Special counsel aims to finish portion of investigation related to Trump by September 1: Giuliani

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said the special counsel has indicated they can wrap up a portion of their investigation by September 1.

Giuliani said about a month ago if the president agrees to an interview, special counsel Robert Mueller personally said his office will aim to finish up the investigation related to President Trump by that time.

A timetable for other aspects of the remaining investigation, which has expanded over the course of the last year, was not discussed, according to Giuliani.

"We needed some indication how long it will take for them to write a report," the former New York City mayor told ABC News.

Mueller and his investigators have been investigating whether the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election to favor Donald Trump.

On a newly emerging storyline, the former New York City mayor is in lock step with his client when it comes to an alleged FBI informant who was speaking to members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

"We have not made a request yet but will soon," Giuliani tells ABC News regarding all notes and information the Department of Justice has on this alleged informant.

"We can't prepare for any interview by the President until we know what this person may have said," he added. "We think the guy [informant] is going to support the fact that there was nothing going on as it relates to Russia and the campaign but we don't know that until we see the interview notes."

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President Trump orders DOJ to 'look into' whether his campaign was 'infiltrated'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump said in a tweet Sunday that he is ordering the Department of Justice to "look into" whether his 2016 presidential campaign was improperly "infiltrated or surveilled" for political purposes.

Trump added that he'd ask whether "any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration."

The president said he would make the order official on Monday but offered no further details about what form he would expect such an inquiry to take.

The DOJ currently does not have a comment on the tweet.

The tweet is the latest escalation by the president in fueling a narrative that the Trump campaign may have been spied on by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the DOJ. President Trump has sent out a series of tweets in recent days advancing the theory first voiced by some conservative commentators that the FBI had a spy in the Trump campaign.

The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported in recent days that the FBI sent an informant to talk to several Trump campaign aides during 2016, with the Times citing unnamed sources that these contacts were made only after the FBI had gathered information that the informant’s targets had made suspicious contacts with Russians during the campaign.

On Saturday, the president in a tweet also called for the congressional review or release of classified DOJ documents that have been sought by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., "regarding a specific individual," according to a letter the DOJ sent to Nunes rejecting his demand for the information earlier this month.

In rejecting Nunes' request, the DOJ warned that the disclosure of such information "can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives."

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Lobbying firm shuttered, but Tony Podesta’s fate in Mueller probe still a mystery 

Rebecca D'Angelo/Washington Post(NEW YORK) -- Lobbyist Anthony “Tony” Podesta filed his final papers with the Department of Justice earlier this month chronicling the last work performed by the once-powerful lobbying firm that bore his name but which is now defunct following its entanglement in special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging Russia investigation.

The Podesta Group’s 28-page closing foreign-agent registration filing -- made three months late due to a "computer error,” a spokesman said -- marks the firm’s termination of work for foreign clients including Iraq, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia, and suggests an end to Podesta’s 31-year run at the intersection of politics and influence in Washington.

It offers few clues, however, to his fate in the Mueller probe.

The special counsel demanded copies of records and correspondence from the firm, and federal investigators have interviewed half a dozen former employees in what several sources described to ABC News as long, grueling sessions. Many have been hit with exorbitant legal fees that Podesta was expected to pay. Three former associates told ABC News he has yet to do so.

Podesta has not been charged with any crime, and it is not known why the special counsel spent so much time interviewing associates of his firm. A spokesperson said that, in the past, the Podesta Group fully cooperated with the Mueller probe. Sources close to Podesta told ABC News the inquiries stopped earlier this year.

Former associates told ABC News that the Mueller team’s focus was Podesta Group’s work with the Trump campaign's former chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates. In 2012, Manafort and Gates arranged for the Podesta Group to lobby on behalf of an obscure Brussels-based nonprofit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Manafort worked for the Kremlin-backed President of Ukraine at the time.

When Gates and Manafort were indicted and pleaded not guilty in October 2017 to charges including money laundering, tax fraud, and failure to register as foreign agents, many of the charges were tied to their work for Kremlin-backed Ukrainian politicians.

Gates then pleaded guilty in February to reduced charges and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigators. In that agreement filed with the court, Gates admitted that to help hide their foreign lobbying work, he and his partner “arranged for the Centre to be the nominal client” of two Washington, D.C., firms, Mercury Public Affairs, which is still in business, and the Podesta Group. Mercury declined to comment when contacted by ABC News.

The deals between the Belgian nonprofit and the Washington lobbyists were cut without their representatives ever meeting, the court documents assert, and each was allegedly paid through offshore accounts associated with Manafort and Gates. Gates and Manafort allegedly misled the firms with a “false cover story” and “false talking points,” according to the court documents.

What remains unclear in the court filings is just how much Tony Podesta himself knew about the alleged scheme. Manafort’s trial begins in Virginia in early July and in Washington, D.C. in September. It’s unclear if Tony Podesta could be involved in some fashion. His representative in Washington declined to comment.

In the wave of publicity surrounding the special counsel’s reported interest in the work, Podesta abruptly shuttered his firm. The move sent a shock through Washington’s lobbying world. Podesta had deep ties to Democratic politicians and liberal causes -- his brother, John, served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and oversaw Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and Podesta Group had been a staple for political and corporate clients with household names, from Google to The Washington Post to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Some employees still harbor resentment about the abrupt ending. Three former Podesta employees, all speaking on the condition they not be identified because they feared reprisals, told ABC News it was no surprise that the foreign work brought negative attention.

“A lot of us were suspicious of the business the moment it came in,” one staffer said of the Manafort work. Another described a “strong dispute” over whether or not to take on the Brussels nonprofit, saying “there was a lot of suspicion that it was a front for bad stuff.” A third said many of the associates were concerned that the firm was taking on “clients you wouldn’t want to touch with a 100-foot pole.”

Americans who work on behalf of a foreign government are required to disclose that work to the Justice Department every six months under a law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and last week’s filing offers some new details of the firm’s final months of work for overseas clients.

Podesta Group received nearly $2.8 million in business for the Saudi American Public Relations Affairs Committee. Podesta described the firm’s work on an anti-Qatar website and Facebook page called The Qatar Insider, which still hosts negative headlines about the tiny oil-rich Gulf state. Qatar’s neighboring states, including Saudi Arabia, recently hit the country with a crippling blockade for its alleged support of terrorism and Iran, an arch Saudi foe.

Other controversial Podesta clients dot the firm’s final filing, including the Democratic Party of Moldova and the Embassy of Azerbaijan, two countries accused by Trump’s State Department of human rights abuses such as torture and detention of political prisoners.

For all its troubles, the lobbying shop took in nearly $5 million in the second half of last year, according to the disclosure, continuing to collect cash even after the firm broke up. Politico, which first reported on the filing, noted that Japanese clients paid out $48,000 to the firm in mid-December. Azerbaijani clients made three payments that month totaling more than $110,000.

In the firm’s final months, internal disagreements about foreign clients grew so intense that a special review committee was set up to “shield the firm,” said one former associate of the firm. It was called the Client Intake Committee, and it was set up in the wake of the Ukraine lobbying controversy, first revealed by The Associated Press in late 2016.

Three former associates said Podesta would sometimes bring on clients without his management team’s awareness, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. A 36-page “rule book” for dealing with the 74-year-old Podesta that was given to all executive assistants and shared with ABC News by a former firm associate detailed his preferences in minute detail, with one section under “Email” reading, “Tony tends to have conversations/email correspondence with clients and not share it with the rest of the team.” It instructs the assistant to then share the mail with members of the team and advise top managers if Podesta is attempting to establish “a prospective new client.”

When he met with staff in October -- after the Manafort and Gates indictments -- to tell them he was stepping back, one former principal at the firm recalled that Podesta never said he was retiring.

“He said he recognized the challenges he was dealing with and that it was affecting others,” this person recalled. “But he was still hanging around the office. He came in every day, and staff would be wondering why he was there. It was so awkward.”

A spokesperson told ABC News in an emailed statement that Podesta "has continued his active and strong advocacy for the issues and ideals he’s always fought for. In the past couple months, he’s taught a few classes at major universities, is supporting artists around the world, helps lead and sustain numerous art museums, and mentor younger activists and political veterans. … He also provides wise counsel for his clients, colleagues, and legions of friends, who count on him following his years as a leader in progressive campaigns, as the former President of People for the American Way, and as the founder of one of the most successful public affairs companies in Washington."

Several former associates told ABC News they expect Podesta to reemerge as a lobbyist, with one saying he is “desperate to work again.” Another pointed to Podesta's continued online presence as a sign that he wants back in the game.

But that could all depend on Mueller, whose interest in Podesta remains a mystery.

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Texas official suggests video games, abortion bear part of blame for gun violence

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Texas lieutenant governor, speaking two days after 10 people were killed in a school shooting in his state, said abortion, divorce and violent video games and movies show that "we have devalued life," which he pointed to as a cause of school shootings.

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday, "We have devalued life, whether it's through abortion, whether it's the breakup of families, through violent movies and, particularly, violent video games."

Patrick continued, "Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, may have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of video violent games.”

He said, “The problem is multifaceted. It's not any one issue. But we, again, we have to look at our culture of violence, just our violent society, our Facebook, our Twitter, the bullying of adults on adults, and children on children. We have to look at ourselves, George. It's not about the guns -- it's about us.”

Stephanopoulos said, “We also have violent video games in other developed countries. We have Twitter and Facebook in other developed countries."

"Americans of high school age are 82 times more likely to die of gun homicide than their peers in the rest of the developed world? That has to be connected to the availability of guns, doesn’t it?”

“No, it doesn’t have to be,” Patrick said. “I can’t compare one country with another country because there are many variables in all these countries. Here’s what I know: We live in a violent country where we’ve devalued life.”

Stephanopoulos also asked Patrick about his comment Friday that there are "too many entrances and too many exits” on school campuses in Texas.

“Yes, I’ve been criticized by saying we should have fewer entrances,” Patrick said. “Look, you need all the exits -- fire exits -- you need. But we should have eyes on students walking into our schools. This student walked in with a gun under a trench coat Friday, and no one in law enforcement stopped him. We can’t guard every entrance of the 8,000-plus schools we have in Texas, but we can guard one or two. We have to think out of the box, George.”

Immediately following Patrick on This Week came Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among the 17 people killed in a school massacre earlier this year in Parkland, Florida.

Guttenberg, who has become a gun control activist since his daughter's murder, slammed Patrick’s remarks as the "most idiotic comments I've heard regarding gun safety."

“Let me be clear,” Guttenberg said. “He should be removed from office for his failure to want to protect the citizens of Texas. To hear him continue to make the argument after 10 people died in his state that guns are not the issue is simply a crock.”

Eight students and two adults were killed and 13 others injured in a shooting rampage at Santa Fe High School in southeast Texas on Friday morning. A 17-year-old student is the suspect.

Guttenberg, referring to the killing of his daughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, said, “I'm here this weekend at what was supposed to be my daughter's dance recital, where they're honoring my daughter's memory instead of having my daughter dance. And for [Patrick] to make those moronic comments -- unacceptable.”

Appearing with Guttenberg was another parent of a child who died in a school shooting.

Nicole Hockley's 6-year-old son, Dylan, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School gun massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. She said she didn’t agree with much of what the Texas lieutenant governor said, but does believe the country has “a problem where we devalue life.”

“The fact that this shooting [in Santa Fe, Texas] has not received a significant amount of coverage, that this shooting is not seeing a significant amount of action -- to me, that is devaluing life itself. There are 10 people who are dead who are not going back to their families,” Hockley said.

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Defeated House bill offered resources for farmers facing high suicide rates

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Psychologist Michael Rosmann said that whenever he is home at his family's farm in western Iowa, he is taking calls or answering emails from farmers asking for help or counseling.

He specializes in behavioral health for farmers and said he has received more requests for assistance in recent months than the last three decades.

"My phone and my email have just been completely filled for the last six months," he told ABC News.

The calls are part of a critical issue faced by farmers. Their profession faces the highest overall rate of suicide in the nation -- much higher than the number of suicides in the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Debbie Weingarten reached out for help four years ago when she was running a vegetable farm in Arizona. She was a first-generation farmer and said that even without the pressure of maintaining a family farm, she felt depressed and anxious about the possibility that they would lose money or crops.

"I felt like the risk that farmers undertake to produce food for eaters is not spread out fairly across the food system, so that's squarely on the backs of farmers," she told ABC News.

She said she couldn't find anyone to talk to online who understood her situation until she found a program run by Rosmann. The website said it lost funding a few years before, but she called anyway.

"I was grasping at straws," she said.

Rosmann picked up the phone.

Weingarten said she left farming in 2014 but still writes about agriculture. She spent five years researching and reporting a story about the suicide rate among farmers that was published in The Guardian last year.

Farmers in industries that have faced falling commodity prices and international trade disputes have encountered additional economic pressure in recent years. Farming experts and industry leaders say the uncertainty around the nearly $400 billion-dollar Farm Bill adds additional stress for farmers and their families.

“Farmers were going through a very stressful winter weather-wise, a cold and tough winter, and on top of that we are into our fourth year of low milk prices, below the cost of production, and that has been creating a lot of stress,” Robert Wellington, a senior vice president of Agri-Mark Dairy Farmer cooperative, told ABC News on the phone Thursday.

On average, Wellington estimated, small and medium dairy farmers have struggled through four years of milk prices that are 10 to 30 percent below the cost of production.

His group sent a letter to members in January forecasting yet another year of low milk prices. In the letter, they included phone numbers for people dealing with financial and emotional stress and a suicide hotline.

The farm bill has traditionally been bipartisan legislation to maintain subsidies, crop insurance programs and livestock disaster programs, but there has been dramatic debate and delays in this year's bill due to proposals to cut funding from food stamp programs, which make up a huge portion of the money allocated by the bill every five years.

This draft of this year's farm bill in the House would have also provided funding for crisis hotlines and other programs to provide mental health help to farmers.

"Our farmers who feed the world are feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders," one of the sponsors of that bipartisan provision -- Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn. -- said on the House floor this week.

The House rejected the proposed bill on Friday.

In a 2016 report, the Centers for Disease Control found that about 84 out of every 100,000 people in the farming, fishing and forestry industries died by suicide in 2012, the most recent data available. The suicide rate for the general population was about 12 out of every 100,000 people that year, according to CDC data.

That study included data from 17 states but did not include data from states such as Iowa, Texas or California, where agriculture is a major part of the economy.

The report said the high rate among farmers could be due to the potential to lose money in the business, as well as social isolation, access to lethal means and lack of mental health services.

Rosmann is a psychologist and adjunct professor at the University of Iowa who specializes in behavioral health for farmers. He said farming is physically and emotionally stressful, but that the current health system does not deal with all of the physical and mental risks for farmers.

"The bigger picture is that we have not attended to the behavioral well-being of the agricultural population the way we have to the general population's need for behavioral health," Rosmann told ABC News.

He said farmers have a unique psychology that drives them to work hard, but that some factors are out of their control, such as policy, weather or commodity prices, resulting in a very stressful situation. He said there has been increased economic stress on farmers in recent years and that they think they're being economically marginalized.

Rosmann said farmers have a strong bond to their land and their farming operation. On a psychological scale, the stress of a life event such as losing a family's farm can be just as traumatic as losing a child, he said.

"It's almost always because of the loss of livelihood that people do such dramatic things as taking their lives," he said.

Rosmann said he strongly supports a provision in the farm bill sponsored by Rep. Emmer to provide more money for states to offer mental health services such as crisis hotlines for farmers and ranchers.

He said some states offer resources such as a crisis hotline, but they need a stronger network of resources and a national center to help with the problem. In Minnesota, the state employs one rural mental health counselor to help roughly 100,000 farmers, according to

Just last week, the president of the National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to proactively address what he called the "farmer suicide crisis."

“Farming is a high-stress occupation,” Johnson wrote in his letter. “Due to the prolonged downturn in the farm economy, many farmers are facing even greater stress."

Last month Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a bipartisan bill on the issue of farmer suicide that would mandate more spending on mental health resources in rural areas.  Emmer also introduced a bipartisan bill earlier this year to provide mental health services for farmers and ranchers.

Emmer's bill was included in the version of the farm bill that was voted down in the House on Friday. The Senate's farm bill has not yet been released.

The current farm bill is set to expire in September.

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Former President Jimmy Carter ribs President Trump's 'crowd size' during Liberty University graduation speech

Rick Diamond/Getty Images(LYNCHBURG, Va.) -- Former President Jimmy Carter took a sly dig at President Donald Trump Saturday as he hyped the size of the crowd listening to his commencement speech at the Liberty University a year after Trump spoke at the school's graduation.

"This is a wonderful crowd," Carter mused. "It's even bigger -- and I hate to say this -- than it was last year."

Several in the crowd of graduates and parents chuckled and clapped.

"I don't know if President Trump will admit that or not," he said, a joking reference to the Trump administration's assertion that the crowd for his 2017 inauguration was the largest ever.

The university estimated that 8,000 graduated participated in the rain-soaked ceremonies on the school's campus in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Carter, a devout Christian, mostly spoke about his faith during the speech. But he also confronted numerous crises in the world, most notably the distribution of wealth and human rights.

The former president said that one of the greatest human rights problems is "discrimination against women and girls in the world."

Carter said he hoped Christians and all religions would "come together to promote the word of the gospel" as nuclear threats and divisions continue to be sown by politicians and the public.

Carter was the third commencement speaker at Liberty University to have held the office of president, the university said on its website: Trump (in 2017) and George H.W. Bush (in 1990) spoke at the school's graduation while still in office.

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Trump's attorney seeks to block Stormy Daniels' lawyer from Cohen case

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The war of words between Michael Cohen and Michael Avenatti is heating up again -- with the president’s long-time fixer accusing Avenatti of violating ethical and professional rules of conduct, and seeking to preclude him from participating in Cohen’s court case.

“Mr. Avenatti appears to be primarily focused on smearing Mr. Cohen publicly in his efforts to further his own interest in garnering as much media attention as possible,” wrote Stephen Ryan, an attorney for Cohen, in a court filing late Friday.

The former personal attorney for President Donald Trump is asking U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood to take the rare step of denying Avenatti’s application to be heard in the case, which is focused on materials seized in the April 9 raids on Cohen’s New York properties.

Avenatti -- who represents adult-film star Stormy Daniels -- is not licensed to practice in federal court in Manhattan, so he must first seek court approval before he can appear in the case. He has argued he has a right to take part in order to protect Daniels’ interests in potentially privileged communications about her nondisclosure agreement that may have been swept up in the raids.

Such applications are routinely granted for attorneys in good standing in their home states, but Cohen’s attorneys assert that this is an "exceptional case."

Daniels -- whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford -- alleges she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump denies the allegations.

Much of Cohen’s argument centers on the public release by Avenatti of information from confidential banking records, which revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting payments to Cohen, including some from blue-chip corporations that began around the time Trump was assuming the White House.

Avenatti described some of the transactions as “suspicious” and possibly “fraudulent and illegal.”

While most of the details in the records were confirmed publicly by the companies, the report also contained some errors, including transactions that appear to be related to other people with the same name as Cohen's.

“When confronted with his reckless publishing of inaccurate allegations and the improper release of the private banking information of completely unrelated individuals, Mr. Avenatti did not apologize for, correct or retract the incorrect information he had published,” Cohen’s court filing states, calling Avenatti's conduct "inappropriate" and "intended to unfairly prejudice Mr. Cohen."

Cohen’s filing also alleges that Avenatti had “failed to disclose” a pending California Bar Association investigation into his conduct. The claim is based on a complaint filed with the state bar in a matter unrelated to Avenatti’s work for Daniels, and on a FOX News report that cites a letter “verifying the existence of the investigation.”

Within hours of that allegation being filed with the court on Friday, Avenatti fired back, disputing the claim.

“I am not aware of the State Bar having made any determination that any pending complaint has any sufficient basis warranting inquiry of me or investigation, let alone disciplinary proceedings,” Avenatti wrote in a court filing. “Mr. Cohen appears to rely on a form letter referenced in a FOX news article to support his allegations. This is not evidence.”

Avenatti -- who has been a near-ubiquitous presence on cable news programs over the last two months -- has dismissed the mistakes in the banking records as inconsequential. He told ABC News last week that “about 99.35 percent of the information that we released is right. You know what? I’ll take that.”

And he has countered in court filings that he should not be prevented from representing Daniels’ interests in the case “based on Mr. Cohen’s embarrassment resulting from discomforting information being made public.”

“Mr. Cohen cites no legal authority that overrides Mr. Avenatti’s First Amendment rights to make public information about a public figure like Mr. Cohen regarding matters that are, without dispute, of the utmost public concern,” Avenatti wrote in a court filing on Monday.

But Cohen’s lawyers argue that Avenatti had no legal right to possess the banking records. And they cite a report in the New Yorker on Wednesday that revealed that the records, which appear to be sourced from confidential Suspicious Activity Reports -- or SARs -- were leaked by a current law enforcement official.

Cohen’s attorneys implored Wood to question Avenatti about how he came to possess the information.

“We believe that it is vital that the Court inquire as to where Mr. Avenatti obtained the SARs report(s) and related nonpublic bank records of Mr. Cohen,” Cohen’s filing states. “They were purloined from protected federal agency files and made public by Mr. Avenatti. If he fails to answer, he should not be admitted."  

Avenatti claimed on Friday that Cohen had failed to produce any evidence that he ever possessed the confidential records or that he purposely released information from those reports related to Cohen.

Wood has not indicated when she will rule on Avenatti’s application. A hearing is scheduled in Cohen’s case for May 24.

If Cohen’s lawyers get their way, Avenatti will not be permitted to be a participant.

“To our knowledge, this Court has never been presented with clearer evidence of the deliberate creation of a carnival atmosphere and inappropriate conduct while an attorney’s application for admission was pending,” Cohen’s filing states. “Moreover, this is an unprecedented attack on an individual who has not been charged with any crime.”

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Melania Trump returns home to White House after hospitalization

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Melania Trump returned home to the White House Saturday morning following a days-long stay in the hospital, her office said.

"She is resting comfortably and remains in high spirits," the first lady's communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Trump underwent a medical procedure on Monday for what her office said was a "benign" kidney condition. The White House has declined to offer additional details about the specifics of the condition.

Grisham also expressed thanks for the thousands of calls and emails she said the first lady's office received during Trump's stay in the hospital.

The president, too, tweeted Saturday afternoon, saying: "Great to have our incredible First Lady back home in the White House."

"Melania is feeling and doing really well," President Trump tweeted. "Thank you for all of your prayers and best wishes."

He initially misspelled his wife's name but quickly deleted and replaced the tweet with the misspelling.

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Trump fans flames about alleged 'spy' within campaign while top lawyer tamps them down

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is amplifying a chorus of conservative voices alleging that the Department of Justice planted a spy inside his presidential campaign, a claim his top lawyer has said, if true, would undermine the legitimacy of the special counsel's Russia investigation.

In a pair of tweets Friday morning, his latest on the subject, Trump appeared to refer to right-leaning news outlets that have questioned whether the FBI had actually planted a source in the Trump campaign in order to gather information about it, but he left unclear exactly what story or sourcing backed those claims.

On Thursday, Trump made a similar allegation in a tweet seemingly appearing to reference a National Review columnist.

DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores offered no comment when reached by ABC News about the president's claims on Twitter.

The claims from the president and his allies come as The Washington Post has reported that top White House officials agreed to back the DOJ’s efforts to resist turning over certain documents to Congress so as not to reveal the identity of a U.S. citizen -- who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI --because doing so might put lives at risk.

The New York Times also reported that a government informant met with former Trump foreign policy campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadapolous.

On Thursday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, when asked to respond to the Times report, said it raised more concerns about the legitimacy of the Special counsel’s investigation

“I think we’re going to have to look into whether we can challenge the legitimacy of this entire investigation,” he said on Fox News. “Maybe the special counsel never should have been appointed.”

But on Friday morning, amid Trump's tweets, the former New York City mayor told CNN that the president didn't know "for sure" if there was a spy on his campaign.

“I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,” he said.

The claims from some conservatives and the president appear to be based, in part, on testimony that Glenn Simpson, the former journalist and co-founder of political research firm Fusion GPS, gave to congressional investigators in August of 2017. Simpson's firm was hired by a Republican client to investigate Trump in early 2016, an effort that Democrats began funding around the time Trump clinched the GOP presidential nomination.

Simpson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Christopher Steele -- the former British spy employed by Fusion GPS to research Trump -- told him that the FBI had information from an “internal Trump campaign source” that corroborated some of the information that Steele had shared with the FBI, but he declined to identify the source.

“They believed Chris' information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization,” Simpson said.

He later clarified that he wasn’t sure whether the source was part of the Trump campaign or organization, according to a transcript released by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. has been locked in a battle with DOJ leadership over classified documents "regarding a specific individual," according to a letter the Justice Department sent to Nunes rejecting his demand for the information earlier this month.

"Disclosure of responsive information to such requests can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interference with intelligence activities," assistant attorney general Stephen Boyd said in the letter, which also claimed that the White House supported the Justice Department's decision to withhold the information.

“What we’re trying to do is get the documents to figure out, did they actually have, what methods were used to open this counterintelligence investigation,” Nunes said on Fox and Friends this week.

Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and top law enforcement officials last week at the Department of Justice about the request.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and Trump confidant who has discussed the investigation and the Department of Justice with Trump, is demanding the disclosure of a DOJ memo describing the scope of the Mueller investigation, something congressional Republicans have been seeking for months.

Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, recently met with White House chief of staff John Kelly over concerns about the pace of DOJ disclosures to Congress.

“I can tell you that the president has been consistent about wanting greater transparency and so I don’t know that this would be at odds with what he’s been espousing for a number of months,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, told ABC News on Thursday. The Justice Department has repeatedly resisted requests to turn over information regarding the source, citing national security concerns.

FBI Director Chris Wray, speaking at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday, defended the agency’s approach to congressional oversight requests, amid the tension with House Republicans.

“As anybody in the intelligence community knows, human sources in particular who put themselves at great risk to work with us and with our foreign partners have to be able trust that we're going to protect their identities and, in many cases, their lives and lives of their families,” he said. “The day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.”

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'We are going to take back the country we love': Hillary Clinton 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton acknowledged Friday that Democratic candidates around the country still face basic questions about what they stand for and which policies their party supports.

Speaking at a Democrat Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., Clinton urged party leaders to return to the basics and lay out the party’s values for voters.

Fair wages, the “absolute promise of universal health care,” public school funding, gun safety reform and equal pay were at the top of the former first lady’s agenda items that she thought should stay central to the Democratic Party’s platform.

Hours before the event kicked off, the Trump administration announced it would move to formally cut off federal funding to family health care clinics that share the same medical facilities as abortion providers. Experts said the decision could dramatically impact Planned Parenthood facilities specifically.

The administration said the new rule would impose “a bright line” of physical and financial separation between family planning programs and “any program or facility where abortion is performed, supported, or referred.”

While Clinton did not directly address the issue during her remarks, both she and Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said Democrats stand for a women’s right to choose. “And if you believe that you have to vote for Democrats,” Clinton told the crowd.

While working her list of Democratic principles as she sees them, Clinton took a sarcastic and not-so-veiled jab at President Trump and congressional Republicans. “We stand for truth for evidence and facts,” she told the ballroom full of female members of Congress, activists and candidates. “What an incredible thing…We have kind of an affection for evidence.”

Clinton has largely stayed out of election politics since losing in 2016. Since then the Democratic Party has dealt with some tough and bitter infighting and struggled, at times, to define itself on the national stage.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ former presidential campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, told ABC News this week that he too thought Democrats were having a hard time spelling out their mission to voters. He argued the answer was for Democrats to embrace a more progressive, populist economic agenda.

In the months after the presidential election, many Democrats blamed Clinton’s defeat, in part, on a lack of a clear campaign agenda and an over-emphasis on President Trump, and in the run-up to the midterm elections this spring, Democrats have been divided about how much they should go on the attack against Trump in their message to voters.

Neither Clinton, nor Perez who introduced her, mentioned President Trump directly. Perez told the room they needed to be “pissed off with purpose,” and spent the majority of his speech also ticking through a basic list of Democratic values as he saw them.

But, Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who took the stage at Friday’s form shortly after Clinton, took a different tack. “He must be impeached,” she said referring to the president.

The idea of whether it would be appropriate to start impeachment proceedings should Democrats take back the House in November has come in several Democratic primaries, especially in deep blue strongholds.

Many in the party disagree with Waters and say unless widespread, popular support for impeachment develops, the party should stay clear.

The focus of the DNC forum this week was support for women in leadership roles. The party committee made a point of appointing women to 70 percent of leadership positions over the last year, and, across the country, Democrats have celebrated the record number of women running for office at all levels of government.

Female candidates, running in new numbers since President Trump took office, have had a number of successes, too, in special elections, statehouse races and primaries.

In Ohio alone this month, 10 Democratic women secured Democratic Party nominations for the state’s 16 congressional races this fall. More than half of the state’s primary winners in the state senate races there were also women.

In Pennsylvania on Tuesday, seven Democratic women advanced to the general election after winning their primaries. That state has had an all-male congressional delegation, making it the largest state in the country without female representation in Washington.

“One day, hopefully very soon, we will remember this president as the best thing that ever happened to our party,” DNC Vice Chair, Congresswomen Grace Meng, New York- 06, told the DNC crowd. “Because of him, over 400 women are running for Congress just this year.”

Clinton finished her remarks saying, “I will be there every step of the way because we are going to take back the country we love.”

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