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Tuesday
Nov132018

Trump and his legal team met Monday to answer Mueller’s questions: Sources

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is huddling with his lawyers this week to craft responses to list of written questions from special counsel Robert Mueller, sources close to the president told ABC News on Tuesday.

Trump and his legal team met on Monday in Washington, D.C., to discuss the list of questions from Mueller, and were expected to reconvene on Tuesday, the sources added.

The questions, as ABC News has previously reported, center on alleged Russian meddling during the 2016 election cycle, which Mueller is tasked with investigating. The nearly year and a half long probe by the special counsel stems from allegations of Russia coordinating with members of the Trump presidential campaign.

Mueller and his team of prosecutors have indicted 32 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to obstruction of justice.

Those indictments have led to six guilty pleas and three people sentenced to prison.

Four former Trump campaign officials – including his onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort – are among those who have pleaded guilty.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov132018

Trump planning shakeup, eyeing new chief of staff and DHS secretary: Sources

Alex Edelman- Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is considering yet another shakeup of his administration, preparing to remove Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and looking at possible replacements for Chief of Staff John Kelly, including Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Nielsen, who became secretary at Homeland Security when John Kelly left DHS to become Trump's chief of staff, is expected to leave her role in the coming weeks and could be asked to resign, according to sources. However, Kelly is fighting to delay her departure, the sources said. The timeline for a shakeup remains unclear and the White House has not responded to a request for comment.

“The Secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the President’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so,” DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton said in a statement Monday. The Washington Post first reported the news of Nielsen's potential departure. The White House did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment about the potential changes. Meanwhile, Kelly's job is also uncertain and his fate has been in question for some time. Sources tell ABC News that within the last few weeks, the president has once again discussed Kelly’s fate with many of his top advisers; Kelly has continued to grow distant with the president, sources said.

This past summer, ABC News reported that Kelly had accepted the president’s request to remain as chief staff through 2020.

Trump has expressed significant interest in Ayers with sources describing the 36-year-old as the leading candidate to take over as Trump's chief of staff. Some sources close to the president describe Ayers taking Kelly’s place as a "done deal" while others caution nothing is certain until the president says so. Ayers has become close with the president and in the last week and has met with him about taking the job. Multiple sources say the president and Ayers had an extended conversation on election night in the White House while watching returns. Ayers' role as the right-hand man to Pence over the past year has put him in close proximity during some of the key moments of the Trump presidency. Multiple sources tell ABC News Ayers has also grown close to the president's family, particularly Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, in recent months. President Trump has also complained about Kelly's lack of political acumen and has praised Ayers for his detailed political strategy for Pence's midterm election efforts. Ayers did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump has previously wanted to fire Nielsen, but Kelly would frequently jump in and threaten to resign -- his threats delaying the move, sources have told ABC. They say there were times during the administration where Kelly and Nielsen even discussed leaving the administration together. The president has said privately for months he doesn't believe that Nielsen is doing enough to enforce stricter immigration policies. Just last month, there was a highly contentious confrontation between Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton over increased border crossings. Sources tell ABC News the fight had to do specifically with Nielsen's job performance. "There's no love lost between either of them," a senior administration official tells ABC News referring to Nielsen and Trump. "All that has kept Nielsen on was not her loyalty to the president but desire to protect the department from his whims and to let her people do their jobs."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov132018

President Trump blames Secret Service for canceled visit to WWI cemetery in France after criticism

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump placed full blame for his canceled visit to a World War I cemetery in France over the weekend on the Secret Service, claiming that he suggested driving after it was deemed unsafe to take the presidential chopper during rainy weather but that the Secret Service said "NO."

While President Trump now says the Secret Service was behind the decision not to make a more than two-hour drive to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday that the president did not want to do the drive because of the disruption it would have caused to the people of Paris.

“Yesterday, because of near-zero visibility, Marine One was unable to fly, as had been planned. A car ride of two and a half hours, each way, would have required closures to substantial portions of the Paris roadways for the President’s motorcade, on short notice. President Trump did not want to cause that kind of unexpected disruption to the city and its people," Sanders said in a statement.

Chief of staff John Kelly and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford visited the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in President Trump's place.

While the president did not make it to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial on Saturday, he did deliver remarks honoring America's World War I fallen the following day at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial.

During the remarks on Sunday, the president offered a shoutout to World War II in attendance, and at one point acknowledged one sitting under a shelter while he spoke during a light rain at the memorial site.

"You look so comfortable up there under cover while we are getting drenched," Trump joked during his speech at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial, a military cemetery in Suresnes, France where over 1,500 American soldiers were buried after World War I. "You're very smart people."

In addition to his defense of the canceled cemetery visit, President Trump issued a series of tweets critical of French President Emanuel Macron, who has previously been seen as President Trump's closest personal friend on the global stage.

Bashing the French president's approval ratings on Tuesday, the president tweeted "MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!"

The president's attacks on Macron come after the French president offered a veiled rebuke of President Trump during a speech over the weekend, declaring that nationalism is the opposite of patriotism. President Trump, meanwhile, has publicly labeled himself a nationalist and embraced the title.

"By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!" Trump says in a tweet, apparently firing back at Macron.

The president even weighed in on wine, one of France's most-prized industries, to complain that France does not engage in fair trade practices with the U.S. over the alcoholic beverage. President Trump does not drink alcohol himself, though his family business does own a winery.

A spokesperson for the Élysée Palace told ABC News "no comment" when asked whether there was a response to President Trump’s tweets.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov132018

CNN sues President Trump, aides over removal of Jim Acosta's press pass

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- CNN and its chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta filed suit Tuesday against President Donald Trump, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, the president's chief of staff John Kelly and the U.S. Secret Service, among others, over the suspension of Acosta's WHite House press credentials and demanded they be returned.

"The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process," CNN's communications team said in a press release.

In the complaint, filed in D.C. District Court, lawyers for CNN argued the "revocation of Acosta's credentials is only the beginning."

"This severe and unprecedented punishment is the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting — an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view," CNN's lawyers wrote in the court documents.

The president "lacks the authority to quash" the First Amendment, the lawyers wrote, and access to the White House cannot be denied arbitrarily.

According to the lawsuit, CNN and Acosta aim to "enforce this constitutional commitment, restore Acosta’s well-deserved press credentials, and ensure that the press remains free to question the government and to report the business of the nation to the American people."

"This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit, Sanders responded Tuesday. "CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment," Sanders said in a statement. "After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions—each of which the President answered—he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters." "The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional," Sanders continued. "The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.”

White House Correspondents' Association President Olivier Knox issued a statement supporting CNN's legal move, saying the White House should not have taken away Acosta's credentials in the first place.

"Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday. We continue to urge the Administration to reverse course and fully reinstate CNN’s correspondent. The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him," Knox said.

The White House suspended press access for Acosta after he and Trump engaged in a heated exchange during a press conference on Wednesday, one day after the midterm elections.

Acosta began by asking about a caravan of people from Central America the president spoke of frequently before the midterm election.

"Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better," Trump told Acosta.

Acosta then asked the president a question about the Russia investigation. After a back-and-forth, the president responded: "That's enough." A White House intern attempted to take the microphone from Acosta, who kept a firm grip and, while gesticulating, his arm came into contact with the intern's arm, according to video of the exchange.

“Pardon me, ma’am,” Acosta told the intern during the encounter.

“I tell you what. CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them,” Trump said at the news conference. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”

When Acosta returned to the White House later that evening, the Secret Service barred him from entering and took his credentials.

In a statement, Sanders said Acosta was banned from the grounds because he placed "his hands on" a White House intern during the press conference in the East Wing earlier in the day.

"President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration," Sanders said. "We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern."

CNN quickly and plainly called Sanders' explanation a lie. "She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened," CNN said in a statement.

Many journalists came to Acosta's defense, calling the suspension of his credentials a "very bad sign" stemming from a fear of tough questioning, and tweeting photos of the exchange.

Read the full complaint here.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov132018

Michelle Obama says Malia and Sasha are 'thriving,' thanks Jenna and Barbara Bush and Chelsea Clinton who 'always had their backs'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former first lady Michelle Obama said her two daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama, are “thriving” post-White House and said she will always love a trio of former first children for helping her daughters.

“Let me just say this out loud in public: I am so proud of those little girls,” Obama said of Malia and Sasha in an exclusive interview Tuesday with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts. “They have managed this situation with poise and grace and they are normal and kind and smart and friendly and open.”

Sasha, 17, will graduate from high school in Washington, D.C., this spring, and Malia, 20, is a sophomore at Harvard.

“They are great. They are thriving,” Obama said of her daughters.

Malia and Sasha were just little girls living in Chicago in 2008, when their father, Barack Obama, was elected president. They moved to the White House and went through middle school and high school under the scrutiny of being first children.

Obama credited Jenna Bush Hager, Barbara Bush and Chelsea Clinton with helping Malia and Sasha through their White House years.

“I love those girls,” she said of the Bush sisters and Clinton. “I will love them forever for what kind of support they provided to my daughters throughout that.”

Bush Hager and Bush, who turn 37 later this month, welcomed Malia and Sasha to the White House in 2009 with a letter that gave them advice like finding loyal friends, sliding down the banister of the White House solarium for fun and taking part in every White House engagement and trip they could.

When Malia and Obama left the White House in 2016, the Bush sisters wrote them another letter welcoming them into what they called the "rarified club" of former first children, describing it as a club with membership that Malia and Sasha didn’t seek and "one with no guidelines."

"We have watched you grow from girls to impressive young women with grace and ease," they wrote.

Obama, whose memoir, Becoming, was released Tuesday, thanked the Bush sisters and Clinton for not only personally sharing advice with Malia and Sasha, but also defending them publicly, even after the Obamas left the White House.

"They always had their backs," she said. "[If] somebody went after them in the press, Jenna would get in there and say something. Chelsea would send a tweet out."

"That made a big, big difference," Obama said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov132018

Michelle Obama speaks out on historic midterms, whether Hillary Clinton should run in 2020

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Former first lady Michelle Obama, in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, said the results of the midterm elections were inspiring and addressed whether Hillary Clinton should run for office again.

"I think that this election gives us hope," Obama told Roberts Tuesday in a live interview in her hometown of Chicago. "I’m not talking about what it means for one side or the other. What it means is the democracy is still ours to control."

"Thank God people saw that voting matters," she said.

Obama spoke to Roberts in Chicago on the day her memoir, Becoming, was released. Becoming is an in-depth, personal look at Obama's life before, during and after her family's eight years in the White House.

The former first lady has consistently said she is not interested and has no plans to run for public office. When asked what potential candidates she is watching for the 2020 presidential election, including Hillary Clinton, Obama joked that maybe she could tap her teenage daughter Sasha to run.

"I think at this point everybody is qualified and everybody should run," she said.

When asked if her joke was targeted at President Donald Trump, Obama clarified her response, adding, "Anybody who feels the passion to get in this race, we need them in there."

"I hope we have a lot of great candidates who get in there and treat each other respectfully," she said. "That’s the thing I’m going to be looking for personally."

"I don’t want people on either party tearing each other up in the process of getting to the nomination," Obama added. "I’m going to be looking closely at who handles themselves and each other with dignity and respect so that by the time people get to the general people aren’t beat up and battered."

In her memoir, Obama writes about deeply personal issues, including her past fertility and marital struggles, her anger at President Donald Trump and the bigotry and hate she encountered on the campaign trail.

Becoming is expected to be a bestselling book. Oprah Winfrey announced on the eve of the book's release that she had selected it for her next book club.

Winfrey will interview Obama in Chicago Tuesday night -- the first stop on her high-profile book tour.

She'll be joined by Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michele Norris and former White House aide Valerie Jarrett, among others, as she travels across the country to discuss her book.

Obama kicked off her book tour Monday by talking with students at her alma mater, Chicago's Whitney M. Young Magnet High School.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov132018

Kirsten Gillibrand shares advice for women newly elected to Congress

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has some advice for the more than 100 women elected to join Congress after this historic midterm election cycle.

At least 110 women were elected to Congress -- 84 Democrats and 14 Republicans will join the House -- while 12 will join the Senate -- 10 Democrats, two Republicans.

When she was first elected, Gillibrand said veteran representatives like Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Dianne Feinstein pulled her aside to give her their best advice. Now she's hoping to pay it forward.

The Democratic senator from New York, currently promoting her children's book, Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote, told ABC News how these new women can navigate Capitol Hill and make an impact.

On navigating Capitol Hill: 'Follow your heart'

"First piece of advice I would give is to follow your heart," Gillibrand said. "Bring the passion that got you elected to Washington to make things better for people. Our job is fundamentally to help people."

Focus on the issues

To tackle the first 100 days in office, considered an early gauge of success, Gillibrand’s advice to new representatives is to use that time to focus on the issues.

"It's a different experience than anything they’ve ever done before, but they have a real opportunity to elevate the voices of the people they represent from their district, or from their state, and talk about the challenges they are facing," she said.

The issues Gillibrand hopes to focus on this year -- all raised by her constituents, she said -- are health care, education and the economy.

A lesson learned the hard way

When Gillibrand was first sworn into Congress in 2009, she said she had a hard time getting her colleagues to care about the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and turned to former Sen. Mary Landrieu for advice on how to get her message across.

"She said 'First of all, you have to tell people why you care and elevate those stories,’" she said. "And that is the best advice I’ve ever been given."

Gillibrand said the best first step is listening.

"Understanding what your constituents need, what their issues are, what they care most about, what their fears are, what they’re worried about, and then you need to translate that into policy that actually could help them," she said.

Moving into a federal position

The newly elected members of Congress come from all kinds of backgrounds, including community organizing, health care and the military. Gillibrand hopes they use what they learned in their different fields to make a difference.

"It's really about taking all you learned from the grassroots and bringing it straight to Washington, and then working with your colleagues to find that common ground, find the consensus to actually make it happen," she said.

'Speak up' to make the most impact

Gillibrand encourages the new members of Congress to raise their voices for the issues that are important to them.

"Speaking strongly and loudly about the things you care about," she said. "Speaking out, speaking up, not giving up."

Gillibrand said she hopes young girls and boys who read her book feel inspired.

"This democracy only works when regular people stand up and demand action. Hopefully these young girls and boys who read my book realize that they are suffragettes of today," she said.

Fresh off an election win, Gillibrand may be considering a presidential run in 2020.

"It's something I will give long hard thought to," she said. "I do think it's a moral question right now."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

Arizona Senate Race: Republican Martha McSally concedes to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican U.S. Senate candidate Martha McSally has conceded the Arizona race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

In a video posted on Twitter, McSally wished Sinema "all success," in her new role in Congress and said she is "grateful to all those who supported me in this journey."

"As I traveled around this state, I was so inspired by the many people that I met and I am convinced Arizona is the best state in the country," McSally said. "And our best days are still yet to come and I'm going to continue to pray for our success. Thank you so much."

Later, in a letter to her supporters, the Air Force veteran wrote, "It was an honor to have you all as my wingmen and wing women in this mission. We came up short, but we gave it all we had and I am proud of you all and grateful for you."

Sinema started her remarks with thanks to veterans, including her brothers and McSally.

“We launched this campaign because Arizona veterans and all everyday Arizonans deserve a leader who will fight for them in the United States Senate," she said.

As of Sunday, there were still 200,000 votes that had yet to be counted, which stems from Arizona’s practice of allowing voters to mail in ballots up until and through Election Day. Those ballots then have to be verified based on the signature on the outside of the ballot.

The battle to fill the seat left open by outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake led to a close race between two sitting congresswomen. McSally started out with a slight lead, but as more and more votes have been counted, Sinema had taken over and was widening her edge.

Republicans hoped to hold onto Flake's seat by nominating McSally, who served as the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, but faced a strong challenge from Sinema, who regularly had a slight edge in national polls leading up to Election Day.

Regardless of the tight nature of the race and the party power implications that came with it, the outcome was bound to be historic as the leading candidates were both women in a state that has never had a female U.S. senator before.

That said, both McSally and Sinema are current members of Congress, representing an urban and a border district respectively.

Republicans were not subtle in their desire to hold on to the seat, with a string of high-profile party members — including President Donald Trump, former President George W. Bush, former Gov. Mitt Romney, Donald Trump Jr. and Sens. Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl — campaigning on behalf of McSally.

McSally closed out her campaign at a Republican election eve rally in Prescott, where Sen. John McCain’s widow Cindy McCain made a rare public appearance. Though she didn’t directly endorse McSally, she did call on Arizonans to work together “win or lose.”

Sinema focused less on tying her campaign to the larger Democratic party, rarely mentioning her party affiliation in her campaign ads and instead describing herself as an independent.

Democrats were optimistic about their chances to turn the state from red to purple, hoping that changing demographics in the state and potential distaste of the Trump administration could help catapult Sinema to victory.

Preliminary exit poll results suggested that health care was a huge issue for Arizona voters, with 41 percent saying that it was the most important topic to them, squeezing out ahead of immigration, which 32 percent of Arizonans said was their top issue.

Both topics were major points of discussion on the campaign trail. Sinema said that access to affordable health care was a topic that frequently came up when she spoke with voters, and that became a difficult point for McSally who had to defend her vote, which was in line with the Trump administration, in support of the proposed Republican repeal of Obamacare.

Arizonans were among some of the first in the country to start casting ballots, with early voting starting in the Grand Canyon state on Oct. 10. And that didn’t stop voters from turning out on Election Day.

“This election is looking more like a presidential election in the amount of ballots,” Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said on Election Day.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

House and Senate face long to-do list in lame duck session

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House and Senate return to Washington Tuesday for the first time since well before Election Day.

While this is a lame duck session of Congress, there is still plenty of work to get through. Here are a few of the issues that lawmakers will try to tackle in 19 legislative days over the next two months.

CONFIRMING A NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL

President Donald Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and subsequent installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general has set off a chain reaction on Capitol Hill, primarily in relation to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.

In his new role, Whitaker takes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s place as the lead overseer of the probe. Sessions had recused himself of all Justice Department activity related to the investigation into Russian meddling and now lawmakers are raising concerns that Whitaker’s objectivity is compromised because of his vocal criticism before joining the administration.

Incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday that if Whitaker is still the acting attorney general in January, he will be called as his first witness to discuss his views on the special counsel. Democrats in both chambers have also asked the Justice Department’s ethics office to review Whitaker’s past statements on the special counsel and weigh in on whether he should recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe.

Senior Democrats are also calling on the Justice Department to reveal whether the agency’s top ethics official advised Whitaker to recuse himself from supervising Mueller’s investigation, arguing in a letter Monday that “serious ethical considerations” require him to step aside from managing the probe.

In their letter to DOJ ethics officer Lee Lofthus, Democrats cited Whitaker’s “history of hostile statements” toward the investigation in his capacity as a conservative pundit before his hiring as chief of staff for Sessions.

Whitaker can serve for 210 days without being confirmed by the Senate, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose chamber will be in control of confirming Sessions’ permanent successor, has said he expects Trump to announce a nomination soon.

“I think this will be an interim, a very interim AG. I expect we’ll get a new nominee very quickly for the job,” McConnell said.

PROTECTING THE SPECIAL COUNSEL


The Sessions firing – which took the Mueller investigation out of Rosenstein’s purview – has also reignited talk on Capitol Hill of legislation to prevent the dismissal of Mueller, or any future special counsel, without cause.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved such a bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Chris Coons, D-Del., in April. Last week, several other lawmakers joined those senators in calling for a floor vote on the bill, which would put in place restrictions on how a special counsel could be fired.

“Senate debate and passage of this bill would send a powerful message that Mr. Mueller must be able to complete his work unimpeded,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a statement Friday.

But McConnell has so far been categorical in saying he would not bring the bill to the floor for a vote. "It’s not going to come up because it isn’t necessary," McConnell said Friday at a news conference in his home state of Kentucky.

BORDER WALL FUNDING


Congress succeeded in funding most of the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, but they put off some decisions until after the election. Agencies, including Homeland Security, had their current funding levels extended until Dec. 7 and that means when legislators return on Tuesday, they’ll have two weeks to come up with an agreement on things like a longer-term border funding package, which includes the controversial border wall.

Trump has demanded $5 billion. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the chairwoman of the appropriations committee in charge of wall funding, has previously said the request is reasonable. But Democrats are sure to object and may try to extract concessions in exchange for wall funding, such as passage of the special counsel protection bill mentioned above.

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS

With Democrats returning to the majority in January, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already kicked off her second run as Speaker of the House.

While many incoming Democrats pledged that they would not support the veteran California Democrat, nobody else has thrown their hat into the ring. Instead, junior Democratic legislators are vying for lower-level posts, including leadership of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2020 cycle.

Meanwhile, House Republicans will hold their elections for minority leadership on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

Special counsel witness expects to be charged in Mueller probe

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The former Infowars Washington bureau chief, who recently testified before a federal grand jury in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, tells ABC News that after two months of closed-door talks with investigators, the special counsel has now indicated he will be charged within a matter of days.

“I don’t know what they’re going to charge me with,” said Jerome Corsi, who until recently served as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the controversial far-right media outlet Infowars, in an interview with ABC News on Monday. “I think my only crime was that I support Donald Trump. That's my crime, and now I'm going to go to prison for the rest of my life for cooperating with them,” he later added.

Corsi is one of more than a dozen individuals associated with political operative Roger Stone -- a longtime and close ally of President Donald Trump -- who have been contacted by the special counsel. The witnesses, many of whom have appeared before the grand jury impaneled by Mueller’s team, have told ABC News they were asked about Stone’s dealings during the 2016 election and what if any contact he may have had with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange through an intermediary, which Stone denies.

Much remains unknown about Mueller’s interest in Stone. But Corsi has emerged as a central figure of interest to Mueller as he builds his case, sources confirm to ABC News. Corsi, who Stone told ABC News he has known for years, has frequently appeared with Stone on-air for Infowars, where Stone currently serves as a contributor.

Corsi described his experience with the investigation as “a horror show” and “a nightmare,” telling ABC News the special counsel’s probe, “Is an inquisition worthy of the KGB or the Gestapo. I feel like I've been through an interrogation session in North Korea in the Korean war.”

In recent weeks, ABC News reported that Corsi returned to Washington, D.C., again for more closed-door meetings with special counsel investigators, and was scheduled to make a second appearance before the federal grand jury in the probe. However, Corsi’s second grand jury testimony was ultimately canceled, and Corsi says prosecutors with the special counsel’s office told his attorney to expect forthcoming charges.

Reached by ABC News on Monday, Corsi's lawyer, David Gray, declined to comment on the matter.

Shortly after his interview with ABC News, Corsi hosted a live stream on his YouTube page in which he reiterated his expectation to be indicted, telling supporters; “I fully anticipate in the next few days to be indicted by Mueller.”

This is a breaking news story, check back for updates.

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