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Friday
Jan122018

WH appears unfazed by Trump's 's---hole' remark 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After President Donald Trump’s disparaging comments Thursday about immigrants from Haiti, Africa and other “s---hole countries,” White House aides appear unfazed, with some there arguing the remark could actually help the president despite drawing bipartisan condemnation.

But it was “not the best way” for the president to convey his position, a senior White House official conceded, calling it a “classic Trump moment,” though arguing, “he’s making a point that people agree with, with words that are controversial.”

“This is a gaffe,” the official said. “It may not have been the best way to convey his position.”

In an Oval Office meeting at the White House Thursday, President Trump grew frustrated at a proposed bipartisan immigration plan that would scale back the visa lottery program, but not eliminate it, asking those in the room why they would want people from Haiti, Africa and other "s---hole countries" coming into the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.

The president suggested instead that the United States should have more people from places like Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday, according to these sources. Trump’s comments immediately sparked bipartisan outrage from lawmakers.

There will likely be some “private discussions with allies” who are making public calls for an explanation, a White House aide said.

Another White House official told ABC News the comment reflects the president’s “America First” policy.

“I don't think anyone is worried about it,” the official said. “I haven't seen or heard anyone worried about it. In this instance, our statement reflects our thinking here. America First."

The White House did not deny that the president made the remarks. Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah issued this statement to ABC News:

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation. He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”

A Republican close to the White House believes the comment helps Trump with his base, comparing it to the president’s slamming the NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem.

“I think if you asked people whether we should be letting in more immigrants from 's---hole' countries, most would say no,” the person said.

“Like we saw with the NFL-anthem issue, there's a disconnect between how politically incorrect comments are heard by the media and how they're heard by a large swath of voters. And when the media hyperventilates over something like this, it can actually help the president more than it can hurt him.”


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Friday
Jan122018

Trump cancels trip to London, says he turned down offer to cut ribbon at new US Embassy

Matt Cardy/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump announced the sudden cancellation of a planned trip to cut the ribbon at the new U.S. Embassy in London late Thursday, blaming the decision on the Obama administration's decision to sell the country's old embassy for "peanuts."

Trump had been scheduled to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new U.S. Embassy in Britain next month.

But Thursday night, just minutes before midnight, he tweeted he would not be attending, saying, "Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!" 

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump to visit the country during her stop at the White House in late January. She was the first foreign leader to visit the newly inaugurated Trump. May spoke to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in September and said the visit was still planned and they were just "sorting out the logistics."

A full-scale visit from Trump -- one at the invite of Queen Elizabeth -- was expected to bring protests of the U.S. president in London, but May told ABC News that was not the reason for the delay. The February trip to cut the ribbon at the embassy was expected to be scaled down.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a frequent sparring opponent for Trump, echoed that protests were the real reason Trump cancelled the visit.

"It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance," Khan said in a statement early Friday. "His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests.

"Let’s hope that Donald Trump also revisits the pursuit of his divisive agenda," Khan added.

Trump told reporters in July at the G-20 summit he would be visiting London eventually.

“We'll work that out. We will be going to London. We'll be going to London,” Trump told reporters.

The sale of the old embassy actually began under the George W. Bush administration. They announced in an Oct. 2, 2008 release -- a month before Barack Obama's election to his first term -- that the U.S. had entered into an agreement with real estate company Ballymore to acquire the new embassy site in southwest London and that the old site "will be offered for sale almost immediately." The sale to Qatari real estate developer Qatari Diar was completed after Obama became president in November 2009, according to The Telegraph.

The U.S. Embassy in London is funded entirely from proceeds of sale from other U.S. government property in London, according to the State Department. The State Department examined options for a costly renovation of the embassy in 2006, but that would have required an appropriation of taxpayer dollars and would not have met the most critical security needs.

Ground on the new embassy wasn't broken until 2013.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Woody Johnson had tweeted just last week about the ceremony lowering the flag at the old Grosvenor Square embassy in London.

Last month, Johnson, most known to Americans as the owner of the New York Jets, held a press conference and ABC News interviewed him one-on-one. He outlined what a good deal the new embassy was and said the new embassy was representative of a stronger and better U.S.-U.K. relationship.

"When you look out through the window it reflects the global outlook of the U.S. in the 21st century," Johnson said. "It's a signal to the world that this relationship will get stronger and get better. ... I'm going to do that if I can. Drop the if I can. We're going to make it stronger."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Sources: Trump questions allowing immigrants from Haiti, Africa, other ‘s---hole’ countries 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an Oval Office meeting at the White House Thursday, President Trump grew frustrated at a proposed bipartisan immigration plan that would scale back the visa lottery program, but not eliminate it, asking those in the room why they would want people from Haiti, Africa and other "s---hole countries" coming into the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.

The president suggested instead that the U.S. should have more people from places like Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday, according to these sources.

The White House did not deny that the president made these remarks. Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah issued this statement to ABC News:

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation. He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”

A senior White House official, speaking on background to ABC News, acknowledged that the president "grew frustrated when the conversation turned to the issue of the visa lottery deal."

According to a separate source, the president was set off after Senators Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who are part of a more moderate group of senators working on an immigration deal, proposed cutting the visa lottery program in half. The president, who has said he wants the program eliminated erupted at that point, according to the source, asking why they should allow people from Haiti, Africa and other "s---hole countries" to come to the United States. One official said salty language was used on both sides.

Trump’s comments immediately sparked outrage from lawmakers.

Beyond the shocking language, Thursday’s meeting represented a major hurdle in discussions over a permanent substitute for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, established by executive order by President Barack Obama, following Trump's announcement in September that he would end the program.

Several different groups of lawmakers are working on their own immigration proposals. Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that any solution should address four principles: a DACA solution, funding for border security measures and reform of the diversity visa lottery program and the practice of family-based migration.

DACA protects around 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants, brought to the United States when they were very young, from deportation. But if Congress fails to act, those DACA recipients could face deportation as early as March 6 because they were unable to renew their protection.

Members of the more moderate “Group of Six,” consisting of Durbin, Graham, Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., began announcing to reporters early Thursday afternoon that they had reached an agreement in principle among themselves.

But around the same time they were touting their achievement, Graham and Durbin were meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office to brief him on their plan. The White House also invited more conservative members of both chambers to join: Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.

“Durbin and Graham had a clear plan to try to go and present their plan to the president and make their case and end run everyone else involved in negotiations,” a source familiar with the meeting told ABC.

According to multiple sources, the Group of Six plan includes permanent protections for “Dreamers,”--which is what DACA recipients call themselves -- $1.6 billion for border security, and revisions to the diversity visa lottery and what critics call “chain” migration.

The plan proposes taking the 50,000 visas currently allocated for the diversity lottery and splitting them between people who currently have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and people from African nations, which is what one source says caused Trump’s outburst.

But in any case, the more conservative immigration hawks attending the meeting, who have their own proposals, say the moderate Group of Six’s proposal is a nonstarter for them.

“Each of those things is insufficient,” a source said.

One White House official directly involved in negotiations insists they are confident a deal can be reached, but that the moderate proposal has no chance to pass among the more conservative Republicans in the House. While the Senate had been aiming for a vote on a deal by the end of the month, the White House believes a deal can be reached by March 5, the day before DACA recipients would officially be eligible for deportation.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Missouri governor's ambitions could take a hit in cheating scandal

Photo: Michael Thomas/ Getty Images(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ rise has been rapid and colorful. As a Navy SEAL, he won a bronze star and a purple heart. Then he quickly became a Republican golden boy.

Elected in 2016 at age 42 with no previous political experience, he is the nation’s second youngest governor (after New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu). His swift ascent included a Rhodes Scholarship, military service targeting terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa, a stint as a White House Fellow and founder of a national veterans organization.

He had been a Democrat up until 2015 when he switched parties to run for governor as a Republican. Donald Trump’s 19-point win in Missouri helped him beat a two term Democratic attorney general who had won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

But Missouri political insiders have viewed Jefferson City as just a pit stop for the ambitious Greitens. And they apparently aren’t the only ones: according to funding records examined by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, his gubernatorial run was fueled by $3.3 million in donations from wealthy Republicans in 37 states outside Missouri.

“Obviously this outside money is grooming him for a presidential run,” says St Louis University Political Science Professor Ken Warren.

Greitens has not been secretive about his ambitions. Eight years ago, he reserved the website name “EricGreitensForPresident.com”. His tenure in office has included trips to political events in Iowa, Michigan, Virginia and Nebraska. His drive was apparently evident even during his military service. Sources told ABC News that some of his fellow SEALs saw him as someone who joined the unit for the political advantage it would garner.

But the latest turn in his storied career may alter his anticipated future. Only hours after he delivered the state of the state address to Missouri’s legislature, a local St. Louis television station reported that the rising political star had an extra-marital affair in 2015. The station obtained a tape recording of the woman confessing the affair to her then husband. Not only did she and Greitens engage in consensual sex, according to the tape, but the activity included bondage and the details that Greitens took a picture of the naked woman, intending it for blackmail to keep her from revealing their relationship.

Greitens and his wife, Sheena, issued a joint statement Wednesday night after the report aired, admitting that “he was unfaithful in our marriage” and that “this was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility and we dealt with this together honestly and privately.”

A separate statement from Greitens' attorney denied the suggestion of blackmail. The attorney, Jim Bennett, wrote in an email Thursday that any allegation of violence is "completely false." He said Greitens and the woman had a consensual relationship.

The question now is whether this “deeply personal mistake” will deeply damage the bright public career of an up-and-coming Republican star.

“He has really awesome credentials: educational credentials, military credentials, do-gooder organization credentials," Warren said. "So I would say this scandal is something that would hurt him more than a lot of people because he’s got so much on the line that he can throw away, or possibly has thrown away, by this embarrassing affair.”

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Thursday
Jan112018

Governors, lawmakers angry Florida exempted from offshore drilling expansion

US Department of the Interior(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is facing a political backlash from state governors and congressional lawmakers after announcing he would take Florida out of a plan to expand offshore oil drilling off to more than 90 percent of the nation's coastline.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Thursday denied Zinke's action was a political favor.

"I'm not aware of any political favor that that would have been part of. So, no," Sanders said.

Just last week, when Interior officials announced the drilling expansion, they said there would be a lengthy process of meetings and public comment before the draft plan was finalized.

But on Tuesday night Zinke tweeted he would remove Florida from the plan after flying to Tallahassee to meet with Gov. Rick Scott.

And in a statement Zinke said, "I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver."

Scott spoke out quickly against the plan before it was officially announced and Zinke told the Washington Post on Wednesday that Scott also contacted him in writing and that he felt an obligation to respond because they worked together personally on the federal response to Hurricane Irma.

Governors from several other coastal states quickly cried foul and said that they also wanted their states exempted as well.

Zinke told the Post that meeting was the first in a "series of conversations" with other governors from both parties but as of Wednesday morning his spokesperson said they had not received requests from any governors and did not know if he had any other meetings scheduled.

On Thursday at least two of those governors, the governor of North Carolina and the governor-elect of Virginia have now written to Zinke requesting a meeting to discuss taking their states out of the plan. Both say that increasing offshore drilling would hurt tourism in their states, the same reason Zinke gave for exempting Florida. The congressional delegation from New Jersey also wrote to Zinke asking him to visit the state and reconsider including it in the plan to expand drilling.

Senators representing coastal states also expressed outrage over Zinke's treatment of Florida.

"I think that when we're talking about leadership of this country, we should treat all states as equals and we should not be selective and we shouldn't play political games," Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., noted that Zinke mentioned in his Florida statement that he was considering "the local and state voice" when it came to the new offshore drilling policy.

"Look. Local voices have already spoken about this in Virginia and said we don't want it. So we're entitled to the same exception and we're going to fight until we get it," he said.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., claimed the decision was a political stunt in a speech on the Senate floor and said he has filed a bill to permanently ban drilling off the coast of Florida.

"When last week the Secretary of the Interior, Sec. Zinke, announced that they were opening up nearly all federal waters, including all of those around Florida, we of course went in to fighting mode again - and we will fight this and it will be defeated. But now it turns out, madam president, that that was just a political stunt because late yesterday, one day after officially publishing the plan in the federal register, Secretary Zinke flew to Florida, met with the governor of Florida for 20 minutes at the Tallahassee Airport, and suddenly announced that he had not decided to quote "take Florida off the table." It sounds like a political stunt," Nelson said on the floor Wednesday.

Another Democrat, Rep. Ted Lieu from California, suggested that Zinke's decision could bring legal challenges.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

President Trump clarifies position on FISA after tweet expressing surveillance concerns

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is under fire following a pair of seemingly contradictory tweets that thrust confusion into the debate over a program deemed critical by government national security agencies.

The controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which authorized the U.S. government to seek to monitor electronic communications of foreign persons suspected of terrorist activities, passed the House on Thursday in a 256-164 vote, but not before the president issued confusing statements via twitter that drew his support for the measure into question.

"This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?" Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

That tweet seemed to contradict a statement from the White House just 12 hours earlier which expressed clear support for the measure, — and it seemed to support a proposed amendment to reform the program that the White House had also said it didn't want. The 'USA Rights' amendment proposed by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., would have banned government officials from looking through Americans' data collected under FISA's '702 program' without a warrant.

That amendment failed Thursday morning in a 183-233 vote. Opponents of the proposal, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the proposed change would “disable” the 702 program. The White House came out against the amendment and for re-authorization on Wednesday, though President Trump appeared to oppose the measure in a tweet Thursday morning.

Over an hour and a half later after his first tweet on Thursday, the president sent a second tweet on the subject seeming to clarify that he supports FISA re-authorization, with potential privacy concerns addressed separately.

"With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land," Trump wrote. "We need it! Get smart!"

Trump's tweets drew criticism from a top democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees. In a tweet Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called Trump's initial criticism of the law "irresponsible" and "untrue," adding "FISA is something the President should have known about long before he turned on Fox this morning."

Fox News did a segment on FISA Thursday morning around the same time Trump first tweeted, where he appeared to quote the broadcast.

“I don't understand why Donald Trump is in favor of this,” Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News senior judicial analyst, said on the network. “His woes began with unlawful foreign surveillance and unconstitutional domestic surveillance of him before he was the president of the United States and now he wants to institutionalize this. Mr. President, this is not the way to go.”

Following the president's first tweet, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., appeared on Fox News where he said he spoke with the president about his own concerns surrounding FISA, and said the president indicated he would back reforms put forward by Amash and Paul himself.

"The administration has voiced support for reauthorization but I think the president indicated to me that he believes that any reauthorization should have significant reforms," Paul said.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Cali., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on the House floor during debate over the FISA bill that House GOP leaders should postpone consideration of the bill in light of Trump's tweets.

"I do think we need more time to work on this bill and I think that was only underscored this morning by the contradictory statements coming out of the administration," he said, calling for "more time to discuss this with our members." House Speak Paul Ryan called President Trump following his first tweet of the morning, according to a source familiar with the call.

"One of the most important things we are placed in charge to do is make decisions, not based on TV, not based on internet, based on facts, based on reality," Ryan said in a speech on the House floor this moring. "And we're supposed to make those decisions to keep our country safe."

The White House did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment to fully clarify the president's position. While they never questioned the outcome Thursday, some Republicans were frustrated by the mixed messages from the White House.

"It didn't help," said Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said of Trump's first tweet.

"The conversations we've been having ... intensely for the last few days is 702. And people have been going, 'Yeah but FISA and unmasking.' And we've had to say, 'Look, they're separate.'"

"702 is a very different issue," he added. "This is a very valuable tool. And I think the communication from the White House made it a little more ambiguous."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later said that the president "has a full understanding" of the administration's policy, and that the media were the only people confused.


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Thursday
Jan112018

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens: I cheated on my wife in 2015

Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A criminal investigation has been launched by the St. Louis circuit attorney to ascertain if Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens committed any crimes associated with the 2015 extramarital affair he admitted this week to having with a hair stylist.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday night admitted that he was unfaithful to his wife Sheena in 2015.

The 43-year-old Republican lawmaker's admission was inspired by local TV station KMOV's report Wednesday night, in which the ex-husband of the alleged mistress was interviewed and provided to the station secretly-taped recordings of his ex-wife detailing when and where she met Greitens. The identity of the ex-husband and woman were not revealed by the station. The station reports the woman declined comment.

The admission also came hours after Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, delivered his annual State of the State address in Jefferson City, Missouri.

"A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage," the Greitens said in a joint statement. "This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately."

The statement continued, "While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger. We understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive – but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers."

"The serious allegations against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens are very troubling," City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said in a statement Thursday. "After further consideration, I have decided to launch a formal investigation into the alleged actions of Governor Greitens."

Gardner continued, "It is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders. They must know that the Office of the Circuit Attorney will hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident of our city. Both parties and the people of St. Louis deserve a thorough investigation of these allegations."

The Greitens married in 2011 in Spokane, Washington, according to their wedding announcement in The New York Times. It is the governor's second marriage. They have two sons, Joshua and Jacob.

As for the TV report, Grietens' attorney, James F. Bennett, said in a statement Wednesday night, "The governor has now seen the TV report that ran tonight. The station declined to provide the tape or transcript in advance of running their story, which contained multiple false allegations. The claim that this nearly three-year old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no blackmail and that claim is false. This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false."

Sheena Greitens, 35, also issued her own statement Wednesday night, saying "We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Trump target of petition to block his attendance at World Economic Forum

Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A Swiss group has started a petition to oppose President Donald Trump’s visit to the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, later this month.

Campax, described on its website as a “progressive” nongovernmental organization based in Zurich, launched the campaign after the White House announced Trump would be the first sitting U.S. president to attend the elite gathering in 18 years.

The petition reads that Swiss citizens "ought to resist Trump's inhumane politics," calling for a "World First – not American First vision.”

The campaigners also highlighted their disgust with the U.S. administration's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and took issue with many of the White House's priorities.

"U.S. President Donald Trump is on outstanding phrases with racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, misogyny, bellicosity, local climate modify denial, human legal rights abuse and a policy that deepens poverty and inequality," the petition reads.

But event organizers -- who host the world's richest and most powerful global financial, political and media elites each year at the chic ski resort in eastern Switzerland -- had hoped for high-level representation from Washington and are ready to welcome Trump.

Commenting on the news of the president’s announced visit on its website, the World Economic Forum said Trump’s presence "will allow participants to get a direct perspective on U.S. political and economic priorities.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders Wednesday told reporters the president will use the four-day forum, which starts Jan. 23, to talk about his worldview.

"He welcomes the opportunity to go there and advance his America First agenda with world leaders," Sanders said.

But critics say that the Forum couldn't be a more mismatched place for a presentation of the administration's policies.

In his first year in office, critics note, the president has criticized global trade pacts and international treaties that he says put the United States at a disadvantage. His positions are often at odds with the celebrities and chief executives who attend the forum.

The petition headlined "Trump not welcome - stay out of Davos" was launched on the campax.org website at 9 a.m. Wednesday and had gathered some 2,500 signatures by mid-afternoon.

"We would be happy to have 10,000 or 30,000" signatures,” Campax chief Andreas Freimuller told Agence France-Presse.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Trump administration to allow states to enforce work requirements for Medicaid

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Thursday released new policy guidance that allows states to enforce work requirements on the millions of low-income people who receive Medicaid.

The move by the Trump administration paves the way for states to start programs that deny health coverage through Medicaid unless people demonstrate they work or are participating in "community engagement activities" like volunteering.

The guidance explains what is needed for states to get federal approval for programs that impose work requirements, and explains that the proposals must not include those with a "disability, elderly beneficiaries, children, and pregnant women" who are eligible for Medicaid.

Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that provides low-cost health care, is the largest federal health program with over 70 million participants and has an annual federal budget of over $400 billion.

Ten states -- Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin -- have already sent in proposals for work requirements for Medicaid, according to CMS, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The states need federal approval to begin the requirements.

Until now, people have not been required to have a job in order to be eligible for Medicaid help. The move signals a major shift in how the federal health care safety net is administered, one that will face a severe backlash from critics.

Brad Woodhouse of pro-Obamacare group Protect Our Care called the guidance the latest move in the Trump administration's "war on health care."

“Republicans want to ignore the truth in order to push their partisan health care agenda, but the majority of adults covered by Medicaid who can work, do work - often two or three jobs in fields like the service industry that are less likely to offer insurance,” Woodhouse said in a statement.

“This new attack on Medicaid has nothing to do with program integrity, and everything to do with the recently revealed step-by-step Trump administration plot to wage war on our health care.”

In a statement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma touted work requirements as a way for people to improve their health by participating in society.

“States have the opportunity to help individuals improve and enhance the skills that employers truly value,” Verma said. “People who participate in activities that increase their education and training are more likely to find sustainable employment, have higher earnings, a better quality of life, and, studies have shown, improved health outcomes.”

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Thursday
Jan112018

Trump to get first presidential physical exam amid questions on health, fitness

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- During the campaign, Donald Trump's longtime personal physician asserted that the Republican candidate would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Now, a year into his presidency, the 71-year-old Trump -- the oldest person ever to assume the job -- is set to undergo his first checkup as commander in chief. Trump heads to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday for a presidential physical, according to the White House.

It’s expected that Trump will undergo a battery of tests to assess his health across a broad range of categories and be physically examined by a team of specialist doctors overseen by presidential physician Dr. Ronny Jackson.

Jackson, a rear admiral, has served as a White House physician for the past three administrations, according to the Navy. He was the primary physician for President Barack Obama and currently serves as the physician to the president for Trump.

Trump's checkup comes amid recent questions about his health and publication of the new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which casts doubt on Trump's fitness for office. It's also drawing close attention given the limited amount of information previously made public about Trump's health and medical history.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders has said the White House will provide a "readout" of the exam after it's completed. But it's not clear whether Trump will adhere to the level of detail released by his most recent predecessors.

"I think it's going to go very well, I'll be very surprised if it doesn't," Trump said Thursday. He then joked, "it better go well, otherwise the stock market will not be happy."

What is a presidential physical

At least as far back as President Richard Nixon, it has been standard practice — though not a formal requirement — for the commander in chief to undergo periodic physicals with the express purpose of providing the public with the assurance that the nation’s leader is “fit for duty.”

Following the exam, the president’s physician has typically summarized and made public a wide range of results, including basic vital information on the president’s physical condition such as weight, body mass index, heart rate, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, medications and social habits.

There is also typically a comprehensive list of results from the various physical tests run. President Obama’s 2016 physical summary noted the following: eye exam, ears, nose and throat, thyroid exam, lungs, heart, skin, genitourinary, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal and neurological.

A neurological exam evaluates a person's nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and related nerves, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. It's unclear whether Trump will receive such an exam; he is not expected to undergo a formal mental health assessment, officials said.

A summary of President George W. Bush’s first physical, conducted in 2001, concluded that Bush was “in excellent health and ‘fit for duty’.” Bush continued a practice, as many presidents had before him, of receiving an annual physical over the course of his presidency.

President Obama had fewer physicals than Bush did, undergoing a total of four periodic examinations over eight years. In a summary following Obama’s final checkup in 2016, presidential physician Jackson stated that “the purpose of this exam was to provide the public with an update of the President’s current health status.” Jackson concluded that the president was in “excellent” health, with all indications that he would remain so “for the duration of his Presidency.”

What the physical likely won’t cover


During the campaign, the public had limited information with which to assess then-candidate Trump’s physical fitness, even as he regularly raised questions about his opponent’s physical stamina and ability to serve in the Oval Office.

@realdonaldtrump: We need a #POTUS with great strength & stamina. Hillary does not have that. https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/678686794507010048

The most detailed information ever released about Trump’s physical condition came just two months before he was elected in 2016 and was revealed during an appearance on the Dr. Oz show.

On the September 2016 program, then-candidate Trump handed Dr. Oz a letter from his longtime personal physician Dr. Harold Bornstein, which detailed some basic vital information — including that he is 6 feet 3 inches tall and his weight is 236 pounds. The letter also listed his cholesterol levels and blood pressure, stated that the results of his cardiac evaluation were normal, that his last colonoscopy in 2013 was also normal, listed his testosterone level at 441.6, and stated that he takes a cholesterol medication and low dose aspirin.

Bornstein declined to comment for this report when reached by ABC News.

The letter also stated that Trump has no family history of premature cardiac or neoplastic disease and noted that his parents, Mary and Fred, lived into their late 80s and 90s. But it omitted that Trump’s father battled Alzheimer’s Disease in the final years of his life.

That information supplemented the famous four-paragraph-long letter from 2015 in which Trump’s longtime physician asserted that Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." The letter also said that Trump had recently undergone a "complete medical examination that showed only positive results. Actually, his blood pressure, 110/65, and laboratory results were astonishingly excellent."

After revealing more comprehensive results to Dr. Oz in 2016, Trump admitted that he could benefit from losing some weight after Oz noted that the president’s weight-to-height ratio showed him to be overweight.

“I think I could lose a little weight,” Trump told Oz. “If I had one thing I’d like to lose weight, but it’s tough, it’s tough because of the way I live.”

As for the president’s lifestyle and daily health habits, he has said he has an affinity for fast food but does not drink alcohol or use tobacco. Two of the president’s former campaign aides, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, even wrote about Trump’s love for McDonald’s in a book.

“Trump’s appetite seems to know no bounds when it comes to McDonald’s, with a dinner order consisting of two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malt,” they wrote in their book, “Let Trump Be Trump.”

The president’s daughter and current White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, has publicly expressed concern about her father’s eating habits.

“I want him to eat healthier,” Trump told ABC News’ Barbara Walters in a November 2015 interview.

Beyond his diet, the president does not lead an especially active lifestyle. Outside of golf, the president is not known to regularly exercise.

Questions about the president’s physical condition have recently become part of the public discourse after an incident on Dec. 6 when the president appeared to have difficulty pronouncing some words and seemed to slur others during remarks broadcast on national television.

After initially declining to comment, the White House dismissed the president’s speech issues as nothing more than a case of dry mouth.

“I know that there were a lot of questions on that — frankly, pretty ridiculous questions,” press secretary Sanders told reporters the following day. “The President’s throat was dry. Nothing more than that.”

What the physical likely won’t cover

But for all the upcoming examination might reveal about the president’s physical condition, it is not expected to offer any sort of assessment of the president’s mental fitness at a time when some members of Congress and mental health professionals have raised questions about the president’s stability.

The president, for his part, has asserted that he is a “very stable genius.”

After the publication of the new book “Fire and Fury” claimed that members of the president’s inner circle regularly question Trump’s mental fitness, the president fought back on Twitter, saying that “mental stability and being, like, really smart” are two of his greatest assets.

Outgoing Republican Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has been one of the most outspoken members of the president’s party in expressing doubts.

"The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate that he needs to be successful,” Corker told reporters in August.

Trump is not alone in presidential history in facing questions about his fitness; questions were raised about Ronald Reagan's fitness in the final years of his presidency. It wasn't until six years after Reagan left office, though, that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

Following Richard Nixon’s annual physical in 1974, at a time when there were reports that the stresses of the Watergate scandal were affecting his health, the president’s physician Walter Tkach declared after the check-up that there were no signs of “emotional strain” on the commander in chief.

“There is no evidence of any emotional strain. I do not see any physical evidence of any strain,” White House physician Walter Tkach told reporters, according to a Washington Post article from the time.

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