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Wednesday
Dec072016

Donald Trump's Favorability Rating at 50 Percent, New Poll Shows

ABC News(NEW YORK) --  A month after the election, the nation remains divided over President-elect Donald Trump, a new poll shows.

Trump’s favorability rating sits at 50 percent, according to a national Bloomberg poll out Wednesday.

Just 37 percent of Americans polled believe the country is heading in the right direction, while 49 percent feel that the country is heading in the wrong direction. The poll, conducted from Dec. 2-5, also shows that 55 percent are more optimistic about a Trump presidency from his actions and statements since Election Day, while 35 percent are more pessimistic about the prospect of Trump in the White House.

And, according to the Bloomberg poll, 51 percent are very or mostly confident that Trump will put America's interests ahead of his business as he meets with foreign leaders. Last week, Trump tweeted he'll cut ties to his business "in total" to focus on running the country.

"While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses," Trump wrote on Twitter. Trump also announced that he will hold a "major news conference" with his children, who are involved with his businesses, on Dec. 15.

In addition, the Bloomberg poll shows that a majority of Americans -- 67 percent -- believe Trump needs to choose between being president or a businessman, yet 69 percent believe it "goes too far" if Trump sells off his businesses in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

Seventy-nine percent hope Trump drops the combative tone he displayed on the campaign trail once he's in office come January, the poll shows.

An overwhelming 73 percent are fine with Trump adjusting a few of campaign promises, including appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton's private email server, banning Muslims from entering the U.S., and repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, according to the poll. Just 20 percent view Trump's reconsideration of these issues as broken promises.

Sixty-nine percent, however, believe Trump will deliver on his campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump has recently said he'd like to keep parts of Obamacare in place, such as protecting patients with pre-existing conditions and allowing kids to remain on their parents' plans until they're 26.

But when it comes to two of Trump's key campaign promises related to immigration, more than half of Americans don't think he'll accomplish it, the poll shows. Fifty-seven percent don’t expect millions of undocumented immigrants to be deported and 65 percent don’t expect a wall to be built on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Dec072016

Trump Expected to Pick Gen. John Kelly as Nominee for DHS Secretary

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate Gen. John Kelly for secretary of Homeland Security, according to two top transition officials familiar with the decision.

Kelly is a retired four-star general and the former commander of U.S. Southern Command. In addition to his experience leading troops overseas, he is known for his strong knowledge of border issues and the drug trade in South and Central America.

Kelly lost his son Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2010.

Trump and Kelly last met at Trump Tower on Nov. 30. His office did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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Wednesday
Dec072016

Bob Dole Helped Trump Team with Taiwan Contacts over Six-Month Period, Document Says

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A new federal disclosure document indicates that former senator and presidential nominee Bob Dole facilitated contact between Taiwanese officials and members of Donald Trump’s campaign and transition teams over a six-month period this year.

Trump's phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last week sparked controversy because it marked a break with decades of U.S. policy on China and Taiwan.

Dole and his law firm Alston & Bird, worked on behalf of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative (TECRO) to arrange for a series of meetings between Trump advisers and Taiwanese officials, according to documents filed last week with the Department of Justice.

The disclosure form — required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act — indicates Dole “arranged a telephone briefing with Trump campaign policy director” and “convened a meeting between embassy staff and Trump transition team.”

In addition to these encounters, Dole helped Taiwan secure favorable language in the Republican Party’s platform and arranged for a meeting between Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was eventually named Trump’s pick for attorney general, and Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Stanley Kao.

The disclosure does not detail whether Dole set up last week’s telephone call.

The disclosure shows TECRO paid Alston & Bird $140,000 for their services from May to October.

The Wall Street Journal reported a transition official said Dole arranged for the phone call between Trump and Taiwan’s President. Dole told the WSJ in an interview that his firm played a role in arranging the phone call. “It’s fair to say that we may have had some influence,” Dole said.

A spokesman for Dole declined to comment on the Taiwan matter when asked by ABC News. TECRO has also declined to comment on the reports.

Dole’s firm was required to disclose its work for TECRO based on a federal law, which “requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make period public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal."

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Wednesday
Dec072016

Trump Picks Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad for US Ambassador to China

Office of the Governor of Iowa(NEW YORK) -- President-elect Donald Trump has named Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as his pick for the next U.S. ambassador to China, Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller said Wednesday.

Branstad, who is the longest-serving governor in U.S. history, has accepted the offer, Miller said. He also noted that Trump announced the pick in closed-press remarks at a fundraiser in New York City Wednesday morning.

A formal paper statement announcing the pick is expected later Wednesday.

Branstad, 70, has a decades-long relationship with China's President Xi Jinping. The two first met in 1985 when Xi was part of a Chinese delegation trip to Iowa. Shortly after Trump's election last month, Branstad visited China on a trade mission.

Branstad, who campaigned with Trump in Iowa, met with the president-elect at Trump Tower Tuesday. Branstad's son Eric served as Trump's state director in Iowa.

The ambassador position will require Senate confirmation.

Branstad began his second stint as governor in 2011, after first serving from 1983 to 1999.

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Wednesday
Dec072016

President-Elect Donald Trump Named "Time" Magazine's 'Person of The Year'

ABC News(NEW YORK) — President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday it was "a tremendous honor" to have been chosen as Time magazine's "Person of the Year."

"It's a great honor, it means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine," Trump said Wednesday morning on the Today show. "But to be on the cover of Time magazine as the 'Person of the Year' is a tremendous honor."

The cover of the magazine features Trump with the headline: "President of the Divided States of America." Trump called the headline "snarky," though he agreed the country is divided.

"I'm not president yet so I didn't do anything to divide," Trump said. "I mean there's a lot of division. And we're going to put it back together and we're going to have a country that's very well healed and we're going to be a great economic force and we're going to build up our military and safety and we're going to do a lot of great things."

Hillary Clinton earned the No. 2 spot on Time's "Person of the Year" list, while "hackers" came in third.

Trump complained last year after German President Angela Merkel was named Time's Person of the Year, and said he expected he would never earn the title.

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Wednesday
Dec072016

Trump Again Threatens to Take Action Against Flag Burners

Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(FAYETTEVILLE, NC) — The President-elect, returned to the trail Tuesday night in the second stop on his "Thank You" tour — introducing his defense secretary pick, Marine Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis to a crowd in North Carolina.

During the rally, he touched on a wide range of topics, but focused much of his energy on the military and patriotism just a few miles from Fort Bragg.

Trump once again appeared to take aim at those who would burn the American flag, saying that he would determine what should be done.

"We love our flag. And we don't like it when we see people ripping up our flag and burning our flag. We don't like it. And we'll see what we're going to do about that. Okay? We're going to see,” he told the crowd of thousands gathered at the Crown Coliseum.

His comments echoed those from last month.

The President-elect also commented on flag burning during his first stop on his ‘Thank You’ tour in Cincinnati last week.

"And do you agree with my stance that if people burned the American flag, there should be consequences. Right?"

But Trump’s current stance appears to be in opposition to what he believed in 2015.

In an interview with David Letterman on Jan. 8, 2015, just months before he launched his campaign, Trump agreed with Letterman "100 percent" that flag burning is a form of expression.

Trump introduced Gen. Mattis as "the right person to lead our defense department,” he said told the crowd.

"Mad Dog" plays no games, right?”

Mattis, former U.S. Central Command & Marine Corps commander, is not yet seven years removed from service and requires a congressional waiver to serve in the position. On Tuesday, speaking briefly at the rally, Mattis expressed his desire to serve.

"I look forward to being the civilian leader so long as the congress gives me the waiver and the senate votes to consent,” Mattis said.

Trump also touted a deal with Japanese Corporation, SoftBank, that he says will bring $50 billion and 50,000 jobs to the U.S.

"Did anybody see it? Masa,” Trump said in North Carolina. "Great guy of Japan...He's pledged that he's going to put $50 billion into the United States because of our victory. He wasn't investing in our country. 50 billion. 50,000 jobs. 50,000 jobs he's going to be investing in."

As Trump took his victory lap in front of loyal supporters in North Carolina, Vice-President elect Mike Pence addressed a Heritage Foundation gala in Washington, making the case to the capitol's conservative leaders that Trump will follow a shared agenda.

"He loves this country, he loves everything that has made America great before and he's going to fight every day to make America great again," Pence said to the crowd at the event, which was held in a ballroom at Trump's Washington hotel.

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Wednesday
Dec072016

Trump Continues 'Thank You' Tour with Rally Tuesday Night

ABC/Ida Mae Astute(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) -- Donald Trump hit the road again for the second leg of his post-election "thank you" tour, stopping in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Tuesday night to express gratitude to his supporters who helped him get to the White House.

After a busy day of meetings at Trump Tower in New York, the president-elect flew out later Tuesday for the 7 p.m. ET rally.

He was joined at the rally by retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, whom he formally announced Tuesday night as his pick for secretary of defense.

Mattis retired in 2013 after a 41-year career in the Marine Corps. He was a front-runner for the cabinet position of defense secretary after Trump met with him in Bedminster, New Jersey, last month. After the two met, Trump said he was impressed by Mattis.

Trump launched his "thank you" tour last week in Ohio, with a rally in Cincinnati where he said he "had a lot of fun fighting" Hillary Clinton.

He also teased the announcement of Mattis to rally attendees: "We are going to appoint 'Mad Dog' Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we're not announcing it until Monday so don't tell anybody. Mad dog. He's great. He is great," Trump said, using one of Mattis’ nicknames.

Trump will also travel later this week to Iowa and Michigan, two other key battleground states that were vital to his win.


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Tuesday
Dec062016

Mike Flynn Jr. Forced Out of Trump Transition Amid Fake News Controversy

EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Trump team said Tuesday that Michael Flynn Jr. -- the son of Trump's national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn -- was forced out of the transition efforts amid controversy over a fake news story that he pushed on Twitter.

"The younger Michael Flynn was helping his father with some administration and scheduling duties early on in the transition process," Trump team spokesman Jason Miller said, adding that he is "no longer involved with the transition efforts."

The decision came from President-elect Donald Trump himself, two Trump transition officials said. Flynn Jr. is accused of pushing the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory in a flood of tweets Sunday and Monday, prompted by gunplay at Ping Pong Comet Pizza in Washington, D.C.

The suspect in that case allegedly went to the eatery to investigate a fake news story involving Hillary Clinton and campaign manager John Podesta.

"Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many "coincidences" tied to it," Flynn Jr., said in one of his tweets.

 

 

Edgar Welch, 28, allegedly drove to Washington from Salisbury, North Carolina to "self-investigate" "Pizzagate" and fired one shot from an assault rifle inside, sending patrons fleeing. There were no reports of injuries.

Metro police called the back story “a fictitious online conspiracy theory” and charged Welch with assault.

It was unclear if Welch entered a plea.

General Flynn has also used his social media as a platform to promote fake news stories involving Hillary Clinton. He has not commented on his tweets.

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Tuesday
Dec062016

Gen. John Kelly Emerges as Strong Contender for Homeland Security Secretary

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Retired four-star Marine Gen. John Kelly, the former head of U.S. Southern Command, who has met with president-elect Trump several times in recent weeks, has emerged as a strong contender for secretary of homeland security, ABC News has learned.

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has been another contender.

Kelly's name was confirmed by multiple senior Trump transition sources as garnering serious consideration.

The DHS position has been one of the trickiest to fill: the agency is one of the largest in the federal government and is one of the most challenging posts, given the broad and evolving security threats.

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Tuesday
Dec062016

President Obama Once Expressed Concern About Marine One Costs

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump isn't the first to complain about the price of a presidential air fleet.

Back in 2009, President Obama expressed concerns about cost overruns for a new set of presidential helicopters. At the time, the Pentagon's contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop a new fleet of helicopters, which are dubbed Marine One when the president is aboard and also shuttle other government officials, had reached an estimated $11.2 billion --- nearly twice the original $6.1 billion estimate.

The topic has come to the forefront again after President-elect Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that the government should cancel its order with Boeing for a new Air Force One, citing cost estimates of the project.

At a Fiscal Responsibility Summit with the president in 2009, Sen. John McCain brought up the skyrocketing cost of the presidential helicopters.

"Your helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One. I don't think that there's any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas have -- have cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money," McCain said.

President Obama replied: "By the way, I've already talked to [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates about a thorough review of the helicopter situation. The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me."

"It is an -- an example of the procurement process gone amok, and -- and we're going to have to fix it," he added.

When the president made his remarks, the Pentagon had already initiated an automatic review of the program because the expected costs exceeded more than 50 percent of the original target price. Three months later, the Pentagon ordered Lockheed Martin Corp. to halt its work on the fleet. The government had already spent more than $3 billion on the aircraft when the work on the contract was stopped, according to reports at the time,

In 2014, the Navy awarded Sikorsky Aircraft, now owned by Lockheed Martin, a $1.24 billion contract to build a new fleet of VH-92A, which will replace the current helicopter fleet used by President Obama and other government officials. Lockheed says it will produce 21 operational and two test aircraft with full production expected to conclude in 2023.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest argued Tuesday that the Obama administration did not cancel the Marine One program entirely.

"That Marine One project was one that was further in development, and it was clear that the expected cost was much greater than originally expected and that was based on how far the project had advanced at that point. Our country was also in rather historically difficult circumstance," Earnest told reporters Tuesday on Air Force One.

"It wasn't a situation where President Obama entirely cancelled a program. He said the way it has operated so far is too expensive so he asked the professionals at the Department of Defense to go back, re-initiate the program, and see if they could get the cost projections under control," Earnest added.

"I expect that that effective management of that program will result in a new presidential helicopter that President-elect Donald Trump will be glad he has," he said.

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