Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax calls GOP invite to sexual assault accusers ‘political theater’

Posted on: February 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(RICHMOND, Virginia) — Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax dismissed Republican calls for his sexual assault accusers to testify before the state House of Representatives, calling it “political theater.”

Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault in the past month by two women, both in the early 2000s, one while he was a college student at Duke University in 2000 and another at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

“This week, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly against the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment],” a spokesperson for Fairfax said Friday. “Now suddenly the same Republicans want to distract the public from their record of opposition to women’s rights by engaging in political theater.

“The Lt. Governor has consistently denied the unsubstantiated allegations against him and he has consistently requested a full, fair, independent, impartial, and non-political investigation by law enforcement,” the spokesperson continued. “Obviously this House Republican led effort is partisan.”

Any testimony from either accuser has yet to be scheduled, but House Republican Rob Bell made the invite on Friday for both Dr. Vanessa Tyson, Fairfax’s first accuser, and Meredith Watson, Fairfax’s admitted college acquaintance, to speak before a committee on live television.

Both women quickly accepted the offer Friday.

“Meredith Watson is gratified that the Virginia General Assembly has announced their intention to hold hearings, and she looks forward to testifying at this forum,” Nancy Ericka Smith, Watson’s attorney, said in a statement.

“As she has made clear previously, Dr. Vanessa Tyson is prepared to testify at a public hearing regarding Lt. Governor Fairfax’s sexual assault of her in 2004,” Tyson’s lawyers said in a statement. “However, she has not yet received an invitation to do so from members of the Virginia Legislature.”

It was just a day earlier Tyson’s lawyers had spoken out against the legislature for not taking any action since her accusations.

“It has been two weeks since Dr. Vanessa Tyson came forward with detailed allegations about Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax’s sexual assault of her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention,” the lawyers for Tyson said in a statement on Thursday. “Virginia General Assembly has remained silent and has taken no action whatsoever in response to her allegations, even after a second woman, Meredith Watson, came forward to report that Lt. Governor Fairfax raped her while they were students at Duke University in 2000.”

Tyson has also called for the Suffolk County District Attorney in Massachusetts, where the alleged assault occurred during the DNC, to investigate her claim.

Virginia House Democrats backed Fairfax, who has said he will not resign.

“Even with the announcement today by Delegate Rob Bell, we lack any details or substantive information on how this meeting would proceed,” Virginia House Democrats said in a statement.

Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox said on Thursday any hearing presented would not be an impeachment hearing.

“Chairman Bell announced he will hold a meeting of the Courts of Justice Committee and invite all parties involved,” Parker Slaybaugh, communications director for Cox, said Friday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

What happens next in North Carolina congressional race re-do?

Posted on: February 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

After allegations of election fraud rocked a congressional race in North Carolina, the state board of elections voted unanimously to hold a new election.

Va. politician says GOP’s calls for sexual assault testimony are ‘political theater’

Posted on: February 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said law enforcement should handle it.

WH press secretary Sanders called out for saying Trump 1st to condemn press attacks

Posted on: February 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday the president is one of the first to come to the press’ defense when journalists face threats of violent attacks.

Clinics that provide abortion referrals barred from federal program under Trump admin

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

The Trump administration has announced that family planning providers like Planned Parenthood that receive federal assistance can no longer provide abortion referrals.

President Trump names Kelly Knight Craft new pick for US ambassador to United Nations

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

mizoula/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has named a new pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tapping Kelly Knight Craft, the current U.S. ambassador to Canada, to fill the role.

A senior administration official told ABC News that Craft was at the White House earlier Friday when President Trump offered her the job.

Craft, a native of Glasgow, Kentucky, becomes the second nominee the president has selected to replace former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who resigned in October.

Her nomination was applauded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who personally recommended Craft to the president for the post.

“The President made an exceptional choice for this critical post,” McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. “Kelly Craft is a strong advocate for American interests and will be a powerful representative of our great nation at the U.N. She has a long record of service to her state and the nation and I’m confident she will continue to serve with distinction as America’s voice to the world at the United Nations. I was proud to recommend this remarkable Kentuckian to President Trump.”

Trump’s first nominee, Heather Nauert, the former State Department spokeswoman, withdrew her name from consideration last Saturday after problems arose in her background related to an undocumented nanny she had employed at her home.

Trump quickly resumed interviews, and Craft’s name had emerged as a frontrunner for the post.

Before Nauert was nominated, Trump had interviewed Craft for the post on October 2.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

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

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Trump names Kelly Knight Craft new pick for US ambassador to United Nations

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

mizoula/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has named a new pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tapping Kelly Knight Craft, the current U.S. ambassador to Canada, to fill the role.

A senior administration official told ABC News that Craft was at the White House earlier Friday when President Trump offered her the job.

Craft, a native of Glasgow, Kentucky, becomes the second nominee the president has selected to replace former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who resigned in October.

Her nomination was applauded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who personally recommended Craft to the president for the post.

“The President made an exceptional choice for this critical post,” McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. “Kelly Craft is a strong advocate for American interests and will be a powerful representative of our great nation at the U.N. She has a long record of service to her state and the nation and I’m confident she will continue to serve with distinction as America’s voice to the world at the United Nations. I was proud to recommend this remarkable Kentuckian to President Trump.”

Trump’s first nominee, Heather Nauert, the former State Department spokeswoman, withdrew her name from consideration last Saturday after problems arose in her background related to an undocumented nanny she had employed at her home.

Trump quickly resumed interviews, and Craft’s name had emerged as a frontrunner for the post.

Before Nauert was nominated, Trump had interviewed Craft for the post on October 2.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

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

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WH press secretary Sanders called out for saying Trump first to condemn press attacks

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday the president is one of the first to come to the press’ defense when journalists face threats of violent attacks.

WH press secretary Sanders called out for saying Trump first to condemn press attacks

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday the president is one of the first to come to the press’ defense when journalists face threats of violent attacks.

‘Roughly 400’ US troops to remain in Syria as observers in ‘safe zone’

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Juanmonino/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Friday denied he was “reversing course” on his order that all 2,000 U.S. troops be withdrawn from Syria despite an unexpected White House announcement Thursday night that hundreds would remain as a “peacekeeping force.”

“Roughly 400” American troops will stay on in Syria, a senior administration official said Friday.

“A small U.S. presence will remain in northeast Syria as part of a multinational monitoring and observer force,” the official said.

The sudden adjustment to what Trump had said would be the total withdrawal of U.S. forces is intended, the official said, to maintain stability in Syria and prevent a resurgence of ISIS after the majority of the U.S. troops leave.

Initial plans call for the U.S. troops to participate in a force of “up to 1,500” from other partner nations.

“Separately, the U.S. will maintain a presence at the Al Tanf Garrison” in southern Syria near the border with Jordan, the official said.

“The goal will be to main stability and prevent an ISIS resurgence,” said the official, who added that the multi-national observer mission is intended to create a safe zone in northeastern Syria.

On Thursday night, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that 200 American forces would remain in Syria after a U.S. withdrawal in a “peacekeeping” capacity.

An observer force in northeastern Syria has been proposed as part of a “safe zone” that would ease tensions between Turkey and the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish force that is on the verge of defeating the last battlefield remnants of ISIS. The idea of a safe zone in Syria had first been proposed by Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

The administration turnaround came after European allies had a tepid response to the Trump administration’s proposal that they fill the security vacuum created by a U.S. withdrawal.

The continued presence of a separate U.S. military force in Al Tanf will serve as a check on Iran’s freedom of movement in Syria. Since President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, U.S. officials have floated the idea of keeping U.S. troops at the garrison near the Jordanian border to counter Iran’s presence in Syria.

Ironically, by keeping 400 American troops in Syria, the Trump administration is close to returning to the Pentagon’s long-standing estimate for the number of U.S. troops in Syria. For years, the Pentagon insisted that there were about 500 U.S. troops in Syria, though the actual number was closer to 2,000.

On Thursday, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan denied that allies had rejected the idea out of concerns that U.S. troops would not participate in the mission.

“Our mission remains unchanged in terms of the defeat of ISIS,” Shanahan told Pentagon reporters on Friday. “The transition that we are working towards is stabilization and to enhance the security capability of local security forces. We’ll do that as strategic partners.”

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed confidence on Friday that European allies would join a multinational observer force.

Dunford also explained that a transition towards stabilization efforts had always been planned with a focus on training local security forces.

“So, there’s no change in the basic campaign, the resourcing is being adjusted because the threat has been changed,” he told Pentagon reporters.

So far, the U.S. military has only removed equipment and supplies from Syria as part of President Trump’s withdrawal order. The withdrawal of troops is slated to begin in coming weeks pending further White House guidance.

A U.S. official said that with Trump’s new decision to keep some forces in Syria, the U.S. military will now develop a plan to adjust the withdrawal and to resource the new observer mission.

The official added that it was unclear what the total number of U.S. troops might be given that a lot depends on how much force protection might be needed.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina hailed Trump’s decision when it was announced Thursday night. A close supporter of and adviser on foreign policy, Graham has been strongly critical of Trump’s decision to pull out all U.S. forces in Syria.

“I applaud President Trump’s decision to leave a small contingent of American forces in Syria as part of an international stabilizing force,” said Graham. “This also ensures Turkey and SDF elements that helped us defeat ISIS will not go into conflict.”

Graham said an international safe zone in Syria was also “the best way to achieve our national security objectives of continuing to contain Iran, ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS, protecting our Turkish allies, and securing the Turkish border with Syria.”

“With this decision, President Trump has decided to follow sound military advice,” he added. “This decision will ensure that we will not repeat the mistakes of Iraq, in Syria. For a small fraction of the forces we have had in Syria, we can accomplish our national security objectives.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Roughly 400’ US troops to remain in Syria as observers in ‘safe zone’

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Juanmonino/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Friday denied he was “reversing course” on his order that all 2,000 U.S. troops be withdrawn from Syria despite an unexpected White House announcement Thursday night that hundreds would remain as a “peacekeeping force.”

“Roughly 400” American troops will stay on in Syria, a senior administration official said Friday.

“A small U.S. presence will remain in northeast Syria as part of a multinational monitoring and observer force,” the official said.

The sudden adjustment to what Trump had said would be the total withdrawal of U.S. forces is intended, the official said, to maintain stability in Syria and prevent a resurgence of ISIS after the majority of the U.S. troops leave.

Initial plans call for the U.S. troops to participate in a force of “up to 1,500” from other partner nations.

“Separately, the U.S. will maintain a presence at the Al Tanf Garrison” in southern Syria near the border with Jordan, the official said.

“The goal will be to main stability and prevent an ISIS resurgence,” said the official, who added that the multi-national observer mission is intended to create a safe zone in northeastern Syria.

On Thursday night, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that 200 American forces would remain in Syria after a U.S. withdrawal in a “peacekeeping” capacity.

An observer force in northeastern Syria has been proposed as part of a “safe zone” that would ease tensions between Turkey and the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish force that is on the verge of defeating the last battlefield remnants of ISIS. The idea of a safe zone in Syria had first been proposed by Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

The administration turnaround came after European allies had a tepid response to the Trump administration’s proposal that they fill the security vacuum created by a U.S. withdrawal.

The continued presence of a separate U.S. military force in Al Tanf will serve as a check on Iran’s freedom of movement in Syria. Since President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, U.S. officials have floated the idea of keeping U.S. troops at the garrison near the Jordanian border to counter Iran’s presence in Syria.

Ironically, by keeping 400 American troops in Syria, the Trump administration is close to returning to the Pentagon’s long-standing estimate for the number of U.S. troops in Syria. For years, the Pentagon insisted that there were about 500 U.S. troops in Syria, though the actual number was closer to 2,000.

On Thursday, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan denied that allies had rejected the idea out of concerns that U.S. troops would not participate in the mission.

“Our mission remains unchanged in terms of the defeat of ISIS,” Shanahan told Pentagon reporters on Friday. “The transition that we are working towards is stabilization and to enhance the security capability of local security forces. We’ll do that as strategic partners.”

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed confidence on Friday that European allies would join a multinational observer force.

Dunford also explained that a transition towards stabilization efforts had always been planned with a focus on training local security forces.

“So, there’s no change in the basic campaign, the resourcing is being adjusted because the threat has been changed,” he told Pentagon reporters.

So far, the U.S. military has only removed equipment and supplies from Syria as part of President Trump’s withdrawal order. The withdrawal of troops is slated to begin in coming weeks pending further White House guidance.

A U.S. official said that with Trump’s new decision to keep some forces in Syria, the U.S. military will now develop a plan to adjust the withdrawal and to resource the new observer mission.

The official added that it was unclear what the total number of U.S. troops might be given that a lot depends on how much force protection might be needed.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina hailed Trump’s decision when it was announced Thursday night. A close supporter of and adviser on foreign policy, Graham has been strongly critical of Trump’s decision to pull out all U.S. forces in Syria.

“I applaud President Trump’s decision to leave a small contingent of American forces in Syria as part of an international stabilizing force,” said Graham. “This also ensures Turkey and SDF elements that helped us defeat ISIS will not go into conflict.”

Graham said an international safe zone in Syria was also “the best way to achieve our national security objectives of continuing to contain Iran, ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS, protecting our Turkish allies, and securing the Turkish border with Syria.”

“With this decision, President Trump has decided to follow sound military advice,” he added. “This decision will ensure that we will not repeat the mistakes of Iraq, in Syria. For a small fraction of the forces we have had in Syria, we can accomplish our national security objectives.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Democratic House chairman asks attorney general for ‘full disclosure’ of Mueller’s findings

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

US Congress (Office of Jerry Nadler, D-NY)(WASHINGTON) — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Attorney General William Barr Friday to demand access to the full scope of records and evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.

The letter is an attempt to lay the foundation for Democrats to ensure they can obtain the report and the underlying materials from the Mueller probe amid concerns about the records’ full release.

There is, wrote Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, “a significant public interest in the full disclosure of information learned by the Special Counsel about the nature and scope of the Russian government’s efforts to undermine our democracy.”

His letter is co-signed by a handful of Democrats leading other committees investigating the president or his administration, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel. Nadler’s committee would oversee any impeachment investigation should Democrats decide to pursue that course.

Nadler’s letter requests not only copies of Mueller’s full report — whenever his investigation has concluded — but also that the Department of Justice provide copies with material they believe may “not suitable for immediate public release.” This would include any classified documents or records that may be withheld from the public because of the department’s policy against discussing evidence in cases where the target of an investigation is not charged.

“This expectation is well-grounded in the precedent set by the Department in recent years,” Nadler wrote. “In other closed and pending high-profile cases alleging wrongdoing by public officials, both the Department and the FBI have produced substantial amounts of investigative material, including classified and law enforcement sensitive information, to the House of Representatives.”

Nadler specifically focuses on the concerns that the Barr will withhold any material that could be viewed as evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump, based on his comments during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. During the hearing, Barr said he would determine what from Mueller’s confidential report would be transmitted to congressional leaders.

“My goal and intent is to get as much information out as I can consistent with the regulations,” he said, frustrating Democrats who wanted him to commit to releasing the full report.

“Where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and Department policy and will let no personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decision,” Barr said, noting that Congress “can and does conduct its own investigations, and its right to do so is not precluded by the [DOJ’s] decision not to provide certain information about an uncharged individual gathered during the course of a criminal investigation.”

Barr has suggested he may follow department protocol that do not permit indictments against sitting presidents. The argument favoring the release of records to Congress has been the subject of several published reports in recent days by legal experts.

A congressional demand to access records from the special counsel’s probe relies on precedent set during the Watergate investigation into President Richard M. Nixon.

Nadler “should consider taking a page from his predecessor’s book and formally request a referral of possible impeachment material,” Benjamin Wittes, who is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, wrote in a column, in the online legal publication Lawfare.

Neal Katyal, who served as solicitor general under President Barack Obama, also cited those actions in an opinion column in the New York Times this week raising the question of Congress’s responsibility to intervene if the Justice Department finds evidence of wrongdoing.

“If Mr. Mueller writes a report that is anything less than a full clearing of the president: Congress would be under a constitutional obligation to investigate the facts for itself,” he wrote.

Nadler’s letter tackled that issue head-on.

“Because the Department has taken the position that a sitting President is immune from indictment and prosecution, Congress could be the only institution currently situated to act on evidence of the President’s misconduct,” he wrote. “To maintain that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and then to withhold evidence of wrongdoing from Congress because the President will not be charged, is to convert Department policy into the means for a cover-up. The President is not above the law.”

Nadler’s request extends beyond the requirements spelled out in the current special counsel regulation. Under those guidelines, Mueller is required to provide the attorney general with a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel,” but it will be up to the attorney general whether to release that report to Congress and the public.

The attorney general is also required to notify key congressional leaders – the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees – when Mueller’s investigation is finished, along with a “description and explanation” of any instances where a proposed action by Mueller was “so inappropriate or unwarranted” that it was not pursued.

President Trump and the White House have said the decision will be up to Barr.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Democratic House chairman asks attorney general for ‘full disclosure’ of Mueller’s findings

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

US Congress (Office of Jerry Nadler, D-NY)(WASHINGTON) — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Attorney General William Barr Friday to demand access to the full scope of records and evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.

The letter is an attempt to lay the foundation for Democrats to ensure they can obtain the report and the underlying materials from the Mueller probe amid concerns about the records’ full release.

There is, wrote Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, “a significant public interest in the full disclosure of information learned by the Special Counsel about the nature and scope of the Russian government’s efforts to undermine our democracy.”

His letter is co-signed by a handful of Democrats leading other committees investigating the president or his administration, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel. Nadler’s committee would oversee any impeachment investigation should Democrats decide to pursue that course.

Nadler’s letter requests not only copies of Mueller’s full report — whenever his investigation has concluded — but also that the Department of Justice provide copies with material they believe may “not suitable for immediate public release.” This would include any classified documents or records that may be withheld from the public because of the department’s policy against discussing evidence in cases where the target of an investigation is not charged.

“This expectation is well-grounded in the precedent set by the Department in recent years,” Nadler wrote. “In other closed and pending high-profile cases alleging wrongdoing by public officials, both the Department and the FBI have produced substantial amounts of investigative material, including classified and law enforcement sensitive information, to the House of Representatives.”

Nadler specifically focuses on the concerns that the Barr will withhold any material that could be viewed as evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump, based on his comments during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. During the hearing, Barr said he would determine what from Mueller’s confidential report would be transmitted to congressional leaders.

“My goal and intent is to get as much information out as I can consistent with the regulations,” he said, frustrating Democrats who wanted him to commit to releasing the full report.

“Where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and Department policy and will let no personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decision,” Barr said, noting that Congress “can and does conduct its own investigations, and its right to do so is not precluded by the [DOJ’s] decision not to provide certain information about an uncharged individual gathered during the course of a criminal investigation.”

Barr has suggested he may follow department protocol that do not permit indictments against sitting presidents. The argument favoring the release of records to Congress has been the subject of several published reports in recent days by legal experts.

A congressional demand to access records from the special counsel’s probe relies on precedent set during the Watergate investigation into President Richard M. Nixon.

Nadler “should consider taking a page from his predecessor’s book and formally request a referral of possible impeachment material,” Benjamin Wittes, who is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, wrote in a column, in the online legal publication Lawfare.

Neal Katyal, who served as solicitor general under President Barack Obama, also cited those actions in an opinion column in the New York Times this week raising the question of Congress’s responsibility to intervene if the Justice Department finds evidence of wrongdoing.

“If Mr. Mueller writes a report that is anything less than a full clearing of the president: Congress would be under a constitutional obligation to investigate the facts for itself,” he wrote.

Nadler’s letter tackled that issue head-on.

“Because the Department has taken the position that a sitting President is immune from indictment and prosecution, Congress could be the only institution currently situated to act on evidence of the President’s misconduct,” he wrote. “To maintain that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and then to withhold evidence of wrongdoing from Congress because the President will not be charged, is to convert Department policy into the means for a cover-up. The President is not above the law.”

Nadler’s request extends beyond the requirements spelled out in the current special counsel regulation. Under those guidelines, Mueller is required to provide the attorney general with a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel,” but it will be up to the attorney general whether to release that report to Congress and the public.

The attorney general is also required to notify key congressional leaders – the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees – when Mueller’s investigation is finished, along with a “description and explanation” of any instances where a proposed action by Mueller was “so inappropriate or unwarranted” that it was not pursued.

President Trump and the White House have said the decision will be up to Barr.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House looking into Acosta role in sex abuse plea deal

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Sarah Sanders called it a "complicated case."

White House looking into Acosta role in sex abuse plea deal

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Sarah Sanders called it a "complicated case."

No special counsel report coming Friday or next week: DOJ official

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Despite mounting speculation that Special counsel Robert Mueller would deliver his final report to Attorney General William Barr as early as next week, a Justice Department official with knowledge of the matter said Friday the handover is not that imminent.

Suggestions that the report could be delivered next week — while President Donald Trump is overseas in Vietnam for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — are “incorrect,” the official told ABC News.

Mueller has been looking into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including whether anyone associated with the Trump campaign may have coordinated efforts with Russian operatives.

Trump said Friday, as he has done repeatedly, that there was “no collusion, no obstruction.”

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

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

No special counsel report coming Friday or next week: DOJ official

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Despite mounting speculation that Special counsel Robert Mueller would deliver his final report to Attorney General William Barr as early as next week, a Justice Department official with knowledge of the matter said Friday the handover is not that imminent.

Suggestions that the report could be delivered next week — while President Donald Trump is overseas in Vietnam for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — are “incorrect,” the official told ABC News.

Mueller has been looking into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including whether anyone associated with the Trump campaign may have coordinated efforts with Russian operatives.

Trump said Friday, as he has done repeatedly, that there was “no collusion, no obstruction.”

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

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family planning clinics that provide abortion referrals barred from federal program

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

LPETTET/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration on Friday issued its much-anticipated rule that prohibits family planning providers like Planned Parenthood that receive federal assistance from providing abortion referrals.

The move is likely to become subject to court challenges as Planned Parenthood and Democratic lawmakers, now in control of the House, deride the much-anticipated regulation as a “gag rule” because it limits what family planning clinics can say to women seeking an abortion. Under the prior rules, pregnant women who wanted an abortion had to be provided with a referral, although the provider was not allowed to promote it or help with the logistics such as scheduling an appointment or providing transportation.

“This is just the latest step in the Trump Administration’s ideologically-driven, misguided crusade to prevent Americans from accessing the full range of reproductive health care services,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

The administration, through its Department of Health and Human Services, said the final approved rule “protects” providers that use federal money by eliminating the requirement that have to offer abortion counseling and referral.

The new rule “protects Title X providers so that they are not required to choose between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral.” Planned Parenthood, which stands to federal assistance unless it agrees, called the new rule an “unethical gag rule” because health care providers that receive federal assistance wouldn’t be able to refer patients for abortion services.

Planned Parenthood, which says it serves 41 percent of the four million patients who receive care through the federal assistance program, known as Title X, said the regulation will disproportionally hurt women of color and low-income patients who rely on the organization for family planning options.

“Thanks to the gag rule, the already massive divide between who does and who doesn’t have health care will get worse,” the Planned Parenthood Action Fund tweeted.

Abortions are down to the lowest rate since the landmark case Roe v. Wade legalized a woman’s right to abortion in 1973, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2006 until 2015, the total number of reported abortions decreased by 24 percent — from more than 840,000 in 2006 to about 638,000 in 2015, the report found.

The CDC also focused on two other measures that reached their lowest level over the same time period: the total number of abortions in the population, or the abortion rate, which decreased 26 percent, and the proportion of all pregnancies that end in abortion rather than birth, or the abortion ratio, which decreased 19 percent.

Conservatives, including Vice President Mike Pence, have said they still see eliminating the option as a priority for the administration.

The administration announced plans to move ahead with the new regulation last spring.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family planning clinics that provide abortion referrals barred from federal program

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

LPETTET/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration on Friday issued its much-anticipated rule that prohibits family planning providers like Planned Parenthood that receive federal assistance from providing abortion referrals.

The move is likely to become subject to court challenges as Planned Parenthood and Democratic lawmakers, now in control of the House, deride the much-anticipated regulation as a “gag rule” because it limits what family planning clinics can say to women seeking an abortion. Under the prior rules, pregnant women who wanted an abortion had to be provided with a referral, although the provider was not allowed to promote it or help with the logistics such as scheduling an appointment or providing transportation.

“This is just the latest step in the Trump Administration’s ideologically-driven, misguided crusade to prevent Americans from accessing the full range of reproductive health care services,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

The administration, through its Department of Health and Human Services, said the final approved rule “protects” providers that use federal money by eliminating the requirement that have to offer abortion counseling and referral.

The new rule “protects Title X providers so that they are not required to choose between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral.” Planned Parenthood, which stands to federal assistance unless it agrees, called the new rule an “unethical gag rule” because health care providers that receive federal assistance wouldn’t be able to refer patients for abortion services.

Planned Parenthood, which says it serves 41 percent of the four million patients who receive care through the federal assistance program, known as Title X, said the regulation will disproportionally hurt women of color and low-income patients who rely on the organization for family planning options.

“Thanks to the gag rule, the already massive divide between who does and who doesn’t have health care will get worse,” the Planned Parenthood Action Fund tweeted.

Abortions are down to the lowest rate since the landmark case Roe v. Wade legalized a woman’s right to abortion in 1973, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2006 until 2015, the total number of reported abortions decreased by 24 percent — from more than 840,000 in 2006 to about 638,000 in 2015, the report found.

The CDC also focused on two other measures that reached their lowest level over the same time period: the total number of abortions in the population, or the abortion rate, which decreased 26 percent, and the proportion of all pregnancies that end in abortion rather than birth, or the abortion ratio, which decreased 19 percent.

Conservatives, including Vice President Mike Pence, have said they still see eliminating the option as a priority for the administration.

The administration announced plans to move ahead with the new regulation last spring.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kansas lawmaker apologizes after LGBTQ daughter decries bill

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A conservative Kansas legislator has apologized and said he has asked that he be removed as a sponsor of a bill calling same-sex marriages a "parody."

Kansas lawmaker apologizes after LGBTQ daughter decries bill

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A conservative Kansas legislator has apologized and said he has asked that he be removed as a sponsor of a bill calling same-sex marriages a "parody."

Democrat Dan McCready says he is running in new North Carolina congressional election

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(NEW YORK) — Democrat Dan McCready, who narrowly lost a congressional election in North Carolina’s 9th district last year, announced Friday he will run for the seat again after the state board of elections voted to hold a new election following an investigation into widespread fraud in the 2018 race.

“I am running in the special election to represent the people of the 9th District,” McCready told supporters Friday at a brewery outside of Charlotte. “I want to say right now that we are in this fight and we are going to win this fight.”

“This is bigger than one race. This is bigger than one election. This is about what does it mean to live in a democracy,” McCready added. “Our right to vote is our most sacred freedom as Americans.”

McCready comes into the raise already a proven fundraiser, having raised $6.7 million for his 2018 race, and has the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

The timing of the new primary and general election in the 9th Congressional District will be decided at a meeting of the state board of elections. The timing of that meeting has not yet been announced.

The announcement from McCready comes the day after the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously on to hold a new election in the 9th Congressional District – a move that came hours after Mark Harris, the Republican congressional candidate at the center of the case, testified.

“I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said during the hearing, adding that his conclusion is based on the testimony he’s heard over the last four days.

While it’s unclear whether Harris will run again in a new election, both men would have to compete in a primary election, according to a law passed by the GOP-controlled legislature late last year.

McCready tweeted Thursday following the board’s decision saying, “Today was a great step forward for democracy in North Carolina.”

North Carolina Democrats said the evidence revealed at the nearly four-day hearing shows Harris knew far more about the allegedly illicit scheme than he previously disclosed.

“Over an extraordinary four-day hearing, investigators laid out point by point how Republican Mark Harris’ campaign funded and directed an elaborate, illegal scheme to steal an election,” North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin wrote in a statement. “This saga could only have ended in a new election, and we look forward to repairing the harm dealt by Republicans and giving the people of the Ninth district the representative they deserve.”

Republicans thanked the State Board of Elections and said they’ll do what they can to ensure that “these kinds of situations can be avoided in the future.”

“We will continue to work with legislators and investigators on how we can improve the electoral system so that these kinds of situations can be avoided in the future,” North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The people of North Carolina deserve nothing less than the full confidence and trust in the electoral system. We’d like to thank the hard-working staff and members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections for their professionalism and dedication in this investigation.”

Just a day before the board’s decision to hold a new election, Harris’ own son said he’d raised concerns about a “shady political operative,” seeking to join the Republican congressional candidate’s campaign.

Harris’ comments came amid an ongoing election fraud case which has now triggered a brand new election.

“Sitting here four days into this meeting … my son was a bit prophetic in his statement that day,” Harris said of his son John’s warning about McCrae Dowless, the political hand accused of running an illegal absentee ballot collecting scheme in the state’s 9th Congressional District.

That warning was revealed in testimony on Wednesday and came in a phone conversation and later an e-mail in April 2017, after John Harris said he discovered abnormalities in absentee vote totals in one rural Bladen County, North Carolina.

Despite the warnings, Mark Harris eventually hired Dowless to do absentee ballot and other campaign work.

Harris won the 2018 election in the district by 905 votes, but after concerns were raised by the North Carolina State Board of Elections about potential election fraud, the result was not certified, leaving the seat vacant and hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians without representation in the U.S. House.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dems launch bid to scuttle Trump’s national emergency over border wall money

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

House Democrats launched a measure Friday to terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to get more money for his proposed border wall.

Dems launch bid to scuttle Trump’s national emergency over border wall money

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

House Democrats launched a measure Friday to terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to get more money for his proposed border wall.

Rallies, roundtables and ranch dressing: A weekly roundup on the 2020 field

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ANNECORDON/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ long-anticipated announcement of a presidential run came this week alongside an air of vindication as he described the ways in which the Democratic party has embraced several of the policies around which he based his 2016 run, including Medicare for all, free college tuition and an increase of the highest marginal tax rates to address income inequality.

But while Sanders might consider it a partial success that components of his platform has been embraced by several presidential candidates, it may also make it more difficult for the independent senator to differentiate himself this cycle.

While there is a clear divide with the Democratic Party’s moderates, like Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a crowded field means that the primary is no longer a binary choice and the senator from Vermont may have to more clearly define himself in a political world in which the labels “progressive” and “socialist” are no longer a novelty.

Here’s the weekly candidate roundup:

Feb. 15-21, 2019

Stacey Abrams (D)

In a speech to the Democratic National Committee’s Winter Meeting last week, Abrams joked about her political future, saying that she is “going to run for something,” but that it might be president of her home owners’ association.

Michael Bennet (D)

Bennet traveled to Iowa Thursday for a house party in Dubuque, and will remain in the Hawkeye State through Saturday for two more house parties, a meeting with the Polk County Democrats and a roundtable with farmers. A press release earlier this week announcing the visit, acknowledged that the senator is considering “whether to enter the race for president.”

Joe Biden (D)

People close to the former vice president told ABC News this week that they believe Biden will enter the 2020 race. The sentiment is shared by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who was left with that feeling after she met with Biden last week. Feinstein has previously said she would support Biden if he were to enter the race.

Biden avoided specifically commenting on the 2020 election during an event at the University of Pennsylvania Tuesday, but was highly critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, describing “hysteria at the southern border” and arguing that the president’s beliefs were rooted in “xenophobia.”

On Tuesday, Biden will participate in a discussion at the University of Delaware.

Michael Bloomberg (D)

On Tuesday, Politico reported that Bloomberg’s advisers were beginning to reach out to the recipients of support from Bloomberg’s philanthropy to gauge their willingness to back a potential presidential run.

Cory Booker (D)

The New Jersey senator visited New Hampshire last weekend, during which he pushed back against criticisms of his nice-guy approach and described himself as “someone who’s strong, who’s tough, who will fight for a cause and fight for people but also finds common ground.”

Booker, along with fellow presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris, were questioned about their immediate responses to the January attack on actor Jussie Smollett as police uncovered information indicating Smollett may have staged the incident.

The senator said, “I’m going to withhold until all the information actually comes out from on the record sources.” He previously labeled the attack a “modern-day lynching.”

On Thursday, Booker announced endorsements from a score of New Jersey politicians, including Gov. Phil Murphy and all 11 Democratic members of the state’s House of Representatives delegation. He’ll travel to Nevada Sunday for a an event in North Las Vegas.

Sherrod Brown (D)

In an interview on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Brown said that the odds of him joining the 2020 field have increased to “51-49.”

The Ohio senator told Politico Wednesday that if he does enter the race he will decline corporate PAC money, a decision in line with nearly all of the Democratic candidates thus far, but a departure from his Senate campaigns.

Julian Castro (D)

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary made his first visit to Iowa since announcing his presidential candidacy Thursday, the first day of a road trip that will take him to Des Moines, Exira, Sioux City and Ames through Saturday.

John Delaney (D)

Shortly after Sen. Bernie Sanders’ entrance into the 2020 race Tuesday, Delaney issued a statement in which he said voters would have to choose “between socialism and a more just form of capitalism.”

“I don’t believe top-down, government-only approaches are the right answer,” the former Maryland congressman continued. “But I do believe in a clear role for government in creating institutions and policies that ensure equality of opportunity and basic human dignity.”

Delaney elaborated in an interview with CNN Wednesday, arguing that if Democrats “want to win and we want to beat Trump, we should not put up a candidate who embraces socialism.” He said, “That’s not what the American people want.”

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

In a mostly foreign policy-focused interview on ABC’s The View Wednesday, Gabbard defended her non-interventionist platform, saying that her experience serving in Iraq influenced her belief that “the cost on the people in the countries where we intervene, as well as the trillions of dollars, our taxpayer dollars,” were not worth foreign entanglements.

The Hawaii congresswoman went on to express her support for Medicare for all and a free college tuition plan, but balked at endorsing the proposed Green New Deal, explaining that she felt the legislation was too vague.

Gabbard visited Iowa Thursday for two events in Iowa City and will remain in the state Friday for a stop in Council Bluffs.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

Gillibrand found herself in the middle of one of the 2020 cycle’s first viral moments this week when a woman at an Iowa restaurant, where the senator from New York was speaking Monday, interrupted her to squeeze past as she sought out ranch dressing.

Video of the “ranch girl” moment topped one million views on Twitter. The woman who sought the dressing and described herself as “left-leaning,” has embraced her newfound fame. But she said that there was no political reason prompting her encounter with Gillibrand.

Prior to her stop Monday in Iowa, Gillibrand spent the weekend in New Hampshire and then continued on to Texas on Wednesday and Thursday. In Dallas on Thursday, she referred to her family as one of the reasons she is running, saying that she “will fight for other people’s children and their families and their communities as hard as I would fight for my own.”

Patch in Beverly Hills, California reported Thursday that Gillibrand is headed to the city next month for two fundraisers, including one that will be co-hosted by Will Ferrell.

Kamala Harris (D)

During a visit to New Hampshire earlier this week, Harris pushed back against the suggestion that she would not focus her attention on the New England state’s first-in-the-nation primary to instead concentrate on South Carolina or her home state of California. She said that she intends to “spend time here” and “shake every hand that I possibly can.”

“I want to talk with you, I want to listen to you, I want to be challenged by you,” she added.

Harris was ultimately challenged during the week for her immediate reaction to the attack against actor Jussie Smollett. In January, she described it as a “modern day lynching.” Additional details now suggest the crime was staged by Smollett. In response, she said she would no longer comment until all of the facts of the incident were known.

Harris’ campaign additionally declined to comment on a critical statement made by her father to Jamaica Global Online referencing the senator’s past comments about marijuana and her Jamaican heritage. Donald Harris labeled the linking of the drug to her ancestry a “travesty” adding that their deceased relatives “must be turning in their graves” over being connected to a “fraudulent stereotype” “in the pursuit of identity politics.”

The California senator stops in Iowa for six different events this weekend and then travels to Nevada on Thursday and Friday.

Amy Klobuchar (D)

During a CNN town hall Monday in New Hampshire, the Minnesota senator staked out her position in the middle of the political spectrum, refusing to endorse some of the progressive proposals, like Medicare for all, the Green New Deal and free college tuition, that her presidential rivals have made tentpoles of their campaigns.

“If I was a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would,” Klobuchar said of free college tuition, continuing, “I’ve got to tell the truth. We have this mounting debt that the Trump administration keeps getting worse and worse. I also don’t want to leave that on the shoulders of all these we’ve got to do a balance.”

She said, of the Green New Deal, that “big ideas” were “important,” but predicted that compromises would have to be made to advance the legislation.

Klobuchar stopped in Iowa Thursday to headline the Ankeny area Democrats’ Winter Banquet.

Terry McAuliffe (D)

The former Virginia governor said he is “close to making a decision” about a presidential run during an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, explaining that he’s “made hundreds and hundreds of calls across the country” and “talked to potential staff.”

After saying that he was not waiting on former Vice President Joe Biden’s decision, McAuliffe described his desire for a “progressive governor who was very jobs-oriented, very successful in economic development” in the race.

“They’re not mutually exclusive,” he said.

Beto O’Rourke (D)

As he accepted an “El Pasoan of the Year” award from a local newspaper Tuesday, O’Rourke said that he is still “trying to figure out how I can best serve this country” and “where I can do the greatest good for the United States of America,” including a run for president.

Though the former Texas congressman described a desire to reach a decision on his future by the end of February, he also gave himself leeway to continue his deliberations about a potential White House run or challenge to Republican Sen. John Cornyn. Probed further by a reporter about other opportunities, O’Rourke did not rule out serving as the eventual Democratic presidential nominee’s running mate.

“I’m going to consider every way to serve this country,” O’Rourke responded in Spanish. “And, yes, that will include anything.”

Tim Ryan (D)

During a trip to New Hampshire Wednesday, the Ohio congressman warned his fellow Democrats of appearing “hostile to business” as they campaigned for president.

“We’ve got to come together. And that includes being engaged with the business community,” Ryan, who said he is “getting close” to a decision about a campaign of his own, said. “You can be hostile to greed, you can be hostile to income inequality, you can be for raising raises … but you can’t be hostile to businesses because 98 percent of businesses are small business people.”

Bernie Sanders (D)

Sanders launched his presidential campaign Tuesday with an online video and interviews with Vermont Public Radio and CBS News.

In the CBS interview, the Vermont senator predicted victory on the back of a “grassroots movement unprecedented in modern American history.” He further took aim at President Donald Trump in an email to supporters, writing that “we are living in a pivotal and dangerous moment in American history.”

“We are running against a president who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction,” Sanders continued.

Trump wished Sanders well in a tweet, though referred to him as “Crazy Bernie.”

In the first day of his campaign, Sanders raised nearly $6 million, his campaign announced. More than 223,000 people contributed an average of $27.

On Monday, Sanders is scheduled to participate in a CNN town hall.

Howard Schultz (I)

As he continues to consider an independent campaign for president, Schultz posted an open letter to Medium Tuesday entitled “Our path.”

“Thousands of Americans have reached out — people who want common-sense solutions to the problems we face, people who are frustrated with our broken two-party system, people who want to hear the truth from their leaders, and people among the exhausted majority of Americans who want genuine leadership and cooperation in Washington,” Schultz wrote, while also acknowledging the backlash he’s received from Democrats fearful that he could play spoiler in the 2020 race.

Schultz’s book tour continued this week with an event in Los Angeles moderated by Maria Shriver Thursday. He will stop in Cleveland next Wednesday.

Eric Swalwell (D)

During a trip to Iowa last weekend, Swalwell said that he would make a presidential decision “fairly soon” and noted that he has staff in the state and was establishing a team in South Carolina.

Elizabeth Warren (D)

The Massachusetts senator announced a plan Tuesday to make child care and early childhood education from birth through school age more affordable, with prices capped at 7 percent of a family’s income.

“Today, more than half of all Americans live in child care ‘deserts’ — communities without an adequate number of licensed child care options,” Warren wrote in a Medium post outlining her plan, adding, “We shouldn’t be denying our kids the kind of care and early learning they need to fulfill their potential.”

This weekend, Warren once again visits New Hampshire where she will headline the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s 60th McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner and attend a house party, an organizing event and a meet-and-greet in Laconia, Plymouth and Nashua, her campaign announced.

Bill Weld (R)

Last week, Weld announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, becoming the first notable Republican to take public steps toward a primary challenge of Trump.

“I think our country is in grave peril and I can no longer sit silently on the sidelines,” Weld said at a New Hampshire Institute of Politics “Politics and Eggs” breakfast where he outlined a decidedly moderate platform, just over two years after he ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate.

“To compound matters, our President is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office — which include the specific duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — in a competent and professional matter,” Weld added.

In an interview on ABC News’ This Week Sunday, the former Massachusetts governor explained that his potential bid was not simply about weakening the president ahead of the general election but was intended to avoid “six more years of the antics frankly, for want of a better word, that we’ve seen the last two years.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dems launching bid to scuttle Trump’s national emergency to get border wall funding

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Matt Anderson/iStock(WASHINGTON) — House Democrats will file a resolution Friday in a long shot bid to stop President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at getting more money to build his proposed border wall after congressional Democrats refused to give it to him.

Though some Republicans have expressed concern about the president’s executive action, none has vowed to join the Democratic effort to terminate the national emergency that’s unlikely to succeed.

Despite its dim prospects, the gambit still promises to produce a political spectacle. With newfound power in the House majority, Democrats are seizing the opportunity to not only attack the president on cable TV, but also to force Republicans into casting politically difficult votes.

At the same time, other efforts to block the president are playing out in court.

At least 197 Democrats have signed on as cosponsors of the one-page House resolution as of Thursday, according to a spokesperson for Rep. Joaquin Castro, the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and author of the measure.

According to the National Emergencies Act, any national emergency declared by the president shall terminate if there is a joint resolution terminating the emergency enacted into law or the president issues a proclamation terminating the emergency.

The text of the resolution is relatively straightforward, identifying the president’s proclamation and then destroying it: “Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled That, pursuant to section 202 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622), the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 (84 Fed. Reg. 4949) is hereby terminated.”

Since the resolution would require Trump’s signature to become law, he’s likely to veto the measure instead — in what would be the first of his presidency. There does not appear to be enough bipartisan support constituting supermajorities in both chambers to override a presidential veto, so this attempt to block the president legislatively likely would end there as legal challenges continue in court.

A coalition of 16 states filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against the president and his administration to block the proclamation, arguing the declaration amounts to a misuse of executive power. The case could drag into the 2020 presidential campaign and ultimately end up at the Supreme Court.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Republicans and Democrats alike to support the resolution, warning the proclamation “undermines the separation of powers and Congress’ power of the purse, a power exclusively reserved by the text of the Constitution to the first branch of government, the Legislative branch, a branch co-equal to the Executive.”

“All Members take an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution,” Pelosi, D-Calif., noted. “The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated. We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault.”

A vote in the House could happen next week. Pelosi said the House “will move swiftly to pass this bill,” reporting it out of committee within a maximum of 15 calendar days and a vote on the floor within three calendar days following that, pursuant to the statutory terms in the National Emergencies Act.

While the Senate’s majority is controlled by Republicans, the measure is privileged and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is compelled to hold a vote on the measure after House passage, creating an awkward vote to either buck the president or surrender the constitutional authorities many lawmakers believe are threatened by executive action. If the House passes it, the resolution could sit in committee for up to 15 days before it’s considered privileged in the upper chamber and its consideration is mandated.

Last week, McConnell encouraged the president to pursue executive action, though several GOP senators, including Sens. Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander, have expressed an aversion to the president’s declaration.

“The president has made a strong case for increased border security, but declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution,” Alexander, R-Tenn., warned Wednesday prior to the president’s announcement on Friday. “It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution because, after the American Revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive with the power to tax the people and spend their money any way he chooses. The Constitution gives that authority exclusively to a Congress elected by the people.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that identical companion legislation to the House resolution “will soon be introduced in the Senate.”

“If the president’s emergency declaration prevails, it will fundamentally change the balance of powers in a way our country’s founders never envisioned,” Schumer, D-N.Y., cautioned. “That should be a serious wake-up call to senators in both parties who believe in the constitutional responsibility of Congress to limit an overreaching executive.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dems launching bid to scuttle Trump’s national emergency to get border wall funding

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Matt Anderson/iStock(WASHINGTON) — House Democrats will file a resolution Friday in a long shot bid to stop President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at getting more money to build his proposed border wall after congressional Democrats refused to give it to him.

Though some Republicans have expressed concern about the president’s executive action, none has vowed to join the Democratic effort to terminate the national emergency that’s unlikely to succeed.

Despite its dim prospects, the gambit still promises to produce a political spectacle. With newfound power in the House majority, Democrats are seizing the opportunity to not only attack the president on cable TV, but also to force Republicans into casting politically difficult votes.

At the same time, other efforts to block the president are playing out in court.

At least 197 Democrats have signed on as cosponsors of the one-page House resolution as of Thursday, according to a spokesperson for Rep. Joaquin Castro, the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and author of the measure.

According to the National Emergencies Act, any national emergency declared by the president shall terminate if there is a joint resolution terminating the emergency enacted into law or the president issues a proclamation terminating the emergency.

The text of the resolution is relatively straightforward, identifying the president’s proclamation and then destroying it: “Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled That, pursuant to section 202 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622), the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 (84 Fed. Reg. 4949) is hereby terminated.”

Since the resolution would require Trump’s signature to become law, he’s likely to veto the measure instead — in what would be the first of his presidency. There does not appear to be enough bipartisan support constituting supermajorities in both chambers to override a presidential veto, so this attempt to block the president legislatively likely would end there as legal challenges continue in court.

A coalition of 16 states filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against the president and his administration to block the proclamation, arguing the declaration amounts to a misuse of executive power. The case could drag into the 2020 presidential campaign and ultimately end up at the Supreme Court.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Republicans and Democrats alike to support the resolution, warning the proclamation “undermines the separation of powers and Congress’ power of the purse, a power exclusively reserved by the text of the Constitution to the first branch of government, the Legislative branch, a branch co-equal to the Executive.”

“All Members take an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution,” Pelosi, D-Calif., noted. “The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated. We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault.”

A vote in the House could happen next week. Pelosi said the House “will move swiftly to pass this bill,” reporting it out of committee within a maximum of 15 calendar days and a vote on the floor within three calendar days following that, pursuant to the statutory terms in the National Emergencies Act.

While the Senate’s majority is controlled by Republicans, the measure is privileged and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is compelled to hold a vote on the measure after House passage, creating an awkward vote to either buck the president or surrender the constitutional authorities many lawmakers believe are threatened by executive action. If the House passes it, the resolution could sit in committee for up to 15 days before it’s considered privileged in the upper chamber and its consideration is mandated.

Last week, McConnell encouraged the president to pursue executive action, though several GOP senators, including Sens. Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander, have expressed an aversion to the president’s declaration.

“The president has made a strong case for increased border security, but declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution,” Alexander, R-Tenn., warned Wednesday prior to the president’s announcement on Friday. “It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution because, after the American Revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive with the power to tax the people and spend their money any way he chooses. The Constitution gives that authority exclusively to a Congress elected by the people.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that identical companion legislation to the House resolution “will soon be introduced in the Senate.”

“If the president’s emergency declaration prevails, it will fundamentally change the balance of powers in a way our country’s founders never envisioned,” Schumer, D-N.Y., cautioned. “That should be a serious wake-up call to senators in both parties who believe in the constitutional responsibility of Congress to limit an overreaching executive.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

IRS agent charged in connection with leaking Michael Cohen’s financial records

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — An Internal Revenue Service agent was charged on Thursday in connection with the leaking of overseas financial transactions tied to President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, according to the Department of Justice.

John Fry, an analyst in the San Francisco office of the IRS, was charged with unlawful disclosure of suspicious activity reports, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California.

Banks are required to file suspicious activity reports for any suspicious financial transactions. The criminal complaint, which was filed under seal on Feb. 4, was released by the Department of Justice Thursday.

The criminal complaint alleged that Fry logged onto his work computer and searched Cohen’s name in a specific government database, found many of Cohen’s financial records and then ultimately went back a second time and did a second search for Cohen.

After accessing the documents, Fry allegedly called Michael Avenatti, the attorney who represents actress Stormy Daniels, “for more than 6 minutes,” according to the complaint. Avenatti then allegedly “used his public Twitter account to circulate a dossier releasing confidential banking information related to Cohen and his company, Essential Consultants,” the complaint stated.

In addition to Avenatti, the information was allegedly shared with reporters from the Washington Post and New Yorker magazine, according to the DOJ.

The complaint indicated that Cohen’s financial records showed “possible fraudulent and illegal financial transactions by Michael Cohen.”

In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate project that Trump and his company pursued at the same time he was securing the Republican nomination in 2016.

Cohen is set to report to prison in May.

Fry appeared in court Thursday and was released on $50,000 bond. He did not enter a plea. His next hearing is scheduled for March 13. It’s unclear whether he’s retained an attorney.

Fry, who faces up to five years in prison if convicted, is not the first Treasury employee to be charged in connection with allegedly leaking “highly sensitive information” about suspects in the high-profile investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department, allegedly “betrayed her position of trust” by leaking confidential banking reports on the Russian Embassy and suspects charged in special counsel Robert Muller’s Russian collusion probe, the government said in a statement.

She pleaded not guilty in January.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

IRS agent charged in connection with leaking Michael Cohen’s financial records

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — An Internal Revenue Service agent was charged on Thursday in connection with the leaking of overseas financial transactions tied to President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, according to the Department of Justice.

John Fry, an analyst in the San Francisco office of the IRS, was charged with unlawful disclosure of suspicious activity reports, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California.

Banks are required to file suspicious activity reports for any suspicious financial transactions. The criminal complaint, which was filed under seal on Feb. 4, was released by the Department of Justice Thursday.

The criminal complaint alleged that Fry logged onto his work computer and searched Cohen’s name in a specific government database, found many of Cohen’s financial records and then ultimately went back a second time and did a second search for Cohen.

After accessing the documents, Fry allegedly called Michael Avenatti, the attorney who represents actress Stormy Daniels, “for more than 6 minutes,” according to the complaint. Avenatti then allegedly “used his public Twitter account to circulate a dossier releasing confidential banking information related to Cohen and his company, Essential Consultants,” the complaint stated.

In addition to Avenatti, the information was allegedly shared with reporters from the Washington Post and New Yorker magazine, according to the DOJ.

The complaint indicated that Cohen’s financial records showed “possible fraudulent and illegal financial transactions by Michael Cohen.”

In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate project that Trump and his company pursued at the same time he was securing the Republican nomination in 2016.

Cohen is set to report to prison in May.

Fry appeared in court Thursday and was released on $50,000 bond. He did not enter a plea. His next hearing is scheduled for March 13. It’s unclear whether he’s retained an attorney.

Fry, who faces up to five years in prison if convicted, is not the first Treasury employee to be charged in connection with allegedly leaking “highly sensitive information” about suspects in the high-profile investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department, allegedly “betrayed her position of trust” by leaking confidential banking reports on the Russian Embassy and suspects charged in special counsel Robert Muller’s Russian collusion probe, the government said in a statement.

She pleaded not guilty in January.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘ISIS bride’ sues US to enter amid citizenship fight, debate over fleeing fighters

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Lawyers for a so-called “ISIS bride,” who was born and raised in the U.S. and wants to return with her son, are suing the Trump administration.