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Sunday
Jan202019

Top House Homeland Security Dem: 'I would not rule out a wall in certain instances'

Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said he “would not rule out a wall in certain instances” after President Donald Trump proposed a new immigration and border security plan Saturday in an attempt to end the partial government shutdown.

Asked if he would “rule out a wall,” Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said, “I would not rule out a wall in certain instances."

“The notion that we can't have barriers is just something that's not true," he said, adding, "You have to have a plan, and the plan that the president initially started with is not where he is now. And so we don't know where he will be tomorrow, but clearly, Democrats are for border security, but we're not for this constantly moving the ball just for a talking point.”

On Saturday, in an address from the White House, Trump proposed an immigration and border security plan in an effort to end the shutdown and “solve the crisis on the southern border.”

The plan has many components, but at the crux of it, Trump wants $5.7 billion to build an additional 230 miles of a see-through steel barrier system -- “or a wall.”

“This is not a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea. These are steel barriers in high-priority locations,” Trump said.

On This Week, Thompson told Co-anchor Martha Raddatz, “I don’t think Democrats are opposed to any physical barriers. It's just the president constantly evolves his description of the wall, just as he indicated Mexico was going to pay for whatever was there.”

In an effort to entice Democrats to support the deal, he also proposed extending protections from deportation for three years for 700,000 so-called “Dreamers,” children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents who were given a protected status under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, and for Temporary Protected Status recipients whose status is currently facing expiration.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jan202019

Sen. Lankford: Trump's shutdown proposal a 'reasonable compromise'

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- As the partial government shutdown reaches Day 30, Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, said Sunday on This Week that President Donald Trump's latest proposal to end the partial government shutdown is a "reasonable compromise" that should be taken up by Congress.

"What I encouraged the White House to do, and multiple others encouraged the White House to do, is put out a proposal," Lankford said. "The vote this week is not to pass the bill. It's to open up and say, 'Can we debate this?' 'Can we amend it?' 'Can we make changes?'"

On Saturday, Trump announced his new proposal to end the government shutdown in a speech from the White House.

The president's plan still includes $5.7 billion for a "physical barrier" along the Southern border. Additionally, Trump said his plan includes "$800 million in urgent humanitarian aid, $805 million for drug-detection technology to help secure our ports of entry, an additional 2,750 border agents and law enforcement professionals" and "75 new immigration judge teams."

Trump said in his speech that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, would bring the proposal to a vote on the Senate floor this week. McConnell said in a statement that the president's offer "strikes a fair compromise" to reopen the government.

But Democrats were quick to reject the president’s proposal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement before the speech that the president's plan to offer temporary extensions for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status recipients is a "non-starter," and called on the president to reopen the government so negotiations can continue.

After the speech, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said, "It was the president who single-handedly took away DACA and TPS protections in the first place. Offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage-taking."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jan202019

CBP says wall is key part of border security, but migrants say it wouldn't stop them

ABC News(TIJUANA, Mexico) -- Alisson Luna, 22, fled Honduras after she was raped, with her three children and grandmother, embarking on a nearly 3,000-mile journey to reach the United States in order to seek asylum. Waiting in Tijuana, Mexico until she and her family could make their claim, Luna told ABC News that this was the only option for her.

Luna and her family are waiting at El Barretal, a music venue-turned-migrant shelter about 30 miles south of the U.S. southern border. Raddatz and her team were given masks when they were there, to protect against disease in the cramped and crowded shelter that had only 300 migrants when ABC News was there Wednesday, but which, at its peak, was the waiting place for 3,000.

Raddatz asked Luna if a border wall would stop people attempting to cross illegally.

“No,” she said.

A wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was a signature campaign promise for President Donald Trump, and the government has been partially shut down for a record 30 days because Trump and Congress can’t agree on a funding deal.

On Saturday, Trump announced a new immigration and border security plan as an attempt to reach an agreement between Republicans and Democrats to end the shutdown. In addition to many funding propositions related to enhanced border security, at the crux of this proposal, Trump wants $5.7 billion to build an additional 230 miles of a see-through steel barrier system, or "a wall,” as Trump said Saturday.

“This is not a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea," Trump said from the White House. "These are steel barriers in high-priority locations.”

In an attempt to entice Democrats to support the deal, he also proposed extending protections from deportation for three years for 700,000 so-called “Dreamers,” children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents who were given a protected status under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, and for Temporary Protected Status recipients whose status is currently facing expiration.

Apprehensions at the border have been declining for nearly two decades, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). For the last year, those numbers have been rising, but that rise is not necessarily a trend.

After traveling back to the U.S. side of the border, Raddatz and her team toured 14 miles of the border with CBP San Diego Sector Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott. It didn’t take long for them to witness migrants, including a 25-year-old woman fleeing El Salvador with her 2-year-old son, trying to sneak into California in an area where new walls were being built. The woman and her son were apprehended by CBP.

“Is there any part of you still where you look at that family and think, 'I got to help?'” Raddatz asked Scott.

“On many, many levels, I feel compassion for those people,” Scott answered. “But I also feel compassion for the several thousand people that have been in line at the San Ysidro [San Diego] port of entry for several weeks, waiting to do it right, and those people literally just cut in line in front of them.”

Scott said CBP needs the wall, even if it’s not a complete solution.

“We cannot effectively control the border without barriers to slow down illegal entries,” he told Raddatz, adding that while a wall wouldn’t necessarily stop the illegal flow of drugs, which mainly come through legal port of entries and tunnels, a wall would allow Scott “to free up personnel to focus on that threat.”

In addition to border wall funding and temporary protections for some immigrants, Trump’s border security proposal seeks nearly $800 million for additional border agents, law enforcement officers and other staff; $800 million in humanitarian assistance, including new temporary housing for migrants; and more than $800 million for “technology, canines and personnel to help stop the flow of illegal drugs, weapons and other contraband.”

Just on Thursday morning, CBP had already arrested almost 100 people, including children. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of families crossing the border, and after backlash over a Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy that led to children being separated from adults once apprehended, families are now held together. But there’s a limit to how long children can be detained.

“If you come with a child, you will be released within about 20 days,” Scott said. “So that's created a pull factor, and once people figured that out, they don't mind being arrested, incarcerated for a few days, because they know they're going to be released into the U.S.”

Many asylum seekers are tracked with an ankle bracelet, including some migrants Raddatz spoke to at the Safe Harbors Network in San Diego, a shelter that has helped more than 7,000 refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers over the past two and a half years.

An 18-year-old mother at the shelter, who asked to not be shown on camera, was fleeing gang violence. She said she had climbed a fence to enter the United States, and that a wall wouldn’t have stopped her.

Pastor Bill Jenkins, executive director of Safe Harbors Network, said he hasn’t met any family that’s entered the country “for any other reason than the fact that if they stayed where they were, they would've been killed, they would've been raped, they would've been exploited.”

“I don't care how high you build your damn wall,” the pastor said. “Immigration is going to continue.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jan202019

Gillibrand: Democrats 'willing to talk about' pathway to citizenship for 'Dreamers'

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the latest Democrat eyeing a 2020 bid for the White House, said Democrats would be “willing to talk about” a pathway to citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers,” which is further than what’s offered in President Donald Trump’s latest immigration and border security proposal to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted about his proposal, saying that “amnesty is not part of” the offer.

“Does that sound to you like he's moving a bit, and what's your reaction to that?” asked This Week Co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

“It doesn't sound like he's moving at all,” Gillibrand said. “If he really wants to work on comprehensive immigration reform, open the government and then sit down with Democratic leaders to actually work on the stuff that needs to get done. People need a pathway to citizenship, and we have 3 million Dreamers in this country and we should be protecting these young people. They came here through no fault of their own, and they've made lives.

“Why wouldn't you welcome them here to make sure they can have a pathway to citizenship? That's something we're willing to talk about, but for President Trump to hold hostage public servants, it's wrong. It's morally wrong.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan192019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speaks at Women's March in Iowa: 'We would change everything'

Steve Pope/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa.) -- New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign in Iowa this weekend by tackling a controversial subject head-on and being a marquee speaker at the Women's March in Des Moines on Saturday.

Although the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and NAACP withdrew their support from the Women's March amid accusations of bigotry by some of the lead organizers, Gillibrand spoke at the rally in which the 14-degree weather pushed marchers into the Iowa State Capitol building, where she was swarmed before and after taking the stage.

“I will make this very clear. We know there is no room for anti-Semitism anywhere in our movement. We know this. We know that our movement is empowered when all of lift each other,” Gillibrand told the crowd, which was dotted with women wearing pink "pussy hats" and holding signs.

Her decision to speak at the march has garnered some criticism as two of the Women's March leaders have been accused of anti-Semitism, drawing scrutiny to the marches, which have become an annual global movement. Co-president Tamika Mallory’s ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan have come under fire.

During an appearance on "The View," Mallory did not condemn Farrakhan over his alleged anti-Semitic comments but said she didn’t agree with those statements.

Women's March board member Linda Sarsour drew criticism from Jewish groups when she told a magazine in 2017 that it would be impossible to be both Zionist and feminist.

"You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it," Sarsour told The Nation.

“Women built new organizations and led the resistance. Black women made sure that a credibly accused pedophile did not win in Alabama,” Gillibrand added, referring to the defeat of Senate candidate Roy Moore.

“Let us commit ourselves to this fight. The battle ahead is long. It is hard but it is worth it because everything you know and love is at stake do not give up. Do not grow weary," Gillibrand said.

The senator chatted with young girls who approached her, making small talk about school and sharing anecdotes about her sons.

The rally provided a national stage for the New York senator to speak about some of the issues she has confronted legislatively in the Senate.

“Despite that progress, women still do not represent 51 percent of elected leaders in this country. Imagine just for a moment what America would look like if it did. Imagine what would be possible. Do you think we would still be fighting tooth and nail for basic reproductive freedoms in this country? Do you think that we’d be hesitating to pass a national paid leave bill? Do you think it would be so hard to end sexual violence in our military, on college campuses and in society?“ Gillibrand said.

“The truth is, if we changed who is at the decision-making table, we would change everything,” she said.

Over the weekend, she also defended remarks she made about her ex-colleague, former Sen. Al Franken. She reportedly caught flack from her Democratic peers for calling on Franken to resign after allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against him.

At a Friday night event in Sioux City, Gillibrand was asked repeatedly about comments she had made about Franken, who resigned in December 2017 after multiple women accused him of touching them inappropriately. Gillibrand was the first Democrat to call for his resignation.

"I know it makes a lot of Democrats sad, some angry. But the truth is, Sen. Franken had eight credible accusations against him, for harassment and groping. They were corroborated in real time and they were deemed credible by those who investigated them," she said. "For me, that eighth allegation that came out from a congressional staffer, before he was senator, I couldn't remain silent anymore. Because what my silence meant was defending him."

Choosing to take the stage in Iowa, an early primary state, allows Gillibrand to get a head start on a presidential race that is expected to see a record number of women running for president.

“I’m going to run for president of the United States because, as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,” she told Stephen Colbert earlier this week when she announced her run on an appearance on The Late Show.

Gillibrand has led three successful re-election bids as senator and has sponsored bills that focus on combatting sexual harassment, providing national paid family leave and promoting gender equality.

She is also a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and voted against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Gov. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have also joined the race with other prominent women reportedly contemplating a presidential bid.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan192019

Trump would extend 'Dreamers' and TPS protection in exchange for full border wall funding

Pete Marovich/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that in exchange for border wall funding and ending the partial government shutdown, he would extend temporary protections for so-called "Dreamers" and those with Temporary Protected Status -- two key issues for congressional Democrats who nevertheless appeared to hold their ground on refusing the president's demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding.

"Our plan includes the following," Trump announced in a speech from the Oval Office. "$800 million in urgent humanitarian aid, $805 million for drug detection technology to help secure our ports of entry, an additional 2,750 border agents and law enforcement professionals [and] 75 new immigration judge teams to reduce the court backlog..."

Additionally, Trump promised "critical measures to protect migrant children from exploitation and abuse," and "a new system to allow Central American migrants to apply for asylum in their countries."

In return, Trump said he wants his $5.7 billion in border funding, which he said would be "a strategic deployment of physical barriers, or a wall."

Trump added that he and Republicans “hope [Democrats] will offer their enthusiastic support and I think many will. This is a common sense compromise both parties should embrace. The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let it happen.”

Trump also said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would bring the proposal to a vote in the Senate this week.

Trump noted that he promised a wall on the southern border during his campaign and “I intend to keep that promise one way or another."

"Our immigration system should be the subject of pride, not as a source of shame....our immigration systems should be the envy of the world, not a symbol of disunity and dysfunction. These problems can all be solved.”

Yet, before Trump even made his 4 p.m. speech, House Democrats were calling it a "non-starter."

Twenty-five minutes before the planned start of the president's speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement, saying that "initial reports" about Trump's announcement "make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives."

"It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter," Pelosi continued in the statement. "For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports," Pelosi said, referring to Temporary Protected Status designations.

Pelosi also said that House Democrats would pass a package of "six bills agreed to by House and Senate negotiators and other legislation to re-open government so that we can fully negotiate on border security proposals."

After the speech, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rejected Trump's plan.

“It’s clear the President realizes that by closing the government and hurting so many American workers and their families, he has put himself and the country in an untenable position," Schumer said in the statement. "Unfortunately, he keeps putting forward one-sided and ineffective remedies. There’s only way out: open up the government, Mr. President, and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions."

“It was the President who singled-handedly took away DACA and TPS protections in the first place –- offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage-taking.”

Bi-partisan legislation known as the BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) would extend protections and provide work authorization for three years for TPS individuals and "Dreamers" -- some 750,000 young, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and have met the requirements to participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The continuing shutdown -- which could head into its second month this week -- affects about a quarter of the federal government. Trump has said he will keep the government shut down until and unless the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives heed his demand for $5.7 billion to build more than 200 miles of walls between the U.S. and Mexico borders. Democrats recently offered about $1.3 million for border barrier funding.

Trump’s announcement followed a visit Saturday morning to Dover Air Force Base in Maryland, where the president met with the families of the four Americans killed in Manbij, Syria. At the base, Trump participated in the dignified transfer of Scott Wirtz, a 42-year-old civilian contractor who was killed in the deadly ISIS bomb blast on Wednesday.

The so-called transfer of the remains of a fallen military member unfolds with strict solemnity, as a casket draped in an American flag is carried off an aircraft to a waiting vehicle which takes the remains to a mortuary.

In a somber moment, the president walked on board a C-17 aircraft that held the transfer case. Inside, a chaplain led a prayer over the deceased. The president, who was joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, stepped off the plane and stood silently in formation with his right hand in a salute as the case was carried to a transfer vehicle by the Navy Ceremonial Team.

The four Americans – an interpreter, a Navy chief cryptologic technician, a Department of Defense civilian and an Army chief warrant officer – were killed in a suicide bombing last week, the deadliest attack on US military since troops went into Syria. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

The deadly bomb blast came one month after President Trump declared plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, having – he said -- completed the mission to defeat ISIS.

This is not the president's first time to pay his respects to the fallen at Dover. Last February, the president made an unannounced trip with Ivanka Trump for the dignified transfer of a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen.

Before departing for Dover the president told reporters on the White House South Lawn that meeting with the family members of fallen soldiers is one of the "toughest things I have to do as president."

"I think it is the toughest thing I have to do,” Trump said. “When I'm going to meet relatives of some of our great, great heroes that have fallen, I think it might be the toughest thing I have to do as president.”

In a video posted to Twitter Friday evening, Trump called the situation at the southern border both a "humanitarian crisis" and a "national security crisis." He added that it would be necessary to secure the border and that "if we don't do that, we're a very, very sad and foolish lot."

The president's promised announcement came amid an increasingly nasty back-and-forth with Democratic leaders over the protracted government shutdown -- which this week could head into its second month -- and funding over his long-desired border wall.

The president's promised announcement came amid an increasingly nasty back-and-forth with Democratic leaders over the protracted government shutdown -- which this week could head into its second month -- and funding over his long-desired border wall.

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the president to postpone his State of the Union speech due to security shortages brought on by the shutdown, Trump blocked her use of a military aircraft for an official overseas trip with a congressional delegation, and suggested that she could make the trip to the war theater in Afghanistan.

On Friday, Pelosi accused the president and his administration of leaking her plans to possibly fly commercially instead and endangering lives as a result.

Immediate reaction among Trump's base was mixed, with conservative commentators Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter offering opposing takes on the speech.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan192019

Special counsel office: Parts of Buzzfeed article tying Trump to Cohen’s lies to Congress are not accurate

Martin H. Simon - Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday took the unusual step of publicly denying portions of a media report published by BuzzFeed News.

The article, posted Thursday night on BuzzFeed, suggests that President Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney and fixer, to lie in his testimony to Congress and that special counsel Robert Mueller has evidence to support that claim.

“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said Friday evening in a brief statement to ABC News.

In a tweet late Friday night, President Trump criticized both the news organization's journalistic work and the broader Russia probe.

"Remember it was BuzzFeed that released the totally discredited 'Dossier,' paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based! A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!"

On Saturday morning, the president called the story "phony," and that he "appreciated the special counsel coming out a statement."

The story, he added, "was a disgrace to our country, to journalism."

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith stood by the organization's reporting on Friday, tweeting, "In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel's spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing."

It was a position he reiterated later during an appearance on CNN.

On Saturday afternoon, BuzzFeed released another statement defending the accuracy of its report.

"As we've reconfirmed our reporting, we've seen no indication that any specific aspect of our story is inaccurate. We remain confident in what we've reported, and will share more as we are able to," Matt Mittenthal, a BuzzFeed News spokesman, said in a statement released on BuzzFeed News' Twitter account.

Democrats in Congress pledged to investigate allegations in BuzzFeed’s media report published Thursday night suggesting President Donald Trump instructed Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney and fixer, to lie to Congress about a proposed project to build a Trump-branded property in Moscow.

“These allegations may prove unfounded, but, if true, they would constitute both the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Friday morning.

As part of his plea deal with Mueller, Cohen admitted that he made the misstatements about the Trump Organization’s “Moscow Project”, in an August 2017 letter to the House and Senate intelligence committees, which were conducting inquiries into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

ABC News has not confirmed the allegations in BuzzFeed’s story that Trump directed Cohen to lied to Congress.

Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, called BuzzFeed’s report “categorically false” and said “today’s claims are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation, in an effort to reduce his sentence.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Friday called the allegations laid out by BuzzFeed "absolutely ridiculous."

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., joined Schiff’s call to investigate, pledging that his committee will “get to the bottom of it.”

Others went further. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, tweeted late Thursday that Trump “must resign or be impeached” if the BuzzFeed report is proven truthful. And Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called on special counsel Robert Mueller “to show Congress his cards before it's too late for us to act.”

Much remains unknown about the plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen worked hand-in-hand with Felix Sater, a Russian-born business associate who scouted deals for the Trump Organization, to set in motion plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow. The two even conceived an idea to offer a $50 million penthouse in the prospective building to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a source familiar with the deal told ABC News.

The public first learned in the summer of 2017 that Cohen had been pursuing a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even after his boss had begun to campaign for president.

At the time, Cohen told members of Congress the deal never progressed beyond an initial "letter of intent" and it was halted in January of 2016, before the Iowa caucuses.

But later, Cohen admitted in court that he made the false statements about the project “to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and to be loyal to Individual 1.” Individual 1 was believed to be Trump, based on the description in court documents.

The president during the campaign denied working on any deals with Russia but tweeted late last year that he “lightly looked at doing a building in Moscow.”

Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison for financial crimes, lying to Congress, and for two violations of campaign finance law.

He’s scheduled to report to prison in early March, but he could have a busy month of congressional testimony before then.

He has already agreed to appear publicly before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7, and Schiff has expressed interest in bringing Cohen back to the House Intelligence Committee for an interview behind closed doors.

On Friday morning, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said “we expect to have him back… in February, we've got a lot of questions to ask.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan192019

President Trump meets with families of soldiers killed in Syria

Martin H. Simon/Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to meet with the families of four Americans killed last week in a terrorist attack in Syria.

After spending time with the victims' families, the president participated in the dignified transfer ceremony of Scott Wirtz, a contractor who was killed in the deadly bomb blast.

In a somber moment, the president walked onboard a C-17 aircraft that held the transfer case, draped in an American flag. Inside, a chaplain led a prayer. The president, who was joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan, stepped off the plane and stood silently in formation, saluting the case as it was carried to a transfer vehicle by the Navy Ceremonial Team.

The president told reporters on the White House South Lawn before departing for Dover that meeting with the family members of fallen soldiers is one of the "toughest things I have to do as president."

"I think it is the toughest thing I have to do. When I'm going to meet relatives of some of our great, great heroes that have fallen, I think it might be the toughest thing I have to do as president," Trump said.

Wednesday's attack in Manbij was the deadliest for the U.S. military since troops went into Syria.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Last month, Trump declared the U.S. would withdraw troops from Syria.

"We've been hitting ISIS hard over the last three weeks," he said outside the White House Saturday morning. "It's been moving along very well. When I took over, it was a total mess."

He added that killing members of ISIS may be inadvertently helping some countries, including Russia, Iran and Syria.

"At some point, you want to bring our people back home," he said of troops in Syria.

At the Pentagon on Thursday, Trump expressed his condolences for the families of the four Americans.

"I want to take a moment to express my deepest condolences to the families of the brave American heroes who laid down their lives yesterday in selfless service to our nation," Trump said.

"We never forget their noble and immortal sacrifice," he added.

The Department of Defense has identified three of the four Americans killed. They are Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon M. Kent, 35, of upstate New York; and DOD civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri.

The president is also mired in a monthlong stalemate over funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. More than 800,000 federal workers are on furlough or working without pay as part of a partial government shutdown.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan192019

Government shutdown having a 'rippling effect on the community'

iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay are not the only ones reeling from the partial government shutdown.

Kings Floyd, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and epilepsy, is a federal worker who has been furloughed. That stop in pay meant she could not afford both her epilepsy medication and electric bill.

So Floyd said she went without her medication for several days -- a gap that made it tough for her to function. She felt disoriented and even fell.

And, without income, she couldn't afford to pay the personal care attendants who rotate through and help her with daily tasks.

“These are five women in the D.C. community who are relying on me as a part-time income, and I’m saying, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I can’t pay you,’” she said.

Eventually, her family was able to lend her some extra financial support -- but that assistance doesn't cover all of her needs.

It's a tight position for both her and the attendants she can no longer pay, a problem she feels lawmakers are in a position to resolve.

She's not alone. Since the federal shutdown began, ABC News has spoken with dozens of people like Floyd and her assistants.

Below are the stories of non-federal workers struggling to keep their heads above the waves of the shutdown's ripple effect.

Cab drivers

“Before, we were working short hours -- eight hours -- but now it's working more than 14, 12 hours," said veteran D.C. cabbie Berhane Berhe. "Before, if you're working six hours, you're making $200, maybe $150. But now, to make that amount of money, you have to work long hours."

Fewer federal workers are hailing cabs to work and fewer tourists are coming to town for federally funded museums such as the Smithsonian.

This means less income for taxi drivers.

And when they do work, they don't make much money.

"Yesterday, for 12 hours, I made $120," Berhe said.

But his fuel expense was about $20. Add to that the cost of vehicle maintenance, insurance and the fees he pays for the credit card system in his car, and his take-home pay is even lower.

"It's painful," he said.

Berhe has worked a cab in Washington for nearly 25 years. And he has driven through several government shutdowns.

But he said he has never felt the impact so acutely.

If the shutdown persists, Berhe may look for other work to keep up with his mortgage.

"If you keep it like this for a long time, I have to," Berhe said.

Child care

For Raechell Redmond, director of the Milestones Enrichment Center in Washington, the shutdown has meant the federal subsidies for child care and food assistance her business depends on to keep staff paid and kids fed in the upcoming weeks haven't been approved.

The center services 46 families, 35 of whom receive federal subsidies. Her facility provides breakfast, lunch and snacks for children every day through a Food and Drug Administration grant.

Without that funding, Redmond said already financially strapped parents may have to start providing food for their children.

As a preventative measure, Redmond has had to reduce hours for her staff.

And if the shutdown continues and subsidies aren’t paid, she said her business will be unable to continue.

Kids also feel the emotional impact of the furlough, Redmond said.

Younger children in her program are reverting to behaviors that they learned as babies -- clinging to parents more, confused why their parents aren’t rushing to work in the morning, instead of dropping them off in casual clothes since they aren’t going to work.

Parents are now picking up their children earlier in the afternoon, oftentimes before recess, Redmond said. The change in schedule has been noticed by children who wonder why their parents aren’t allowing them to play with their friends.

Some children look at the early pickups as a sort of punishment.

“Sometimes the parents are a little sad because they want them to come with them. But no, they want to play with their friends.”

Food trucks

In D.C., the wintry weather has made it a tough start to the year for food trucks -- normally a staple for tourists and locals looking for fun, quick meals in the city.

The furlough has made it even tougher.

Doug Povich, who owns Red Hook Lobster Pound, has been in business for over eight years. He knew winter would provide some difficulties, and has described the season as the “worst time of the year for trucks and restaurants.”

Povich, like many of his colleagues in the food truck business, wasn’t able to save a rainy day fund to get through the winter. The shutdown caused his business to decrease nearly 34 percent compared to January 2017. Because of the dip in business, he’s had to temporarily furlough two of his staffers until the shutdown ends.

“It's an ugly picture," he said. "I'm digging into my savings to try to make ends meet."

Povich told ABC News that paying his employees is very important to him, so he has made changes at home. He and his wife are not going out to dinner, going to the movies is out of the picture, and he has even changed his cat’s food in an effort to save money. "It’s pretty dire.”

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Friday
Jan182019

Trump to make ‘major announcement’ on shutdown, border

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump tweeted Friday evening that he will be making a "major announcement" relating to the government shutdown and the United States’ southern border with Mexico on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. from the White House.

The announcement comes as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history approaches a month in length.

Asked in a conversation with reporters at the White House Friday evening if the announcement related to declaring a national emergency to use funds to construct a border wall, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to specify what exactly the announcement would entail.

The president's promised announcement comes amid an acrimonious back-and-forth with Democratic leaders over the protracted government shutdown and funding over his long-desired border wall.

The bitter words continued Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose official trip overseas on a military aircraft was abruptly blocked Thursday by President Donald Trump, accused the president and his administration of leaking her plans to possibly fly commercially instead and endangering lives as a result.

"After President Trump revoked the use of military aircraft to travel to Afghanistan, the delegation was prepared to fly commercially to proceed with this vital trip to meet with our commanders and troops on the front lines. In the middle of the night, the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service provided an updated threat assessment detailing that the President announcing this sensitive travel had significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip," Hammill said.

Due to "grave threats" the delegation decided to postpone the trip, Hammill said.

The White House called the assertion a "flat out lie."

Meanwhile, hundreds of furloughed federal workers waited on Friday to get free food at a pop-up kitchen on Pennsylvania Avenue — not far from the White House and Capitol — on Day 28 of the longest-running government shutdown. A similar scene played in cities such as Atlanta.

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