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Wednesday
May232018

President Trump claims the 'criminal deep state' pursuit of him has backfired

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump fired off another allegation that a “Criminal Deep State" within the FBI and Department of Justice is pursuing him, after media reports that an FBI informant was embedded in his 2016 presidential campaign.

The president tweeted Wednesday morning, "Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!"

His tweet appears to reference New York Times and Washington Post reporting that the FBI planted an informant to make contact with members of his campaign, only after the agency obtained information that members of the Trump team had suspicious contacts with Russians during the 2016 election.

The tweet continued his attack on the so-called deep state, the unfounded theory that career public servants are attempting to undermine his administration, which he claims lies within the very law enforcement agencies that he leads. But such efforts to target him and his presidency have backfired, he asserts.

Continuing his early-morning rant, Trump added, "SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!"

Despite his comments, there is no evidence to support any notion that Trump's campaign was improperly infiltrated, as he has alleged, although the Department of Justice inspector general is looking into the matter at the president's request.

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Wednesday
May232018

Pentagon to keep allowing cell phones but with strict rules

iStock/Thinkstock(LANGLEY, Virginia) -- The Defense Department has decided it will continue allowing the use of cellphones at the Pentagon, but it will strictly enforce existing rules to prevent cell phones from being brought into secure areas at the nation's military headquarters.

The new policy issued Tuesday is far short of early speculation that Defense Secretary James Mattis might ban all cellphones from the Pentagon.

“Today the Department of Defense announces a policy regarding the use of mobile devices within the Pentagon and supported buildings,” said a Pentagon statement. “The policy, which applies to DoD personnel, contractors, and Pentagon visitors, clarifies restrictions for mobile devices anywhere within the Pentagon designated or accredited for the processing, handling or discussion of classified information."

Late last year Defense Secretary Mattis initiated a review of cellphone use at the Pentagon because of what a U.S. official characterized as ways of improving information security concern in the building.

A memo signed by Patrick Shanahan, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, outlined the new policy that enforces existing requirements that cell phones be placed in small storage boxes or lockers outside of sensitive parts of the building.

Mobile devices are defined in the memo as cell phones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches, and other devices that are portable, can wirelessly transmit or receive information and have a self-contained power source.

"Mobile devices must be stored in daily-use storage containers that are located outside the secure space," said the memo.

The new rules mean there will likely be many more cellphone lockboxes throughout the building in order to comply with the new policy.

The 23,000 military and civilian employees at the Pentagon will still be allowed to bring their personal or work cellphones into the building - although as a practical matter there is no cellphone reception throughout most of the building.

“Mobile devices may be used in common areas and spaces that are not designated or accredited for the processing, handling, or discussion of classified information,” said the memo.

The Defense Department is still updating a separate comprehensive policy for fitness trackers and other wearable electronics that have GPS capability.

That review was triggered in January after it was discovered that a heat map generated by the Strava exercise fitness tracking app identified exercise routes used by U.S. military personnel worldwide, even at some U.S. facilities that were not public.

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Wednesday
May232018

EPA will move to label chemical found in drinking water 'hazardous'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt says the agency will move to regulate as "hazardous" a type of harmful chemical found in the drinking water of millions of Americans, calling it a "national priority."

The type of chemical is commonly known as PFAS or PFOS and is used in nonstick pans, making furniture and carpets stain resistant, absorbing grease in products like pizza boxes as is contained as well in firefighting foam commonly used at airports.

EPA first published rules about the chemical in 2002 when the 3M company agreed to phase them out. The EPA studied the health effects of exposure for several years and published a health advisory in 2016.

Some state and local advocacy groups in areas contaminated by PFAS chemicals say the EPA has taken too long to act on the risk and has not done enough to provide help or research to clean up the chemicals.

The EPA says the chemical can cause health problems and even cancer if it people are exposed to it in soil or water.

This type of chemical has attracted more attention after a Politico report that officials from EPA, the Pentagon, and the White House sought to delay a report from an agency within the Centers for Disease Control that evaluates whether chemicals are toxic. Emails referenced in that story, and obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists through public records requests, indicated that the study found PFAS chemicals are hazardous at lower levels than currently recommended.

Pruitt said Tuesday that the agency has a four-step plan for labeling the chemicals as hazardous and setting a maximum level for when it needs to be cleaned up. But the announcement was partly overshadowed after the Associated Press and other news outlets said their reporters were not allowed into the event.

Some facilities that used these chemicals in manufacturing have released them into the soil or water in the area, which causes them to accumulate because they are difficult to clean up and remain in the environment for a long time. Research shows that people exposed to the chemicals through drinking water or who eat food grown in contaminated soil can be more likely to get cancer or face health problems like hormone disruption.

"As we've used those chemicals over the course of many decades there are concerns across the country about these chemicals because of the persistence, their durability getting into the environment and impacting communities in an adverse way. That's the reason we're here today," Pruitt said in remarks at a summit on PFAS chemicals at the EPA on Tuesday.

An analysis from the non-partisan advocacy group Environmental Working Group found that some level of the chemicals are present in drinking water for up to 110 million Americans. Drinking water systems for at least 16 million people tested with PFAS levels higher than the limit recommended by the EPA.

Multiple states have found PFAS chemicals in drinking water, including Michigan where the state is still recovering from the lead crisis in Flint. Pruitt said Tuesday that he will travel to Michigan and other states to discuss the issue with local communities.

The EPA has published advisories that PFAS chemicals are dangerous at a level of 70 parts per trillion, but some researchers and advocacy groups have said the level should be much lower. The EPA's recommended level is not an official limit but is often used as the level for when states or companies need to take action to clean up the chemical

When asked about the delayed study on the danger of the chemicals Pruitt recently said in a hearing that he didn't know the study was delayed and that he thinks it should be released, but told at least one member of Congress in a letter that EPA does not have the authority to release the study.

The office within CDC that evaluates toxic chemicals, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said in a statement that they are working with other agencies to finalize the report but do not have a date for when it will be released.

The EPA will be visiting communities impacted by PFAS contamination in the next few months and says on its website a plan will be developed by Fall of this year.

Some groups also posted on social media that members of the public weren't invited to participate in the summit. The EPA live-streamed the opening remarks and posted a docket for public comments but the live stream stopped when the participants broke up into working sessions. Reporters at the event tweeted that they were told to leave after Pruitt and others spoke and the Associated Press reported that its reporter and some from other news outlets were blocked from attending at that they were forced out of the building by a security guard.

The EPA later said that the afternoon sessions of the summit would be open to press.

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Tuesday
May222018

'If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country': Trump

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump continued to fuel GOP accusations that an informant was embedded in his presidential campaign for political purposes, saying Tuesday that “a lot of people are saying” there were spies.

“A lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign,” President Trump said during his wide-ranging comments in the Oval Office during a press spray of a meeting with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.

“If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country,” Trump continued. “It would be very illegal aside from everything else. It would make probably every political event ever look like small potatoes so we want to make sure there weren't. I hope there weren't frankly.”

“If they had spies in my campaign, during my campaign for political purposes, that would be unprecedented in the history of our country,” he later added.

The president has seized on reports from the New York Times and Washington Post that the FBI sent an informant to meet with members of his campaign. The Times cited unnamed sources that these contacts were made only after the FBI had gathered information that the source’s targets had made suspicious contacts with Russians during the campaign.

The FBI has not confirmed that it used an informant and so far there is no evidence that was one embedded in the Trump campaign.

The president rebuffed ABC News' question about whether he continues to have confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who on Sunday said the DOJ would look into whether there was any improper activities related to the Trump campaign after the president ordered DOJ probe the issue.

“What is your next question, please,” Trump said, passing over the question. “I have the president of South Korea here. He doesn't want to hear these questions, if you don't mind.”

On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to issue a "demand" that the DOJ "look into" whether there was any improper surveillance of his campaign "for political purposes."

Later Sunday, Rosenstein issued a statement saying, “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action."

Following the weekend tweet, President Trump met on Monday with Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Despite the timing of the meeting the day after his tweet demand, the president said Tuesday that the meeting was “very routine."

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer is among critics who have called it highly inappropriate.

Speaking of the alleged informant, the president said he’s read in news reports that “some person got paid a lot of money” and “that is not a normal situation, the kind of money you are talking about.”

“I think the Department of Justice wants to get down to it and Congress does so hopefully they will all be able to get together,” Trump said. “General Kelly will be setting up a meeting between Congress and the various representatives and they will be able to open up documents, take a look and find out what happened.”

Democrats have raised objections to that meeting as well – demanding to be included and questioning whether Trump and Kelly would be allowed to review classified information about the Mueller investigation that include the identify of any informant.

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Tuesday
May222018

White House sinkhole engulfs DC Twitter feeds

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Reporters have filled Twitter feeds with jokes and puns about the small sinkhole that formed on the White House North Lawn near the briefing room entrance.

To prevent any incidents, White House groundskeepers covered the sinkhole with a wooden board and sectioned off with traffic cones and police tape.

While some on social media have questioned whether the erosion constitutes a legitimate sinkhole, National Park Service spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles put the controversy to rest.

"On Sunday, May 20, a small sinkhole was found on the north White House grounds near the entrance to the press briefing room," Anzelmo-Sarles said in a statement to ABC News. "The National Park Service has been monitoring the situation and is bringing in some additional experts to help best determine a remedy. Sinkholes, like this one, are common occurrences in the Washington area following heavy rain like the DC metro area has experienced in the last week. We do not believe it poses any risk to the White House or is representative of a larger problem."

The National Park Service will conduct further assessments of the sinkhole over the next five to ten days.

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Tuesday
May222018

House conservatives want second special counsel to investigate alleged DOJ 'misconduct'

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A group of House Republicans called Tuesday for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate concerns about the Department of Justice and FBI, just days after Trump first called for an investigation into whether his campaign was “infiltrated or surveilled” for by an alleged FBI informant.

At least 19 House Republicans critical of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation signed on to the new 12-page resolution on Tuesday calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate “misconduct at the highest levels” of the DOJ and FBI, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., said.

Zeldin said the resolution, which would be introduced later on Tuesday, is necessary because the Justice Department “cannot be expected to investigate itself.”

House GOP leadership had not committed to bringing up their measure for a vote on the House floor, the Republicans said.

While some Republicans have previously pushed for the appointment of a second special counsel earlier this year, Sessions selected the top federal prosecutor in Utah to work with the Justice Department inspector general to investigate concerns raised by congressional Republicans.

Since then, conservatives have seized on new reports from the Washington Post and New York Times reporting that the FBI sent an informant to talk to several campaign aides during the 2016 election as evidence that a second special counsel.

“It’s a drastic step, but quite frankly these are drastic facts that continue to bubble to the surface and its time that we get a response,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said.

The group, some of the president’s most vocal supporters on Capitol Hill, have vented about the Mueller investigation and DOJ for months, accusing the department of not fulfilling requests for documents and information and its senior officials and some investigators of political bias, citing some members' donations to Democrats and Democratic causes.

Mueller and the Trump-appointed Rosenstein are registered Republicans, and the special counsel's team is made up of members affiliated with both parties. Justice Department guidelines do not allow consideration of party affiliation to affect personnel decisions.

“We need a special prosecutor to investigate the special prosecutor, to investigate Rosenstein,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said.

Gohmert, a loud critic of the special counsel, recalled telling Trump in June of 2017 “nobody needs firing more than Robert Mueller.”

“But you can’t be the one to fire him because we’ve got some weak-kneed Republicans out there who will come after you for firing the guy who needed firing,” he recalled while holding a photo of himself whispering in Trump’s ear last summer.

Trump also weighed in on the informant allegations again Tuesday, after meeting with FBI Director Wray and Rosenstein at the White House on Monday.

“If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country, that would be one of the biggest insults that anyone’s ever seen, and it would be very illegal," Trump said at the White House.

The Justice Department said the agency’s inspector general tasked with conducting oversight of the department would look into the questions raised by Trump as part of its ongoing investigation into the government surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page during the presidential campaign.

The White House announced Monday that congressional leaders will also be invited to a meeting organized by chief of staff John Kelly to review the classified information related to the reported intelligence source. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday the meeting would be Thursday.

Meadows said Tuesday that Democrats should be able to view the documents, in addition to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. He also said that Trump did not request a second special counsel.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he and GOP chairman Richard Burr declined the offer of a DOJ briefing on the documents, citing their sensitive nature.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called the briefing arranged by the White House “another serious abuse of power.”

"I don’t think any of us have any idea what the White House is doing, except that they want to use any mechanism they can to get their hands on materials they think will be useful for their legal defense team and they’re willing to break down the wall of independence between the White House and the Justice Department to do it," he said.

"Sadly they have allies in Congress who are all too happy to help in destroying these institutions," Schiff said.

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Tuesday
May222018

DHS secretary 'not aware' Putin tried to help Trump win 2016 election

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen raised eyebrows Tuesday when she told reporters on Capitol Hill that she is "not aware" of a conclusion by the U.S. intelligence community that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

Nielsen's statement appeared to directly contradict the findings of a 2017 intelligence assessment on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election that concluded Putin was interested in hurting Clinton's chances and later helping those of Donald Trump.

She made the remarks in response to a reporter's question after holding a classified meeting on 2018 election security with members of the House of Representatives.

Asked if she had any reason to doubt Vladimir Putin tried to help President Trump win, Nielsen answered she was "not aware" of the conclusion that Putin's "specific intent was to help President Trump win."

A spokesman for Nielsen later said told ABC News that Nielsen has been consistent in her support of the intelligence community findings on Russian meddling and that she was simply taking issue with the premise of the question.

"The Secretary agrees with that [intelligence] assessment, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement to ABC News. "But the question asked by the reporter did not reflect the specific language in the assessment itself, so the Secretary correctly stated she had not seen the conclusion as characterized by the reporter."

A declassified version of the January 2017 report, "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections," found that Russia's goals "were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency." The report also says clearly that, as the influence campaign evolved, "Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."

It does not say, however, that Putin's aim was to help Trump from the outset but instead says at that point, the Russians were intent on hurting Clinton. Therefore, Nielsen may have simply been taking issue with the reporter's question, without saying so directly.

But given a chance to clarify her remark moments later, she would not directly answer whether she believed Putin ever tried to help Donald Trump, which the intelligence assessment clearly says he eventually did.

"I do believe that Russia did and will continue to try to manipulate Americans' perspective on a whole variety of issues," Nielsen said.

President Trump has always expressed disdain for any suggestion that Vladimir Putin helped him get elected. He calls accusations of campaign collusion an "excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election."

Nevertheless, the intelligence assessment was clear on the point that, eventually, Putin's aim was to help Trump. "We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him," the assessment read.

Last week, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said, "the Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton."

However, Republicans on the deeply divided House Intelligence Committee recently broke with the assessment of their counterparts in the Senate as well as the intelligence community, issuing a report late last month that concluded Putin did not favor a particular candidate.

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DHS secretary 'not aware' Putin tried to help Trump win 2016 election

Tuesday
May222018

Woman who claims Missouri governor tried to blackmail her with nude photos breaks her silence

Education Images/UIG via Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- The hair stylist who claims Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens used partially nude photos of her to blackmail her into keeping quiet about their love affair told a St. Louis TV station, "I'm not lying."

In her first media interview, the woman told NBC affiliate KSDK-TV that she regrets having the brief fling with Greitens and wishes she could apologize to the Republican governor's wife.

"I'm in the middle of the most difficult, crazy fight that I didn't ask to be a part of," she said. "And I feel like I'm this easy punching bag, yet I haven't thrown any punches.

"I didn't want this," said the woman, who was only identified in court filings by her initials as K.S. and declined to show her face on camera. "I wasn't out to get anyone. I really was just trying to live my life."

Greitens, the married father of two young children, has admitted to having a consensual sexual relationship with the woman in 2015, months before he successfully ran for governor on a platform of family values. He has adamantly rejected any criminal wrongdoing, denying his accuser's allegation that he surreptitiously took cellphone photos of her blindfolded and partially nude during a rendezvous in the basement of his home on March 21, 2015.

"There's no blackmail. The mistake I made was I engaged in a consensual relationship with a woman who wasn't my wife. It is a mistake that I'm deeply sorry for. Sorry to Sheena, my boys and everybody who relied on us," Greitens said in a January interview with Fox affiliate KTVI-TV.

Greitens' former mistress said the governor's denials about parts of their relationship prompted her to speak out.

"The second that he denied the things that were the most hurtful, that were the most hurtful for me to now have to relive, I just realized: now I have this decision," the woman told KSDK. "The only ethical thing I felt that I could do was to tell the truth."

While the compromising photos have never surfaced, Greitens had been scheduled to go on trial this month on a felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from the allegations. The case against Greitens was dropped May 14 by St. Louis prosecutors.

A special prosecutor was appointed this week to determine if the case should be re-filed against Greitens, a former Navy SEAL.

The woman's affair with Greitens was first publicly exposed by her ex-husband, who secretly recorded her admitting to the affair.

Earlier this year, she testified behind closed doors to the Missouri House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight. The committee released excerpts of her testimony this month and said she was a credible witness.

In her testimony, she claimed that Greitens blindfolded her and bound her hands to pull-up rings before he allegedly ripped open her shirt and pulled her pants down. She claimed she then heard what sounded like a picture being taken.

She testified that Greitens later told her, "Don't even mention my name to anybody at all because if you do, I'm going to take these pictures, and I'm going to put them everywhere I can."

In the interview with KSDK, she stood by her story.

“Yes, I do stand by them. They were hard to talk about. Really, really, really hard to talk about, but I absolutely stand by it,” she said. "I have no ill intention, other than not being made to be a liar. I'm not lying. This was hard. It was hard at the time, it's hard to talk about now. I'm not lying. That's it. I want to move on. I want to heal."

She said her one big regret is that she hurt Greitens' wife, Sheena Greitens.

"I would absolutely apologize," she said when asked what she would say if she could speak to the governor's wife. "I shouldn't have been involved with him. I shouldn't have gone into her home. I know that."



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Tuesday
May222018

‘To not do anything is a tragedy’: Mom who lost son to gun violence runs for Congress

Lucy McBath for Congress(NEW YORK) -- As the nation watched Friday's high school shooting unfold in Texas – the sixth since the attack in Parkland, Fla. – Lucy McBath was on the campaign trail in Georgia.

She knew what the parents were going through.

“I was just as angry and devastated on Friday with Santa Fe as I was for Parkland because Jordan was the same age as all these children that have been gunned down,” she said.

Her son Jordan was 17 when he was shot and killed in 2012 by a stranger at a gas station.

Now, McBath is part of a growing movement: parents who've lost a child to gun violence running for office.

“I never expected this to happen but I know that in light of all my experiences, to not to do anything is a tragedy in itself,” McBath said in an interview with ABC News.

McBath, a former flight attendant and spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety, is running for Congress in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

She was originally running for state House but she switched to run for U.S. House in March, after the Parkland shooting.


That deadly shooting inspired others to run as well, including two parents whose teenage daughters were killed at the Florida high school and are now running for seats on their county’s school board.

“I’m sure you'll continue to see more parents like myself who are losing their children standing up. It's just going to happen,” McBath said.

If Georgia’s 6th district sounds familiar, that’s because a special election there last year was widely reported on and viewed as a barometer of public opinion on President Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton nearly turned the district blue in 2016, losing by less than two percentage points to Trump in a district that hasn’t been represented by a Democrat in Congress since 1979.

Democratic hopes were defeated by Republican Rep. Karen Handel, who beat opponent Jon Ossoff and made history by becoming Georgia’s first ever woman to represent the state in Congress. Since that June 2017 special election, however, Democratic enthusiasm has led to pickups in states like Pennsylvania and Alabama.

“We know the eyes and ears of the nation are here, we’re really trying to make sure that democracy works here in our state and make sure that it works for everybody,” McBath said. “At least I am,” the candidate added with a laugh.

McBath will face three other Democratic candidates on Tuesday: former TV news anchor Bobby Kaple, businessman Kevin Abel and management consultant Steve Knight Griffin. Kaple, who had $290,000 in the bank at the end of the pre-primary reporting period, has the endorsement of Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, and numerous prominent Democrats in the state.

McBath finished the pre-primary reporting period with about $69,000 in the bank but recently received a donation a large $540,000 donation from Everytown for Gun Violence for television ads.

Georgia is a red state, which makes it a tough for a candidate running on a platform of stricter gun control.

But Georgia is also a state that faces more firearms deaths than the national average. In 2016, 1,571 people died in Georgia from firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — bringing the rate of deaths to 15 per every 100,000 residents. The national average in 2016 was 11.8 per 100,000 population.

But McBath is adamant that she is not an anti-gun candidate. According to her campaign, McBath wants background checks for all gun sales, the defeat of conceal carry reciprocity, a higher minimum age of purchase and laws that ban domestic abusers and criminals from buying guns.

“The thing about it is that I'm not against guns. I’m not against the Second Amendment. I’m not against law-abiding gun owners and hunters owning their guns,” she said.

What she is against, she said, is people who “want to use their guns in a way that is criminal.”

“We have to get a grip on keeping the guns out of hands of people who should not have them,” McBath said.

Throughout her campaign, she’s tried to push back on claims that she’s a one-issue candidate. Knowing what it's like to lose a son, she said, she can understand other issues that hurt families – such as immigration and the fear of losing someone to deportation.

“I know what it's like to tear families apart from gun violence — we shouldn’t be doing that with immigration,” McBath said.

Other parts of her platform are inspired by her experience raising her son and being a single mother. At one point, she was so disappointed in the education system she decided she had to homeschool him.

“I recognized my neighborhood wasn't going to be able to give Jordan the education I wanted him to have,” she said.

“So, yes, guns is a huge part of my platform,” McBath said. “But it's not the only part of my platform because a lot of what I’m talking about I’ve experienced myself. That’s been my reality.”




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Tuesday
May222018

White House pushes back on report that Trump's cell phones not secure

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is forcefully pushing back on a report that asserts that President Donald Trump’s cell phones are not equipped with sufficiently advanced security features and that the president has resisted efforts to swap out the phones as frequently as they should be.

“The White House is confident in the security protocols in place for the President’s use of communications devices,” a senior White House official told ABC News.

POLITICO reported Monday that the president has resisted efforts to swap out his phone on a monthly basis because it was inconvenient. While the White House declined to say exactly how frequently the president’s devices are rotated, citing security concerns, the senior official stressed that the process is routine and regular.

“The president has accepted every device and process related to mobile phones recommended by White House Information Technology,” the official said.

The president uses at least two separate devices at any given time, according to the White House, with one device being used specifically for Twitter and a separate device used for making calls.

“The call-capable phones are seamlessly swapped out on a regular basis through routine support operations,” said the official, who noted that the phone used for tweeting does not have to be swapped out with as much frequency as the phone for calls.

“Because of the security controls of the Twitter phone and the Twitter account, it does not necessitate regular change out,” the official said.

The POLITICO report further asserted that the president’s cell phone security procedures are a break from the protocols followed by his predecessors. But a White House official insisted that, due to the fast-paced evolution in cell phone technology and security, comparisons can’t be fairly drawn between President Trump’s phone security protocols and those utilized during the Obama-era.

“Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama era devices,” the official said.



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