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Tuesday
Apr232019

President Trump met with Twitter CEO at the White House

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump met with Jack Dorsey, the CEO of his favorite online platform, Twitter, on Tuesday in the Oval Office.

“Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general,” the president said, of course, in a tweet. "Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!"

But just hours before, Trump complained in a series of tweets that Twitter is "discriminatory" and accused the tech giant of playing "political games."

The president has accused social media companies like Twitter of silencing conservatives on their platforms, yet still it appears to remain his favorite way to communicate with the public. From his time as a public citizen to his role in the White House, the president has tweeted or retweeted on the Twitter platform over 40,000 times. In an administration that has not exactly been known for consistent communication, his often-daily tweets have become one of the most reliable ways this White House shares information.

 Trump’s tweets range from mundane musings about golf or Fox News to major policy announcements or personnel changes, forcing journalists, politicians, world leaders and even members of his own administration to keep a close eye on whatever pops up from the @realDonaldTrump handle.

Still, Trump threatened during a press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro last month that he wanted to "get to the bottom" of potentially discriminatory practices on Twitter.

"Things are happening, names are taken off, people aren't getting through, you've heard the same complaints and it seems to be if they are conservative, if they're Republicans, if they're in a certain group there's discrimination and big discrimination," Trump said. "I see it absolutely on Twitter and on Facebook which I have also and others."

There has been no evidence of any kind of discriminatory practices, but Trump has balked at lost followers after Twitter did a purge of suspicious accounts. Many of those accounts were used by Russian agents to interfere in the 2016 election, but conservatives have complained that they have mostly targeted right-leaning voices. According to the Washington Post, the president complained about his loss of followers during his sit-down meeting with Dorsey at the White House.

"Jack had a constructive meeting with the President of the United States today at the president's invitation,” Twitter said in a statement. "They discussed Twitter's commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis."

This was the first time the Twitter CEO met with Trump at the White House.

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Tuesday
Apr232019

Jared Kushner says investigations into Russian interference worse for democracy than meddling was

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House senior adviser and President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner made the case that the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election have been “way more harmful” to American democracy than Russia’s campaign to meddle in the election.

“If you look at what Russia did, buying some Facebook ads to try and sow dissent and it’s a terrible thing but I think the investigations and the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads,” Kushner said, downplaying Russia’s concerted effort to sway the election in then-candidate Trump’s favor.

Kushner made the remarks an interview at the TIME 100 Summit Tuesday.

Kushner expressed a sense of vindication that – after sitting for what he said was approximately 9 hours sitting for interviews with the special counsel’s office and multiple interviews with Congressional investigators – Mueller’s investigators did not find evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Everything that the president’s been saying everything that I’ve been saying for two years has now been fully authenticated,” Kushner said.

While the special counsel did not find evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mueller’s report said investigators did find "numerous links — i.e. contacts — between Trump campaign officials and individuals having or claiming to have ties to the Russian government" and a concerted effort on Russia’s part to meddle in the campaign.

Kushner also said he will presenting the president with a “detailed proposal” on immigration within the next week or two.

“My father in law asked me to work on this topic, it’s not one I came to Washington to work on,” he said, and made the case that the president’s views on the topic have been portrayed in an overly negative light.

“I do believe the president’s position on immigration has been defined by his opponents as what he’s against as opposed to what he’s for,” Kushner said.

The Trump administration’s approach to the border has been largely characterized by the president’s persistent push to build a southern border wall and saw the most public backlash following the implementation of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that resulted in thousands of family separations.

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Tuesday
Apr232019

Bernie Sanders says inmates deserve right to vote, 'The View' weighs in

Mark Makela/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On Tuesday morning, "The View" co-hosts analyzed the controversial comments Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made on restoring voting rights to incarcerated felons, like the Boston Marathon bomber, during his town hall.

Five Democratic presidential candidates took part in hour-long back-to-back town halls over five hours on CNN Monday night. In addition to Sanders, Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Peter Buttigieg, were the candidates who participated in the question-and-answer session.

During the town hall, Sanders was faced with a question focused on restoring rights to convicted terrorists and sex offenders.

"I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy," Sanders responded, when asked whether or not felons currently behind bars should be allowed to vote. "Yes, even for terrible people."

"Once you start chipping away and you say, 'Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,' you're running down a slippery slope," Sanders added.

On "The View," Joy Behar agreed with Sanders on resolving inmates' voting rights based on the level of their crime, saying it's not "practical" to decide who does and doesn't get to vote while in jail. "Either you have to get everybody to do it or nobody."

Noting that voting rights are really a state issue, co-host Sunny Hostin said her main concern regarding vote restoration for inmates is that "the laws of our country are disproportionately applied to people of color. And so there's real disenfranchisement of the African American vote, the Latino vote, so you're talking about 6.1 million African Americans that the vote is taken away from every single year."

Whoopi Goldberg added, "if you've done your time, you have – we hope – been reformed, you've been changed, you've been grown. If they let him out, that means they feel his time is up, and he gets to become the American citizen again."

During Sanders' town hall, he recognized his stance on voting right would likely receive backlash, and it "will be just another" opposition ad in his life.

Speaking out directly on the idea of terrorists like the Boston Marathon bomber receiving the right to vote while serving time, Meghan McCain called the idea "disgraceful."

McCain added that "it is not hard to put lines between terrorists and people who commit low level crimes."

"It doesn't sound good," Behar observed about Sanders' comments. "It'll be used in a campaign ad against him."

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Tuesday
Apr232019

Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, transferred to federal penitentiary

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has arrived at a federal penitentiary facility, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Manafort is now serving out his 81-month sentence at United States Penitentiary Canaan just outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is scheduled for release on Christmas 2024.

The federal penitentiary that now houses Manafort is, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a high-security prison with an adjacent minimum security facility. It was not immediately clear which facility housed Manafort and a public information officer for USP Canaan would not comment on his location. The public information officer simply confirmed that Manafort was at the penitentiary.

The spokesperson also said that while Manafort was being held at Canaan, this does not necessarily reflect where he will permanently be held.

Attorneys for Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During Manafort’s sentencing hearing in Virginia, his attorneys requested that he be designated to federal prison camp at Cumberland, Maryland, a minimum security facility.

The judge in that case agreed with the recommendation, calling it "consistent with his security needs."

Manafort was sentenced by two different federal judges, one in Washington, D.C. and one in the Eastern District of Virginia for crimes including unregistered foreign lobbying, bank fraud, tax fraud and witness tampering, all unrelated to his time serving on the Trump campaign.

Though Manafort was just sentenced for his crimes last month, he’s been in custody since mid-July 2018 after the judge in his Washington case revoked his bail and remanded him to pre-trial detention.

Manafort was briefly held at Northern Neck regional jail before the judge in his Virginia case ordered Manafort to an Alexandria, Virginia jail in July.

He remained in that facility after a jury in Virginia found him guilty on eight counts and the judge declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 in August 2018. He subsequently remained there after he pleaded guilty to crimes in the District of Columbia in September.

During sentencing, Manafort received credit for time already served, reducing his time in the facility from 90 months to 81.

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Tuesday
Apr232019

Top Democrat threatens to hold Trump administration official in contempt

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The chairman of the House Oversight Committee is threatening to hold a Trump administration official in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for testimony in the panel’s White House security clearance investigation, the first move of its kind from the Democrat-led House.

In a statement, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said former White House official Carl Kline did not appear for a Tuesday deposition, and that he and the White House “stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind” by Trump. If Democrats follow through on Cummings’ plans, Kline would become the first Trump administration official to be held in contempt of Congress.

If Democrats follow through on Cummings’ plans, Kline would become the first Trump administration official to be held in contempt of Congress.

Kline’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, said his client takes the committee’s concerns “seriously”, but questions the “validity” of the subpoenas.

"My client and I take seriously the concerns of the Committee and the Chair,” Driscoll told ABC News in a statement. “We also take seriously the direction of the White House not to attend today's hearing and the opinion, expressed by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, about the validity if the Committee's subpoenas given the restriction placed by the Committee. Chairman Cummings is zealously playing the role he should in our constitutional system and we bear no ill will towards him. We will continue to review the proceedings and make the best judgments we can."

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

While Republicans have repeatedly threatened to rebuke top Trump administration Justice Department officials in a standoff over Russia-probe related documents and information, they never proceeded to officially do so on the floor. Kline, the former White House personnel security director who now works at the Defense Department, was accused by a whistleblower of granting high-level security clearance to Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law, and other White House officials against the recommendations of administration security specialists.

According to Driscoll, Kline was instructed “not to appear” before the committee this week by the White House, despite the subpoena from Cummings.

“With two masters from two equal branches of government, we will follow the instructions of the one that employs him,” Driscoll wrote in a letter to the committee Monday evening obtained by ABC News.

Cummings on Tuesday blasted the White House’s position, accusing them of not producing “a single piece of paper” or witness to the House for any of the committee’s investigations this year.

“Based on these actions, it appears that the President believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight,” the chairman said. A spokesperson for Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a top Republican on the panel, said Kline had offered to appear voluntarily and accused Cummings of working to discredit the White House.

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Tuesday
Apr232019

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan giving 2020 Trump challenge 'serious consideration'

Scott Eisen/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan moved the ball forward regarding speculation surrounding a possible primary challenge against president Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying he's seriously considering a White House run, even if he's in no rush to officially jump in just yet.

The widely popular Republican governor furthered speculation with a speech in the key primary state of New Hampshire on Tuesday, telling the "Politics & Eggs" crowd that gathered at New Hampshire Institute of Politics that he's currently mulling over a run for the White House.

"A lot of people have been approaching me, probably since around my inauguration in late January. People have asked me to give this serious consideration and I think I owe it to those people to do just that. That’s what I’m doing," Hogan said.

Hogan is the latest potential 2020 hopeful to speak at a “Politics and Eggs” event, which has become a required stop for anyone seriously considering a White House run, and the outspoken Trump critic took a few veiled swipes at the current president during his appearance.

The governor and outspoke Trump critic also weighed in on the Republican National Committee pledging full support behind the president while taking some swipes at the president.

"I was pretty critical of that. Not that the Republican National Committee doesn’t have the right to support the sitting president. But to change the rules and to insist 100% loyalty to the dear leader it just didn’t sound much like the Republican party that I grew up in," the governor said.

Following the event, Hogan also weighed in on last week's report from special counsel Robert Mueller, calling it "very disturbing."

"It certainly did not completely exonerate the President as he said. There were some very disturbing stuff found in the report, and just because aides did not follow his orders, it's the only reason we don't have obstruction of justice," Hogan told reporters.

"...Maybe there was not collusion with the Russians, which, there was a lot of hype about that from the Democrats for a long time and so now he gets to say that didn't happen. But there was some really unsavory stuff in the report that did not make me proud of the president, and there's certainly nothing to crow about and nothing to celebrate in that at all," he added.

Hogan quipped at the start of his address that he's "not here to make any official announcements today," jokingly noting that he "just thought that April would be a beautiful time to visit New Hampshire.”

If Hogan jumps into the race, which he says he's in no rush to do and could wait as late until November to decide, he'd become the second Republican to challenge Trump for the party's presidential nomination after former Governor Bill Weld's announcement earlier this month.

When asked about Weld jumping into the race already, Hogan said he was glad to see it, but noted that his position as a current government official puts him in a different situation.

"Bill Weld, I think is a wonderful guy, and I talk to him just before he launched, but he’s not a sitting governor. It’s a different calculus for me," Hogan said.

"But I obviously have very strong concerns about the future of my party and the future of the country," he added. "I’m going to take as much time as it takes to make that decision."

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Tuesday
Apr232019

Former Vice President Joe Biden to announce he’s entering the 2020 race Thursday morning

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- ABC News has confirmed that Joe Biden will announce he’s entering the 2020 race Thursday morning in a video.

The announcement will mark Biden’s third run for the presidency and he enters the field in the top spot in several polls. The former vice president brings the crowded Democratic field to record-breaking

Biden brings a long career in public service to his presidential bid, which began in 1972 when he was elected to the Senate in Delaware. Biden served in the Senate for nearly 40 years, where he served as chair of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, before becoming vice president in 2009.

Biden is likely to face scrutiny for some of his past policy positions including his anti-bussing legislation in the 1970s, his role in the 1994 crime bill, and his handling of the Anita Hill hearings as chairman of the Judiciary committee.

Biden has taken steps to acknowledge these past issues ahead of his run. During a speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Biden said the country needs to do more to acknowledge the racism built into ‘every aspect of our system.”

Biden also acknowledged his role in 1980’s drug legislation that disproportionally hurt minorities by creating longer mandatory minimum sentencing for crack cocaine than powder cocaine.

“It was a big mistake when it was made. We thought, we were told by the experts that crack — you never go back; it was somehow fundamentally different. It’s not different,” he said. “But it’s trapped an entire generation,” Biden said at the National Action Network’s MLK breakfast in January.

In March, Biden spoke about his role in Anita Hill’s testimony during Supreme Court Justice’s Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings.

“To this day, I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved,” Biden said, while speaking at the Biden Courage Awards, an event to honor students who’ve intervened to prevent sexual assault.

New controversies could also provide a challenge to Biden’s candidacy, including some women who say that Biden made them feel uncomfortable in past interactions by touching them without their permission.

Biden posted a video acknowledging that ‘social norms are changing’ and promising he would be "much more mindful," calling it his "responsibility."

Biden first ran for president in 1988 but dropped out of the race just a few months later after reports of plagiarism arose. Biden used elements of a speech by a British politician as his own, without attribution. In an interview with ABC News, Biden explained the scandal as "Stupid. My mistake. Born out of ignorance, thinking I didn't have to prepare."

The former vice president also sought the 2008 Democratic nomination, dropping out after receiving less than 1% of the vote in the Iowa Caucus, and failing to win any delegates.

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Tuesday
Apr232019

Rep. Eric Swalwell says Trump impeachment 'not off the table,' calls on Mueller to testify before Congress

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and many other Democrats, the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller's report are a launching pad for the next round of investigations examining President Donald Trump -- investigations that they say could ultimately lead to impeachment proceedings.

"We're certainly having a conversation about how we hold this president accountable," Swalwell said on ABC News podcast "The Investigation." "I wouldn't say impeachment is off the table."

Swalwell joins Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, former Obama housing chief Julian Castro and other presidential candidates in calling for Congress to continue investigating the president's actions outlined in Mueller's report.

While Warren and Castro have even announced their support for impeachment proceedings, other key Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have cautioned against a singularly focused approach.

"While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth," Pelosi said in a statement on Tuesday. "It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings."

Trump said today he is "not even a little bit" concerned about the possibility of impeachment.

The special counsel did not establish that members of the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government's attempts to meddle in the 2016 election, but Swalwell said contact between the campaign and Russia was "certainly concerning."

"The Russians will continue to interfere," Swalwell said. "If we don't set some boundaries around what is acceptable conduct for a campaign or a presidency, we could lose our democracy to future interference attacks."

Swalwell, who announced his presidential bid earlier this month, says a full understanding of Mueller's investigation is key to protecting future elections, and that Congress should receive the full report and then determine what information should be released to the public.

"That's how we hold anyone accountable that may not have met criminal culpability, but the Constitution still allows us to hold them accountable," Swalwell said.

He echoed Democratic leadership's calls for Mueller to testify before Congress.

"Let Mueller lay it out," Swalwell said. "Let's hear his voice describe the combat and see where that leaves Republicans and where that leaves the public."

On the matter of obstruction of justice, Swalwell said it's also up to Congress to evaluate the president's actions detailed in the Mueller report and determine what action needs to be taken.

"If we do nothing, what does that mean for future presidencies?" Swalwell asked. "What does that mean for the standard of conduct that we accept in our democracy?"

In the wake of the Mueller report's release, Swalwell also has made numerous calls for Attorney General William Barr to resign, accusing him of favoring Trump and misrepresenting the special counsel's findings by stating there was "no evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In actuality, the report states that while the investigation "identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges."

"I think," Swalwell added, "he can either be the president's lawyer or America's lawyer."

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Tuesday
Apr232019

Kamala Harris proposes executive actions to curb gun violence

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Kamala Harris announced a new set of executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence in the United Sates that she would enact if she were to win the presidency in 2020.

During a CNN town hall in New Hampshire on Monday night, Harris said that if Congress fails to act on gun safety legislation in her first 100 days in office, she would sign four actions: Require anyone selling five or more guns a year to run a background check on all gun sales; revoke licenses of gun manufacturers and dealers that break the law while prosecuting the highest offenders for criminal liability; close the "boyfriend loophole;" and reverse the Trump Administration’s definition of "fugitive from justice."

The new proposals from Harris are the California senator's most detailed plans yet on gun control.

She previously supported a renewal of the assault weapons ban, banning high capacity magazines, making gun trafficking a federal crime and prohibiting those convicted of a federal crime from purchasing guns.

Harris said any fines paid by "law-breaking gun corporations" will be used to expand access to mental health treatment, trauma-informed care and community-based violence intervention programs.

Who falls into the category of "law-breaking?" The Harris campaign said it's anyone violating negligence laws by selling to a straw purchaser, marketing assault weapons to children in video games and those that supply dealers that consistently sell guns used in crimes.

Currently, federal law prohibits intimate partners, such as spouses or ex-spouses, convicted of domestic violence from purchasing guns. By closing the "boyfriend loophole," the government would also prevent dating partners, convicted of domestic violence, from purchasing firearms.

Leaders of organizations fighting gun violence approved of Harris' plan.

Peter Ambler, with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' organization, said he thought Harris' proposal was, "bold, detailed, and thoughtful. She's making it a priority of her campaign and presidency, showing she's tending to this profound crisis, and recognizes this is an issue voters want to hear from."

Brady Campaign President Kris Brown said Harris' plan was "a good start. To our knowledge, on one else has released a 100 day plan on this issue...She probably was the first ...I hope others do soon too. And we’ll be watching for that.“

Harris has been vocal about the lack of action in Congress following school shootings.

In a January town hall on CNN, Harris said lawmakers should have been placed in a locked room to see "the autopsy photographs of those babies" killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Harris recently told reporters she owned a gun for "personal safety," but says it’s a "false choice... to suggest you're either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone's guns away."

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Monday
Apr222019

Democrats subpoena former White House counsel Don McGahn

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats have subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn for his testimony before the committee and for documents related to their investigation into obstruction of Justice by President Donald Trump.

"Following the scheduled testimony of Attorney General William Barr on May 2, 2019 and the expected testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which we have requested, the Committee has now asked for documents from Mr. McGahn by May 7, and to hear from him in public on May 21," House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement. "Mr. McGahn is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report. His testimony will help shed further light on the President's attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same."

An attorney for McGahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The White House didn't return ABC News' request for comment.

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

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