twitter.com/6kk6ofdu9X

— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) September 23, 2017

It added, “In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we’ll constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday evening he was “disappointed” the NBA champs wouldn’t be going to the White House, which he said was “a rare opportunity for these players to share their views directly with the President.”

“More importantly, I am proud of our players for taking an active role in their communities and continuing to speak out on critically important issues,” he added.

The NBA Players Association also supported the Warriors’ decision.

“The National Basketball Players Association defends its members’ exercise of their free speech rights against those who would seek to stifle them. The celebration of free expression – not condemnation – is what truly makes America great,” the union said in a statement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump fires back at McCain over health care bill

Posted on: September 23rd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Trump slammed Arizona Sen. John McCain at a rally on Friday night after the senator said he would not be voting in favor of the Republicans’ new bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump called McCain’s opposition to the Cassidy-Graham bill “terrible, honestly terrible” at a rally for Alabama Sen. Luther Strange.

The president followed up on the criticism via Twitter on Saturday morning.

John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Arizona had a 116% increase in ObamaCare premiums last year, with deductibles very high. Chuck Schumer sold John McCain a bill of goods. Sad

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Large Block Grants to States is a good thing to do. Better control & management. Great for Arizona. McCain let his best friend L.G. down!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Trump said he was still holding out hope that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would change his vote. He even managed to level a shot at McCain as he lauded Paul’s chances of flipping to “yes.”

“Wouldn’t it be ironic if he took John McCain’s place?” Trump said. “And they definitely do not like each other.”

McCain had said earlier in the day that he could not “in good conscience” vote for the bill.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together — Republicans and Democrats — and have not yet really tried,” he said in a statement.

“Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”

The success of the bill, pushed by Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rests on the decisions of fellow Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Both voted against the last effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was sunk when McCain decided in the eleventh hour to vote “no.”

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Trump stumps for Strange in Alabama but says he’ll campaign for Moore if he wins

Posted on: September 23rd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) — Despite delivering a meandering, hour-and-a-half-long speech that touched on the NFL, Kim Jong Un and his wife’s stilettos, President Donald Trump drove home the message he intended to bring to Alabama: Sen. Luther Strange is his choice in Tuesday’s runoff election.

But the president also made clear he’s aware of the stakes for himself in this race, which pits the establishment-backed Strange against Judge Roy Moore, an outspoken conservative who’s leading in most polls and has garnered the support of former Trump officials like Steve Bannon.

“I might have made a mistake, I’ll be honest,” Trump said, fully aware of how the race has drawn national attention as a proxy war between the political influence of the Trump and Bannon camps.

“If Luther doesn’t win, they’re not going to say we picked up 25 points in a very short period of time. They’re going to say, ‘Donald Trump, the president of the United States, was unable to pull his candidate across the line. It is a terrible, terrible moment for Trump. This is total embarrassment.'”

But Trump insisted that despite what he said was his political peril in getting involved, he chose to endorse and campaign for Strange because the senator is committed to pursuing the president’s agenda. Trump singled out his request for support on the Senate’s first attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare and Strange not asking for anything in return.

“I said, ‘Senator, I need your help. I gotta get your vote on health care.’ He said, ‘You got it,'” Trump said, sounding as if he was still amazed at how easy it was to whip Strange.

“I went home and told my wife, ‘That’s the coolest thing that’s happened to me in six months!'” he exclaimed.

The president also told the crowd at the packed Von Braun Center, which seats 10,000, that Strange was not, as his political detractors have tried to cast him, a creature of the so-called “swamp” that Trump wants to drain. He rejected the notion that Strange has any relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite the fact that a McConnell-backed outside group has poured millions of dollars into Strange’s campaign.

“He’s not a friend of Mitch McConnell. He doesn’t know Mitch McConnell,” Trump said.

Despite Trump’s embrace of Strange, the president also said he told the candidate that if he does lose Tuesday’s runoff, he will “be here campaigning like hell for [Moore].”

Several rally-goers seemed fine with that notion. Many were outright Moore supporters, and had simply come to the event to see Trump, whom they largely still support enthusiastically.

Others said they were voting for Strange simply because Trump endorsed him, and that if Trump ended up campaigning for Moore, should he win the runoff, they too would vote for him.

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Trump fires back at Kim Jong Un: ‘Little Rocket Man’ will be handled

Posted on: September 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala. ) — President Donald Trump took aim at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Friday evening, saying “little Rocket Man” should have been handled a long time ago.

Speaking to a crowd in Huntsville, Alabama, where Trump is campaigning for Luther Strange ahead of the Senate runoff for the Republican primary, the president vowed he would shield Americans from Kim.

“You are protected. Nobody is going to mess with our people. … Nobody is going to put our people in that kind of danger. Nobody.”

In a statement Thursday, Kim said Trump will “pay dearly” for his address to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week.

“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire,” Kim said.

On Tuesday, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, referring to Kim as “Rocket Man.”

“No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” Trump said. “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.”

Trump repeated the “Rocket Man” moniker before the crowd this evening, saying he will “handle” Kim unlike previous administrations before him.

“He may be smart, he may be strategic and he may be totally crazy. But no matter what he is … believe me we’re going to handle it,” Trump said Friday.

The comments followed an early morning tweet from Trump, in which he called the North Korean leader a “madman” and said he “would be tested like never before.”

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Mnuchin’s travel: Investigators now probing another costly government flight

Posted on: September 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

kafl/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin used a costly government jet to make the short journey from New York City to Washington D.C. following a meeting in Trump Tower last month, a flight that is now under review by department investigators, along with at least two other requests for government travel involving the secretary, multiple officials told ABC News.

Mnuchin’s trip on a U.S. Air Force C-37 jet, which took less than an hour and cost American taxpayers at least $25,000, took place on Aug. 15. Mnuchin was in New York to attend the now-infamous press conference in Trump Tower during which President Trump made highly controversial remarks on the violence in Charlottesville. Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who also flew on that government jet, flanked the president during his remarks.

The Treasury’s Department’s review of Mnuchin’s travel habits was triggered after ethical questions were raised about a military jet he and his wife, Louise Linton, used to travel to Louisville and Fort Knox, Kentucky, last month, and whether they may have used that business trip to catch a prime view of the solar eclipse. Investigators are also examining why Mnuchin, an independently wealthy former banker at Goldman Sachs, requested a government jet to take the couple on their European honeymoon in early August, a story first reported by ABC News. Mnuchin has strongly denied he used the Kentucky trip to view the eclipse and a spokesman for the Treasury Department said the honeymoon request was made so he could communicate securely with Washington. They added that the honeymoon request was later withdrawn.

“We welcome the [Office of the Inspector General’s] review and are ensuring the office has everything needed for a full evaluation of our travel procedures,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

Chao took the C-37 jet from Joint Base Andrews to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey for the Aug. 15 press conference, and Mnuchin, who flew up commercially, used it to return to D.C., according to their department spokespeople.

When asked for an explanation about who ordered the government jet for travel between New York and Washington, a Department of Transportation spokesman insisted it did not come from his department. A spokesman for the Treasury Department declined to comment.

However, two Defense Department officials told ABC News that U.S. Air Force records show Mnuchin’s office requested the flight and that Chao was later added to it. According to the Defense Department, it costs $25,000 per hour to operate the C-37, the military’s equivalent of a Gulfstream jet.

It is extremely unusual for treasury and transportation secretaries to use this method of transportation for domestic business travel. Aside from the president and vice president, travel on military aircraft is typically reserved for cabinet members who deal directly with national security, such as the secretaries of defense, state and homeland security. Former officials with the treasury and transportation departments told ABC News it is exceedingly rare that their bosses used government travel, and that when it did happen, it was typically on overseas business flights.

A spokesman for the Department of Defense also told ABC News that “generally, when other federal executive agencies request use of military airlift, it is provided on a reimbursable basis.” That reimbursement, however, generally matches an equivalent coach fare, rather than the total cost to operate the aircraft.

Chao’s office said she only takes government travel if there are concerns about security, excessive cost, or if there are no commercial options available. Yet her spokesman could not say which of these criteria she used to justify her government flight on Aug. 15. Multiple carriers shuttle hourly flights between Washington and New York that can be booked on the same day for less than $1,000.

Mnuchin is not the only member of Trump’s cabinet whose travel has come under scrutiny.

ABC News has confirmed that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is now under investigation by his department’s inspector general for chartering dozens of private flights for domestic business trips. Politico reported this week the bills for those flights, footed by American taxpayers, amount to roughly $300,000.

A spokesman for Price told ABC News the private flights were necessary, in part, because of his demanding schedule.

“The Secretary has taken commercial flights for official business after his confirmation. He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule. The week of September 13 was one of those times, as the secretary was directing the recovery effort for Irma, which had just devastated Florida, while simultaneously directing the ongoing recovery for Hurricane Harvey,” the spokesman said.

But Price also took a flight in June from Washington to Philadelphia at the same time commercial carriers were flying that route. The price of a 40-minute commercial flight from Washington to Philadelphia typically falls in the hundreds of dollars range. Private charter companies typically charge a two-hour, $10,000 minimum for the day.

Today, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), called on Republicans to hold hearings on the administration’s use of costly travel.

“Too many Trump Administration officials have an entitled, millionaire mindset when it comes to squandering taxpayer money that does not belong to them just to support their lavish lifestyles,” Cummings said in a statement. “This starts at the very top, and the American people are not going to keep footing the bill for the Trump Administration’s champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”

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