SEARCH

Wednesday
Oct182017

Nancy Pelosi visits memorial for Las Vegas shooting victims

Twitter/CityOfLasVegas(LAS VEGAS) -- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi headed to Las Vegas Tuesday to pay her respects to the victims of the shooting earlier this month. Gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire during a country music festival killing 58 attendees.

Pelosi, joined by Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada, spent time at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden, which was built after volunteers worked around the clock to create it in less than a week.

"This has become a center of humanity that is setting a standard around the world," Mayor Carolyn Goodman said.

 The garden consists of a remembrance wall, where visitors leave photos behind of the massacre's victims.

Pelosi wrote a message to one of the victims, Stacee Etcheber, writing "To Stacee and all the angels remembered here. You will always be in our hearts."

 There are also 58 trees of life planted there to honor each of the victims.

"When you're in a garden it's about renewal and rebirth," Pelosi said.


Pelosi also met with the creators of the garden, which was documented in a pair of photos the city of Las Vegas tweeted.


Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Wednesday
Oct182017

Trump denies telling widow of fallen soldier 'he knew what he signed up for'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump Wednesday denied telling the widow of a fallen U.S. soldier "he knew what he signed up for" in a phone call he made Tuesday, contradicting a Florida congresswoman who said she was with the woman at the time.

Rep. Frederica Wilson said she was with Myeshia Johnson in a car headed to Miami International Airport Tuesday afternoon to meet the body of Johnson's late husband, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who died in Africa this month, when the president called.

In an interview with CNN Tuesday night, the Democratic congresswoman said of Trump's comment about Sgt. Johnson: "Basically, he said, 'Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for. But I guess it still hurt.' That's what he said."

Trump denied Wilson's claim and said he had a "very nice conversation" with Johnson, "who sounded like a lovely woman."

"I didn't say what that congresswoman said, and she knows it," Trump told reporters Wednesday at the White House. "I didn't say it at all."

Trump also tweeted Wednesday morning, "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof)."

When asked about his claim of "proof" that disputes Wilson's account, the president said Wednesday from the Oval Office, "Let her make her statement again and then you’ll find out."

Rep. Wilson responded Wednesday to Trump's tweet, calling him a "sick man" and saying she has her own proof.

"I'm not trying to prove anything with the president,” Wilson said in an interview with CNN Wednesday morning. “So the president evidently is lying.

“Because what I said is true. I have no reason to lie on the president of the United States. With a dead soldier in my community. I have no time. I have no motive.”

Early Wednesday Trump called that description a "total fabrication" and suggested Wilson would issue a correction to her statement. Instead, Wilson doubled down on her criticism of the president.

"It was the wrong thing to say, but that’s not the worst part," Wilson said. "He did not even know La David Johnson’s name. He kept referring to him as your guy. He never called his name. So that was even more painful."

Wilson said other family members who overheard the conversation also seemed upset by it.

"He didn’t call her by name, he didn’t call anyone by name. He was just talking. That was so insensitive and so terrible and I felt insulted, and I’m sure the widow felt insulted and everyone else in the car was just shaking their heads," she said.

The president also said in a tweet Wednesday he had "proof" Wilson wasn't telling the truth. White House spokesman Sarah Sanders later said the president was referring to officials who were in the room with Trump during the call and could corroborate his version of the conversation. Sanders said there is no recording of the call.

Sanders called Wilson's actions "disgusting" and accused her of politicizing the death of a soldier. "I think it's appalling what the congresswoman has done and the way she's politicized this issue and the way that she's trying to make this about something that it isn't," she said.

Wilson, for her part, does not deny politicizing the call. When asked about it by ABC News, she said she's a politician and acts as a voice for the people. "When I pick up a puppy, I'm politicizing it," Wilson said.

She also said the deadly ambush in Niger that killed Sgt. Johnson and three other special operations soldiers leaves so many unanswered questions that "this is going to be Mr. Trump's Benghazi," a reference to the 2012 attack that killed four Americans.

When asked by ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV whether she was sure about what she heard Trump say, Wilson responded, "Yeah, he said that. To me that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn’t say that to a grieving widow. And everyone knows when you go to war, you could possibly not come back alive. But you don’t remind a grieving widow of that. That’s so insensitive."

La David Johnson died earlier this month in Niger when he was ambushed by militants believed to be linked to ISIS. His pregnant widow broke down in tears hugging his casket Tuesday as it was unloaded from the airplane.

Wilson told WPLG, "Now I didn’t hear the entire conversation, but when I tried to find out what the entire conversation was, she said I just can’t remember everything that he said. But that stood out in everyone’s, uh heart, on the call. You don’t say that. He is the president of the United States.”

“This is a soldier who gave his life for his country. He is a hero in our minds, in our communities’ minds, that is an insult to the entire Miami Gardens community, to our entire District 24, to Miami-Dade County, and to this nation. And I hope he did not say that to the other 3 families that he called,” she added.

The full context of the president's comment as described by Wilson is not known.

And the White House has declined to comment on the remarks that are being attributed to Trump.

"The president's conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private," a White House official told ABC News Tuesday night.

The controversy comes just a day after Trump criticized former President Obama for not always reaching out to the family of fallen soldiers. Trump was asked why he hadn't reached out to the families of victims of the Niger attack, and he responded by criticizing former presidents.

"If you look at President [Barack] Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I am able to do it," Trump said on Monday. "They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call. I'm going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass. I'm going to be calling them."

Trump made calls to family members of all four killed servicemen on Tuesday.

In an appearance on ABC News' The View Wednesday, Wilson elaborated on her reaction, saying she wanted to confront the president and "cuss him out."

As for Johnson's reaction, Wilson said, "She was crumbled up in a ball.... She had just found out that her husband would not be able to have an open-casket funeral because of the condition of the body. So she was grief-stricken.

"She said he doesn't even know his name," Wilson said of the widow.

Wilson said she was not politicizing anything by sharing what she heard from the phone call.

"He died as a sergeant. He died as a hero," Wilson said.

She added, "And Mr. Trump was extremely insensitive to that family and I will stick by that. I'm not trying to politicize it, but I think it was a disgrace."

Despite the president's pushback, Wilson is standing by her remarks.

Sgt. Johnson's mother told The Washington Post that Wilson's remarks are "accurate."

Asked by ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV whether she was sure about what she heard Trump say, Wilson responded, "Yeah, he said that. To me, that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn't say that to a grieving widow. And everyone knows when you go to war, you could possibly not come back alive. But you don't remind a grieving widow of that. That's so insensitive."

Johnson was one of four soldiers killed in Niger when a joint patrol of American and Niger forces was ambushed Oct. 4 by militants believed linked to ISIS. Johnson enlisted in the Army in January 2014 as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic and was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, a Green Beret unit based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The military says his body was found Friday after an extensive search; his body was initially listed as missing.

The bodies of the three other U.S. troops were recovered shortly after the attack, which also killed four Niger military members. The U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed.

Johnson, mother to the couple's 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, is expecting their third child in January.

A GoFundMe account set up to pay for education costs for the couple's three children skyrocketed on Tuesday evening. The campaign, which was set up on Tuesday, met its goal of $100,000 and kept climbing to over $146,000 by 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Over 3,100 people had donated to the fund early Wednesday. TV producer Bill Prady donated $5,000 to the campaign and offered to match donors for another $5,000.


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct182017

President Trump weighs in on tearing down Columbus statues

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump waded into a new statue controversy on Tuesday night when he called out people who want to tear down statues of Christopher Columbus.

"We believe we should preserve our history, not tear it down," Trump said in remarks he delivered Tuesday night at the Heritage Foundation's annual President's Club gathering. "Now they are even trying to destroy statues of Christopher Columbus. What's next? Has to be stopped, it's heritage."

Calls for Columbus statues to be torn down have flared up around the country in the wake of similar calls for Confederate statues to be removed. The threat of the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia incited riots between supporters and protesters and left one woman dead in August.

The Columbus controversy has been most prominent in New York City, where a 76-foot tall statue of the Italian explorer rises over Columbus Circle at the southwest corner of Central Park. The monument, designed by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo, was officially unveiled in October 1892.

In the wake of the Charlottesville incident, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a 90-day review of all the statues in the city.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called on the city to include the Columbus statue in that review, telling New York ABC station WABC, "There are still to this day conversations happening because of the monuments, other Columbus statues, being talked about. I would want the commission to look at that statue as well."

Columbus has drawn criticism for starting the European colonization of the Americas, his brutal treatment of native people and beginning the transatlantic slave trade.

De Blasio has been mum on whether he would tear down the Columbus statue, saying he will wait until the review is finished to comment, but even that has drawn ire from Italian-American groups in the city. Organizers of the Bronx Columbus Day parade said the mayor was not welcome at the march, according to WABC, but de Blasio did march in the larger Columbus Day parade in Manhattan.

The debate over Columbus was also interjected into the New York City mayoral race, with de Blasio's Republican opponent Nicole Malliotakis calling on the statue to remain in Columbus Circle.

 ABC News has reached out to the White House to clarify Trump's comments and ask for what incident he was specifically referring to Tuesday.

Several statutes of Columbus have been vandalized recently, including ones in Pittsburgh, Providence and St. Louis.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Senators reach deal to continue Obamacare insurance subsidy payments

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Less than a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to halt government payments that subsidize insurance plans for low-income Americans, Senate leaders agreed "in principle" to a bill that would cover the payments for two years.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee announced Tuesday that he reached an agreement with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the committee's ranking member. The senators each made brief presentations on the deal at lunches with their respective parties.

According to one source with knowledge of the bill, the agreement contains $160 million to restore outreach and enrollment funding for the Affordable Care Act.

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

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Independent economists on why they aren't buying Trump's tax plan promise

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump told the audience at a Heritage Foundation event in Washington Tuesday night that his administration's tax plan will boost the average American household income by $4,000. The figure was included in a report from White House economists published on Monday.

"Our tax plan will ensure that companies stay in America, grow in America, and hire in America," Trump said Tuesday night.

While the president previously made the pitch at speech in Pennsylvania last week, independent economists say the estimate is inflated and unrealistic.

White House Chief Economist Kevin Hassett has long advocated for a concept popular among many Republicans known as "supply-side economics," the view that tax cuts can spur investment, raise worker productivity and lead to higher wages and a stronger economy at all levels.

Joseph Rosenberg, a senior research associate at the non-partisan Urban Institute's Tax Policy Center, agreed that cutting federal corporate taxes from 35 percent to 20 percent, as the White House has proposed, could increase corporate profits. That could, in turn, spark wage growth, something economists say has been lacking since the Great Recession.

However, "the number is way too large and outside the range of plausible estimates," said Rosenberg, whose research focuses on business and corporate taxation.

William G. Gale, a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution and former senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush, said while it is important to understand this relationship between corporate tax cuts, growth, and wages, the estimates "are way too high and not well-justified."

Both economists expressed concern over the plan's potential to increase the national debt, which could offset the benefits the Trump administration is hoping for.

Gale told ABC News that the report leaves out the outcome of higher deficits, which could raise interest rates and hurt investments.

Both Gale and Rosenberg said a more reasonable result in annual household income would be about 10 percent of the White House's estimated increase, or about $400 per household per year. In 2016, the average household income was $83,143, according to the Trump administration’s report.

"Even that may be an overestimate of the net effect because it does not account for deficits," Gale said.

Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs, a former employer of many current White House economic advisers, told clients to expect a "modest" impact from Trump's plan.

“Overall, the research literature appears to suggest that tax cuts can have modestly positive supply-side effects, though some studies find no effect," the report stated.

A 2012 Obama administration report directly contradicts the current administration's suggestion that workers would benefit the most from such a corporate tax cut. But the paper is no longer on the Treasury Department's website.

When asked by ABC News about the report's removal, a Treasury spokesperson said the paper was "a dated staff analysis from the previous administration" and "does not represent our current thinking and analysis."

Jay Shambaugh, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University and former chief economist for the Obama administration, is also skeptical of Trump's tax plan. He said the suggestion of the average household income in the United States increasing by $4,000 annually is "unlikely" and the evidence used in the report is weak.

"Sensible, revenue-neutral business tax reform could increase growth, but simply cutting the rate in a way that increases deficits will also have offsetting losses for growth," Shambaugh told ABC News.

He cited the likelihood of reduced government investment as deficits increase due to less tax revenue.

The report suggests that the president will use the "$4,000 pay raise," as he called it in a speech in Pennsylvania last week, as the central argument for the plan.

The plan is heavily supported by GOP leadership like House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and right-leaning groups such as Americans for Prosperity, but President Trump has plenty of work ahead of him to pass the notoriously difficult tax reform. Sen. Bob Corker said earlier this month that he would vote against any bill that added "even one penny" to the national deficit.

Despite the disagreement from many outside economists and some budget hawk Republicans, the president will be speaking tonight to a crowd at the Heritage Foundation that has typically supported his agenda across the board.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Sean Spicer interviewed by special counsel team

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer met with members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s staff Monday as part of the expanding probe into potential collusion with Russia on election interference efforts in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. The news was first reported by Politico.

Spicer, who left his post as President Donald Trump’s first White House press secretary in August, follows his former boss and longtime ally Reince Priebus, who met with investigators last week.

In an interview with last month, when asked about the Russia investigation by ABC News' Paula Faris, Spicer provided a consistent response to repeated questions on the subject: “I’m not gonna discuss that issue at all.”

An attorney for Spicer, Chris Mead, declined to comment when reached by phone by ABC News.

Mueller’s team has indicated they’re interested in speaking with additional current and former White House aides, among them White House counsel Don McGahn and communications director Hope Hicks.

In June, ABC News reported that Mueller requested that White House officials preserve any records related to Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer.

ABC News also reported that Mueller wants to talk to some top aides who were involved in crafting the initial statement Trump Jr. gave in response to inquiries about the Trump Tower meeting, according to a source familiar with the conversation. The meeting was also attended by Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort.

Mueller, the source said, is interested in learning the extent to which the president weighed in on the statement, along with whether anyone else was involved in its crafting. ABC News has reported that President Trump was personally involved in the crafting of the original statement made by his son.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Obama didn't call John Kelly when his Marine son died in action, White House official says

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Adding to the continued drama over whether past presidents have called the families of fallen soldiers, a senior White House official told ABC News today that then-President Obama did not call John Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, after the death of his son in 2010.

The retired general’s son, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, died in action while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan.

Kelly and his wife attended a breakfast for Gold Star families at the White House in 2011 and sat at first lady Michelle Obama's table, a person familiar with the breakfast told ABC News.

But the breakfast, scheduled to be hosted by the Obamas, was six months after the death of Kelly's son. It's unclear whether President Obama contacted Kelly in any way prior to this.

President Obama's office did not respond today to a request for comment on whether he contacted Kelly in another way.

The White House comment comes a day after President Donald Trump made the unsubstantiated statement that "most" past presidents, including Obama, did not make calls to the families of fallen soldiers.

"If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls, a lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it," Trump said at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden Monday.

When asked about his comment that Obama didn't call the families of the fallen again later in the news conference, Trump said, "I don't know if he did. I was told that he didn't often. And a lot of presidents don't; they write letters. I do.”

"President Obama I think probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told. All I can do -- all I can do is ask my generals,” he added.

“Other presidents did not call. They’d write letters. And some presidents didn't do anything. But I like the combination of -- I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter.”

The question came up during the news conference in reference to the four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger.

A former Obama official said Trump's Monday Rose Garden statement – and not specifically addressing the claim about Kelly -- was "unequivocally wrong."

"President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency through calls, letters, visits to Section 60 at Arlington, visits to Walter Reed, visits to Dover, and regular meetings with Gold Star Families at the White House and across the country," the former Obama official said in a statement to ABC News.

Freddy Ford, a spokesman for former President George W. Bush, also issued a statement noting his outreach to the families of fallen soldiers.

"President Bush wrote all the families of the fallen, and called and/or met privately with hundreds if not thousands," Ford said in the statement, issued Monday.

An aide to former President Bill Clinton also called the statement false. "He did call the families of fallen soldiers while in office," this official told ABC News.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Michael Flynn Jr. likely to receive Senate subpoena in Russia probe, source says

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee will likely subpoena Michael Flynn Jr., the son of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, after he declined to be interviewed by the committee as part of its Russia probe, according to a committee source.

The panel had requested an interview and documents from the younger Flynn as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian efforts to influence the election.

Flynn Jr. worked closely with his father, a retired Army lieutenant general, in his consulting work and during the presidential transition until he was forced out of the Trump transition team after promoting the ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory on Twitter.

His father, who was forced to resign after serving 24 days as national security adviser for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials, has emerged as a key subject of the congressional and federal investigations into Russian election interference.

NBC News first reported the Senate Intelligence Committee’s interest in Flynn Jr.

Flynn Jr. could invoke his Fifth Amendment right and refuse to comply with a subpoena from the committee, as his father did in May following a similar committee request.

Aides to the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee declined to comment on the request to Flynn Jr.

Barry Coburn, a lawyer for Flynn Jr., declined to comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Congressman withdraws bid to be Trump's drug czar after controversy

House.gov(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., withdrew his nomination to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy after a news report found that a bill he authored weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration's ability to go after drug companies distributing large amounts of opioids.

"Rep. Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar," President Trump said in a tweet Tuesday morning.


During an impromptu news conference at the Rose Garden yesterday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump would not say whether he had confidence in Marino as a nominee.

"As far as Tom Marino, so he was a very early supporter of mine -- the great state of Pennsylvania. He's a great guy. I did see the report. We're going to look into the report. We're going to take it very seriously," Trump said.

Marino was nominated last September as drug czar.


Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct172017

Hillary Clinton says she won't run again despite Donald Trump's urging

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton has reiterated, yet again, that she is not going to run for president a third time, despite President Donald Trump's latest urging that she do so.

During an interview that aired today with BBC Radio 4 in the U.K., Clinton was asked whether she will make another run for the White House and she said, "No, I'm not going to run again."

She maintained that she will continue to monitor and criticize Trump, saying she believes her voice will "be magnified because I am not running."

This is not the first time she has said she will not make a third presidential bid, but this latest rebuttal comes after Trump said he would like to run against her again.

"Oh, I hope Hillary runs,” he said during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden Monday afternoon. “Is she going to run? I hope. Hillary, please run again.”

He had tweeted a similar sentiment earlier in the day. "I was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020? My answer was, 'I hope so!'" he wrote Monday morning.

Trump won the White House with 306 Electoral College votes to Clinton's 232, while she won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







ABC News Radio