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Monday
Nov122018

Abrams files lawsuit over provisional ballots in Georgia hoping to to force runoff

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate in Georgia's still-uncalled governor's race, is hoping a count of all provisional ballots can help her close the gap with Republican Brian Kemp and force a runoff.

Abrams filed a lawsuit on Sunday asking for all provisional ballots be counted, citing instances in which voters she said voters would have cast their ballots for her, but were turned away. Provisional ballots are considered a fail-safe for voters who arrive at the polls and may not have all the necessary documentation at that time, but whose ballots can be verified in the days after the election.

The lawsuit, filed against Georgia's new Secretary of State Robyn A. Crittenden, seeks to address a Georgia law which puts a three-day time limit on how long provisional ballots can be verified and counted. But the midterm elections in Georgia saw a "historic number" of provisional ballots, according to the lawsuit, making it more difficult to verify and count them all in time.

"Under Georgia law, it appears that any voters whose provisional ballots have not been resolved by November 9, 2018, will be disenfranchised, simply because the counties in which they respectively reside could not address their ballots in time. There is no reason it needs to be this way," the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a race in which her opponent, then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, was alleged to have engaged in voter suppression, beginning with reports that millions of voters were unknowingly purged from registration systems under his tenure, many of them African-American.

Since Election Day, Abrams’ campaign has vowed to staunchly moderate the incoming vote tallies and make sure every vote is counted. Kemp has maintained that his lead is insurmountable, despite uncounted ballots, and declared himself the winner. ABC News has yet to project the race.

In response to Abrams' lawsuit, his campaign said she had moved from "desperation to delusion."

"On Saturday, military, overseas, and provisional ballots were reported throughout Georgia," Ryan Mahoney, communications director for Kemp, said Monday.

In Georgia, the winner needs 50 percent of the vote or a runoff is automatically triggered. Kemp says there aren’t enough ballots left uncounted to close his lead, which stands at about 60,000 votes. As of Monday morning, Abrams had 48.78 percent of the vote compared to Kemp’s 50.52 percent.

Counties in Georgia are continuing to count and certify their ballots, including late-arriving absentee ballots in some parts of the state. On Friday, a judge ordered Dougherty County to accept all ballots received before the end of the day. Fulton County, the state's most populated, said its results will be certified Tuesday.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith under fire over 'public hanging' comment ahead of runoff

Zach Gibson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Less than a week into Mississippi's Senate special election election runoff, GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is facing criticism from her African-American opponent and from civil rights groups over a comment she made about "a public hanging" in the days leading into Election Day.

In a video
posted by the publisher of the Bayou Brief, a Louisiana blog, Hyde-Smith, who is white, embraced a supporter after he praised her and said before a cheering crowd, "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row."

Hyde-Smith is now coming under fire from her Democratic challenger in the upcoming Nov. 27 runoff, Mike Espy, and the greater African-American community for evoking language reminiscent of lynchings that scar Mississippi's history.

The publisher of the Bayou Brief, who identified the Hyde-Smyth supporter as Colin Hutchinson, a cattle rancher, said the video was from a Nov. 2 event in Tupelo, in the northeastern corner of the state. The video has over 3 million views on Twitter.

Hyde-Smith sought to clarify her remarks in a statement issued Sunday.

"In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement," she said in the statement. "In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous."

During a speaking engagement in Jackson on Monday, Hyde-Smith repeatedly refused to answer reporters' questions about the comment, according to ABC News' affiliate WAPT.

Espy, an African-American from Yazoo City, was swift in his reproach of her comments, calling them "harmful" and "hurtful to millions of Mississippians" on CNN's New Day Monday.

"Those comments we heard that were published yesterday are very disappointing," he said. "They are hurtful and they are harmful. They are hurtful to millions of Mississippians who are people of goodwill and they're harmful because they tend to reinforce the stereotypes that held back our state for so long and that have cost us jobs and harmed our economy."

"This is 2018," he added. "We're going here in Mississippi into the third decade of the 21st century and we just should not have this. We need leaders that would try to unite us and not divide us."

His latest response comes a day after Espy condemned her remark in a statement: "Cindy Hyde-Smith's comments are reprehensible. They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state."

Espy, a former Clinton cabinet secretary, would be the first African-American senator from Mississippi since the Reconstruction Era if elected. On Nov. 6, he finished in second place behind Hyde-Smith by netting 40.6 percent of the vote to Hyde-Smith's 41.4 percent.

Her remarks also drew a rebuke from the president of the NAACP, who called her comments "sick" and "tone deaf."

"Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about 'hanging,' in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick," Derrick Johnson said in a statement Sunday.

He later wrote on Twitter that her "response is tone deaf and demonstrates disregard of MS racial history," adding, "We've seen this from Rob DeSantis & others this election season & denounce such mean spirited behavior," referring to the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Florida Ron DeSantis.

Her campaign did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for further comment.

Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to the open Senate seat by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant after former Sen. Thad Cochran resigned due to health concerns, shared the podium at the Monday event with Bryant as he reinforced his support for his pick, telling the audience, "All of us in public life have said things on occasion that we could have phrased better."

"I know this woman and I know her heart," he added. "I knew her when I appointed her. I know it now. She meant no offense by that statement. There was nothing in her heart of ill-will."

Hyde-Smith has a long history in Mississippi politics, previously serving as the state's Agriculture Commissioner from 2011 until her appointment to the Senate, as well as formerly serving as a state senator for 12 years beginning in 1999 when she was elected as a Democrat. She switched to the Republican Party in 2010, and even scored President Donald Trump's endorsement earlier this year during the special election's "jungle primary."

Before Nov. 6, multiple candidates from both parties competed in a four-way race to secure a majority of the vote to win the seat. With so many candidates in the field, including conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel and Democrat Tobey Bartee, none of the contenders garnered 50 percent of the vote on Election Day, sending the race into a runoff on Nov. 27 between Hyde-Smith and Espy.

The deep red state voted for Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016, but also faces a complicated and difficult past with racism. Between the years of 1882 and 1968, Mississippi had the highest number of lynchings in the entire country with 581, according to the NAACP, including the lynching of Emmett Till.

The Magnolia state is also currently home to one of the largest African-American populations in the U.S., which stands at 38 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Race has not been a central issue in this contest, but often on the trail, Espy invoked the struggle of fellow African-Americans across the state in addressing Mississippi's history with racism.

"Think about Medgar Evers," he told a crowd of supporters in Biloxi last month. "Think about Vernon Dahmer. Think about all of those who were sacrificed so we could get here ... and now let me become an incredibly viable candidate for the United States Senate from the state of Mississippi."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, mysteriously arrives in Washington, D.C.

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney and close associate, arrived in Washington, D.C., Monday morning, accompanied by one of his own criminal defense lawyers.

The purpose of Cohen’s travel is unclear, and Cohen declined to answer any questions from ABC News about why he was there.

Cohen has previously participated in multiple interview sessions totaling more than 40 hours with investigators from the office of the special counsel Robert Mueller in Washington, D.C., and federal prosecutors in New York City, sources have told ABC News.

Sources familiar with the matter also say that the special counsel’s questioning of Cohen has focused on Trump’s alleged ties with Russia and the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen’s participation in the interviews has been voluntary and without the promise of leniency from prosecutors, people close to the matter told ABC News. He is reportedly also voluntarily meeting with lawyers from the New York State Attorney General's office and the District Attorney's office in Manhattan.

Those discussions, sources say, have been focused on the president's business and his family's charitable foundation.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts, including tax evasion, making false statements to a bank, and campaign finance violations.

The two campaign finance violations are connected to Cohen's role in alleged hush money payments during the presidential campaign to two women who allegedly had affairs with Trump years ago.

Trump has denied the allegation and maintained that he did not know about the settlement agreement until after it was signed.

Trump only publicly acknowledged awareness of the payments after his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in April on Fox News that Trump paid Cohen back for the costs associated with the Stormy Daniels deal. Giuliani contended that the payments were for purely personal reasons and that no campaign finance laws were broken.

At a plea hearing in August, Cohen told a federal judge that the payments to the women were made "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," referring to Trump.

"I participated in this conduct," Cohen said, "for the principal purpose of influencing the election."

Trump has long denied having affairs with the women.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in New York on Dec. 12.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

Trump called him 'stone cold crazy.' Now Richard Ojeda is running for president in 2020 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Democrat Richard Ojeda may have lost his bid for Congress in West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District but the man who's been called "JFK with tattoos and a bench press" announced he still has plans to run -- for president.

Ojeda filed his 2020 bid Sunday with the Federal Election Commission.

He will be making his announcement on Veterans Day holiday in Washington, D.C., and plans to hold his first event as a presidential candidate on November 19 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Ojeda, a former Army paratrooper and a current state senator who captured national ttention during the teacher strike and his run for Congress in 2018, felt that he could give Donald Trump a run for his money in 2020.

He lost to Republican Carol Miller in the 2018 race for U.S. Congress.

Trump, who has called Ojeda "stone cold crazy," remains popular in West Virginia's third district, an area considered the heart of Trump country. Ojeda's campaign said they saw a large enough swing for him that they feel he could be the working class voice to counter the president.

Ojeda has used Trump's critiques of him at rallies in the state as a battle cry for his campaign.

"If I'm stone-cold crazy because I have a hard time going to sleep at night because we have kids that go to bed hungry, then I'll be stone-cold crazy, and I'm OK with that," Ojeda told ABC News.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

Trump calls Florida ballots 'massively infected,' demands end to recounts

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Just after returning from his trip to Europe, President Donald Trump on Monday morning turned back to the increasingly bitter battle over recounts in the Senate and governor's races in Florida, calling them "massively infected" and making claims of fraud without providing any evidence.

The president said the results from Election Night should be accepted and Republicans Rick Scott declared the winner in the Senate race and Ron DeSantis in the contest for governor.

Razor-thin margins in the Senate and gubernatorial races, as well as the race for agriculture commissioner, triggered a mandatory machine recount Saturday.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

Five takeaways from Michelle Obama's exclusive interview with Robin Roberts

Chuck Kennedy for ABC(NEW YORK) -- Michelle Obama, the former first lady, sat down recently for a much-anticipated, exclusive interview with Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts that ran the gamut from her new memoir, "Becoming," to life before, during and after the family's time in the White House.

Roberts' candid conversation with Michelle Obama on a range of topics including Becoming aired during a primetime ABC News special, Becoming Michelle: A First Lady’s Journey with Robin Roberts, on Sunday.

Watch Michelle Obama's live interview with Robin Roberts Tuesday morning on Good Morning America.


Here are five takeaways from the interview:

Michelle Obama on overcoming her identity being challenged

Michelle Obama said growing up in her neighborhood, "you could get your butt kicked going to school if you looked too uppity or if you were studying too hard."

Her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, however, helped her build a sense of self, emphasizing education and excellence.

"My parents, from [a] very early age, encouraged us to put our opinions on the table, to ask questions, to question the context of situations. They encouraged us to understand the context," she said. "You could speak your mind, but you had to be respectful, you know? And if you got outta hand, you got a look. You'd get a spanking... they weren't free wheeling parents. They were still black parents. But they believed in teaching us to think for ourselves."

At her alma mater, Whitney M. Young High School on Chicago's West Side, she said, she was encouraged to work hard and to excel. In 1981, she entered Princeton as a freshman and had to "learn how to adjust to this new world."

"It was the first time I had been in a predominantly white situation," Obama said. "So I had to learn how to adjust in this new world of wealth and privilege and kids that I didn't realize had come from prep schools that had prepared them. And I didn't even know the language of that college. What was a syllabus? Never heard of it.

Michelle Obama on marriage counseling, past fertility struggles


She was working at a Chicago law firm when she was asked to mentor Barack Obama, two years her senior and rumored to be an exceptionally gifted law student at Harvard. Initially she considered him off-limits, but later found herself drawn to him.

Eventually, her resolve to avoid romance with one of the firm's few black summer associates began to falter. "He was like, 'You're crazy. We should date. I like you. You like me,'" she said. "I like that about him. He was very straightforward."

While their mutual affection has always been on display, Michelle Obama, for the first time, opened up in her book and to Roberts about the aspects of their marriage.

In her book, she discusses suffering a miscarriage and the infertility treatments that helped her conceive daughters Malia and Sasha.

"The biological clock is real because egg production is limited," she said. "I realized that as I was 34 and 35. We had to do IVF [in-vitro fertilization]. I think it's the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work and how they don't work."

She also shared details of how the stress of their hectic schedules infiltrated their marriage.

"Marriage counseling for us was one of those ways where we learned how to talk out our differences. What I learned about myself was that my happiness was up to me. And I started working out more. I started asking for help, not just from him, but from other people. I stopped feeling guilty," she said. "I know too many young couples who struggle and think that somehow there's something wrong with them. And I want them to know that Michelle and Barack Obama, who have a phenomenal marriage and who love each other, we work on our marriage. And we get help with our marriage when we need it."

The campaign trail tested Michelle Obama's self-esteem


At times, she feared that she was a deficit to her husband as he campaigned to become the next U.S. president. "I write about those, you know, those nasty times where people, you know-- called me Barack's 'baby mama,' you know? Accused me of not loving my country. You know, told me I was angry," she said.

During the campaign, she said she did not pay attention to the criticism. In her book, she admitted the comments had hurt. "I don't think we do each other a service by pretending like hurtful things don't hurt. And that's what I've come to," she said.

For Michelle Obama, the hurt continued into the White House as critics, including Donald Trump, questioned the legitimacy of her husband's birth certificate. "The whole thing was crazy and mean-spirited. Of course, it’s underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed," she said in her book. But she had work to do and she paved her own path with initiatives like Let's Move, Joining Forces and Let Girls Learn.

How Michelle Obama reacted to Donald Trump winning the presidency


In the wake of the 2016 election, Michelle Obama said she was surprised that people still had to be told how important it is to vote.

"I said what I continue to say: Being the commander-in-chief is a hard job. And you need to have discipline and you need to read and you need to be knowledgeable. You need to know history. You need to be careful with your words. But voters make those decisions. And once the voters have spoken, you know, we live with what we live with," she said.

After Donald Trump was elected president, Obama wrote in her book about coming to terms with the new reality before her, writing, "I will always wonder about what led so many, women in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president."

Obama also wrote about her thoughts as she watched Trump's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 2017, writing, "The vibrant diversity of the two previous inaugurations was gone... Someone from Barack’s administration might have said that the optics there were bad -- that what the public saw didn’t reflect the president’s reality or ideals. But in this case, maybe it did. Realizing it, I made my own optic adjustment: I stopped even trying to smile." "I implored people to focus and to think about what it takes to be commander in chief," Obama told Roberts. "It's amazing to me that we still have to tell people about the importance of voting. You know, that almost every two years, we're having this conversation to get people to the polls. And in the end, that's how our democracy works."

Michelle Obama used music to bring diversity, youth into the White House


Michelle Obama, who taught herself how to play the piano, said she grew up in a household of music.

"Music was important and it still is," she said. "It really set me on a course."

In 2012, she created special state dinners designed just for children.

"Whether it was a music event, or whether it was the state dinner, during that earlier part of the day we'd have a companion event with young kids from around the country," she said. "They could eat the food as well and meet the entertainers."

This cultural event at the White Hose involved spoken word, she said. And it was at that event that she and President Barack Obama met playwright and composer Lin Manuel Miranda.

"He had this bright idea. He said he was gonna perform a piece on Alexander Hamilton," she said. "Barack and I almost laughed in his face. And he went out and performed the first number of the now-award-winning musical and afterwards he said, 'I think I'm gonna go and turn this into a Broadway show.'" ... We were like 'Good luck with that, kid.'"

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov122018

House Dems plan to review Trump's role in hush money payments in next Congress, source says

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House Oversight Committee plans to investigate Donald Trump's involvement in hush payments made to women during the 2016 presidential campaign, a senior Democratic aide on the committee told ABC News. When the Democrats take control of the House in January and gain subpoena power, they plan to probe the president's role in payments to two women who alleged during the 2016 campaign that they had affairs with Trump, according to the aide.

Democratic members on the committee have already begun digging into the president's involvement, according to the aide. In September, the committee requested documents from the Trump organization, the aide added.

Trump has long denied that he knew of the payments, and has denied having affairs with the women.

The story was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The White House did not immediately responded to ABC News' requests for comment.

In a statement to ABC News, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani called the effort "useless."

"Since the payments were not campaign contributions based on the FEC rulings it would be as useless as Mueller’s absurd investigation of Russian collusion which has established that the only Russian involvement was collusion with Hillary and DNC to produce fraudulent Steele dossier," Giuliani said in the statement. "You insist on calling it a hush payment which is an opinion not a fact. Payments for confidentiality in settling claims is common and the amounts involved here, not millions but 150,000 and 130,000 means the case was considered as harassment not as a serious claim. Look at the serious settlements with billionaires and companies and few are at this level and they are the nuisance suits."

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, received a payment of $130,000 from Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen during the presidential campaign to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006.

Trump has denied the allegation and maintained that he did not know about the settlement agreement until after it was signed.

Karen McDougal, a former Playboy centerfold model, signed a $150,000 pact with American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, in August 2016. The company purchased the rights to her story -- in which she claimed to have had a 10-month romantic affair with Trump in 2006.

Trump denied that romantic relationship, too. "This is an old story that is just more fake news," a White House spokesperson previously told ABC News.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to eight counts related to illegal campaign contributions "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," -- a reference to Trump. The campaign finance violations were associated with Cohen's role in alleged hush money agreements.

Cohen, who used to describe himself as the "guy who would take a bullet" for the president, has since met with investigators from the office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, which is looking into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and alleged collusion with Trump's campaign.

This is not the first effort by the Democrats to investigate Trump. Several Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee stated last week that they planned to review Trump's tax filings, to which Trump responded, "I don't care. They can do whatever they want and I can do whatever I want."

On This Week Sunday, incoming Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that the committee will investigate the president, but will do so judiciously.

“I'm not going to be handing out subpoenas like somebody's handing out candy on Halloween. I take this as a lawyer and as an officer of the court. I take subpoenas very seriously and I plan to, if I have to use them, they will be used in a very, in a methodical way, and it must be in the public interest,” Cummings said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Nov112018

'Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis have won,' Kellyanne Conway says amid mandatory recount of Senate, gubernatorial elections in Florida

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A top White House adviser to President Donald Trump declared that Florida Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate and governorship “have won,” even as the margins between them and their Democratic counterparts were small enough to trigger a mandatory recount under Florida law.

On Friday and Saturday, the president said in tweets that Democrats were trying to "steal" the elections. Sunday, on "This Week," ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway if there is any evidence.

“The evidence is that Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis have won,” she said.

“They're both underneath the threshold for an automatic recount,” Stephanopoulos pressed on “This Week.”

“Maybe now they are,” Conway said. “But there has been no recount that has ever turned around a total as large as we have now in either of those races.”

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, ordered a statewide recount of Florida's Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner on Saturday. All three races are within the .5 percentage point margin or error that requires a recount under Florida law.

Returns from the machine recount are due on Nov. 15th by state law. Nevertheless, outstanding issues, such as potential lawsuits and overseas ballots that are due beyond Nov. 15th may lead the recount fight to draw on for longer.

Trump's repeated allegations of voter fraud and "election theft" have provoked outcry from Republicans, who have cast doubt on the ballot counting process.

On "This Week," Conway cited Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes as a reason to doubt the process. Under her leadership the office has faced bipartisan criticism for its handling of past elections.

"We have Brenda Snipes who obviously has been sued successfully by a primary opponent to Debbie Wasserman Schultz for shenanigans that happened there years ago. She probably shouldn’t still be in that position," Conway said.

In May, a judge ruled in favor of Wasserman Schultz's primary challenger Tim Canova that Snipes' office had illegally destroyed ballots too soon after the end of his unsuccessful primary challenge.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, also the Republican candidate in the contested U.S. Senate election, echoed Trump’s rhetoric accusing left-wing groups of trying to steal an election and alleging the process had “rampant fraud.”

“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida,” Scott said during a press conference Thursday.

Scott asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the ballot counting process but the department said Friday they were unable to find any evidence of fraud.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, Scott’s opponent, released a video Friday accusing Scott of blocking all of the votes from being counted.

“Rick Scott is trying to stop all the votes from being counted and he’s impeding the democratic process,” Nelson said.

A report by the Brennan Center for Justice indicates voter fraud is virtually nonexistent and can often be traced to machine or human error.

The results of the election will ultimately come down to the recount process, but allegations of fraud notwithstanding, Conway expressed confidence that Republicans Scott and DeSantis would prevail because the odds of changing the outcome are low.

A 2016 analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that the average election recount since 2000 swings the total by a little under 300 votes, with the highest swing in that timeframe coming in the 2000 presidential election recount, also in Florida. Al Gore cut George W. Bush’s lead by 1,247 votes, which was not enough to put Gore over the top. Nelson currently trails Scott by 12,562 votes, which would mean he would need a historically large swing in votes to win.

Nevertheless, Broward County may offer a window of opportunity for Nelson to gain. The county, which is home to Fort Lauderdale and heavily Democratic, had an unusually high number of ballots exhibiting “undervoting,” which is the term for not voting for all of the races on the ballot.

In total, Broward County had over 26,000 fewer votes cast in the senate race than the governor’s race. The reason for the issue is unknown, but if this represents a systematic error, it may ultimately swing the race in Nelson’s favor.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Nov112018

Trump's rain check on honoring Americans killed in WWI prompts backlash

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The fallout from President Donald Trump's decision to skip a ceremony honoring fallen American World War I soldiers in France on Saturday because of the rain grew amid the images of other world leaders defying inclement weather to memorialize the sacrifices of military heroes as part of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

The president and first lady Melania Trump braved a flurry of protesters Sunday, including a woman who charged their motorcade topless with the words "Fake Peacemaker" written across her chest, to attend a ceremony in Paris marking the centennial of the end of WWI at the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees.

Following the ceremony, the president and first lady went to the Suresnes American Cemetery, about 5 miles west of the French capital, to lay a wreath and observe a moment of silence under rainy skies.

"Each of these marble crosses and Stars of David marks the life of an American warrior -- great, great warriors that they are who gave everything for family, country, God and freedom," Trump said in a speech at the cemetery. "Through rain, hail, snow, mud, poisonous gas, bullets and mortar they held the line and pushed onward to victory."

But even as he spoke, the president was still being widely mocked for calling off a planned trip Saturday to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, about 60 miles northeast of Paris, due to rain.

On Saturday morning, the White House sent out a statement, saying, "The President and First Lady's trip to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial has been canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather."

While the president and first lady did not attend due to rain, Trump sent an American delegation to the cemetery led by his chief of staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, and Marine Corps. Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"It's incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary -- and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago...," David Frum, a political commentator and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote on Twitter.

In a follow-up tweet, Frum wrote, "It's not even 60 miles from central Paris to the monument. If the weather is too wet & windy for helicopters, a presidential motorcade could drive the distance in an hour."

Kelly Magsamen, a high-ranking Pentagon official in the administrations of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, heaped on the criticism, tweeting, "Real low energy, @realDonaldTrump to not bother to honor the sacrifice of American soldiers in WWI due to some rain. Somehow everyone else was able to do so today. Obama never had this problem. He also visited our troops in war zones."

Trump scuttled the trip to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, where many Americans are buried among the 2,288 graves and where the names of 1,060 American soldiers are engraved on a wall, even as other world leaders attended similar events Saturday at WWI cemeteries and memorials outside Paris.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled 118 miles outside Paris to attend a ceremony -- in the rain -- at a cemetery in Vimy, France.

In a speech at the cemetery, Trudeau honored Canadian soldiers who served in WWI, lauding them for "a history for which you bled and fought, a history built on your sacrifice."

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both attended a ceremony Saturday at the Clairiere of Rethondes in Compiegne memorial, [Check name] about 40 miles north of Paris. The two leaders, representing countries that were once sworn enemies, held hands at the site where the Germans and the Allied forces signed an agreement ending the war that was fought from 1914 to 1918.

"The will is there, and I say this for Germany with full conviction, to do everything to achieve a more peaceful order in the world even though we know we have very, very much work still ahead of us," Merkel said at the ceremony.

Macron noted that "our Europe has been at peace for 73 years."

"There is no precedent for it, and it is at peace because we willed it and first and foremost, because Germany and France wanted it," Macron said.

Meanwhile, the criticism over Trump's rain check, continued.

Nicholas Soames, a member of British parliament and grandson of Winston Churchill, blasted Trump for letting rain stand in the way of honoring war heroes.

"They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen," Soames tweeted.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry accused the president of insulting the memories of war veterans because of bad weather.

"President @realDonaldTrump a no-show because of raindrops? Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow - & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom. Rain didn’t stop them & it shouldn’t have stopped an American president," Kerry tweeted.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Nov112018

'We could subpoena Mueller' if the administration restricts Russia investigation: Incoming House Judiciary chairman

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said that if the Trump administration restricts special counsel Robert Mueller or refuses to release a final report from the investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 election, then the committee could wield its subpoena power.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday that, "We could subpoena the final report. We could subpoena Mueller and ask him in front of the committee and ask him 'what was in your final report?'"

Sources told ABC News last week that Mueller is writing his final report on the nearly 18-month-long investigation, but that the timing for when a final report would be submitted remains unclear.

Nadler is the current ranking member and incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee after Democrats won control of the chamber in Tuesday's midterm elections. The committee is responsible for oversight of the federal courts, federal law enforcement, the Department of Justice and would be the first body to consider articles of impeachment in the House.

In a statement on Wednesday, Nadler called for accountability after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired.

"The firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions fits a clear pattern of interference from President Donald Trump," he wrote in the statement. "If he abuses his office ... then there will be consequences."

Matthew Whitaker, President Donald Trump's acting attorney general appointment, has generated controversy since he has previously expressed criticism of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He wrote in a 2017 op-ed for CNN that the probe should have been limited.

Nadler told Stephanopoulos that he doesn't think the appointment of Whitaker was legal, and that the appointment is part of a pattern.

"His appointment is simply part of an attack on the investigation by Robert Mueller," Nadler said on "This Week." "It's part of a pattern of interference by the president and part of a pattern of obstruction ... of that investigation."

Later in the program, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said that Whitaker was chosen in order to have a "continuum" in the leadership at the Justice Department, by having someone who worked for Sessions take his place. Conway also dismissed the concerns surrounding the president's supposed political motive for appointing Whitaker and his past statements regarding Mueller.

"There's actually no evidence to me that Mr. Whitaker knows anything about the ongoing Mueller investigation," Conway told Stephanopoulos. "He's been the chief of staff to the recused attorney general for 13 months. But the president wanted to have a continuum.

"I think comments that Matt Whitaker made as a private citizen on cable TV does not disqualify him from being fair and impartial, by overseeing this investigation."

Nadler also said that Whitaker will face the House Judiciary Committee if he is still the acting attorney general come January.

"We will make sure that Matt Whitaker immediately -- one of our first orders of business will be to invite him, and if necessary to subpoena him ... to appear before the committee," Nadler said.

But when pressed on whether he believes the president has obstructed justice, Nadler said he can't yet make that determination.

"I'm not prepared to say that," Nadler said, later adding, "We will provide a check and a balance, we will hold the president accountable. He will learn that he is accountable, that he’s not above the law and that's part of what we’ll have to look at."

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