Hillary Clinton Visits SC, Focusing on Women and Minorities

Theo Wargo/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton returns to South Carolina Wednesday for the first time in nearly eight years for a one-day swing through the state’s capital, Columbia.

During her short visit, Clinton’s focus will be on women and minorities. She will participate in a roundtable discussion with “minority women small business owners” in the morning and then deliver the keynote address to the South Carolina House Democratic Women’s Caucus and the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council at their Third Annual Day in Blue event.

The former secretary of state will also visit the State House to meet with House and Senate Democratic caucuses.

For Clinton, South Carolina harbors bad memories and bruising moments.

Just before the state’s primary in 2008, when Clinton and then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama were seemingly neck in neck in the race, Bill Clinton called Obama’s positioning on the Iraq war a “fairy tale” -- a polarizing remark that many perceived to be racist. The comment fired up South Carolina’s large swath of black primary voters, who then rallied behind Obama.

Ultimately, Clinton lost the state’s primary by nearly 30 points to the future president.

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Rick Santorum Expected to Announce 2016 Plans

Sean Gardner/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Santorum is expected to announce his presidential decision on Wednesday.

The former Pennsylvania senator will hold an event at Penn United Technologies in Cabot, Pennsylvania, near his boyhood home in Butler County, at 5 p.m. ET.

According to one of his aides, the focus of Santorum's remarks "will be about the need to fight for the American worker that has been left behind by big government, big business, and both political parties. He will also be contrasting his record with that of [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton throughout his remarks."

"He'll be giving his speech from a factory floor just 10 miles from where he grew up and at a company -- Penn United Technologies -- that he visited when he first ran for the Senate in 1994. At that time, they had just one building, today they have a 100 acre campus with 600 employees. They epitomize the type of manufacturing renaissance Sen. Santorum talks about,” the aide said.

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State Department Proposes Rollout of Clinton Emails Starting June 30

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a federal court filing submitted late Tuesday night, the State Department proposed a new plan to rollout heavily scrubbed versions of 55,000 emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The State Department said it will begin posting the emails on its website starting on June 30 and then continue posting them every 60 days -- aiming to have them all posted by Jan. 15, 2016.

Judge Rudolph Contreras will consider the request. Earlier this month, he quickly ruled against a State Department request to hold onto all the emails until 2016, demanding instead a “rolling production.”

Although Clinton has said she wants the State Department to make all of her emails public, the matter was brought to court after a news organization sued the State Department, demanding the emails be released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

State Department officials have argued that the process of clearing the emails for release is an arduous and time consuming task that often involves the participation of multiple government agencies. 

“Keep in mind that we are reviewing a huge amount of material from Secretary Clinton’s tenure at State on a wide range of issues,” one senior State Department official said on Tuesday.

Last Friday, the State Department release 300 of Clinton’s emails that related to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya. Those emails had previously been released to the House Select Committee on Benghazi that’s been investigating the attack for over a year.

The chairman of that committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has said he won’t be satisfied until Clinton hands over her private email server, which she used exclusively throughout her tenure at State to conduct official business. Clinton has said she won’t make that available.

Gowdy and Clinton's Republican rivals argue that because her emails were kept private she was the ultimate arbiter in determining which emails to release and which to delete -- and therefore the process is flawed.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders Kicks Off Presidential Campaign

ABC News(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- The longest-serving Independent senator in U.S. history, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, kicked-off his presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination Tuesday with a colorful and lively event in Burlington.

With blue-grass music, tie-dye and free ice cream, the afternoon event felt half like a summer festival and half like a political rally.

A self-identified "Democratic Socialist," Sanders is known on Capitol Hill for speaking about income inequality and higher tax rates for corporations and the nation’s top earners. Sanders wasted little time getting to his favorite issues.

“Today, we say clearly enough is enough,” he said. “This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not just a handful of billionaires.”

“There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much as wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This has got to change and, as your president, together we will change it," Sanders said.

In addition to campaign finance reform, Sanders made sure to hit on other hot-button progressive issues too, including equal pay for women and climate change.

When asked why they like him, many of the more than 5,000 Sanders fans gathered were quick to point to trustworthiness. Some said they feel like they know him. One of the senator’s first -- and most fun -- endorsements came from Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s, the popular Vermont-based ice cream company.

Speaking at the event, Cohen reiterated this idea of authenticity.

“Unlike some other Johnny-come-latelys, Bernie is the real thing. He has been saying the same thing and doing the same thing for 30 years,” Cohen said.

Kathy Granai, who works in Burlington, where Sanders was mayor for four terms, agreed. “He is speaking the truth,” she said. “He is the only one willing to say what’s what and what matters.”

Another Burlington local, Jacob Albee, said the question of trustworthiness was the reason he preferred Sanders to Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state.

“He is willing to speak the truth when others are unwilling,” Albee said. “I don’t think she speaks the truth."

During the rally, Sanders said his campaign was not about him, “Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush,” but “the needs of the American people.”

“As someone who has never ran a never negative political ad in my life. My campaign will not be run by political gossip. These are serious times, we need serious debates," he said.

While Sanders might be the best known politician here, he is relatively unknown in other parts of the country. He is polling in single digits nationwide. The Sanders team said its strategy for breaking through will focus on small, town hall-style events.

For supporters of Sanders, it’s about the rest of the country meeting the Bernie they know and love.

“For those of us that have been sitting on the sidelines, finally a candidate worth voting for,” Cohen said. “Sometimes the underdog wins.”

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IRS Says Thieves Stole Tax Info from 100,000

marcnorman/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -– More than 100,000 taxpayers may have had some of their private information stolen from IRS computers during this tax season.

The agency said on Tuesday that sophisticated thieves managed to steal some of that information outside the IRS to get in and get illegal refunds.

According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the thieves got into their system through the front door, using social security and other numbers they found outside the IRS.

The thieves reportedly used an online service provided by the agency to gain access to information from more than one-hundred-thousand taxpayers. The service called “Get Transcript” has been temporarily shut down.

The commissioner told reporters in a teleconference that “of the 200,000 that tried and the 104,000 that got through, it’s likely that it’s gonna turn out that fewer than 15,000 fraudulent returns made it through as a result of this activity.”

The majority of the breaches happened from mid-February to mid-May when it was discovered.

Commissioner Koskinen reassured reporters on a conference call on Tuesday that his agency is getting better at detecting fraud, but it’s not perfect.

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White House Offers No Apology for Ash Carter's Comment That Iraqis Lack ‘Will to Fight’

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is not disputing Defense Secretary Ash Carter's contention that the Iraqi Army lacks the will to fight.

“Well, that certainly has been a problem we’ve seen in the past; that's what allowed ISIL to make such significant gains last summer,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told ABC News in Tuesday’s press briefing when pressed on whether the White House agreed with Carter's assessment about why Ramadi, the capital city of Iraq’s largest province, fell to ISIS.

Carter said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, “What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not out-numbered but in fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight.”

It initially appeared Monday that Vice President Joe Biden was patching up Carter's remark by placing a call to Iraq’s prime minister to “reaffirm U.S. support” and recognize “the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces.” But there was no hint of an apology in Tuesday's briefing.

“What the Iraqi government has acknowledged is that the setback that they experienced in Ramadi was at least in part attributable to a breakdown in some military command and planning,” Earnest told reporters on Tuesday.

Earnest did not directly answer the question when asked whether the president agreed with Carter and instead listed a variety of factors that he said contributed to a weak security situation in Ramadi.

“The first is that the Iraqi security forces who were fighting in Ramadi and had been fighting in Ramadi didn’t have benefit of the training of the US and our coalition partners,” Earnest said. “There were clearly, as the Iraqis have indicated, some military command and planning problems that occurred. And we saw a pretty effective tactic used by ISIL, and all of that led to a not unsubstantial setback in Ramadi.”

The White House press secretary went on to praise the offensive launched by Iraq Tuesday morning to reclaim western Anbar province but reiterated the administration’s intention to stay the course with its supporting role.

“This is not something the United States is willing to do for the Iraqi people,” Earnest said. “And the Iraqi central government, Prime Minister Abadi has made crystal clear on a number of occasions, he doesn't want anybody to step in and do this for them.”

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US Capitol Building Temporarily Evacuated After Audible Alarm

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Capitol Building, including the Capitol Visitor Center, was evacuated Tuesday afternoon because of an audible alarm, a spokeswoman for Capitol Hill Police said.

U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Fire were investigating what caused the audible alarm, Lt. Kimberly Schneider said. Schneider said there were no signs of smoke or fire.

Staffers were permitted to enter the Capitol Building one hour after the evacuation first started. The Capitol Visitor Center was cleared for re-entry soon after.

The following message went out to House staff:

This is an UPDATE message from the U.S. Capitol Police.

The U.S. Capitol Police are continuing to investigate the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol and Visitor Center.

The following road closures are in effect: First Street between Independence Avenue, SE and Constitution Avenue, NE; East Capitol Street between First Street and Second Street.

All staff and other personnel are directed to remain in their assembly area until further notice.

The House and Senate are on recess and members were not in session when the rare evacuation occurred.

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Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick Launches Senate Bid to Unseat John McCain

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- As popular Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain seeks a sixth term in the U.S. Senate, a potential Democratic opponent emerged on Tuesday after Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a three-term lawmaker from Flagstaff, entered the race.

"In Arizona we tell it straight, so let’s get right to it,” Kirkpatrick said in a campaign video announcement. “I’m announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate. I love this state."

McCain, who would turn 80 before Election Day, is unlikely to draw any Republican House members into a primary -- but facing off against Kirkpatrick, who is well-funded, could possibly prove to be a tough race for the former Republican presidential nominee.

Later in the video announcement, Kirkpatrick, 65, addressed the elephant in the room.

"I respect John McCain’s service to our nation. I just believe our state’s changing,” she said. “Arizonans should have a real choice who they send to the United States Senate."

A McCain spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kirkpatrick’s candidacy was received with open arms by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“Since 2008 John McCain has supported plans to gut Medicare and Social Security, repeatedly voted to shut down the government, and been the bitter, angry face of Washington's partisan dysfunction,” Justin Barasky, communications director for the DSCC, said. “If John McCain wins the Arizona GOP nomination, Democrats are committed to running a strong campaign against him.”

As for Arizona's first congressional district that Kirkpatrick leaves open? It is certain to be one of the most hotly contested House races of the 2016 cycle, but Democrats believe that a presidential election year will increase voter turnout to their benefit.

“Democrats know what it takes to win in this district, as we have proven repeatedly,” Matt Thornton of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said. “We are confident we will have a strong candidate who will keep this district in the Democratic column in 2016.”

News of Kirkpatrick’s Senate candidacy was first reported by Roll Call.

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State Department to Unveil Timetable for Releasing Clinton's Emails

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department on Tuesday is expected to file its schedule for releasing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails as requested by a judge last week.

The judge requested the department release them in batches every 60 days, and on Tuesday, we should find out when that will start.

Campaign reporters and Clinton have been demanding to know when the emails would finally be made public.

The State Department’s Office of Information Programs and Services and its lawyers -- better known as the FOIA office, which stands for Freedom of Information Act -- have been tasked with sorting, reading, redacting and reviewing paper copies of what now amounts to hundreds of thousands of pages of documents.

They’ve established a full-time staff, with one project manager, two case analysts, nine FOIA reviewers and a slew of additional information analysts who have been working since April.

The text they must analyze includes 55,000 pages encompassing more than 30,000 emails from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account, spanning from 2009 to 2013.

They’ve also been tasked with first finding and then reviewing any all documents and communications from all of 2011 and 2012 authored by or sent to 10 separate senior State Department officials having anything to do with Libya (and not limited to Benghazi).

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Bernie Sanders to Kick Off Presidential Campaign in Vermont

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- Vermont Sen. and Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders will hold a campaign kick-off event in Vermont Tuesday evening.

“My hometown of Burlington and the people of Vermont have a special place in my heart,” Sanders said in a statement. “There is nowhere else in the world where I would hold an event this important.”

According to his campaign, the event will feature free Ben and Jerry's ice cream and music by Mango Jam, the Vermont Zydeco/Cajun band. But along with the ice cream, Sanders, who describes himself as a “Democratic socialist,” will also be serving up some big ideas this week too.

“The formal kickoff will set the stage for the campaign to come. I will lay out an ‘Agenda for America’ which addresses the major crises we face and a vision of a government which works for all of our people and not just the billionaire class,” the senator said.

The White House hopeful plans to campaign in New Hampshire and Iowa this week.

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