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Friday
Aug182017

Meet Hope Hicks, the White House interim communications director 

Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One of the longest-serving members of the Trump administration is a 28-year-old who had no political experience before the 2016 presidential campaign.

Starting with the administration as director of strategic communications, Hope Hicks has been a regular presence in the White House and is seen as one of the members of the inner circle of Trump's top advisers.

She began her career in public relations, entering the larger Trump orbit when she worked with the Trump Organization and specifically Ivanka Trump's fashion line.

In April 2015, two months before Donald Trump announced his presidential bid, Hicks was featured on the style blog of Ivanka Trump's fashion line. The post featured Hicks, who was then working as the Trump Organization's director of communications, in a light teal shift dress from the line and described how her "typical workday could include a major meeting, an all-day event or even an out-of-state trip."

Hicks and Trump's eldest daughter appear to have maintained a good relationship, as Ivanka Trump tweeted a congratulatory message to Hicks when she was included on Forbes' "30 Under 30" list in January.

"Congrats to my brilliant, kind & wickedly funny friend Hope Hicks on being named to the @Forbes #30Under30 list!" she tweeted.

Hicks has previously worked as a model and she was featured on the cover of one of the novels in the "Gossip Girl" book series.

The Greenwich, Connecticut, native earned an English degree from Southern Methodist University.

Now, she is the youngest person to ever lead the White House communications team.

That marks the latest promotion during her time as part of the Trump political team. She served as a spokesperson for the campaign after Trump announced that he was running for president, and when he won, she was named director of strategic communications.

She was named interim White House communications director on Aug. 16.

The official White House statement announcing her role said that she would be working with press secretary Sarah Sanders and the communications team, and that the announcement of a permanent communications director will be made "at the appropriate time."

In spite of dealing directly with national media for about two years, she rarely speaks out publicly herself.

One example of such reluctance came in June 2016. She was contacted by a reporter for GQ magazine who wanted to do a profile article on her, and while Hicks would not be interviewed for the piece, she allowed then-candidate Trump to speak to the reporter about her.

"Hope's been involved from the beginning, and she has been absolutely terrific," Trump said in the GQ interview.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug182017

Businessman Carl Icahn departs role advising Trump on regulations

Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Businessman Carl Icahn announced on Friday that he will step away from his role as a special advisor to President Donald Trump on regulatory reform issues -- a decision he claims was made to avoid the suggestion of conflicts of interest by critics of the administration.

In a letter to Trump posted by Icahn to his personal website, he describes the nature of his position as informal, noting he had "no duties whatsoever" -- as opposed to the recently named administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Neomi Rao. In the letter, Icahn further dismisses suggestions that he had the opportunity to personally benefit from the role.

"I never had access to nonpublic information or profited from my position, nor do I believe that my role presented conflicts of interest," wrote Icahn, adding, "I never sought any special benefit for any company with which I have been involved, and have only expressed views that I believed would benefit the refining industry as a whole."

The announcement from Icahn, the founder and majority shareholder of conglomerate Icahn Enterprises, comes days after a number of business leaders resigned from the White House's American Manufacturing Council in the aftermath of Trump's response to last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The American Manufacturing Council disbanded on Wednesday, as did a second, separate panel of CEOs, dubbed the Strategic and Policy Forum.

Icahn's letter made no mention of Charlottesville.

The businessman, an early endorser of Trump's, was frequently praised by the Republican presidential nominee on the campaign trail in 2016. Trump portrayed Icahn as a master negotiator who would assist his potential administration in preventing the outsourcing of jobs by American corporations.

"If Ford or another company announces they want to move their jobs to Mexico or another country, then I will pick up the phone… I will call the executives or I’ll have Carl Icahn do it," Trump said on one such occasion in Michigan in October 2016.

A billionaire, Icahn first began to make his name in the 1980s when he engaged in the earliest of his numerous corporate takeovers by which he accumulated the majority of his wealth.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug182017

Romney says Trump must 'apologize' for remarks that caused 'racists to rejoice'

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is calling on President Donald Trump to apologize and address the fallout from his statements about the violence in Charlottesville, warning that a failure to act could lead to "an unraveling of our national fabric."

"Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn," Romney wrote in a post on Facebook this morning.

"His apologists strain to explain that he didn't mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric," Romney said.

The former Massachusetts governor who was the GOP presidential nominee in 2012 wrote that the "potential consequences" to how people are interpretating Trump's comments "are severe in the extreme."

"Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme," he wrote.

Romney wrote that Trump should "address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize."

"State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis -- who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat -- and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute," Romney wrote.

Romney also suggests that Trump "definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association."

"Mr. President, act now for the good of the country," he concluded.

This is not the first time that Romney has publicly criticized Trump, even on the Charlottesville violence. He tweeted after Trump's latest comments at a press conference on Tuesday, writing "No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes."

This latest public rebuke stands in stark contrast to better times in the Romney-Trump relationship. Trump endorsed Romney in 2012, but then when it was Trump's turn to run 2016, Romney became one of Trump's most vocal critics, and at one point held a press conference urging delegates in upcoming primaries to do whatever they could to prevent Trump from becoming the party's nominee.

They appeared to reach a truce after Trump won, and Romney was very publicly considered to fill the role of Trump's secretary of state, but then was not chosen.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug182017

Charities, non-profits pull events from Mar-a-Lago amid Charlottesville controversy 

John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A number of high profile charitable organizations have withdrawn fundraising events and galas from President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida amid growing backlash to the president's response to the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville last weekend.

On Friday, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army all confirmed to ABC News that they are no longer going to be holding their fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago this upcoming year.

“The Salvation Army relies heavily on fundraising events like The Holiday Snow Ball in Palm Beach to further our mission of helping those in need through a range of social services including food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, clothing and shelter for the homeless, and opportunities for the underprivileged," the Salvation Army wrote in a statement, "Because the conversation has shifted away from the purpose of this event, we will not host it at Mar-a-Lago.”

Yesterday, the American Cancer Society -- which has held events at Mar-a-Lago since 2009 -- along with the Cleveland Clinic, both announced they were pulling fundraising events scheduled at the club for next year.

"Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community. It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations," the American Cancer Society wrote in a statement.

These organizations join a growing list of groups that are changing the venues for their fundraising events, many saying they want to avoid being politicized.

The Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Leaders in Furthering Education (LIFE), have also said they are changing venues for events previously scheduled at Mar-a-Lago.

“America was founded on the principles of life, liberty and justice for all. In the 241 years since, millions of Americans of all religions, races, creeds, color, gender and sexual orientation have died – and millions more have been disabled – fighting to protect these values and freedoms. Now, however, our great nation is under siege by those who seek to undermine and obliterate these principles. Indeed, the hatred, vitriol and Anti-Semitic and racist views being spewed by Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are repugnant and repulsive -- and they are antithetical to everything that this country, and I personally stand for," Lois Pope, a philanthropist and veterans advocate who founded LIFE, wrote in a statement provided to ABC News.

Other groups that have pulled events from Mar-a-Lago include the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Friends of Magen David Adom and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society cited the security hassles of hosting an event at Mar-a-Lago as a reason for their switching venues.

Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce executive director Laurel Baker, who has been outspoken on organizations continuing to hold fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago, told ABC News: “I’ve been carrying around this quote with me for a while, it’s from Dante: ‘The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.’”

Baker also told ABC News that she expects more and more organizations will be pulling events in the coming weeks, but that those decisions are best left up to the organizations themselves.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug182017

Ruby Ridge siege, 25 years later, a 'rallying cry' for today's white nationalists

Courtesy Kootenai County Sheriffs Office(NEW YORK) -- Public protests by self-declared white supremacists. Criticism of how police handled a violent standoff. Three deaths.

These events recall last week’s outbursts in Charlottesville, Virginia, but actually describe a 25-year-old incident in a forested region of northern Idaho, about 40 miles south of the Canadian border.

That 11-day standoff starting Aug. 21, 1992, between federal agents and a heavily armed family at Ruby Ridge laid the groundwork for today’s anti-government sentiment and white supremacy movement displayed for all to see in Charlottesville, according to one expert.

“I think of it [Ruby Ridge] as the precursor for the last couple, three decades of extremism because it combined two things: white supremacy and rage against the government, and that is exactly the same two movements on the far right that has animated extremism on the far right up until today,” said Heidi Beirich, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a legal advocacy organization that monitors such extremist groups.

“Ruby Ridge is the beginning of all this. The right-wing media starts in the era after this ... all of this builds out of the rage that was symbolized with this event,” she told ABC News.

Despite Beirich’s tracing the movement from Ruby Ridge to the present, the 1992 standoff is unique in many ways, as this look back shows:

The making of a suspect

The cabin at the top of Ruby Ridge was home to the Weaver family, built by Randy and Vicki Weaver when they relocated their family from Iowa to Idaho.

"[Randy Weaver] really was an apocalyptic living on a mountain top with his family,” said Jess Walter, a reporter who covered the standoff at the time and went on to write a book about it.

His book became a made-for-TV movie four years after the event, with Laura Dern starring as Vicki Weaver and a young Kirsten Dunst as daughter Sara Weaver.

In the years before the legal troubles that led to the fatal standoff, the Weaver family spent time on a nearby compound that belonged to the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist group.

The family said their time spent at the Aryan Nations compound was “for social reasons, they were looking for people to hang out with,” Walter explained. No one from the Weaver family formally became a member of the group, he added, “even though they espoused similar belief systems.”

White supremacist ideologies espouse what they call the inferiority of nonwhite races, according to the SPLC.

Randy Weaver was known to wear shirts that said, “Just Say No to ZOG,” referencing a hate slogan for Zionist Organized Government, and his son, Samuel, reportedly wore a swastika armband.

“They had all the trappings; they just didn’t join the group,” Walter said.

While there, at some point in 1989, a confidential informant for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms struck up a relationship with Weaver and, in a move that was later dismissed as entrapment, advised and persuaded Weaver to saw off the tops of shotguns, breaking federal law.

ATF agents used the charges to approach Weaver about becoming an informant himself, but he refused.

Weaver was arrested for sawing off the shotguns in January 1991 after ATF agents pretended they were having car trouble and Weaver and his wife stopped to help. Weaver later failed to appear in court and a bench warrant was issued.

Months of attempts by the U.S. Marshals Service to get Weaver to surrender peacefully went by, leading the government to install surveillance cameras on his property. On Aug. 21, 1992, a crew of six marshals went to surveil the property in person.

What happened on a hilltop in Idaho

The Weaver’s dog alerted the family of the marshals’ presence and Randy Weaver, son Sammy, 14, and their family friend Kevin Harris went to investigate, bringing weapons with them. A firefight ensued after one of the marshals fatally shot the dog.

The two sides exchanged gunfire and, afterwards, Sammy and Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Degan lay dead.

In a subsequent report from the Ruby Ridge Task Force created by the Department of Justice, officials noted that they were "unable to determine conclusively who fired the first shot during the exchange of gunfire."

The next day, as Randy Weaver, his daughter Sara and Harris were going to visit the body of Sammy Weaver, which family members had moved to a nearby shed, an FBI sniper shot Randy Weaver in the armpit. As the three ran back into the house, the sniper fired a second shot that hit Harris in the chest and went through the door and fatally struck Vicki Weaver, who was standing behind the door while holding the family’s infant daughter.

As the fatal drama played out for days up at the cabin, all public updates came through FBI officials who kept reporters and the public at a checkpoint about a mile and a half from the scene. All told, writer Walter estimates, more than 200 members of federal, state and local law enforcement were involved in the standoff.

“There were two standoffs. There was one at the cabin and there was one down at the roadblock where the protesters had gathered,” Walter said of a mix of people that included locals and outsiders who had traveled to the remote spot in Idaho to show their support of the Weavers or condemn the government.

The updates from the FBI were not always accurate, as they did not initially have - and therefore did not disclose - correct information. For instance, Vicki Weaver was fatally shot on the second day of the standoff, which wasn’t publicly disclosed until day nine.

“The whole roadblock felt like dried kindling,” Walter said. “It would just take one lightning strike and this could really get worse.”

“The most terrifying night was when they announced that Vicki Weaver had been killed.”

“Angry self-described patriots would run up to the roadblock and they'd scream things like, ‘This means war’ and ‘Baby killer,’” Walter said, though no babies died in the standoff.

A civilian negotiator became involved and coordinated communications between the Weavers and federal authorities. The negotiator helped arrange for Harris to be brought out of the cabin on a stretcher so that he could be treated for his injuries. On Aug. 31, the day after Harris was removed, Weaver surrendered.

Randy Weaver and Harris were arrested on numerous charges, though Weaver was later acquitted of all charges except for the original charge of missing his court date. Harris was also acquitted of charges related to the death of the marshal, and a later murder charge in connection to the marshal’s death was dismissed in 1997 on the grounds of double-jeopardy.

In 1995, the Weaver family received an out-of-court settlement from the federal government in a wrongful death suit. Randy Weaver received $100,000 and his three daughters received $1 million each. The government did not admit any wrongdoing in the deaths of Vicki and Sammy Weaver.

Investigations by the Department of Justice and the FBI followed for years after the standoff, and Ruby Ridge was the subject of a 1995 hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee that focused on FBI actions at the scene and the agency’s handling of the subsequent investigations.

Sara Weaver, who is the only Weaver child who has previously spoken to the media about the incident, declined to be interviewed for this story and ABC News has been unable to reach Harris and Randy Weaver.

In the shadows of the standoff

The standoff at Ruby Ridge was not the only flashpoint between disaffected Americans and government officials around that time.

The deadly FBI siege in Waco, Texas, began in February 1993, about five months after the standoff at Ruby Ridge, and the bombing of an FBI office building in Oklahoma City occurred in April 1995.

Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, called the three incidents a “pattern” of “the same kind of events,” while Walter recalled that Waco and Oklahoma City rekindled interest in Ruby Ridge.

ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts noted, “The overreaction of the government, and in the end, the deaths of three people and a dog [at Ruby Ridge], convinced people who hated the government that they were right. So it just played into that whole paranoid view and then when Waco was added on, [it] spawned a whole new society of anti-government groups.”

“I think the FBI learned a great deal from it,” Roberts said, noting that the reviews and investigations of the incident likely led to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies’ realizing “how not to do that again.”

The FBI field office that covers Idaho did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.

Reverberations of Ruby Ridge today

In the end, Walter told ABC News, “The fallout from Ruby Ridge was [that it] sort of mainstreamed some of those really right-wing conspiratorial beliefs and, in many ways, when you have conspiracy buffs saying the government’s out to kill you, and then a case like that happens, it just continues to reverberate and echo.”

One of the best-known, self-declared members of the so-called alt-right told ABC News that Ruby Ridge was a "particularly stunning example" of federal government overreach.

Jared Taylor, the editor of the American Renaissance magazine and leader of the associated group that he has described as a white advocacy organization, told ABC News that Ruby Ridge was "an outrage" and he instantly recalled specific details about the standoff, including the name of the FBI sharpshooter who killed Vicki Weaver.

The standoff "was an extraordinary example -- just like the Waco attack on the Branch Davidian -- of overweaning federal power,” he said. “This is something that many Americans, I think, legitimately fear.”

"Americans have short historical memories... but this was something that was so outrageous that in certain circles it has real notoriety," Taylor said, noting that the groups in question are likely those who "have a general distrust of government."

Taylor, who is a white nationalist and believes white identity is under attack, did not recall any Neo-Nazi protesters assembling at the roadblock in support of the Weavers, but he thinks that the issues connected to Ruby Ridge are not solely of interest to members of his ideology.

"Yes, I am a racial dissident, and because the federal government is very much in the business of making decisions that are objectively not in the interest of white [people], I am suspicious of that power but I want to make it very clear that it is not only people like myself that share that suspicion," Taylor told ABC News.

Walter, the reporter, said that while “the radical right-wing becomes mainstreamed every once in a while, and never more than now,” he doubts that the 2016 campaign, election or the administration of President Donald Trump “mainstreamed those beliefs, so much as those beliefs are always out there.”

Beirich partly disagrees, telling ABC that “these ideas -- whether they're the anti-government ideas or the racial ideas -- were pretty much kept to the margins of American politics ... until recently.”

There’s been “a slow march through the institutions of the right-wing through the ‘90s, the first decades of the 2000s,” Beirich said, but it has reached a new point in the past two years, when there was a presidential candidate “who was openly racist, openly anti-Muslim, openly anti-immigration, openly anti-U.N., openly anti-globalization.”

“Those are all of the ideas from the extreme right and they finally made it into the mainstream,” she said.

When asked whether she expects that some people might celebrate or commemorate Monday’s 25th anniversary of the beginning of the standoff, Beirich said, “I’m sure they will.”

“These people have been talking about Ruby Ridge the whole way through,” she added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug172017

Trump tweets reference to inaccurate anecdote about Gen. Pershing

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a tweet seemingly responding to the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday, President Donald Trump referenced a factually inaccurate anecdote about combatting Muslim enemies that he often repeated on the campaign trail.

Thirteen people were killed when a van drove through a crowd of pedestrians on a busy street in Spain's second largest city Thursday. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the act that left 100 people injured as well.

"Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught," wrote Trump, less than four hours after the attack. "There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!"

 

 

The president's post was apparently in reference to a legend about World War I-era Army Gen. John J. Pershing that he first told publicly during a campaign rally in Charleston, South Carolina, in February 2016. According to Trump, Pershing dipped the bullets used to execute Muslim terrorists in pig blood. The Quran prohibits the consumption of pork, which is considered to be "impure."

"They had a terrorism problem and there's a whole thing with swine and pigs and you know the story they don't like them ... and Gen. Pershing was a rough guy and he sits on his horse and he's very astute, like a ramrod. ... And he caught 50 terrorists that did tremendous damage and killed many people ... and he dipped 50 bullets in pig's blood," Trump explained.

"And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people," he continued. "And the 50th person he said, 'You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.' And for 25 years there wasn't a problem, OK? Twenty-five years there wasn't a problem!"

At the time the story was told, Politifact, an organization that fact-checks the claims of politicians, evaluated Trump's tale and concluded it to be "ridiculous." Politifact cited eight historians who not only noted that the evidence for the blood-dipped bullet aspect of the story "is thin," but also that violence and unrest continued in the referenced region in the Philippines for years during and after U.S. involvement.

It is unclear why Trump's original claim of "25 years" without "a problem" increased to "35 years" in his tweet Thursday.

Snopes, an additional fact-checking outlet, similarly rated the story as false. In its analysis, Snopes writes of a 1927 Chicago Daily Tribune story noting Pershing "sprinkled some prisoners with pig's blood," which was ultimately "more powerful than bullets" as a warning before releasing the prisoners, as well of a separate account that "attributed the deed to someone other than Pershing."

At a press conference from Trump Tower in New York Tuesday, the president outlined his stance on adhering to factual information in response to a question about his hesitancy to condemn hate groups following violent protests last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it's a very, very important process to me," said Trump, continuing, "So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug172017

3 Representatives want to officially 'censure' Trump after Charlottesville

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In response to the President’s controversial remarks about the violence in Charlottesville, a trio of Democrats now want to censure the president.

Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-NJ, announced their intent to introduce a formal resolution of censure Friday when the House is back in session. A censure resolution, if adopted, would be a formal and historic rebuke of President Trump's remarks from Congress.

The draft resolution from the small group of Democrats cites specific actions the representatives believe merit censure:

“Whereas President Donald Trump’s immediate public comments rebuked ‘many sides’ for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and failed to specifically condemn the ‘Unite the Right’ rally or cite the white supremacist, neo-Nazi gathering as responsible for actions of domestic terrorism.”

and

"Whereas President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with, and cultivated the influence of, senior advisors and spokespeople who have long histories of promoting white nationalist, alt-Right, racist and anti-Semitic principles and policies within the country."

What is censure?

A censure in the context of the United States government is an official statement of disapproval or condemnation towards a public official, including cabinet members, judges, members of Congress and the president. While a censure does not remove an individual from office, it can send a powerful message rebuking his or her past actions or statements. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are censured are forced to give up any committee chairmanships.

How does it work?

The U.S. Constitution does not specifically mention censures, though article 1, Section 5, Clause 2 of the constitution states that “each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”

There is no one process for passing censure motions in Congress. Unlike impeachment proceedings, which have very set procedural rules, a motion to censure could be introduced, debated or voted on in either the House, the Senate or both chambers simultaneously. It could be introduced jointly, in the form of what’s called a concurrent resolution, in both chambers or not. As is the case with other calls for other resolutions, there is no guarantee an individual representative’s motion to censure will be brought to the floor for a vote

When have censures been used?

According to the National Constitution Center, censure motions were introduced against presidents Abraham Lincoln, John Tyler, James Polk, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. However, the U.S. Senate has only successfully passed a censure motion against one president.

In 1834, the Senate censured President Andrew Jackson when he refused to submit notes from his Cabinet meeting regarding his veto against a Congressional motion to re-charter the First Bank of the United States. Henry Clay, a member of the rival Whig political party, then led the decision to censure Jackson. After 10 weeks of debate, Senate members voted 26-20 to pass the censure against Jackson for using "authority and power not conferred by the Constitution."

Largely symbolic in nature, the motion did not prevent Jackson from making his proposed changes to the bank, but according to the National Constitution Center, he remained angry about the decision for years. In a message to the Senate in April 1834 Jackson said the censure was “wholly unauthorized by the Constitution, and in derogation of its entire spirit.” The censure was expunged three years later in 1837 when the Democratic Party regained control of the Senate.

Since 1978, nine senators have been censured, with the most recent case in 1990.

The House last passed a censure measure against former Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY, in 2010 over violating ethics rules by misusing donations and failing to pay income taxes. According to the Congressional Research Service, 23 representatives have been censured.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug172017

How white nationalists, counterprotesters who were in Charlottesville prepare for rallies

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Months before the recent violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalists and their opposition, counter protesters, including those who call themselves anti-fascist, or antifa, and local residents, had a showdown during an "alt-right" rally in the small town of Pikeville, Kentucky.

One difference between that event and the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally is that no one died at the Pikeville rally.

The Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) hosted a “Take A Stand for White Working Families” rally in Pikeville on April 29. White nationalist Matthew Heimbach, a delivery driver and father of two, is the leader of the TWP and he had chosen Pikeville as the site for the rally.

Watch the full story on ABC News "20/20" FRIDAY, Aug. 18 at 10 p.m. ET

Eighty percent of the votes in Pike County, which includes Pikeville, cast for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Heimbach said he saw Pikeville, the town known for the famous family feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, as fertile ground to recruit new members to his cause, creating a whites-only homeland

“I want to be a community organizer and the white working class is my community,” Heimbach told ABC News’ “20/20.” “I just want to be able to give my people a voice so they’re not disenfranchised.”
Heimbach first made headlines in 2013 for his attempts to form all-white student groups at college campuses, starting with his alma mater, Towson University in Maryland.

“The Traditionalist Worker Party is a nationalist, socialist, secessionist political party, working to be able to fight for an independent national socialist white homeland,” Heimbach said.

Heimbach uses social media to help encourage new recruits and says his movement’s strongest area of membership is in Appalachia and in the Rust Belt.

“This is an area where people have just been left behind by the economy, where white folks feel that they don't have an advocate. This is where we're able to be there to speak for the forgotten Americans,” he said.

On the morning of the Pikeville rally, Heimbach and other members of his group camped out several miles away in the mountains, preparing for the day. Since Kentucky law allows open carry of weapons, many in the group had guns in their possession.

“We’re prepared to defend ourselves,” an attendee named Ken told “20/20.” “As you can see, many of us are armed, and we're ready.”

Some members at the event asked to remain anonymous, with one man telling “20/20,” “I’m a Baptist preacher, so I [have] got to maintain a low profile.”

The morning began with a lesson on how to wear gas masks and training exercises on how to stand in formation and march. In addition to weapons, the group also had shields.

“We’re carrying shields to be able to defend ourselves against their attacks,” said Heimbach, referring to the protesters they were expecting to show up at their rally.

“We want to be like ants. We’re a colony and we just go and destroy everything in our way,” a member of Vanguard America named Dylan told “20/20.”

As Heimbach’s group practiced in the woods, Pikeville city manager Donovan Blackburn was also getting prepared for the day.

“We have spoken with Homeland Security, and they’re aware and have made us aware also of a lot of chatter on social media,” Blackburn told “20/20.” “The counter protesters and the antifa are the groups that I’m concerned about.” Among those counter protesters were local residents not affiliated with antifa.

Daryle Lamont Jenkins, an antifa researcher and founder of One People’s Project, and Lacy MacAuley, a prominent antifa movement organizer, both helped bring people together in Pikeville to counter protest TWP’s rally. Jenkins’ organization monitors and publishes information about alleged racist and supremacist groups, individuals and activities.

“I’m not trying to shut them up. I’m trying to shut them down. I think that’s the goal,” Jenkins, who helped get the word out to antifa supporters about the counter protest, told “20/20.” “They have their freedom of speech. What is a problem is that they don’t want you to have yours.”

MacAuley got organized for the day with a megaphone, extra batteries and a black bandana.

"The universal anti-fascist symbol [is] three arrows pointing down,” MacAuley told “20/20.”
Heimbach’s group was more than an hour late to the rally after its convoy got lost on the way down from the mountains. But once they arrived in Pikeville, they marched straight into a cacophony of noise and chants led by MacAuley on her bullhorn.

Heimbach, whose group had a permit to rally in the town, warned his followers to keep their emotions in check. “These people are not worth your time, your energy, the words coming out of your mouth,” he told them.

Both sides were armed: Some antifa members carried clubs, and some white nationalists had guns.
Police kept each side restricted to fenced-in pens on opposite sides of a Pikeville downtown square. A line of officers used their bodies to physically keep them apart.

At one point, demonstrators on each side jumped the fences, and police rushed to push each side back behind their barriers, trying to keep them separated.

Police later brought in re-enforcements to help keep the peace, including deploying the state police riot team to assist in creating a barricade between the two groups.

As time ran out on the permit, members of Heimbach’s group headed back to their cars, with demonstrators following and taunting them. Nervous as they drove away past antifa in downtown Pikeville, Heimbach pulled his gun onto his lap.

“When you’ve got a lot of people that want to kill you, you’ve got to work fast and do your best to not get killed,” Heimbach said, laughing.

After a loud but ultimately safe day, Heimbach and his group headed out of Pikeville. He next helped organize the “Unite the Right” rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12.
There, it was a very different scene, which resulted in three people dead and a 20-year-old man, who participated in the white nationalist rally, facing murder charges.

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Thursday
Aug172017

Republican senator calls for 'radical changes' from the White House

Paul Morigi/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee offered up a stinging rebuke of President Trump Thursday afternoon by questioning Trump's stability and competence as a leader in the wake of a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate that he needs to be successful," Corker said Thursday to group of reporters after an event in his home state.

Corker called for "radical changes" from the White House, delivering a pointed critique of Trump for his lack of discipline in handling a national crisis.

Corker, a conservative, excoriated Trump for his failure to appropriately speak to a nation still reeling from the racially charged incident over the weekend. Corker said Trump helped to fuel divisions in an attempt to generate support from his political base.

"Helping inspire divisions because it generates support from your political base is not a formula for causing our nation to advance and overcome the many issues that we have to deal with right now," Corker said.

"He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation," he went on. "He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today."

These are exceptionally strong statements from a U.S. senator against a member of his own party, and by far one of the most damning critiques of the president by a conservative GOP senator during Trump's presidency.

"He's got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that, without the things that I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril," he said.

When asked by reporters if he thinks Trump has done enough to denounce Nazis and white nationalists, Corker said Trump didn't say what he should have.

“I don’t think that the president has appropriately spoken to the nation on this issue. And I think that sometimes he gets in a situation when he doubles down when he tries to ... make a wrong a right. I think he’s done that in this case. I would ask that he take stock of who he is as president of all the people in the nation," Corker said.

"Those of us who have positions of responsibility we have to understand that at the end of the day, in spite of whether people misunderstand or understand differently, our role is to make our nation great and to overcome these issues and it takes far more discipline sometimes, way more discipline, a lot of strength, inner strength to be measured and to try to solve problems," he said.

"I will say we're at a point where there needs to be radical changes take place at the White House itself, it has to happen," Corker warned. "The president needs to take stock of the role that he plays in our nation and move beyond himself, move way beyond himself and move to a place where daily he's waking up thinking what is best for this nation."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug172017

Trump lawyer forwards email praising Robert E. Lee as a 'great man'

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Amid the fallout from President Trump's comments that "both sides" are to blame for the weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, his personal lawyer John Dowd forwarded an email to friends and associates casting Confederate army commander Robert E. Lee as a "great man" and saying that the Black Lives Matter movement has been "totally infiltrated by terrorist groups."

The email, first reported by the New York Times, was not written by Dowd -- but contained arguments promoting pro-Confederate propaganda. The email was sent to Dowd shortly after the president’s contentious press conference on Tuesday. Dowd later forwarded the email.

"The following information and argument President Trump should put forth concerning Charlottesville and General Robert E. Lee," wrote Jerome Almon, the author of the email.

Almon, who has promoted a number of conspiracy theories online and claims to have predicted several terrorist attacks, told ABC News in a phone interview that he is glad to see the information in the email he sent to Dowd "is getting out” and argued that Black Lives Matter is "just as racist as the KKK."

Almon, who is black, said his email was not meant to be sympathetic of the Confederacy but to make the case that Lee saved the country by surrendering at the war’s end rather than resorting to guerrilla tactics.

“Instead, [Lee] ordered the commander to tell his troops to go home, plant crops, and rebuild,” Almon said in the email he sent to Dowd, adding that “the protesters need to heed General Lee’s advice and go back to the ghettos and do raise their children.”

Almon's email praises Lee's actions ending the Civil War but doesn't go into the divisive issue of slavery.
“You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington, there literally is no difference between the two men,” Almon writes in the email, equating the actions taken by the nation’s first president in leading the Revolutionary War to the actions of Lee.

A source familiar with Dowd's actions says the lawyer was simply forwarding on an email and was not espousing the ideas that it contained. The source said that Dowd is now receiving "hate calls" and that the frenzy created over the email demonstrates how the political discourse has gone "off the rails."

Almon describes himself as supportive of Trump's policies and said that the president was correct on Tuesday when he said there was blame on both sides for the violence in Charlottesville.

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