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Monday
Jun172019

Harvard reportedly rescinds Parkland shooting survivor's admission over alleged racist comments

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A survivor of the deadly Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting revealed on Monday that Harvard College rescinded its admissions offer as a result of alleged racist comments he made months before the 2018 shooting massacre.

Kyle Kashuv, 18, disclosed the news on Twitter, claiming the school rescinded its offer after screenshots surfaced showing him allegedly using racial slurs at the age of 16, just a few months before a gunman stormed into the Parkland, Florida, school and killed 17 people.

The recent graduate posted two letters purportedly from the school: one asking him explain the comments and another notifying him that the offer had been rescinded after serious consideration of "the qualities of maturity and moral character."

"As you know, the Committee takes seriously the qualities of maturity and moral character," William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, wrote in a June 3 letter made public by Kashuv. "After careful consideration the committee voted to rescind your admission to Harvard College."

"We are sorry about the circumstances that have led us to withdraw your admission, and we wish you success in your future academic endeavors and beyond," the letter added.

Kashuv, who became a gun rights advocate in the wake of the massacre and landed a White House meeting with first lady Melania Trump, said the school rescinded the offer three months after accepting him.

 A Harvard spokesperson said the college could not comment "on the admissions status of individual applicants," but one of the things the spokesperson noted was that the school "reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission" under conditions that are "clearly expressed to students upon their admission."

The school's admissions policy states that an admitted student could have their admission withdrawn if he or she "engages or has engaged in behavior that brings into question their honesty, maturity or moral character."

Kashuv acknowledged that he had made “abhorrent racial slurs” when he was 16 years old "in an effort to be as extreme and shocking as possible."

He said he’d given up "huge scholarships" in order to attend Harvard, according to a Monday tweet.

“I had given up huge scholarships in order to go to Harvard, and the deadline for accepting other college offers has ended," Kashuv said. "In the end, this isn’t about me, it's about whether we live in a society in which forgiveness is possible or mistakes brand you as irredeemable, as Harvard has decided for me."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun172019

EXCLUSIVE: Top 5 takeaways of President Trump’s interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos embedded with President Donald Trump for a wide-ranging exclusive interview over the course of two days this week, generating a bevy of newsy headlines over the course of their unprecedented discussion.

Here are the top five moments from the interview.

Trump says he’d listen to foreign intelligence on political opponents

This was the biggest headline of them all. After Trump told Stephanopoulos that he may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, the president faced a wave of criticism from Republicans and Democrats.

Despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's interactions with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Stephanopoulos asked Trump Wednesday in the Oval Office whether his reelection campaign would accept such information from foreigners – such as China or Russia – or hand it over the FBI, Trump answered, "I think maybe you do both."

"I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump continued. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent' – oh, I think I'd want to hear it."

Trump disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided information on a political opponent, it would be considered interference in our election process.

"It's not an interference, they have information – I think I'd take it," Trump said. "If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI – if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, 'oh let's call the FBI.' The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that's the way it is. It's called oppo research."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned on Thursday that Trump is giving Russia “the green light” to again interfere in a U.S. presidential election.

“Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the president said last night,” Pelosi said.

While Pelosi called Trump’s comments "cavalier" and an “assault on democracy” she indicated it’s not enough to sway her to prematurely launch an impeachment inquiry.

“What we want to do is have a methodical approach to the path that we are on, and this will be included in that, but not any one issue is going to trigger, ‘Oh, now we’ll go do [impeachment].’ Because it’s about investigating, it’s about litigating, it’s about getting the truth to hold everyone accountable and no one is above the law,” she said.

Even one of the president’s closest allies on Capitol Hill did not come to his defense. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the president’s response was “not the right answer.”

“If a foreign government comes to you as a public official, and offers to help your campaign giving you anything of value, whether it be money or information on your opponent, the right answer is no,” he said.

By Friday, the president worked to walk his comments back, telling Fox News that he would notify the FBI or the attorney general if the information was “incorrect or badly stated.”

“Of course you have to look at it because if you don't look at it you won't know it's bad,” Trump said on "Fox and Friends" Friday morning. "But, of course, you give it to the FBI or report it to the attorney general or somebody like that."

Trump says internal polling shows he’s ‘winning everywhere’

Trump told Stephanopoulos that his campaign’s internal polling showed that he is “winning everywhere."

When Stephanopoulos mentioned reports of polls commissioned by the Trump campaign that showed former Vice President Joe Biden ahead in several key states, the president said: “those polls don't exist.”

"Nobody showed you those polls because those polls don't exist, George. Those polls don't exist. I'm losing in 15 out of 17 states? Those polls don't exist," Trump said.

"I just was given a meeting with my pollster who I frankly don't even believe in pollsters if you want to know the truth, you just run a campaign and whatever it is, it is, but I just had a meeting with somebody that's a pollster and I'm winning everywhere, so I don't know what you're talking about."

But data from the first internal poll conducted by the campaign in March, obtained exclusively Friday by ABC News, showed Trump losing a matchup by wide margins to Biden in key battleground states, including double-digit leads for Biden in Pennsylvania 55-39 and Wisconsin 51-41, and Biden leading by seven points in Florida. In Texas, a traditionally Republican stronghold, the numbers showed the president only leading by two points.

When presented by ABC News with these numbers Friday, the Trump campaign confirmed the data saying in a statement that the numbers were old and that they have seen huge swings in Trump’s favor.

Trump says it ‘doesn’t matter’ what former White House Counsel Don McGahn told Mueller

Stephanopoulos quizzed Trump about the Russia investigation at length. The president directly disputed the account of a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible obstruction of justice during the course of the Russia probe saying that it "doesn't matter" what his former White House counsel Don McGahn testified.

Trump said McGahn "may have been confused" when he told Mueller that Trump instructed him multiple times to have the acting attorney general remove the special counsel because of perceived conflicts of interest.

"The story on that very simply, No. 1, I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller," Trump told Stephanopoulos.

At the president’s instruction, McGahn is currently fighting a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify publicly about those conversations with Trump, among other things. McGahn spent nearly 30 hours with the special counsel’s investigators testifying under oath and was one of most quoted aides to the president to appear in the report.

When Stephanopoulos pushed back and referenced McGahn's testimony, Trump was defiant.

"I don't care what [McGahn] says, it doesn't matter," Trump said.

"Why would [McGahn] lie under oath?" Stephanopoulos later asked.

"Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer," Trump said. "Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen – including you, including the media – that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest."

"And has to go?" Stephanopoulos followed up.

"I didn't say that," Trump insisted.

Trump reveals historic redesign of Air Force One

Less than a year after announcing a $3.9 billion makeover for America's most famous aircraft, Trump shared never-before-seen renderings of Air Force One's prospective redesign.

"George, take a look at this," Trump boasted to Stephanopoulos, flashing mock-ups of his vision for the next generation of the presidential aircraft. "Here's your new Air Force One."

Trump showed his plan to swap the iconic sky blue-and-white paint job for a patriotic red, white and blue.

"We had different choices, here," Trump said, pointing to images he said he designed himself. "These are all slightly different."

The new fleet won't be ready for takeoff until 2024. In spite of the president’s willingness to share the preliminary sketches, Trump is still holding some details close to the vest.

"There are a couple of secrets," Trump teased. "You know what, there are a couple of secrets I don't think we're supposed to be talking about."

Trump says of Fed Reserve chairman: ‘I’ve waited long enough’

Trump slammed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, insisting that Powell’s actions have prevented the economy from soaring even higher and declaring he’s out of patience with the person he picked to lead the nation’s central bank.

Inviting Stephanopoulos along for a trip to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday, Trump said that the financial market would be stronger "if we had a different person in the Federal Reserve who wouldn’t have raised interest rates so much.”

Trump told Stephanopoulos he believes the Dow Jones Industrial Average could be 10,000 points higher if the Federal Reserve hadn’t hiked rates last year. Stephanopoulos pointed out that Powell wouldn’t be in the job if it weren’t for Trump.

“He’s my pick,” Trump acknowledged. “And I disagree with him entirely.”

Stephanopoulos asked Trump whether he has concerns that his repeated commentary on the Federal Reserve puts Powell “in a box.”

“Yes, I do,” Trump responded. “But I’m gonna do it anyway because I’ve waited long enough.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun172019

Democrats in Virginia win at Supreme Court in racial gerrymandering case

Zolnierek/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- A narrowly-divided Supreme Court on Monday dismissed an appeal from Virginia’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates which sought to reinstate the state’s legislative districts map after it was struck down for improper racial gerrymandering.

A lower court held that 11 state legislative districts represented unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The state attorney general, a Democrat, declined to challenge the lower court decision.

On Monday, in a 5-4 decision, the court said the House of Delegates lacked standing to bring the case.

“The House, as a single chamber of a bicameral legislature, has no standing to appeal the invalidation of the redistricting plan separately from the state of which it is a part,” wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the majority.

“This is likely good news for the Democratic Party in Virginia – it means that the Republican-drawn map at issue in this case cannot be used in the 2019 Virginia state elections,” said ABC News legal analyst Kate Shaw.

Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said the ruling means the state’s new electoral map, drawn by a court-appointed overseer, will stand.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for democracy and voting rights in our Commonwealth,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “When we corrected racially gerrymandered districts earlier this year, we righted a wrong—as I have always said, voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”

The decision also impacts the electoral landscape in Virginia, a key swing state, on the eve of the 2020 presidential election.

All seats in the Virginia legislature are on the ballot in November. The outcome will determine party control of the state chambers headed into the 2020 census and next redistricting – the chance to reshape Assembly and congressional maps for a decade.

Virginia has been ranked as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country with districts drawn in many cases specifically to minimize the electoral influence of black Democratic voters, according to the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

Last year, a lower court sided with the challengers to Virginia’s map, ruling that the state assembly failed to conduct a “holistic analysis” of racial considerations unique to each district. It ordered that a new map be drawn before the 2019 elections.

Defenders of the map insist race did not predominate other race-neutral considerations.

The high court’s ruling features an atypical vote alignment, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Neil Gorsuch joining Ginsburg in the majority, while Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh dissent.

“The Virginia House of Delegates exists for a purpose: to represent and serve the interests of the people of the Commonwealth,” Alito wrote in the dissent. “The invalidation of the House’s redistricting plan and its replacement with a court-ordered map would cause the House to suffer a ‘concrete’ injury” and give it grounds for bringing an appeal.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun172019

Trump and Ocasio-Cortez in Twitter battle over impeachment and what's driving Democrats

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have been engaged in a Twitter battle since her appearance Sunday on ABC's This Week, trading barbs over impeachment after her comment that Democrats have a "very real risk of losing" in 2020 without a 'transformational candidate."

Ocasio-Cortez cautioned against electing a president advocating for "half-measures" and again called for a progressive Democratic nominee. In an interview with ABC's Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, she said, "I think that we have a very real risk of losing the presidency to Donald Trump if we do not have a presidential candidate that is fighting for true transformational change in the lives of working people in the United States."

Trump responded Sunday afternoon, shifted the conversation to impeachment, tweeting, "I agree, and that is the only reason they play the impeach card, which cannot be legally used!"

Ocasio-Cortez fired back about two hours later, saying the president is "bluffing" and opening an impeachment inquiry is necessary when the president "obstructs justice, advises witnesses to ignore legal subpoenas, & more."

While she called for a transformational candidate, Ocasio-Cortez is holding off on endorsing anyone for president now, saying on ABC's This Week that "It's possible that I'll endorse later on perhaps, you know, I do not see myself endorsing anytime soon."

More broadly of the Democratic field, Ocasio-Cortez said, "I do think that the field is too large. I do believe that having a competitive primary is healthy and that it’s good, but we have so many Senate seats to take and the fact that we aren't discussing that more -- even if we win the presidency and we don't win the Senate -- we are not going to be able to get a robust agenda passed in the way that we envision it."

Ocasio-Cortez has previously specified that the country needs a progressive president.

"I really believe the only way that we're going to be able to beat this president is with a progressive candidate," she said to The Young Turks show Rebel HQ earlier this month. "We need candidates that are committed to Medicare for all, to tuition-free public colleges and universities. We need a candidate that is dedicated to passing at least a $15 minimum wage, ideally one that's pegged to inflation."

On Sunday, Karl asked, "Could you see yourself supporting Joe Biden?"

She said that she would support the former vice president -- who is seen as a moderate figure and has campaigned on his ability to work across the aisle -- if he wins the Democratic nomination.

"I think that it is absolutely important that we defeat Donald Trump," Ocasio-Cortez said, adding, "I think that we need to pick a candidate that is going to be exciting to vote for, that all people, women, people of all genders, races, income levels, geographies feel excited and good about voting for."

Biden claimed in March that he has "the most progressive record of anyone running."

The progressive freshman congresswoman said that she's "encouraged" by Biden's reversal on the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding for abortion, calling the stance the "very base level where all candidates need to be."

However, when asked about allegations of inappropriate touching and comments by Biden, Ocasio-Cortez said, "I do think that there may be some discomfort," among voters, citing recent comments where Biden told a 13-year-old girl that her brothers need to watch out for her. "I think there are some things with female voters that it's just not quite locked down."

When it comes to a candidate who articulates her vision of what a Democratic nominee should be, she said of Sen. Bernie Sanders, "I think that [Sanders] does that excellently. I think his policies do that excellently. I believe Sen. (Elizabeth) Warren's policies do that excellently."

For the time being, however, Ocasio-Cortez said that she and Sanders are focused on being allies in Congress and that Sanders had not asked for her endorsement.

Focusing on her work in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez highlighted her reaching across the aisle to work with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on legislation to ban former members of Congress from lobbying and to make birth control available over the counter.

When asked about that working relationship, Ocasio-Cortez said "we haven't met in person yet, but I do know that we have an ongoing working relationship and I'm extraordinarily excited in seeing what we can accomplish."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun172019

Supreme Court engages on same-sex marriage cake case, hands win to baker, for now

DNY59/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- For the second time in as many years, the Supreme Court on Monday engaged on a major religious liberty case involving same-sex marriage, but is sidestepping for now the substantive issue of alleged religion-based discrimination.

The court granted the petition of Christian bakers in Oregon who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because of their religious beliefs and wiped away a lower court ruling against them. The justices sent the case back to the Sixth Circuit for further consideration.

Instructing the appeals court to reexamine the matter in light of a similar, narrowly-decided case last year from Colorado, the justices left open the key question of when discrimination on religious grounds can override civil rights protections written into law.

In the 2018 "Masterpiece Cakeshop" decision, the court focused solely on actions by the Colorado civil rights commission, which had penalized the baker for refusing to serve the couple. The court said the agency failed to show “religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.”

“Any decision in favor of the baker would have to be sufficiently constrained,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote at the time, “lest all purveyors of goods and services who object to gay marriages for moral and religious reasons in effect be allowed to put up signs saying ‘no goods or services will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages,’ something that would impose a serious stigma on gay persons.”

The Oregon case involves Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of Sweetcakes bakery in Portland, Ore. In 2013, the bakers refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. A state administrative board said Sweetcakes violated anti-discrimination laws, awarding the couple $135,000.

The Kleins, who have since shut down their bakery, contend their First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and free speech were violated. “Any cake the complainants might have commissioned would have required them to employ their artistic skill to communicate a celebratory message about a same-sex wedding ritual that conflicts with the Kleins’ religious convictions,” they argued in court documents.

Oregon state courts have affirmed the board’s decision.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun172019

SCOTUS says states can continue to prosecute for same crime as federal government

dkfielding/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday has upheld an exception to the Fifth Amendment's ban on "double jeopardy," allowing a state and the federal government to each prosecute an individual for the same action if it violates both state and federal laws.

The case could have incidentally expanded the presidential pardon power by ending the exception, but the court did not take that step.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jun162019

Trump campaign parting ways with pollsters following internal numbers leak: Sources

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump campaign is cutting ties with a number of its pollsters after internal figures leaked showing President Donald Trump down by wide margins in key battleground states.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News that the campaign will part with some of its pollsters after the leak, which showed data that the president was losing in key must-win states based on internal polling done in late March of this year.

Veteran political pollsters Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin will remain as campaign pollsters, according to someone close to the campaign.

The news follows a report by ABC News, which revealed -- for the first time -- internal figures from the Trump campaign's own polling, that had the president trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by double digits in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The two states were critical to Trump's election in 2016.

The leaked data also indicated Biden was leading by seven points in Florida, where the president is set to officially kick-off his 2020 campaign Tuesday.

Trump and the campaign had repeatedly denied that such data existed, but when presented by ABC News with these numbers last week, the campaign confirmed the data saying, in a statement, that the numbers were old and that they have seen huge swings in Trump’s favor.

"These leaked numbers are ancient, in campaign terms, from months-old polling that began in March before two major events had occurred: the release of the summary of the Mueller report exonerating the President, and the beginning of the Democrat candidates defining themselves with their far-left policy message," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told ABC News in the statement. "Since then, we have seen huge swings in the President’s favor across the 17 states we have polled, based on the policies now espoused by the Democrats. For example, the plan to provide free health care to illegal immigrants results in an 18-point swing toward President Trump."

Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was released on March 24. While the Trump campaign’s full poll, which canvassed 17 states, was already in the field, it was well underway for four additional days after the release of Barr’s letter to the public. The poll was conducted from March 15 through March 28.

During an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, the president denied such polling existed and said his internal numbers showed that he is "winning everywhere."

"Nobody showed you those polls because those polls don't exist, George. Those polls don't exist. I'm losing in 15 out of 17 states? Those polls don't exist," Trump said.

"I just was given a meeting with my pollster, who -- I frankly don't even believe in pollsters if you want to know the truth, you just run a campaign and whatever it is, it is -- but I just had a meeting with somebody that's a pollster and I'm winning everywhere, so I don't know what you're talking about."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

The Trump campaign is cutting ties with a number of its pollsters after internal figures leaked showing President Donald Trump down by wide margins in key battleground states.

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Multiple sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News that the campaign will part with some of its pollsters after the leak, which showed data that the president was losing in key must-win states based on internal polling done in late March of this year.

Veteran political pollsters Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin will remain as campaign pollsters, according to someone close to the campaign.

The news follows a report by ABC News, which revealed -- for the first time -- internal figures from the Trump campaign's own polling, that had the president trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by double digits in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The two states were critical to Trump's election in 2016.

The leaked data also indicated Biden was leading by seven points in Florida, where the president is set to officially kick-off his 2020 campaign Tuesday.

Trump and the campaign had repeatedly denied that such data existed, but when presented by ABC News with these numbers last week, the campaign confirmed the data saying, in a statement, that the numbers were old and that they have seen huge swings in Trump’s favor.

"These leaked numbers are ancient, in campaign terms, from months-old polling that began in March before two major events had occurred: the release of the summary of the Mueller report exonerating the President, and the beginning of the Democrat candidates defining themselves with their far-left policy message," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told ABC News in the statement. "Since then, we have seen huge swings in the President’s favor across the 17 states we have polled, based on the policies now espoused by the Democrats. For example, the plan to provide free health care to illegal immigrants results in an 18-point swing toward President Trump."

Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was released on March 24. While the Trump campaign’s full poll, which canvassed 17 states, was already in the field, it was well underway for four additional days after the release of Barr’s letter to the public. The poll was conducted from March 15 through March 28.

During an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, the president denied such polling existed and said his internal numbers showed that he is "winning everywhere."

"Nobody showed you those polls because those polls don't exist, George. Those polls don't exist. I'm losing in 15 out of 17 states? Those polls don't exist," Trump said.

"I just was given a meeting with my pollster, who -- I frankly don't even believe in pollsters if you want to know the truth, you just run a campaign and whatever it is, it is -- but I just had a meeting with somebody that's a pollster and I'm winning everywhere, so I don't know what you're talking about."

Sunday
Jun162019

EXCLUSIVE: Trump unveils his patriotic new paint job for Air Force One

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Less than a year after announcing a $3.9 billion makeover for America's most famous aircraft, President Donald Trump shared never-before-seen images of Air Force One's prospective redesign on Wednesday during an exclusive interview with ABC News.

"George, take a look at this," Trump boasted to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, as he flashed mock-ups of his vision for the next generation of the presidential aircraft. "Here's your new Air Force One."

Last July, Trump announced his intention to revamp the design of the aging fleet. But on Wednesday, during an exclusive interview with ABC News, Trump showed his plan to swap the iconic sky blue-and-white paint job for a patriotic red, white and blue.

"We had different choices, here," Trump said, pointing to images he said he designed himself. "These are all slightly different."

"Air Force One" refers to any aircraft carrying the president of the United States and most commonly refers to a pair of Boeing 747-200B series aircraft.

The current fleet comes with several modifications, including a presidential suite, medical operating room and a kitchen that "can feed 100 people at a time," according to the White House.

"Is the frame still a 747?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"It's a 747, but you know, it's a much bigger plane," Trump replied. "It's a much bigger wing span."

In spite of his willingness to share the preliminary sketches, the president is still holding some details close to the vest.

"There are a couple of secrets," Trump teased. "You know what, there are a couple of secrets I don't think we're supposed to be talking about."

And despite the grandeur Trump has etched into his brand, his new aircraft may not have it all.

"Everyone wants to know, is there a pod or not?" Stephanopoulos asked. "Seen the movie Air Force One? … The famous pod that flies out of the back?"

"Oh, I see," Trump laughed. "But, yeah -- no."

Before taking office, Trump criticized the "out of control" costs in the government's initial contract with Boeing to revamp the fleet. The White House said last year that its new contract came in $1.3 billion lower than the initial proposal.

"In fact, we added things," Trump told Stephanopoulos. "And I got $1.6 billion off the price."

But the president's patriotic new vision for the executive aircraft may face friction on Capitol Hill.

On Wednesday, shortly after Trump showed ABC News the blueprints for Air Force One's new paint job, lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee voted to restrict spending on the renovation plans.

"The president will have an opportunity to make some suggestions and changes to the plane," Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat who introduced the amendment, said Wednesday, noting "additional paint can add weight to the plane, additional fixtures inside can also add to cost and delays to the delivery of the plane."

Regardless of whether Trump gets his way, one thing is for sure: he will have to wait. The new fleet won't be ready for takeoff until 2024.

"I'm doing that for other presidents," Trump said, "not for me."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jun162019

'Every day that passes, the pressure to impeach grows': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday that with every passing day "the pressure to impeach (President Donald Trump) grows."

She added that Democrats need to start an impeachment inquiry "to look at what’s going on" and that the move should not be driven by polling or politics.

"Every day that passes, the pressure to impeach grows, and I think that it's justifiable," she said in an exclusive interview on "This Week" with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl. "I think that with the president now saying that he is willing to break the law to win reelection, that -- that goes -- that transcends partisanship. It transcends party lines, and this is now about the rule of law in the United States of America."

Ocasio-Cortez said she thinks "there is a growing sentiment, even among" Democratic members in swing districts that an impeachment inquiry should be launched.

"Ten counts of obstruction of justice, four with rock solid evidence. We have violations of the emoluments clause. We need to at least open an inquiry so that we can look at what is going on, and that is what opening an impeachment inquiry means," she said. "Holding this president (to) account is holding all of government to account."

Earlier this week, in an exclusive ABC News interview, Trump told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that if a foreign country called him saying it had information on an opponent, he said it wouldn't be "an interference" and that he thinks he would "want to hear it."

"If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI. If I thought there was something wrong," he said. "But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, that they come up with oppo research. 'Oh, let's call the FBI.' The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it, but you go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it. They always have. And that's the way it is. It's called oppo research."

After Trump's comments, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said again that not one act or statement by the president would move her closer to supporting impeachment.

"What we want to do is have a methodical approach to the path that we are on, and this will be included in that, but not any one issue is going to trigger, 'Oh, now we’ll go do [impeachment].' Because it’s about investigating, it’s about litigating, it’s about getting the truth to hold everyone accountable and no one is above the law," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters in news conference on Thursday.

Ocasio-Cortez stunned the political establishment when she unseated the longtime representative for New York's 14th District, Rep. Joe Crowley, in the Democratic primary nearly a year ago and has since become one of the most known figures of the progressive wing of the Democratic party, describing herself as a Democratic socialist, a label also embraced by 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Karl asked Ocasio-Cortez how Pelosi's resistance to impeach is going over with progressives.

"I think (the frustration is) quite real. I believe that there is a very real animus and desire to make sure that we are -- that -- that we are holding this president to account," she said. "Holding this president (to) account is holding all of government to account."

Karl noted that two thirds of the Senate, which has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, would have to vote in favor of impeachment for Trump to be removed from office, and Ocasio-Cortez agreed that a vote was unlikely.

"Don't you risk handing him a political victory here?" Karl pressed.

Ocasio-Cortez said that Congress has to do its job. "If we're talking about what's going to be a victory for Trump and what's not going to be a victory for Trump then we are politicizing and we are tainting this process, which, again, should be removed from politics."

"I think for us, what we need to really realize is, are we doing our job as a member of the House?" she added. "And the Senate has their entire responsibility. ... But I think we need to be concerned with our job in the House."

She said on "This Week" that she doesn't "see the relevancy in calling for prosecution after he leaves office," as Sen. Kamala Harris said she would pursue if she were elected president in 2020.

"We have the ability ... to actually kind of play out our responsibilities now. We have power now," she said. "And to bump it to when we don't have power, I don't think makes a whole lot of sense."

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Sunday
Jun162019

EXCLUSIVE: Trump cites lessons from Nixon, says he 'was never going to fire Mueller'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that he did not fire special counsel Robert Mueller because "that didn't work out too well" for former President Richard Nixon.

"I wasn't gonna fire [Mueller]," Trump said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. "You know why? Because I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody, and that didn't work out too well."

In what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre in October 1973, Nixon ordered his attorney general to fire Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. Rather than carry out that order, his attorney general and deputy attorney general resigned. Nixon then appointed an acting attorney general, and he fired Cox. Nixon, facing an impeachment inquiry, ultimately became the only U.S. president to resign.

Trump also told Stephanopoulos that, in his opinion, Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the executive branch and outlines the powers of the presidency, gave him the authority to fire the special counsel.

"Look, Article II. I would be allowed to fire Robert Mueller," Trump said in a portion of the interview that aired on ABC’s "This Week" Sunday. "He wasn't fired. Okay? Number one, very importantly. But more importantly, Article II allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire him."

The president's claim that he never tried to fire the special counsel is contradicted by the Mueller report, which outlines multiple instances reported by former White House Counsel Don McGahn when Trump instructed McGahn to have the acting attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, dismiss Mueller.

"I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller," Trump told Stephanopoulos, adding that "it doesn't matter" what McGahn said under oath.

In the interview, Trump asserted that "a lot of great lawyers" agree with his interpretation of Article II that it affords the president sweeping powers. But the president hedged when asked whether a president can ever obstruct justice.

"So your position is that you can hire or fire anybody, stop or start?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"That is the position of a lot of great lawyers," Trump said. "That's the position of some of the most talented lawyers. And you have to have a position like that because you're the president. But without even bringing up Article II, which absolutely gives you every right."

"So a president can't obstruct justice?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"A president can run the country. And that's what happened, George. I run the country, and I run it well," he responded.

"When the president does it, it's not illegal?" Stephanopoulos pressed.

"I'm just saying a president under Article II -- it's very strong. Read it," Trump said.

The special counsel offered a different interpretation of Article II in his report, which states that "under applicable Supreme Court precedent, the Constitution does not categorically and permanently immunize a President for obstructing justice through the use of his Article II powers."

The report goes on to say that under the United States' system of checks and balances, "Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President's corrupt exercise of the powers of office."

Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election did not reach a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice. However, the report, which runs more than 400 pages, outlined 11 episodes of possible obstruction, including the aforementioned attempts to remove the special counsel.

Mueller said he did not reach a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice because charging the president with a crime was "not an option we could consider" due to a Justice Department opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Trump Tower Moscow

Stephanopoulos also asked Trump about his plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow that continued into the 2016 presidential campaign.

"I didn’t even do a deal in Moscow," Trump said.

"You were pursuing it," Stephanopoulos followed up.

"Excuse me. Pursuing, what does pursuing mean?" Trump said. "Do you know that I don’t even think they had a site? I don’t even think they knew who was gonna do the deal. It was a concept of a deal, more of a concept than anything else. It was a concept of a deal someplace in Russia, probably in Moscow, and I was looking at places all over the world."

According to the Mueller report, the Trump Organization "explored" a Moscow real estate project that would have included commercial, hotel and residential properties.

"Between 2013 and June 2016, several employees of the Trump Organization, including then-president of the organization Donald J. Trump, pursued a Moscow deal with several Russian counterparties," the report says.

It goes on to say that Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, "spearheaded" the efforts and reported updates to the Trump Organization, including directly to then-candidate Trump. Cohen also told lawmakers in closed and open sessions that he kept two of the president's adult children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, briefed about the Moscow project.

When pressed on whether voters had a right to know that his company was engaged in business dealings with Russia during the campaign, the president insisted to Stephanopoulos that there was nothing nefarious about the project and he "wouldn’t mind" if information about those dealings was made public.

"I wouldn’t mind telling 'em," he said. "There’s nothing wrong with it -- I don’t consider that pursuing a deal when you don’t even have a site."

Trump has previously denied that he has any business ties to Russia, even tweeting shortly before his inauguration, "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA -- NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!"

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