White House Slams Congress for 'Buyer's Remorse' Over 9/11 Bill

Sean Pavone/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House slammed Congress for questioning the effects of a bill that would allow individuals to sue foreign governments after overriding President Obama's veto of the measure, saying that lawmakers were beginning to have "buyer's remorse" and saying that "ignorance is not an excuse."

Republican and Democratic representatives are now saying the measure, which will now allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for alleged involvement in the attacks, needs to be fixed.

“I think what we've seen in the United States Congress is a pretty classic case of rapid onset buyer's remorse,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in Thursday's briefing. “What's true in elementary school is true in the United States Congress -- ignorance is not an excuse.”

The bill in question is the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which the president vetoed but the House and Senate voted in overwhelming majorities to override for the first time in the administration’s history.

On Wednesday, Earnest called the override "the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done” in over two decades.

After joining almost all of their colleagues to pass the bill Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 28 senators led by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., wrote to the top supporters of the bill, Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-NY and John Cornyn, R-TX, warning about “potential unintended consequences” of its passage.

“We would hope to work with you in a constructive manner to appropriately mitigate those unintended consequences,” the senators wrote.

Earlier Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed the White House for not doing enough to express its own concerns about the legislation to Congress.

“That was a good example, it seems to me, of failure to communicate early about the potential consequences of a piece of legislation that was obviously very popular,” he said. “I told the president that this was an example of an issue we should have talked about much earlier.”

But he also acknowledged that, in their zeal to support the families of 9/11 victims, lawmakers themselves did not fully consider the potential consequences of passing a bill that might leave the U.S. open to similar litigation.

“By the time everybody seemed to focus on the potential consequences of it, members had basically already taken a position,” he said. “Everybody was aware of who the potential beneficiaries were but no one had really focused on the potential downsides in terms of our international relationship.”

Earnest had a different characterization for what happened.

“The suggestion on this part of some members of the Senate is that they didn't know what they were voting for. They didn't understand the negative consequences of the bill. That's a hard suggestion to take seriously," Earnest said.

McConnell suggested that he would be open to considering changes to the JASTA bill once Congress returns after the November elections.

In the House, both Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also signaled some openness to revisiting the bill later this session.

“I do think that perhaps it could have been written in a little bit of a different way that addressed some of the concerns,” Pelosi said during her own press conference.

Schumer, one of the key advocates of the bill, said he was also open to making tweaks, but only to a certain point.

“It has to be something that doesn't weaken the bill and limit the right of these families to get their day in court and justice,” Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader, said.

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Former Speaker Gingrich to Donald Trump: Don't Go There on Bill Clinton and Women

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newt Gingrich has some advice for Donald Trump: don’t bring up Bill Clinton’s past marital infidelities in the next presidential debate.

“You’re never going to beat the Clintons in the mud. It’s not possible. They’re the best gutter-fighters we’ve seen in our lifetime,” Gingrich said in an interview with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein on the ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics Podcast.

"I mean you have to go back to Richard Nixon to find anyone with the potential to fight with her. So you’ve got to stay above her. You’ve got to say look, ‘ I’m going to beat you on jobs, I’m going to beat you on trade, I’m going to beat you on taxes.’”

"I thought what he did last time in not bringing it up was to his advantage," he said.

Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and an informal adviser to the Trump campaign, is himself a veteran of the debate stage. He said that while he thought Trump won the debate, he should do more preparing.

“At a tactical level, he’s not nearly as good as a debater," he said. "It wouldn’t take much for him to be 20 or 30 or 40 percent better than he is now.”

Still, he says, let Trump be Trump. “He’s an amateur, and he’s a businessman. He’s never going to match up with a Yale lawyer who’s spent her entire lifetime trying to be glib.”

Gingrich pointed at Clinton’s mention of Alicia Machado, the former pageant queen who says Trump called her “Miss Piggy” after she gained weight during her Miss Universe reign.

“You know, she’s got to win on the grounds that he doesn’t have the temperament to be president. And she’s got to win by scoring points off 20-year-old conversations with a woman who has a very dubious past, by the way,” said Gingrich. “I mean Machado is being glorified by the left as the perfect victim. And this is why you’ll see a temporary drop in Trump’s polls because for four days he’s been piled on by the media. Just go look at the coverage but I don’t think in fact that strategically she won that debate. And I think if anything she’s in trouble in the long run because she can’t answer any of the big questions."

In an interview on "Good Morning America," Machado said that as a mother, she's "very worried he could be president." "Maybe he will be saying bad things about me or try and discredit to me. But it's OK. I'm strong."

Gingrich is out next month with a political thriller, Treason, about a female president facing homegrown terrorism. When asked what he would call a novel about this stranger-than-fiction election, Gingrich had another one word title--an apparent nod to the unlikely Republican nominee--“Wildcard.”

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Hillary Clinton Says Donald Trump Was 'Unsettled' by Mark Cuban at Debate

ABC News(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Hillary Clinton is still sounding off about her debate performance.

Campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday, the Democratic presidential nominee said her opponent Donald Trump was “unsettled” by the attendance of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban during the first presidential debate Monday.

"You know, at the debate the other night one of my well-known supporters, Mark Cuban, was there in the front row,” she told a crowd at an outdoor early voting event. “And he really, I think, unsettled my opponent.”

Cuban, a vocal Trump detractor, sat front-and-center during the debate between the two presidential nominees. After it was announced he had been given a ticket by the Clinton campaign, Trump appeared to lash out on Twitter -- floating the idea that he would invite Bill Clinton’s former mistress, Gennifer Flowers.

Cuban’s invite was seen as a way for the Clinton camp to at least try to get under Trump’s skin -- a tactic Clinton also used during the debate against her opponent and even today. (During her rally, Clinton described Cuban as a “real billionaire” -- a subtle yet clear jab at Trump’s own wealth.)

Clinton -- who took days off from the campaign trail to study and practice for the debate -- also took a jab at Trump for seeming unprepared.

"I have no idea what he'll say the next time,” she said, referring to the second debate on Oct. 9. “But, you know, I will spend some time preparing for it.”

The focus of Clinton’s Des Moines event today was getting out the vote. Early voting began Thursday in Iowa, and following the rally, the campaign organized to help bring voters to locations where they could cast their votes.

“The election will be close but we can win Iowa and we’re going to win on Nov. 8,” she said.

Clinton -- whose campaign is worried about voter turnout among Democrats -- also seemed to acknowledge that she may face an enthusiasm issue in her own party.

"I want this election to be about something,” she said, “not just against somebody.”

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Trump Campaign Manager on Bill Clinton's Past: 'I'm Not Advising Him to Go There'

Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said she’s not advising the Republican nominee to bring up former President Bill Clinton’s past infidelities as a way to attack his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“I’m not advising him to go there,” Conway said in an interview on ABC's The View Thursday, adding, “It’s fair game to think about how Hillary Clinton treated those women after the fact. She called Monica Lewinsky a loony toon.”

Following Monday’s debate, Trump expressed regret about not being able to address the “transgressions of Bill,” noting that he covered everything else he “wanted to say.”

"I didn't wanna say what I was going to say with Chelsea [Clinton] in the room," Trump told ABC News on Monday. "So, maybe they're well off to bring Chelsea all the time."

Conway also addressed the controversy surrounding Trump’s comments regarding former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.

Trump told Fox News on Tuesday morning that Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.” On Wednesday night, he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “I saved her job because they wanted to fire her for putting on so much weight and it is a beauty contest.”

“Because she was in breach of contract and the company wanted her terminated. He gave her a second chance,” Conway said, adding, “This was 20 years ago and she obviously has a troubled past that I won’t get into.”

Asked by co-host Sara Haines how she felt about Trump’s remarks, Conway admitted she would not have done the same.

“Well I don’t discuss people’s weights and their looks,” she said. “I’m sure that on your Twitter feed you have viewers discussing my looks and my intelligence.”

Conway was also asked about a Newsweek report that Trump’s company violated the U.S.-Cuba trade embargo during Fidel Castro’s communist regime.

“People are going to have to read the whole story to find out that then he didn’t invest in it. No, they’re not treasonous,” she said. “It starts out with a screaming headline, as it usually does, that he did business in Cuba. It turns out that he decided not to invest there.”

Trump Hotels paid an American consulting firm in 1998 to help the company in the event the U.S. loosened trade restrictions, and ultimately made it look like a charity payment, according to Newsweek.

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Donald Trump Resurfaces Attack Lines He Didn't Use in Debate

Xinhua/Qin Lang via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ever since Donald Trump left the stage at Hofstra University after the first presidential debate of the season, he has been talking about all the things he would have done differently.

From the moment he made the unusual move of stopping by the "spin" room after Monday night's debate, Trump started laying the groundwork for his own assessment of punches pulled against Hillary Clinton.

Trump, who is married to his third wife and has himself been accused of cheating, said he had planned to talk about Bill Clinton’s “transgressions” during the debate but made no mention of it at Hofstra, he said, for a simple reason.

"I got everything I wanted to say. I got it out, other than the transgressions of Bill," Trump said after the debate of the former president's alleged infidelities.

"I didn’t want to do it with Chelsea [Clinton], who I think is a very wonderful young lady. I didn’t want to say what I was going to say with Chelsea in the room," he told ABC News of the Clintons' only child.

Trump added: "So, maybe they’re well off to bring Chelsea all the time."

Just as Trump raised the former president's past after leaving it off the debate stage, he doubled-back Wednesday to Hillary Clinton's recent health scare, which he also didn't mention Monday night.

"You see all the days off that Hillary takes? Day off, day off, day off. All those days off and then she can't even make it to her car -- isn't it tough?" he said at a Wednesday night rally in Iowa, referencing the incident at the New York 9/11 memorial service at which Clinton needed assistance before the revelation that she had pneumonia.

But with an eye to the next debate in St. Louis on Oct. 9., Trump isn't only relying on his own instincts and advisers.

The Trump campaign sent out a fundraising email Thursday morning that included a "debate preparation survey" asking recipients to give "your immediate feedback from the first debate in order to win the second one."

Despite such reflection, and what some have called missed debate opportunities, Trump denies the perception among many observers that he lost.

"I had a great time," Trump told Bill O'Reilly on his Fox News show Wednesday night. "I know you say the polls weren't scientific, but every single poll that was taken, I won the debate. And some of them by a lot."

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Senator Suggests Trump 'Daily Weigh-In' After His Miss Universe Body-Shaming Comments

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill fired back at Donald Trump’s criticism of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado's weight gain via Twitter Wednesday.

The Missouri senator’s tweet came after Trump appeared on Fox News Tuesday to defend his criticism of Machado, who said he called her "Miss Piggy" when she gained weight after winning the Miss Universe Pageant.

"She was the winner, and, you know, she gained a massive amount of weight," Trump said. "It was a real problem."

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Marco Rubio 'Deeply Concerned' About Possible Donald Trump Cuba Business

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Donald Trump will have to “answer some questions” about a Newsweek story reporting that a Trump-owned company allegedly violated the United States' trade embargo with Cuba in the late 1990s.

“This is something they’re gonna have to give a response to. I mean, it was a violation of American law, if that’s how it happened,” Rubio said on the ESPN/ABC Capital Games podcast.

The report claims the Trump-owned company secretly conducted business on the island under Fidel Castro's communist regime.

According to Newsweek, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts paid a consulting firm to help the company in the event that the U.S. loosened trade restrictions. The consulting firm and Trump company later attempted to cover up the transaction by making it look like legal spending for a charity.

Rubio, a former presidential candidate, insisted he would reserve judgment until he had learned all the facts.

"I hope the Trump campaign is gonna come forward and answer some questions about this because if what the article says is true -- and I'm not saying that it is, we don’t know with a hundred percent certainty -- I'd be deeply concerned about it, I would," he said.

Rubio has long been a strong supporter of the current embargo with Cuba. He endorsed Trump in late May, after a competitive primary that saw Trump win by a landslide in Rubio's home state.

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Battleground Breakdown: Where Key States Stand in 2016 Presidential Race

ABC News(WASHINGOTN) -- As the countdown to Election Day continues, the battle for the presidency is picking up steam and nowhere is that more obvious than the battleground states.

ABC News is breaking down the specific issues and ground games that are at play in five key battleground states: Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada and North Carolina. Based on reporting and analysis, ABC News has determined that these five states do not currently lean towards one party or another, making them theoretically up for grabs for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

Both campaigns are being supplemented with help from the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee, respectively.

On the Democratic side, the DNC and Hillary for America are running coordinated campaigns where door-knockers are stumping for both Clinton and state-specific senate and local races, according to a campaign aide. The majority of Democratic offices in battleground states are coordinated campaign offices, but there are a handful of DNC-specific offices as well.

The funding for the coordinated campaign offices has largely come from money raised through the Hillary Victory Fund which is a joint operation run by Hillary For America, the DNC and state parties, a campaign aide told ABC.

The Republican operation started well before Trump was in the picture, as RNC spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that chairman Reince Priebus invested in permanent ground operations in battleground states back in 2013. When it became clear that Trump was the party’s nominee, his campaign reportedly welcomed the RNC’s set-up, Walters told ABC News.

“The RNC is the infrastructure for the entire GOP ticket, and the Trump campaign has embraced it,” she said, calling it “effective and efficient” to have all of their efforts run through the same team rather than having separate teams for Trump and the RNC.

Ad spending is going to be ramping up in many states, but the influx is even clearer in these five battleground states.

Here are primers on five states which could help break the election in one way or another:


Since its role in the 2000 presidential election, Florida has been a key part of the battleground conversation. Its residents have chosen the eventual Electoral College winner in the last five elections. Read the breakdown here.


A state that Trump lost in the Republican caucuses is key to Trump winning the presidency. Read the breakdown here.


There's an old saying -- As Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Read the breakdown here.


Luck has always played a pivotal role for fortune seekers in Nevada, and now Clinton and Trump and both trying to test their stuff in the Silver State. Read the breakdown here.

North Carolina

North Carolina wasn’t always a battleground state -- in fact, it’s gone red in five of the last six elections -- but since President Obama’s victory in 2008, Democrats have honed in on the state’s changing demographics and young population. Read the breakdown here.

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Advisers: Trump ‘Missed Opportunities’ at Debate, Didn’t Execute

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump's campaign team admits there were "some missed opportunities" at Monday's presidential debate after they've had time to "digest" the real estate mogul's performance, sources say. One senior staffer, in a shocking admission, says that Trump’s failures were his own and “more a lack of execution than preparation.”

At the same time, members of Trump’s family are standing behind the leadership of the campaign, contrary to reports of dissension.

"My siblings and I are thrilled with the current team, as we should be, given the success in the polls and in Monday's debate," Donald Trump Jr. told ABC News today in a statement. "There is no truth to this fabricated lie and we are excited to be working with these amazing professionals. The business continues to be tremendously successful as it has for years given our incredible assets and attention to detail in their management.”

The comments come amid intense finger-pointing from all levels of the campaign. Trump has blamed the moderator for not addressing topics he wished to discuss. Meanwhile, that staffer said that Trump “lost his nerve” in not hitting Clinton on certain issues like the attacks in Benghazi.

To blame the candidate is evidence of how shaken advisers were post-debate, seeking to shift blame from themselves and those who were responsible for prepping the candidate, to the candidate himself.

Sources say Trump prepared more than was reported but that he should have done mock debates and should have prepared for questions like those about the birther theory about President Obama he pushed for years (before disavowing it recently), as well as women's issues.

But Trump believed those issues and questions surrounding them, according to one source, were "well within the past." Three sources all said they were shocked Trump did not bring up Benghazi, another adding that it was a topic prepared for during sessions.

Hillary Clinton blasted Trump at the debate for language that he has used to describe women in the past and took him to task for pushing birtherism for years after the president released his birth certificate.

Sources say unfortunately Trump "did not get through the check list," but feel they have time to prepare for the final two debates. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will continue to be a part of sessions going forward and the team is hoping to emulate the town hall style of the next debate.

But sources say no new prep has happened yet for the next debate on Oct. 9 -- the focus right now is on campaigning.

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Gary Johnson Has Another 'Aleppo Moment' After Failing to Immediately Identity His Favorite World Leader

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Gary Johnson has once again demonstrated that foreign policy may not be his strong point.

On Wednesday night –- just three weeks after the Libertarian presidential candidate curiously asked an MSNBC host “What’s Aleppo?” when asked what he would do about the war-torn Syrian city –- Johnson stumbled over a question that again has left voters scratching their heads.

During a town hall on MSNBC with Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, host Chris Matthews asked the former New Mexico governor, "Who's your favorite foreign leader? Name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to. Anybody."

Weld quickly responded, "Mine was Shimon Peres," choosing the former Israeli president who died Wednesday from a stroke at the age of 93.

"I'm talking about living," Matthews said, turning back to Johnson.

"You gotta do this," Matthews said to Johnson. "Anywhere. Any continent. Canada, Mexico, Europe, over there, Asia, South America, Africa. Name a foreign leader that you respect."

With no leader apparently popping into his head, Johnson said, "I guess I'm having an 'Aleppo moment' in the former president of Mexico."

Matthews persisted, saying, "But I'm giving you the whole world. Anybody in the world you like. Anybody. Pick any leader."

Johnson repeated, albeit without specifically naming a leader, "The former president of Mexico."

"Which one?" a perplexed Matthews asked.

"I'm having a brain freeze," Johnson admitted, as Weld began to list the names of recent Mexican leaders.

"Fox! Thank you!" Johnson said when he heard former Mexican president Vicente Fox.

Weld, meanwhile, said his favorite world leader is German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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