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Wednesday
Apr262017

Trump suggests he'll take 'sanctuary cities' case to Supreme Court

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- After previous setbacks to his immigration agenda, President Trump on Wednesday criticized a federal judge's ruling Tuesday that the commander-in-chief cannot retaliate against so-called sanctuary cities by withholding funds, suggesting he'll take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"First the Ninth Circuit rules against the [travel] ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, referring to his revised travel ban executive order that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked last month.

Trump added, "See you in the Supreme Court!"

Tuesday’s ruling from Judge William Orrick blocks part of Trump's executive order on immigration enforcement he signed in January that called for "jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law."

Despite Trump’s pointing to the 9th Circuit, Judge Orrick actually sits on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, from which cases are appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

San Francisco and Santa Clara County had filed the lawsuit, arguing billions of dollars in funding are at risk.

Most sanctuary cities -- which include New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle -- provide some protections to undocumented immigrants by not fully cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

"Out of our very big country, with many choices, does everyone notice that both the 'ban' case and now the 'sanctuary' case is brought in the Ninth Circuit, which has a terrible record of being overturned (close to 80%)," Trump wrote over two tweets.

"They used to call this 'judge shopping!' Messy system," Trump said, referring to the common practice of filing several of the same lawsuits in hopes of getting a sympathetic judge.

Trump's tweets echo the White House statement released Tuesday night after the judge's ruling.

"Today’s ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping," the statement read. "But we are confident we will ultimately prevail in the Supreme Court, just as we will prevail in our lawful efforts to impose immigration restrictions necessary to keep terrorists out of the United States."

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus Tuesday night had also called the ruling "an example of the 9th Circuit going bananas."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

Trump invites full Senate to White House for special briefing on North Korea

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The full Senate is set to make a "field trip" to the White House Wednesday afternoon for a security briefing on the North Korean threat.

The senators were invited at the personal invitation of President Donald Trump after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., requested a briefing. The president is scheduled to "stop by" the briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds.

White House officials say the South Auditorium will be turned into a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or "SCIF," and the briefing will be led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats.

Using the White House grounds for a full briefing with the Senate is a rare move, but administration officials told ABC News that too much shouldn't be read into the choice of location.

Officials said that after hearing of McConnell's request, the president suggested nonchalantly that the senators should come to the White House because he's a "gracious host." Trump has cultivated a reputation in his meetings at the White House for relishing the opportunity to show off his historic digs.

Separately, the optics of inviting the full Senate to meet at the White House in advance of the president's 100-day marker are not being ignored.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., discussed the North Korea briefing during a dinner Monday evening at the White House with Trump, was asked on Capitol Hill whether the off-campus trip seemed normal.

"It’s not a normal administration," McCain replied.

Graham said he expects senators will get a chance to hear the Trump administration's stance on countering North Korea's latest aggressive moves.

“It's clear to me that this president will not allow North Korea to develop an [intercontinental ballistic missile] with a nuclear weapon on top to hit America," Graham told Fox News Tuesday. "And I think the senators are gonna hear that tomorrow night, and I hope the senators will understand if nothing changes, Kim Jong-un will have that capability relatively soon.”

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Wednesday
Apr262017

POLL: Views on Russian influence reflect partisan finger-pointing

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It’s a partisan cold war right here at home: A majority of Democrats think now-President Donald Trump’s campaign tried to help Russia influence the 2016 election, while a majority of Republicans think former President Barack Obama’s administration spied on the Trump campaign.

And fewer than half of Americans -- in either party -- are confident that Congress will sort it all out.

See a PDF with the full results HERE.

Overall, 56 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll think Russia tried to influence the election, and 39 percent think the Trump campaign intentionally tried to assist such an effort. Just among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, suspicions soar: Sixty percent think Trump aides assisted Russian efforts. Among Hillary Clinton voters, 72 percent say so.

Fewer overall, 32 percent, think the Obama administration intentionally spied on Trump and members of his campaign during the election, as Trump has alleged. But just among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 55 percent think this occurred. And it’s 64 percent among Trump voters in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

These results, and similar gaps between liberals on one side and strong conservatives on the other, underline the depth of partisan mistrust still simmering three months into Trump’s presidency. Simply put, Democrats are motivated to see Trump’s presidency as illegitimate, while Republicans are motivated to believe his predecessor was up to no good.

Leaders in both parties in Congress have said the evidence establishes that Russia tried to influence the election. Yet just 38 percent of leaned Republicans and 32 percent of strong conservatives believe this to be the case, versus 73 percent of leaned Democrats and 77 percent of liberals.

Turning the tables, 55 percent of leaned Republicans and 63 percent of strong conservatives think the Obama administration spied on Trump and his campaign. Just 14 percent of leaned Democrats and 13 percent of liberals buy that idea.

Among other groups, suspicion that Russia tried to influence the campaign peaks at 83 percent Clinton voters, compared with 28 percent of Trump voters. As mentioned, 72 percent of Clinton voters not only think this happened, but also think Trump aides lent a hand. Among Trump voters, a mere 4 percent share that view.

Conversely, 64 percent of Trump voters (and 74 percent of those who supported him enthusiastically) think the Obama administration spied on Trump and his aides. Only 10 percent of Clinton voters agree.

Suspicions of Russian meddling reach 70 percent among Americans with a postgraduate degree, versus 55 percent of others; and two-thirds of minorities, versus 51 percent of whites. About half of postgraduates and nonwhites think the Trump campaign participated in Russian influence, versus 38 and 32 percent of their counterparts, respectively.

For its part, suspicion that the Obama administration intentionally spied on Trump reaches 47 percent among evangelical white Protestants, versus a quarter of the non-religious; and 44 percent among non-college white men, versus a quarter of college-educated white women.

Mistrust of Congress’ investigation also is partisan, but much less sharply so. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents divide by 41-55 percent on whether the investigation will or will not be fairly conducted. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents split more evenly, 46-46 percent. Neither result reflects optimism.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

Five things to know about Melania Trump

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Melania Trump has maintained a mostly low profile for the first three months of Donald Trump's presidency, choosing to remain in New York with son Barron so as not to disrupt the 11-year-old's schooling.

Like on the campaign trail, when she made infrequent campaign appearances and gave few interviews, she has largely avoided the spotlight, a departure from her high-profile modeling days early in her career when she made regular stops in places like Paris and London.

As the first lady turns 47 years old on Wednesday, here are a few fast facts to know about her:

She was born abroad


Melania was born in Slovenia in 1970, but didn't stay there past her teenage years.

She moved to Italy after signing with a modeling agency in Milan when she was just a teen and then eventually moved to the United States to work in New York.

She became a permanent U.S. resident in 2001 and a citizen in 2006.

As first lady, she is the first presidential spouse born outside the United States since Louisa Adams, the wife of the sixth U.S. president, John Quincy Adams, who held office from 1825 to 1829.

Like her husband, she has had multiple business ventures

After starting her business career in modeling, she expanded into different areas of the fashion world and currently sells a line of jewelry and watches on QVC.

Since launching "Melania Timepieces and Fashion" in 2010, she expanded it to include a skin care line in 2013 that her website says is made entirely of "caviar imported from a cultured sturgeon farm in the South of France."

She had early contact with her husband's rivals and a surrogate

Melania Knauss became Melania Trump when the couple married in 2005 in Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Several hundred of their closest friends and family attended the affair, and while a photo from the wedding of the Trumps smiling with Bill and Hillary Clinton has made the rounds during the campaign, the former Democratic president and his wife were not the only politicians there for the Trumps' big day.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, was also in attendance at the nuptials, and his relationship with the Trumps is still going strong. Giuliani appeared frequently on the campaign trail and in television appearances as a surrogate for Donald Trump.

She speaks five languages

The first lady speaks multiple languages. As a result of her international upbringing and modeling work, she has picked up English, French, Serbian and German, in addition to her native Slovenian.

She had an early vision for her would-be role

Prior to her husband's election victory, the former model already had an idea in mind about what kind of first lady she would be.

She told The New York Times in 1999, ahead of one of her husband's previous flirtations with the presidency, that she would be a "very traditional" wife if she were to move into the White House.

"Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy, I would support him," she said.

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Tuesday
Apr252017

White House spokesman: 'I don't know' if Michael Flynn broke law over Russia payments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Oversight Committee leaders said Tuesday that newly provided classified documents show that President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, may have broken the law when he failed to seek U.S. government permission for or to disclose his acceptance of payments from a media organization considered to be an arm of the Russian government.

Republican chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and the panel's top Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland spoke to reporters after reviewing classified documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency in a secure area of the Capitol's basement.

"As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey, or anybody else, and it appears as if he did take that money," Chaffetz said of Flynn. "It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law," the Republican representative added.

Cummings said someone convicted of such a violation could face a punishment that included "fines and five years imprisonment." He said the information on Flynn in the intelligence documents was "extremely troubling."

When White House spokesman Sean Spicer was asked by reporters later if Flynn might have broken the law, he said, "I don't know," adding that it was a question for a law enforcement agency.

Chaffetz said earlie, "I see no information or no data to support the notion that general Flynn complied with the law."

"He was supposed to seek permission and receive permission from both the secretary of state and the secretary of the Army prior to traveling to Russia to not only accept that payment but to engage in that activity," Chaffetz said. "I see no evidence that he actually did that."

The Oversight Committee has been investigating whether Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, properly disclosed foreign payments he received for work overseas, including a speech in late 2015 to Russia's state-owned TV network Russia Today for which he which he received over $33,000.

Flynn directed the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency until he was pushed out by the Obama administration in 2014. At the time of the RT speech in December of 2015, the retired military officer he continued to hold a top-level security clearance.

Robert Kelner, a lawyer for Mike Flynn, said in a statement to ABC News Tuesday that Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency "extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both before and after the trip, and he answered any questions that were posed by DIA concerning the trip during those briefings."

In March, Chaffetz and Cummings requested documents from the Pentagon, White House, FBI and Director of National Intelligence regarding Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals and any funds he received from foreign sources.

Separately, the House Oversight Committee is also claiming that the White House is "refusing" to provide documents it might have in its possession related to what it knew about Flynn's contacts with the outside groups.

A White House official told ABC the requests are "too broad to fill," and that it can't be responsive because the requests "predate the Trump administration."

Trump fired Flynn early in his term as national security adviser for allegedly misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials.

Flynn was paid nearly $60,000 in 2015 by three Russian firms affiliated with the Kremlin, including RT, according to documents released by Democrats on the Oversight Committee.

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Tuesday
Apr252017

GOP makes government funding offer excluding money for wall

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Congressional Republicans have offered Democrats a government funding deal that does not include new funds for the construction of a border wall, according to congressional aides familiar with the offer.

The move from GOP leaders comes as Capitol Hill scrambles to pass a government funding measure by midnight Friday to avert a shutdown on President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office.

The latest proposal doesn’t include funding for construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, but would allocate money to other border security initiatives, such as surveillance technology. News of the offer was first reported by The Washington Post.

"I think sometimes we get hung up on the semantics rather than really looking at what a really good system should include," said Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, pointing to border security elements that have bipartisan support like technology and personnel.

“We're not opposed to border security. We are opposed to a wall,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, told reporters Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the president sounded defiant on wall funding, accusing the media of misconstruing his position after he told a group of conservative journalists Monday night that he would be open to revisit wall funding in September in the next fiscal year.

In his daily press briefing Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told ABC News' Jonathan Karl that the administration is determined to begin planning for wall construction this fiscal year.

“The wall is going to get built, folks,” Trump later told the travel pool in the Oval Office Tuesday when asked about government funding.

But even as both sides move closer to an agreement on border funding, Republicans and Democrats remain divided over a key Obamacare subsidy payment to insurers.

After Trump threatened to withhold the payments to insurers -- subsidies that help reduce insurance costs for low-income Americans -- in a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Democrats demanded to include funding for the payments in a broader government funding measure.

According to a senior Democratic aide, the new offer from Republicans doesn’t resolve questions about the subsidies, which are known as cost-sharing reduction payments.

A senior White House official told ABC News the White House will not agree to include money for Obamacare subsidies in the fiscal year 2017 spending bill, saying, “Why don’t you ask the Democrats if they are willing to shut down the government over that?”

The official called including the subsidies a “nonstarter.”

So far, Democrats have indicated that they're willing to go to the mat for the payments to protect the Obamacare system. And ultimately, Republicans will need Democratic votes to pass a funding bill through the Senate.

It still remains likely that before tackling a massive funding bill, Congress will pass a short-term government extension that will keep the government open at current funding levels for at least a week while negotiations continue.

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Tuesday
Apr252017

State Department explains blog post critics said promoted Mar-a-Lago

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of State provided explanation Tuesday for a story posted on one of its blogs that critics said promoted the Mar-a-Lago estate owned by President Donald Trump.

State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said that no one was ordered to write the article posted to ShareAmerica, a State Department blog that creates content for embassies and consulates overseas.

He added that it was “researched and written by staff members of the International Information Programs bureau” and it “was not reviewed at the time it was sent out” by anyone outside the IIP, as is generally the case.

Toner said that the post, which described the exclusive club's use as the president's vacation home as a "dreams-come-true" story for the mansion's original builder, socialite and heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, was “meant to provide historical information and context relevant to the conduct of U.S. diplomacy and was not intended to endorse or promote any private enterprise.”

He noted that “in light of some of the feedback we were getting about some of the article’s purpose, or rather, misperceptions about its purpose,” the story was removed. Prior to its removal, it was also featured on the website of at least one U.S. embassy -- the mission in the United Kingdom.

“This was in-house completely. This was a decision made by the content creators, the writers of the International information Program, IIP, and that is their mandate," said Toner. "In retrospect, we made the decision to pull this article down because there was some confusion about its intent, but their mandate, if you will, is to create content that educates foreign audiences about significant landmarks, etc., in the United States."

Moving forward, Toner said that the State Department will consider whether any additional review of IIP content is needed before it’s posted. In ShareAmerica’s two-year history, they could not find a similar case where a privately or publicly owned property was promoted, he said.

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Tuesday
Apr252017

Trump vows ‘we will confront anti-Semitism’ at Holocaust memorial ceremony

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump vowed Tuesday to crack down on anti-Semitism during a speech on Capitol Hill as part of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance.

"This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism,” he said. “We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness and we will act.”

Trump's strongly worded speech comes nearly two months after a series of threats against Jewish community centers across the country and questions about rising anti-Semitism during the course of the election and the new administration.

Trump has previously pointed to his personal ties to Judaism -- including his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who practices Orthodox Judaism, and his daughter Ivanka Trump, who converted before her marriage to Jared -- when asked about the issue. He did not mention either of them during his speech this morning.

He told the story of Elie Wiesel, the deceased Holocaust survivor and political activist, and slammed Holocaust deniers.

"Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil and we will never be silent; we just won't. We will never ever be silent in the face of evil again," Trump said.

"Denying the Holocaust is only one of many forms of dangerous anti-Semitism that continues around the world," he said.

He also reiterated his support of Israel, which was on display earlier in his term when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

"The state of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people," Trump said.

He later said, "I will always stand with our great friend and partner: the state of Israel."

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Tuesday
Apr252017

Poll finds 66 percent of Americans under 30 disapprove of President Trump

Ida Mae Astute/ABC(WASHINGTON) -- Two in three Americans under 30 years old disapprove of President Trump's job performance so far, and roughly half say they believe his border wall, travel ban and health care legislation would make the country worse, according to a new poll from Harvard University.

Only 32 percent of surveyed Americans ages 18 to 29 years old say they approve of Trump's time as president so far. A majority disapprove of him on most major issues, from the economy (59 percent) to health care (66 percent) to race relations (70 percent). They also disapprove of Trump on climate change (68 percent) and handling ISIS (64 percent).

Half of Americans under 30 polled say building a border wall with Mexico will make America worse — twice as many as the 23 percent who say it will make America better.

Pluralities of Americans under 30 say two other items on Trump's agenda would make America worse: Health care legislation that would repeal and replace Obamacare (45 percent) and a ban on new visas for travelers from six Muslim-majority countries (48 percent).

An ABC News/Washington Post poll last week found that 42 percent of Americans asked approved of Trump, while 53 percent disapproved.

The Harvard poll, from the university's Institute of Politics, was conducted from March 10 to 24.

Both parties in Congress are unpopular among young Americans. A majority surveyed, 54 percent, say they disapprove of Democrats in Congress, and the Republican majority is even more unpopular, garnering a 69 percent disapproval rating.

Very few Americans under 30 who were surveyed say they approve of Trump's tweets. Only 11 percent say they think Trump's use of Twitter is "mostly appropriate," versus 68 percent who say it's "mostly inappropriate."

The survey signals major distrust for large institutions to do the right thing "often." Only 24 percent say they trust the president to do so. Likewise, only 20 percent trust Congress, 16 percent trust the media, and 12 percent trust Wall Street. Slightly more trust the U.S. military, the Supreme Court and the United Nations: 50 percent, 46 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

The Harvard University Institute of Politics Survey of Young Americans' Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service examines beliefs of Americans ages 18 to 29. The organization polled 2,654 respondents. The margin of error is +/– 2.7 percent.

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Tuesday
Apr252017

Former President George HW Bush remains hospitalized after pneumonia

Al Bello/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Former President George H.W. Bush remains hospitalized this week after he was diagnosed with pneumonia earlier this month.

Bush, 92, is currently being held for "a few more days of observation," according to his spokesman Jim McGrath.

"President George H.W. Bush continues to be in good spirits and is resting comfortably at Houston Methodist Hospital," McGrath said in a statement yesterday. The former president is expected to be released by the end of the week.

This marks the third hospital stay for Bush this year. In January, he was hospitalized for 12 days after contracting pneumonia. He recovered enough to toss the coin for the Super Bowl held in Houston, Texas, Feb. 5. However, the former president was again hospitalized after the event, for yet-to-be-named reasons, which was not disclosed at the time.

Last week, Bush's staff announced he had been hospitalized again "for observation due to a persistent cough that prevented him from getting proper rest. It was subsequently determined he had a mild case of pneumonia, which was treated and has been resolved."

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