Politics Headlines
Subscribe To This Feed

Bill Chizek/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- There's no shortage of speculation on the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, much of it totally uninformed.

But we don't need to speculate on the scope – the man who appointed Mueller has already given us a potential road map on what to expect from the special counsel.

The bottom line: Do not expect a harsh condemnation of President Donald Trump or any of his associates if they have not been charged with crimes.

The road map comes in the form a little-noticed 12-page letter written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last June to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley.

The letter was in response to Grassley's demands for more information on the special counsel investigation, offers a brief history of special counsel investigations and actually quotes former and future Attorney General William Barr who appointed three special counsels during his time as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.

In the letter, Rosenstein makes it clear he believes the Department of Justice will not – and cannot without violating long-standing Department of Justice policy – include disparaging or incriminating information about anybody who has not been charged with a crime.

"Punishing wrongdoers through judicial proceedings is only one part of the Department's mission," Rosenstein wrote. "We also have a duty to prevent the disclosure of information that would unfairly tarnish people who are not charged with crimes."

Sources familiar with the investigation believe there are no more indictments coming from the special counsel. If Mueller follows the guidance of the man who appointed him and supervised his investigation, he cannot publicly disparage those who have not been charged with a crime.

Rosenstein is emphatic on this point: "In fact, disclosing uncharged allegations against American citizens without a law-enforcement need is considered to be a violation of a prosecutor's trust."

Later in the letter, he makes it clear this standard applies to anybody under investigation, even public officials.

"No matter who an investigation involves -- an ordinary citizen, a local or state politician, a campaign official, a foreign agent, an officer of the federal legislative, executive, or judicial branch -- agents and prosecutors are obligated to protect its confidentiality."

In the letter Rosenstein directly takes issue with the justification then-FBI Director James Comey used to publicly criticize Hillary Clinton in 2016 even as he decided not to charge her with a crime. At the time, Comey justified the break with long-time DOJ practice as an "extraordinary step" necessary because of circumstances so unusual they were comparable to a "500-year flood."

"It is important for the Department of Justice to follow established procedures, especially when the stakes are high," Rosenstein wrote.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that would deny colleges certain federal research and education grants if they failed to comply with free speech standards outlined by the administration.

"Under the guise of speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans ... all of that changes starting right now. We're dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars," Trump said, surrounded by student activists at a White House ceremony Thursday afternoon.

In doing so, Trump is responding to a rallying cry among conservatives who say their views are suppressed on campuses, and that speakers are sometimes assaulted or silenced when protesters threaten violence.

Trump called the move "historic," saying that students and American values have "been under siege," as several students said free speech is at risk on their campuses.

"Every year the federal government provides educational institutions with more than $35 billion in research funding. All of that money is now at stake. That's a lot of money. They're going to have to not like your views a lot," Trump said.

The executive order would direct 12 grant-making agencies to work with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure universities are complying with federal law in an effort to promote free speech on college campuses, the senior administration official said earlier Thursday during a phone call with reporters.

Critics argue Trump's move is an attempt to fix a non-existent problem and one notable is Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee.

In a statement on Thursday, Alexander said he didn't "want to see Congress or the President or the department of anything creating speech codes to define what you can say on campus."

"The U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech. Federal courts define and enforce it. The Department of Justice can weigh in. Conservatives don’t like it when judges try to write laws, and conservatives should not like it when legislators and agencies try to rewrite the Constitution," Alexander said.

At the same time, he said he agreed with the Trump administration's position that colleges "should provide better data on student debt and put some ‘skin in the game’ to reduce student borrowing."

Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America -- an organization that works to defend free expression rights, including free speech on college campuses -- said in a phone interview that the federal government "can have a role in reinforcing the principles of the First Amendment and the commitment to freedom expression and academic freedom at public universities in particular."

"But when you get into the possibility of punitive measures and the withholding of federal funds based on, you know, particularly kind of very vague definitions of, you know an idea like free inquiry. That's worrisome," Nossel added.

Following Trump's preview of his executive order in a fiery speech earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 11 groups, including the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, issued a joint statement calling the proposal "a dangerous solution to a largely nonexistent problem."

"While the specific provisions of the promised executive order have not been revealed, like such legislation they are liable to interfere with institutional autonomy and governance in ways that is more likely to stifle than encourage free expression and diversity of opinion," the statement said. "There are and always will be individuals on campus and in society generally who wish to silence those with whom they disagree. But punitive and simplistic measures will only exacerbate the problems they may create," the statement said.

Though the administration official who briefed reporters stressed that free speech rules already apply to higher education institutions, the official said the order is designed to provide better oversight and enforcement by making free speech a more explicit condition of compliance.

Public universities will have to agree to follow the guidelines as a condition of receiving these grants, while private universities will have to certify following their intended policy, the official said.

The executive order would not affect student aid money, and would also require the Department of Education to publish information on earnings, debt, default rates and loan repayment rates to the college score card, the senior administration official said.

The official declined to say whether the president believes the issue has worsened in recent years, not wanting to get ahead of the president’s remarks. “The president is fully committed to promoting free speech on college campuses,” the official said.

The order would also require the Department of Education to submit policy recommendations to the president about institutions sharing the financial risk of student loans, the official said.

Trump had publicly teased the executive order during his CPAC speech.

“If they want our dollars and we give it to them by the billions they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people and old people to speak,” Trump said.

He was referring to the case of Hayden Williams, who was allegedly assaulted at the University of California, Berkley, while recruiting for a conservative group.

“And if they don’t, it will be very costly,” Trump added.

Trump has also tweeted about the issue, saying: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

"Just the fact that the President first announced this at CPAC, the fact Jeff Sessions when he was attorney general making a speech in front of Turning Point USA, a conservative group, this issue, you know, kind of adds this ideological cast," Nossel of PEN America said. "You know, really the First Amendment is nonpartisan. It doesn't have any ideological bias. It protects speech from across the spectrum. And so, the fear here is that you know, this is not just about protecting all kinds of speech it's about protecting certain kinds of speech and I think that's the way the executive order is implemented it's highly problematic."

But when it comes to the actual implementation of the order, the official was short on details and deferred the matter to OMB.

“I don't want to get ahead of implementation, that will be coming in the next several weeks, months,” the official said.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House senior adviser and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has used an encrypted messaging application for official business and to communicate with contacts outside the United States, his lawyer told senior lawmakers in December.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, disclosed the admission from Kushner lawyer Abbe Lowell in a new letter to the White House, demanding records and documents related to White House officials’ use of private email for government work.

Lowell, according to Cummings, told the committee that Kushner sent screenshots of his WhatsApp messages to his White House email account or the National Security Council, and said that Kushner was in compliance with the law. He could not say whether Kushner used the application to discuss classified information.

Cummings, along with then-House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, met with Lowell in December, as part of an investigation into use of personal email at the White House, and following a CNN report that Kushner used WhatsApp to communicate with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

In a response to Cummings released Thursday, Lowell said he initially told Cummings Kushner had used “some communications with ‘some people’ and did not specify who they were,” and that he didn’t say Kushner used the application to communication with foreign leaders.

“I did convey that Mr. Kushner follows the protocols (including the handling of classified information) as he has been instructed to do,” he said.

He also said he referred Cummings to the White House counsel’s office for questions about Kushner’s use of the application.

Under the Presidential Records Act, White House officials are prohibited from using non-official email or messaging systems without forwarding any messages to their official email accounts within 20 days.

The Maryland Democrat is investigating potential violations of federal record-keeping laws by Kushner, senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump, and other current and former White House officials.

He asked for lists of White House officials who have used personal email accounts and messaging applications for official business, and more information about the White House archiving process for electronic communications.

In his letter, Cummings said he would give the White House until April 4th to cooperate with the committee's investigation voluntarily.

"The White House's failure to provide documents and information is obstructing the Committee's investigation into allegations of violations of federal records laws by White House officials," he wrote.

In a statement, White House spokesman Steven Groves said, “The White House has received Chairman Cummings’ letter of March 21st. As with all properly authorized oversight requests, the White House will review the letter and will provide a reasonable response in due course.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC/Heidi Gutman(NEW YORK) -- An "emotionally exhausted" Meghan McCain again defended her father against President Donald Trump Thursday on ABC's The View, saying she doesn't "expect decency" from his family.

“I don’t like coming here every day and having to do this, as all of you know. It’s extremely emotionally exhausting,” she said at the top of the show.

"I don't expect decency from the Trump family," she added.

During an official White House event at a tank manufacturing plant in Ohio on Wednesday, Trump spent nearly five minutes bashing Sen. John McCain because he didn’t receive credit for his funeral arrangements.

“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve.” Trump said. “I don’t care about this. I didn’t get a thank you. That’s OK.”

The crowd of Ohio tank factory workers -- many of whom are veterans -- reportedly responded to criticisms of Sen. McCain with silence. The longtime senator and former prisoner of war died seven months ago.

The president condemned Sen. McCain over the weekend for being “last in his class” and again on Tuesday saying that he was “never a fan” and that he “never will be” after McCain voted against repealing Obamacare.

Since Trump’s initial remarks, the McCain family’s received attacks from all sides. Cindy McCain, the late senator’s widow, received a threatening message from a hateful stranger and shared it on Twitter.

Meghan McCain responded to Trump on The View Wednesday morning.

“Attacking someone who isn’t here is a bizarre low,” she said. “My dad’s not here but I’m sure as hell here.”

Over the weekend and throughout the week, McCain has actively shared support given to her late father. Thursday morning, she thanked Andy Cohen for denouncing Trump’s criticisms on his show Watch What Happens Live.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jimmy Carter is now one of the oldest-living former president in U.S. history at 94 years and 171 days old, tying with George H.W. Bush.

Bush, the 41st president, died on Nov. 30, 2018 at 94 years, 171 days old.

Before Thursday, Carter had already set the record for being the former president to live the longest after leaving office, at more than 38 years. Gerald Ford, the 38th president, was the previous record-holder. He died at 93, nearly 30 years after he left office.

Carter, the son of a Georgia peanut farmer, was 52 years old when he was elected as the 39th president in 1976 and is best known as a champion of international human rights both during and after his tenure.

Carter's administration brokered the Camp David Accords between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1978 and saw the start of the Iran hostage crisis as well as the first efforts toward developing an energy independence policy.

Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 after he created the Carter Center to promote human rights worldwide.

In 2015, Carter was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma that was detected in his liver and spread to his brain. About six months after the diagnosis, Carter announced he no longer needed cancer treatment due in part to a groundbreaking medication that trains the immune system to fight cancer tumors.

Two years later, he was hospitalized for dehydration while building homes with Habitat for Humanity in Canada. He was back at the work site the next day after he was discharged.

Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn, share four children together.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect Carter is poised to be the longest-living former president.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump announced to reporters at the White House Wednesday that the Islamic State in Syria would be "gone by tonight."

He made the announcement with some fanfare, unfurling a big piece of paper that he had carried out with him to Marine One. He then guided the press through two maps of Syria and Iraq showing the progress of the Islamic State’s defeat.

"I brought this out for you -- this is a map of everything in the red, this was on election night, in 2016, everything red is ISIS. When I took it over it was a mess now on the bottom it's the exact same. There is no red," Trump said, pointing his finger at the different parts of the map.

"In fact there is a tiny spot which will be gone by tonight," Trump said.

It was the third time in recent months that the president announced victory -- or near victory -- over the Islamic State. In February, the president said ISIS would be 100 percent defeated "very soon," and in December he declared "we have won against ISIS."

Currently, only a small holdout of ISIS territory remains in eastern Syria, but there are no indications the Syrian Democratic Forces plan to declare the region is liberated of the terrorist group.

Trump appeared eager to share the news with reporters gathered on the South Lawn to pepper the president with questions before he left to tour a factory in Lima, Ohio. The president emerged from the Oval Office and had previously received his intelligence briefing.

"This just came out 20 minutes ago," Trump said of the map.

The timing raised questions about whether the president -- who is known to appreciate colored maps and charts in his intelligence briefings -- took the map to journalists shortly after a classified meeting with top officials. The White House did not directly respond to a question about the origins of the map.

"The map highlighted the fact that over the last two years, under President Trump’s leadership, the United States and our Coalition partners have liberated more than 20,000 square miles of territory previously held by ISIS in Syria," a White House spokesperson said.

Later in Ohio, the president was again eager to share his colored map with an audience.

"Where is that chart? They gave me economic trends and not the ISIS chart. Bring up, if anyone has it," Trump said, calling out for an aide to deliver him the maps.

"Here is the story," Trump began. "I don't want to have them make a big chart. Costs too much and I am a business guy. I asked how much it costs to make a big chart. Like it matters but it matters to me, does that make sense? Two maps identical. Except the one on top was Syria. See that? The one on top was Syria in November of 2016. This is all ISIS. On the bottom, today, the caliphate is gone as of tonight. Pretty good. That is pretty good, right?"

In December, the president announced unexpectedly that he planned to withdraw all remaining U.S. forces from Syria. The decision caught the U.S. military off guard and even prompted the resignation of then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Since then, 400 American fighters remain in different parts of the region.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon's Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation into complaints of alleged ethics violations against acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General said it had recently received a complaint that Shanahan "allegedly took actions to promote his former employer, Boeing, and disparage its competitors, allegedly in violation of ethics rules."

Shanahan worked for Boeing for 31 years, last serving as senior vice president of supply chain operations.

In a separate statement, the Pentagon said on Wednesday that Shanahan "has at all times remained committed to upholding his ethics agreement filed with the DoD."

"This agreement ensures any matters pertaining to Boeing are handled by appropriate officials within the Pentagon to eliminate any perceived or actual conflict of interest issue(s) with Boeing," the statement added.

The complaint was filed to the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General last week by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

CREW cited news reports that Shanahan had privately promoted Boeing in discussions about government contracts, disparaging defense industry competitors like Lockheed Martin.

Asked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., about CREW's complaint, Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week he would welcome the investigation.

When he transitioned to the Pentagon as then-Defense Secretary James Mattis' deputy in 2017, Shanahan said he divested his financial interests related to Boeing and signed an ethics agreement barring him for participating in Boeing-related activities -- as is typical for government officials transitioning from the private sector.

"For the duration, if I'm confirmed, I will not deal with any matters regarding Boeing, unless cleared by the Office of Ethics," Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on June 20, 2017. "We will put in mechanisms so that my calendar, the meetings that I'll participate in, that we can screen to make sure that there are no matters related to Boeing that I will be exposed to."

Earlier this month, American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group founded by former Obama administration officials, filed a lawsuit against Shanahan, alleging that his Boeing ties "have given the company undue influence." The group charged that the Pentagon failed to respond to four Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for information relating to those ties.

"We are aware of the FOIA request submitted by American Oversight and are responding appropriately," Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, Shanahan's spokesperson, told ABC News at the time. "Secretary Shanahan has at all times remained committed to complying with his ethics agreement, which includes a screening arrangement that ensures Boeing matters are referred to another appropriate DoD official."

Boeing has declined a request to comment from ABC News about the American Oversight lawsuit.

Shanahan has been rumored as a possible contender to receive President Donald Trump's nomination as his next defense secretary. The president praised Shanahan's performance during a visit to an Abrams tank facility in Lima, Ohio on Wednesday. Shanahan, along with Army Secretary Mark Esper, accompanied the president on that trip.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Andrew Spear/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump, already facing widespread rebuke for his attack on Sen. John McCain, stepped up his criticism in a speech on Wednesday in Ohio, at one point, sounding annoyed, saying "I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted —- which as president I had to approve. I don't care about this. I didn't get a thank you. That's okay."

"We sent him on the way, Trump continued, "But I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”

In the speech at a tank plant in Lima, Ohio, Trump claimed that McCain hadn't properly advocated for veterans --"he didn't get the job done" -- and said veterans were "on his side."

And he once again angrily recounted how he felt betrayed when McCain voted against repealing Obamacare.

“Not my kind of guy,” Trump said as the audience of union plant workers listened quietly. “But some people like him and I think that's great.”

Trump came to the Buckeye State Wednesday to tout the economy and tour a manufacturing facility where the M1 Abrams tank has been produced for nearly 40 years.

The Lima plant is the last facility that even makes tanks in the Western Hemisphere - and the president took a victory lap after reviving the plant that nearly closed during the Obama administration.

“Well, you better love me, I kept this place open,” Trump said. “They said: 'We're closing it' and I said: 'No. we are not.' And now, you're doing record business -- the job you do is incredible.”

But judging by his remarks, the president continued to be distracted -- going after McCain -- one of his top GOP rivals -- even though he has been dead for nearly seven months.

"Now let's get back and let's get on to the subject of tanks and the economy because you know what we love where we are,” Trump said when he was done blasting the senator from Arizona.

"Under the previous administration the tank factory, the last of its kind anywhere in the Western hemisphere came very close to shutting down. Four straight years the number of U.S. tanks that were budgeted was zero. Does anyone remember that? Raise your hands? Zero. That was under your great President Obama.”

As part of his defense budgets for 2019 and 2020, the president has requested $11 billion to buy Abrams tanks, as well as the Stryker combat vehicle, also manufactured at the Lima plant.

“Our military readiness declined and our workforce was slashed by 60 percent but those days are over we are rebuildign the American military,” Trump said. “We are restoring American manufacturing. And we are once again fighting for our great American workers.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Georgia GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson on Wednesday denounced President Trump's continued attacks against Isakson's Republican colleague, the late Sen. John McCain.

“It's deplorable what he said,” Isakson said in an interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Political Rewind” radio show.

“It will be deplorable seven months from now if he says it again, and I will continue to speak out,” Isakson added.

Isakson, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Wednesdaythat he’s most concerned about Trump’s remarks as it relates to US military service members and veterans.

Isakson characterized Trump's attacks against McCain as a "lack of respect for his service."

"I just don't think it's appropriate," Isakson said.

“You may not like immigration, you may not like this, you may not like that, you may be a Republican, you may be a Democrat - we are all Americans. We should never reduce the service they give to this country,” Isakson said.

Earlier Wednesday, Isakson had promised to deliver a 'whippin' on Trump for his attacks.

"I want to do what I said that day on the floor of the Senate," he said. "I just want to lay it on the line, that the country deserves better, the McCain family deserves better, I don’t care if he’s president of United States, owns all the real estate in New York, or is building the greatest immigration system in the world. Nothing is more important than the integrity of the country and those who fought and risked their lives for all of us," the Republican chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee said in an exclusive interview published Wednesday with conservative outlet, The Bulwark.

McCain passed away seven months ago after battling brain cancer. Isakson spoke on the Senate floor following McCain’s death and issued a stern warning to those who would speak ill of McCain.

"I don’t know what is going to be said in the next few days about John McCain by whomever is going to say it or what is going to be done, but anybody who in any way tarnishes the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping because most of those who would do the wrong thing about John McCain didn’t have the guts to do the right thing when it was their turn," Isakson said last August.

"We need to remember that. So I would say to the president or anybody in the world, it is time to pause and say that this was a great man who gave everything for us. We owe him nothing less than the respect that he earned, and that is what I intend to give John in return for what he gave me," Isakson said.

But the president paid no heed to those warnings. On Tuesday, the president criticized McCain, pointing specifically to his vote against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

"I'm very unhappy that he didn't repeal and replace Obamacare, as you know. He campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare for years and then they got to a vote and he said thumbs down," Trump said.

Adding, "Plus there were other things, I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be."

The president's comments came during an Oval Office meeting with the president of Brazil and after a series of weekend tweets in which Trump blasted the senator for his role in delivering a dossier containing unverified information that claimed Russia had compromising information on Trump to then-FBI director James Comey.

There is no evidence that McCain shared the Steele dossier before the election. In 2018, ABC News reported that McCain hand-delivered a copy of the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey in December of 2016, after the presidential election. McCain confirmed this and explained why he decided to share the document in his book "The Restless Wave."

Isakson told the Bulwark: "America deserves better, the people deserve better, and nobody — regardless of their position — is above common decency and respect for people that risk their life for your life. When the president is saying that that he doesn’t respect John McCain and he’s never going to respect John McCain and all these kids are out there listening to the president of the United States talk that way about the most decorated senator in history who is dead it just sets the worst tone possible."

Most Republicans who served in the Senate with McCain have largely remained silent on Trump's attacks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did come to McCain's defense in a tweet, but did not specifically call out Trump by name.

McCain's best friend in the Senate - GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham - spoke out Wednesday to condemn the president.

"I think the president's comments about Senator McCain hurt him more than they hurt the legacy of Senator McCain," Graham said at an event Wednesday in Seneca, South Carolina.

But, Graham added: "I'm going to try to continue to help the president."

Graham has grown noticeably chummier to Trump in recent months and is now considered his close confidant on Capitol Hill -- beginning with golf outings to now taking frequent calls from the president.

"I've gotten to know the president, we have a good working relationship, I like him, I don't like it when he says things about my friend John McCain," he said.

"I love John McCain, I traveled the world with him, I learned a lot from him, he's an American hero and nothing will ever diminish that," Graham said.

Graham received heat earlier in the week for tweeting about McCain without calling out Trump by name.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that he would introduce legislation to rename the Russell Senate Office building in honor of McCain.

Schumer originally introduced the legislation shortly after McCain's death last summer but faced skepticism and in some cases, outright opposition, from other GOP senators.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The deputy Attorney General is staying on longer than he was originally expected, sources tell ABC News.

Previously, ABC News reported Rod Rosenstein was planning to leave the Department of Justice in mid-March. Sources had said, that he had wanted to stay on to ensure a smooth transition for his successor and wanted to accommodate the needs of new Attorney General William Barr.

One outstanding investigation is special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Rosenstein oversaw Mueller's probe for more than a year, after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the matter over his role in President Donald Trump's campaign.

At the time, sources said Rosenstein had wanted to serve about two years and that there was no indication that he was being forced out by the president. Rosenstein had became a frequent target of Trump's on Twitter, with the president re-posting an image of Rosenstein and others behind bars late last year.

In February, the White House named Jeff Rosen, currently the deputy secretary at the Department of Transportation, as Rosenstein's successor.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he has no idea when special counsel Robert Mueller's report will be released but signaled he was open to letting the public see it.

"We'll see what the report says -- let's see if it's fair. I have no idea when it's going to be released," Trump said of Mueller's report, expected soon as he's believed to be wrapping up his investigation.

"Does the public have a right to see the Mueller report?" ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked the president as he departed the White House for a trip to Ohio.

"I don't mind. I mean frankly, I told the House if you want, let them see it," Trump said, apparently referring to House Republicans who, along with House Democrats last week, voted unanimously for a resolution supporting public release of Mueller's findings.

The president's comments amounted to his clearest statement yet in favor of the report's release and come after he said in a tweet last week that there should not even be a Mueller report.

The president repeatedly stressed a relatively new line of attack on Mueller's legitimacy, arguing that the initial premise for launching an investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia during the election was unfair given how he was elected.

"I just won one of the greatest elections of all time in the history of this country and even you will admit that. And now I have somebody writing a report that never got a vote? It's called the Mueller report. So explain that, because I don't get it and my voters don't get it," Trump said. "But it's sort of interesting that a man out of the blue just writes a report."

He then voiced his support for the report's release but reiterated, as he has said previously, that if or how the report gets released is up to recently-installed Attorney General Bill Barr.

"Now at the same time, let it come out, let people see it. That's up to the attorney general. We have a very good, highly-repected man and we'll see what happens, but it's sort of interesting that a man writes a report -- I had 306 electoral votes against 223 -- that's a tremendous victory," he said.

"I got 63 million more, 63 million votes and now somebody just writes a report. I think it's ridiculous, but I want to see the report, and you know who wants to see it? The tens of millions of people that love the fact that we have the greatest economy we've ever had," Trump said.

Asked if Mueller is a "bad actor" Trump replied, "I know that he put 13 highly conflicted and, you know, very angry, I called them angry Democrats in," referring to the special counsel's prosecutors. "So you know, I--so what it is--now, let's see whether or not it's legit. You know better than anybody there's no collusion. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was no nothing.

"But it's sort of an amazing thing that when you had a great victory, somebody comes in, does a report out of nowhere, tell me how that makes sense, who never got a vote, who the day before he was retained to become special counsel, I told him he would be working at the FBI," Trump said. "End of the following day, they get him for this. I don't think so. I don't--I don't think people get it. With all of that being said, I look forward to seeing the report."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Nicolette Cain/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Meghan McCain and "The View" co-hosts defended McCain's late father Sen. John McCain after President Donald Trump's latest attacks on him.

The president condemned Sen. John McCain over the weekend for being "last in his class" and again on Tuesday saying that he was "never a fan" and that he "never will be" after McCain voted against repealing Obamacare. The longtime senator and former prisoner of war died seven months ago.

On "The View" Wednesday, Meghan McCain said, "If I had told my dad seven months after you’re dead, you’re gonna be dominating the news and all over Twitter, he would think it was hilarious that our president was so jealous of him that he was dominating the news cycle in death as well."

"There are kids committing suicide because of cyberbullying online, there are people going through rough times. There are veterans who come back — we have 20 veterans a day committing suicide," she said. "Focus on these issues. These are the issues I beg the White House to pay attention to."

Meghan McCain was surprised by Trump's continued focus on her father, calling it "a new, bizarre low."

"Attacking someone who isn’t here is a bizarre low, but my dad’s not here but I’m sure as hell here," Meghan McCain said. "Every single time they take a swing at us: ABC News, 11 o’clock on the east coast every day, guys."

"Do not feel bad for me and my family," she continued. "We are blessed, we are a family of privilege. Feel bad for people out there who are being bullied that don’t have support. That don’t have women of ‘The View’ to come out and support their family."

Cindy McCain, the late senator's widow, received a threatening message from a hateful stranger and shared it on Twitter.

Along with a photo of the private message, Cindy wrote in her caption, "I want to make sure all of you could see how kind and loving a stranger can be. I'm posting her note for her family and friends could see."

Sunny Hostin spoke about the threatening message sent to the grieving widow, reminding viewers that "there was a time in this country where families of politicians were off-limits," and called for the White House to denounce bullying.

"There was a time in this country where certainly you wouldn't attack them publicly and you wouldn't attack them on the internet."

"Now that the bullying comes from the top, the bullying comes from the administration, I would like to see that bullying be denounced not only from the Republicans but also from the White House."

Hostin also brought up First Lady Melania Trump's anti-bullying platform "Be Best."

"Why is Cindy McCain being bullied? Why are her children being attacked?"

Meghan McCain also expressed her gratitude for the support of her fellow co-hosts on Wednesday. "There is real sisterhood and support at this table," she said.

"We all support each other. First and foremost, the support I have and love from this show in particular, thank you, all of you, for real."

On "The View" on Monday, Meghan McCain and her fellow co-hosts fired back at Trump's tweetstorm from over the weekend where he verbally attacked the family.

"Your life is spent on your weekends not with your family, not with your friends, but obsessing — obsessing — over great men you could never live up to," Meghan McCain said about Trump.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Tero Vesalainen/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The head of the top U.S. environmental agency said on Wednesday that the Trump administration considers drinking water quality around the world a bigger crisis than climate change, despite the recent surge in debate around the proposed Green New Deal.

In remarks in Washington to mark World Water Day, EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said safe drinking water, plastic pollution and other litter in the oceans, drought in western states, and water infrastructure are "the largest and most immediate environmental and public health issues affecting the world right now."

Wheeler said the Trump administration wants to do more to address water issues that affect up to 2.5 billion people around the world, according to the United Nations, and infrastructure issues that could cost the U.S. up to $700 billion.

He said many people will attribute the problems to climate change even though those impacts are decades away.
 
"My frustration with the current dialogue around environmental issues is that water issues often take a backseat. It’s time to change that," he said in his remarks.

"We need to do something about the millions of people who die each year due to a lack of clean water and sanitation. We need to do something about marine debris. And I believe we can do this while still addressing other challenges that loom on the horizon," Wheeler added.

Communities around the country are dealing with aging water infrastructure and contamination from sources like chemicals or lead. The crisis in Flint, Michigan is one of the most publicized examples but more cities like Baltimore and Newark, New Jersey have been dealing with lead-contaminated water.

"We have one thousand children die every day worldwide because they don't have safe drinking water. That's a, that's a crisis that I think we can solve," Wheeler said in an interview with CBS News, citing United Nations statistics.

"Most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out. What we need to do is make sure that the people who are dying today from lack of having drinking water in third world countries that problem is addressed," he said.

The EPA's top enforcement issue recently told members of Congress one of the agency's biggest concerns is the number of drinking water systems that are violating safety requirements or using outdated infrastructure.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday ratcheted up the Twitter feud with George Conway, the husband of his top aide Kellyanne Conway, in a scathing attack in which he calls the prominent conservative lawyer "a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!"

The president's latest tweet, in which he accuses Conway of being "VERY jealous" of his wife, comes after Conway fired off a series of tweets Monday morning questioning the president's mental fitness after his weekend tweetstorm.

George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2019

Trump previously slammed Conway as a "total loser" in his first response to Conway, while retweeting his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who recycled a condescending nickname Trump has used, calling George Conway "Mr. Kellyanne Conway" and asserting that "he hurts his wife because he is jealous of her success."

A total loser! https://t.co/vm3Vv2f9jf

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2019

George Conway issued a speedy response Tuesday on Twitter, sarcastically congratulating the president for effectively drawing more attention to his original tweets in which he ponders various mental disorders that Conway argues could be applied, zeroing in on “narcissistic personality disorder.”

Congratulations! You just guaranteed that millions of more people are going to learn about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism! Great job! https://t.co/Dk9bI3sBs7

— George Conway (@gtconway3d) March 19, 2019

After the president's latest tweet on Wednesday, Conway was quick to issue another sarcastic response to the president, welcoming his continued engagement on the issue as proof of his point, saying "You seem determined to prove my point. Good for you!"

"You. Are. Nuts." Conway added in a second tweet.

You. Are. Nuts. https://t.co/ZSpb3UXVPC

— George Conway (@gtconway3d) March 20, 2019

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, was asked Monday about her husband's tweet and said she does not share his views.

“I don’t share those concerns and I have four kids, and I was getting out of house this morning and was talking with the president about substance so I may not be up to speed on all of them,” she said when asked whether she shares the concerns her husband has voiced.

In an unrelated exchange on Monday, in which Conway was addressing the New Zealand massacre, Conway urged people who are not experts to stop commenting as if they were.

“By the way, folks, if you’re not an expert on this, stop weighing in like you are,” she said in an interview on Fox and Friends. “We don’t need to hear your opinion on every single thing.”

The president has previously said "I really don’t know the guy."

But Conway had been up for a top Justice Department job leading the civil division in the early months of the Trump administration, before ultimately withdrawing himself from consideration in June 2017, citing family concerns.

While Conway has recently ratcheted up his tweets in expressing his concerns about the president's mental fitness, he has long used the social media platform to tweet critically about the president, even as his wife fills a top job in the White House and is one of the president's most ardent public defenders.

Just last week, Conway took to Twitter to call the president a "liar" and "pathological," raising the question of impeachment and calling for a "serious inquiry ... about this man’s condition of mind," and questioning: "Is it possible to count? At any level of government in this country, in any party, have we ever seen anything like this? It’s beyond politics. It’s nuts. It’s a disorder."

In an interview with the Washington Post Tuesday, George Conway challenged the notion that the president hardly knows him and noted that he’s had a number of notable interactions with the president over the course of a decade, including on legal matters.

In the interview, he defended his penchant for tweeting about the president as a way to avoid letting his frustrations spill into his marriage.

“The tweeting is just the way to get it out of the way, so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day. That’s basically it. Frankly, it’s so I don’t end up screaming at her about it,” Conway told the Post.
 
George Conway declined to comment on the state of his marriage, other than to say that he wishes his wife didn’t work in the White House, though he said he is proud of her.

“No one was prouder than I was that she was able to elect this man president despite his obvious flaws,” he said of his wife, insisting that he is not jealous.

But he also took some credit for her present success.

“I made it possible for her to be where she is today. So there’s that. It’s not about jealousy. It’s about reality. Who this man is, and whether he’s fit for public office. Which, as I’ve said, he isn’t,” Conway said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Bill Chizek/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- For the past 22 years on death row, Curtis Flowers has been adamant about his innocence and convinced deep-seated racial bias by juries may cost him his life.

On Wednesday, the 48-year-old Mississippi man asks the U.S. Supreme Court for a new trial. If he gets his way, Flowers could face an unprecedented seventh trial.

Flowers, who's African-American, was first convicted in 1997 for the 1996 execution-style murders of four people at a furniture store where he used to work. He had no criminal record at the time of his arrest. Prosecutors never found a murder weapon or any physical evidence tying him to the scene. There were no witnesses.

In 2010, during his most recent trial, a jury of 11 white jurors and one black juror convicted him and sentenced him to death.

The conviction capped a legal journey plagued by prosecutorial misconduct, allegations of racism and deadlocked juries. With mistrials and retrials, Flowers faced not one but six separate juries for the same crime.

At the heart of Flowers' appeal are allegations that prosecuting District Attorney Doug Evans systematically eliminated prospective black jurors during the selection process because of their race.

For decades, prosecutors and defendants have been able to shape the makeup of a jury in criminal cases by employing so-called "peremptory challenges" during the selection process.

The tool allows each side to eliminate a number of prospective jurors from the pool for any reason or no reason at all. Rationale, commonly cited, can include a juror's family upbringing, his or her demeanor or even posture in the courtroom.

Advocates say the practice ensures balance and fairness by allowing input from both sides. Critics say it poses a threat to the constitutional guarantee of an impartial jury if not closely scrutinized.

While lawyers have broad discretion, the Supreme Court has banned peremptory challenges used solely on the basis of race, ethnicity or sex. If concerns are raised by one side, the court has said, opposing lawyers must provide a legitimate non-discriminatory explanation for striking a juror.

Flowers wants the court to specifically consider whether the district attorney's use of peremptory challenges in the sixth trial was discriminatory and unconstitutional, particularly in light of his documented history of targeting black prospective jurors.

Each of the first two times Evans tried Flowers, the Mississippi Supreme Court threw out the convictions citing prosecutorial misconduct. The juries were all-white and nearly all-white in each case.

In the third trial, the state's high court overturned the verdict again, calling Evans' conduct during jury selection "as strong a case of racial discrimination as we have ever seen."

Juries in the fourth and fifth trials, which each had multiple black jurors, ended deadlocked along racial lines.

In 2010, the sixth time Flowers' case was tried, a jury of 11 white jurors and one black juror convicted him and sentenced him to death. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court assessed that Evans' peremptory challenges against black jurors were reasonable and not based on race.

"Across the five trials for which the numbers are available, Evans faced a total of 43 black prospective jurors while he had peremptory strikes at his disposal. He struck 41 of them and allowed only one ... to serve," Flowers' legal team writes in court documents.

In the sixth trial, the legal team wrote, he removed 83 percent, or 5 out of 6, of the black prospective jurors tendered, but a "mere" 5 percent, or 1 out of 20, white jurors.

"Evans had previously won convictions of Flowers only by breaking the rules, and in this sixth trial he broke the rules again," Flowers' team writes in their brief to the high court. "Close examination shows greater cunning, but the same purposeful discrimination on the basis of race."

A team of investigative journalists with American Public Media, which has documented the Flowers case for its "In the Dark" podcast, examined Evans' use of peremptory challenges in more than 418 trials going back to 1992. They found that he removed black jurors at a rate 4.5 times higher than white jurors.

"Even a cursory review of the record demonstrates that the State's articulated reasons for the strikes was not racially motivated," Mississippi's lawyers write in their brief to the high court.

The state says the justices should keep a narrow focus on the detailed explanations given for peremptory challenges used in the most recent trial.

"Each juror was questioned based on their respective responses and the race-neutral reasons provided are commensurate with the mandate of this Court," they wrote.

The Supreme Court has shown deep concern about racial inequity in the justice system and an awareness of the role peremptory challenges might play.

"The law's anti-discrimination command and a peremptory jury-selection system that permits or encourages the use of stereotypes work at cross-purposes," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a 2005 opinion.

And the court's newest justice, Brett Kavanaugh, wrote in a 1989 Yale Law Journal article that rationale given for peremptory challenges where race might be a factor must be closely scrutinized by judges.

"'Any prosecutor can easily assert facially neutral reasons for striking a juror, and trial courts are ill-equipped to second-guess those reasons,'" Kavanaugh wrote, quoting the late Justice Thurgood Marshall.

The court could uphold Flowers' conviction, implicitly endorsing Evans' use of peremptory challenges in this case. It could also strike it down, requiring lower courts to look again at the prosecutor's pattern of behavior as an important factor in evaluating fairness in the jury selection process.

Flowers awaits a ruling from death row in Mississippi, maintaining his innocence.

"I'm not going to say I killed someone when I didn't," Flowers said in 2010, according to Rolling Stone magazine. "I would rather be executed and go to Heaven and know I did the right thing that to be in this world if I have to admit to something I didn't do."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Advertising Specials

Local News

WJTN News Headlines for Mar. 21, 2019

Local Congressman Tom Reed is calling for the House to take a final vote on the new U-S -- Mexico -- Canada Trade Agreement as soon as possible....   The Corning Republican says he is part of ...

Read More


Join Us Online