Politics Headlines
Subscribe To This Feed

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Contacts between Russian officials and Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Donald Trump and one of his senior advisers, are a focus of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, sources tell ABC News.

While Kushner is not a target of FBI investigation and has not been accused of committing a crime, sources said he is among a number of White House staffers and former Trump campaign officials who are likely to be interviewed by the FBI because of their interactions with former national security adviser Michael Flynn -- or because they had contact with Russian officials during the campaign or the transition.

Of particular interest is Kushner's participation in a meeting with Russia's Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in December and a separate meeting with a Russian financial executive with a bank that had been subject to U.S. sanctions, sources said. Both contacts have been previously reported and the White House has denied that they were inappropriate.

The sources told ABC News that Kushner has not yet been contacted by the FBI and has not been asked to turn over any documents.

"We don't know anything," a source close to Kushner told ABC News. "He hasn't been approached."

"Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry," Kushner's lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

Last week, ABC News confirmed that the FBI's inquiry had extended to at least one current White House staffer.

The White House provided a statement at the time in response to a Washington Post report on that matter, denying any collusion between associates of the president and Russia.

"As the president has stated before -- a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity," said press secretary Sean Spicer in the statement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is renewing his request for documents pertaining to former FBI Director James Comey.

The FBI responded to Chaffetz in a letter Thursday citing Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in the bureau’s investigation of Russia as justification to delay fulfilling the committee’s request.

"In light of this development and other considerations, we are undertaking appropriate consultation to ensure all relevant interests implicated by your request are properly evaluated," wrote Gregory Brower, assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs.

Chaffetz responded to Brower’s letter, emphasizing his panel "has its own, Constitutionally-based prerogative to conduct investigations” and that it’s not his intent to "impede or interfere" with Mueller’s investigation.

"In fact, the Committee's investigation will complement the work of the Special Counsel. Whereas the Special Counsel is conducting a criminal or counterintelligence investigation that will occur largely behind closed doors, the Committee's work will shed light on matters of high public interest, regardless of whether there is evidence of criminal conduct," Chaffetz wrote.

"In this case, the focus of the Committee's investigation is the independence of the FBI, including conversations between the President and Comey and the process by which Comey was removed from his role as director," he continued. "The records being withheld are central to those questions, even more so in light of Comey's decision not to testify before the Committee at this time."

Chaffetz makes a new request for documents “outside the scope” of Mueller’s investigation “as soon as possible, but no later than June 8, 2017.”

Those documents include all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communication between Comey and any White House employee, including the president and the vice president, ranging back to Comey's first day in September 2013, as well as between Comey and the attorney general or deputy attorney general.

Chaffetz further requests that the FBI identify all responsive documents, regardless of whether the document is within the scope of the special counsel's investigation.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A federal appeals court upheld Thursday a lower court's temporary block of key provisions of President Donald Trump's revised executive order banning travel from some Middle East and African countries.

In the decision, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Roger Gregory writes that the executive order "in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination." The opinion continues that while the president has power to limit entry to the country, "that power is not absolute."

"It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation," Gregory writes.

Trump's order was his second attempt to limit immigration and travel to the United States. In February, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a bid for an emergency stay from the Department of Justice in response to a Washington state federal judge's temporary restraining order blocking the president's original order.

In March, Trump issued the revised order which he would later call a "watered-down" version of the first. Trump's and his associates' comments about their desire to prevent Muslims from entering the country during the presidential campaign were highlighted in rulings by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocking the latest attempt. The government argued that the order was not intended to discriminate on the basis of religion.

Both the White House and Department of Justice released statements critical of the decision Thursday, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledging that his department "will seek review of this case in the United States Supreme Court."

"This Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the power and duty of the Executive Branch to protect the people of this country from danger," read the department's statement.

The White House wrote that the country needs "every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence."

"As Judge Shedd's dissent notes, 'the real losers in this case are the millions of individual Americans whose security is threatened on a daily basis by those who seek to do us harm,'" the White House statement continued. "We are confident the President's executive order to protect the country is fully lawful and ultimately will be upheld by the Judiciary."

The appellate court took the deepest dive yet into the issue of whether statements made by candidate Trump should be considered in evaluating the executive order he issued after he became president.

"The campaign statements here are probative of purpose because they are closely related in time, attributable to the primary decision maker, and specific and easily connected to the challenged action," read the majority opinion.

"In this highly unique set of circumstances, there is a direct link between the President’s numerous campaign statements promising a Muslim ban that targets territories, the discrete action he took only one week into office executing that exact plan," the opinion added.

"These statements, taken together, provide direct, specific evidence of what motivated both [the original and revised travel bans]: President Trump’s desire to exclude Muslims from the United States," wrote Gregory. "We need not probe anyone's heart of hearts to discover the purpose of [the order], for President Trump and his aides have explained it on numerous occasions and in no uncertain terms."

The judges found that the Trump administration's alleged intent to discriminate against Muslims could violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another.

The court's opinion additionally found that the government's national security justifications for parts of the ban inadequate. The travel ban's "text does little to bolster any national security rationale: the only examples it provides of immigrants born abroad and convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States include two Iraqis," even though Iraq is no longer a designated country under the ban, and "a Somalian refugee who entered the United States as a child and was radicalized here as an adult," Gregory wrote.

The panel further examined the travel ban's impact on plaintiffs who are Muslim Americans or permanent U.S. residents. An unnamed "John Doe" plaintiff has applied for a spousal immigration visa for his wife, an Iranian national. He is “feeling the direct, painful effects of the Second Executive Order—both its alleged message of religious condemnation and the prolonged separation it causes between him and his wife—in his everyday life,” the decision stated.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Journalists and politicians are speaking out about the treatment of the press following the alleged assault of a political reporter at the hands of the Republican candidate in Montana's congressional special election -- though not all are in agreement and some appeared split along partisan lines.

Greg Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault Wednesday after Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs said the GOP candidate body slammed him to the ground. Jacobs said he was attempting to ask the congressional candidate a question about his response to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the American Health Care Act.

The Radio Television Digital News Association released a statement condemning the incident on Thursday morning.

"If the criminal charges are proven true, this would be an outrageous escalation of the recent trend toward elected officials and those seeking elected office obstructing and even, now, assaulting reporters who are merely trying to do their jobs,” said Dan Shelley, the incoming executive director of the RTDNA in the statement.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that advocates for press freedom around the world, said that the incident "sends an unacceptable signal that physical assault is an appropriate response to unwanted questioning by a journalist," in a release.

 The U.S. editor of Jacob's employer, The Guardian, put out a statement Wednesday evening expressing support Jacobs.

"The Guardian is deeply appalled by how our reporter, Ben Jacobs, was treated in the course of doing his job as a journalist while reporting on the Montana special election," said the editor, Lee Glendinning. "We are committed to holding power to account and we stand by Ben Jacobs and our team of reporters for the questions they ask and the reporting that is produced."

Vice News, which works with The Guardian on segments for its television program, "Vice News Tonight," also released a statement.

"Vice News joins our partners at The Guardian in condemning the attack on journalist Ben Jacobs. It’s controversial, we know, to oppose violence against a person asking a question of a candidate for public office, but apparently that’s where we are. For any public official who wishes to live in a scrutiny free society we have one word of advice: move."

Conservative media personalities and some Republican politicians downplayed the incident.

Laura Ingraham, a conservative commentator and the editor-in-chief of the website LifeZette, wrote on Twitter, "Did anyone get his lunch money stolen today and then run to tell the recess monitor?"

 Derek Hunter, a radio host in Baltimore and contributing editor to the Daily Caller downplayed the incident at first before later tweeting that "it sounds bad" after reading the accounts of witnesses.

"What kind of a wuss files charges over broken glasses? Someone who wants to influence an outcome, that's who," tweeted Hunter in the aftermath

 On Capitol Hill, a number of representatives condemned Gianforte's behavior while still backing the candidate.

"I believe that we should all treat the press with respect and I try to lead by example," said Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J. "I, of course, hope the Republican is successful today because I think his views are the views of the people of Montana."

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. offered a mixed response on the incident to an Associated Press reporter.

"It’s not appropriate behavior," said Hunter. "Unless the reporter deserved it."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- President Donald Trump isn't afraid to mix it up in the boardroom, and today in Brussels he showed he could throw some proverbial elbows.

One of the more surprising moments caught on camera today at the NATO summit in Belgium came when Trump pushed aside Prime Minister Dusko Markovic of Montenegro to get to the front of the group of leaders.

Markovic appeared to smile and turn toward Trump as if for a conversation, but none ensued.

The moment may have been fleeting, but the internet seemed to enjoy it Thursday.

“I have not seen the video,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

Trump is set to head back to the U.S. on Saturday, May 27.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — Former Sen. Joe Lieberman sent a letter to President Donald Trump Wednesday withdrawing his name from consideration for FBI director, citing a potential conflict of interest.

In the letter, Lieberman cites the decision by the White House to enlist Marc Kasowitz — who works at the same law firm as Lieberman — as outside counsel to coordinate the administration’s response to the Russia investigation.

“With your selection of Marc Kasowitz to represent you in the various investigations that have begun, I do believe it would be best to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, given my role as a senior counsel in the law firm of which Marc is the senior partner," Lieberman wrote in the letter.

"Just being thought of for this position was a great honor because of my enormous respect for the men and women of the FBI and the critical and courageous work they do in protecting the American people from criminals and terrorists, and upholding our finest values," Lieberman wrote.

Last week Trump said he was "very close" to choosing the new FBI director.

The president, who is currently on his first overseas trip, revealed on May 18 that Lieberman was his top pick to replace James Comey. Lieberman, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 2013, was also former Vice President Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 election.

According to sources, some on the president’s team thought Lieberman would be a good choice and would actually appeal to Democrats.

Others pointed out that some Democrats actually dislike Lieberman and that the wiser move would be to appoint a career FBI person or somebody else with a law enforcement background — a choice with credibility in the Bureau and on Capitol Hill.

In keeping with those predictions, reactions to the reports that Lieberman was in the running were mixed. Senators Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called on Trump to choose an FBI director who had experience in law enforcement.

"It is a very bad idea to appoint a politician to head the FBI right now. We need a law enforcement professional. #bipartisan support," McCaskill wrote on Twitter.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took offense at the criticism.

"Joe Lieberman has more experience than all of my Democratic colleagues combined. So screw them. And you can quote me," he said on May 18.

The search comes after Trump abruptly fired Comey earlier this month amid an investigation into his campaign's potential ties to Russian officials.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

The White House(BRUSSELS) — President Trump on Thursday called for a Department of Justice investigation into an alleged leak of British intelligence information from its investigation into the Manchester bombing.

In a statement sent out upon his arrival at the NATO Leaders Summit in Brussels, President Trump called the alleged leaks — which he says were from "government agencies" — "deeply troubling."

"These leaks have been going on for a long time and my Administration will get to the bottom of this," Trump said. "The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security."

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said she would be confronting Trump directly at the summit following the publication of forensic photographs from the site of Monday night's bombing in the New York Times, subsequently published elsewhere including ABC News.

It is not clear where the photos came from.

The episode follows last week's revelation that Trump personally divulged highly classified information in an Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister that could have compromised an Israeli intelligence asset.

White House officials have said the leaked details of that meeting by intelligence officials are similarly under investigation. Trump denied that he mentioned Israel in the conversation and said he had an "absolute right" to reveal the information.

His national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said that the president did not reveal intelligence sources or methods.

President Trump said should the individual who leaked the Manchester photographs to the New York Times be found, they "should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"There is no relationship we cherish more than the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom," the president said.

In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he shared the president's concern and had already been in contact with British Home Secretary Amber Rudd Wednesday.

“These leaks cannot be tolerated and we will make every effort to put an end to it," Sessions said. "We have already initiated appropriate steps to address these rampant leaks that undermine our national security.”

The CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence have not responded to ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Michele Tantussi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BERLIN) — Sitting in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate -- one of Germany's most famous landmarks -- former U.S. President Barack Obama made a thinly veiled jab at President Donald Trump at a conference celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

“In this new world that we live in, we can’t isolate ourselves, we can’t hide behind a wall,” Obama said in regards to immigration and foreign aid.

Obama was joined onstage with the most powerful leader in Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The two leaders -- who worked closely together during Obama’s presidency -- held a discussion on “Being Involved in Democracy: Taking on Responsibility Locally and Globally.” Civic engagement has emerged as an important theme in Obama’s early post-presidency, and the Obama Foundation chose to sponsor the event as a way to highlight the role of faith-based organizations in local communities.

Obama’s first foreign speaking engagement comes at a time when all eyes are on Trump’s first trip abroad. Merkel sat down with Obama just hours before she travels to Brussels to meet with Trump and NATO leaders.

And while Obama did not mention Trump by name, the conversation steered toward politics and his differing worldview. Both Obama and Merkel reflected on their policies on health care, foreign aid and refugees.

Obama said progress toward universal healthcare in the U.S. is “in peril” as Republicans try to repeal and replace Obamacare.

"We are unique among advance countries in that we don't have universal health care. My hope was that I was able to get 100 percent of people health care while I was president. We didn't quite achieve that but we were able to get 20 million people healthcare who didn't have it before," Obama said. "Certainly I have some regrets that we weren't able to get everybody health care and obviously some of the progress that we made is now in peril...but the point is that for those 20 million people their lives have been better."

Obama also discussed human rights, saying it's important to "push back against those trends that would violate human rights or that would suppress democracy or that would restrict individuals freedoms of conscious or religion."

He went on, "For example I look at a place like Syria that despite our best efforts you still have a war taking place, millions of people displaced, hundreds of thousands killed...it is going to require everything we can do to recognize that what happens on the other side of the world or in these other countries...that it has an impact on us and we're going to have to be invested in trying to help those countries achieve peace and prosperity. And as president I did not always have the tools that I wanted to affect those kinds of changes, but at least we tried.”

Reflecting on his life post-White House, Obama said he's mostly been trying to catch up on sleep.

"It's only been four months so I'm not sure I have the best historical perspective. Mostly I've been trying to catch up with my sleep. I've been trying to make sure that I'm spending more time with Michelle so that she forgives me for all the times that I've been away. I've been spending time with my daughters," he said.
 
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department is acknowledging that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States last year when filling out his security clearance form -- a disclosure that an FBI official advised Sessions he didn't have to make since the meetings were through his official capacity as a U.S. senator, according to a department official.

The lack of disclosure about Sessions' two meetings with Russian Ambassador Secret Kislyak was first reported by CNN.

The encounters ultimately led to Sessions announcing in March that he was recusing himself from any investigation into Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

The documentation for Sessions' clearance requested a list of contacts with foreign governments or their representatives over a period of the previous seven years.

The Justice Department official with knowledge of the situation, explaining the FBI's recommendation, said that the stipulation would be particularly burdensome and broad for a senator.

The Justice Department's Deputy Director of Public Affairs Ian Prior issued a response to CNN's story Wednesday evening, portraying Sessions as having followed the instructions given to him.

"As a United States Senator, the Attorney General met hundreds—if not thousands—of foreign dignitaries and their staff," said Prior in the statement. "In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities."

Kislyak has been at the center of the Russian controversies swirling around the White House since Trump's election. His contact with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Flynn's actions to mislead the administration about the nature of their conversations lead to Flynn's forced resignation in February.

The ambassador was also present for a White House meeting earlier this month in which President Donald Trump shared classified intelligence.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Mike Levine/ABC(WASHINGTON) -- Even with the Senate Intelligence Committee focused this week on its investigation of Russia's alleged meddling in last year's presidential election, the committee met behind closed doors Wednesday for a classified briefing from senior FBI and Homeland Security officials over another alleged threat emanating from Moscow: a major software company whose products are used widely across the United States.

The visit from FBI and Homeland Security officials has long been planned. But congressional sources told ABC News that in recent days the agenda expanded to specifically include an update on U.S. intelligence about Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based firm that has become one of the world’s largest and most respected cybersecurity firms.

Current and former U.S. officials worry that state-sponsored hackers could try to exploit Kaspersky Lab’s anti-virus software to steal and manipulate users’ files, read private emails or attack critical infrastructure in the U.S. And they point to Kaspersky Lab executives with previous ties to Russian intelligence and military agencies.

“We are very much concerned about this, very much concerned about the security of our country," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said about Kaspersky Lab at a recent Senate hearing.

The company has repeatedly insisted it poses no threat to U.S. customers and would never allow itself to be used as a tool of the Russian government.

But in a secret memorandum sent last month to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Senate Intelligence Committee raised possible red flags about Kaspersky Lab and urged the intelligence community to address potential risks posed by the company’s powerful market position.

“This [is an] important national security issue,” declared the bipartisan memorandum, described to ABC News by congressional sources.

In February, the Department of Homeland Security issued a secret report on the matter to other government agencies. And the FBI is in the midst of a counterintelligence investigation looking into the nature of Kaspersky Lab’s relationship to the Russian government, sources with knowledge of the probe told ABC News.

Among the high-level officials briefing senators today was FBI Assistant Director Gregory Brower, the head of the FBI's Office of Congressional Affairs.

During a televised Senate Intelligence Committee hearing two weeks ago, senior members of the U.S. intelligence community for the first time publicly expressed concern that Kaspersky Lab could pose a threat to the U.S. homeland.

At the hearing, the acting head of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that his agency is “very concerned about it … and we are focused on it closely.”

Robert Cardillo, the director of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said he is “aware of the Kaspersky lab challenge and/or threat.” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said the matter “has risen to the director of the CIA as well.” And the head of the National Security Agency, Adm. Mike Rogers, said he is “personally aware and involved” in “national security issues” associated with Kaspersky Lab.

Until those remarks at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, such concerns have been communicated only behind closed doors and in private memos, as ABC News first disclosed in a report two days before the Senate hearing.

“I think we do ourselves a disservice by not speaking about this openly,” Michael Carpenter, who until January served as the Defense Department's deputy assistant secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told ABC News.

Products from Kaspersky Lab are widely used in homes and businesses throughout the U.S.

But ABC News found that -- largely through outside vendors -- Kaspersky Lab software has also been procured by such federal agencies as the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and even some segments of the Defense Department.

When Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, asked the panelists at the Senate hearing two weeks ago whether they’d be willing to use Kaspersky Lab software on their devices, Director of National Intelligence Coats said: “A resounding no from me.”

All five of the other U.S. intelligence officials unanimously agreed.

Manchin urged each of the U.S. officials testifying to verify that Kaspersky Lab software is not on their agencies’ systems.

In a statement issued after the first ABC News report, Kaspersky Lab insisted: "As a private company, Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.

"The company has a 20-year history in the IT security industry of always abiding by the highest ethical business practices, and Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations," the statement continued.

"Kaspersky Lab is available to assist all concerned government organizations with any ongoing investigations, and the company ardently believes a deeper examination of Kaspersky Lab will confirm that these allegations are unfounded," the statement added.

In fact, the FBI and other agencies in the U.S. intelligence community have yet to publicly present any evidence connecting company executives with Russian security services. And sources who spoke with ABC News did not offer any evidence suggesting Kaspersky Lab has helped breach a U.S. system or taken hostile action on behalf of the Russian government.

"For 20 years, Kaspersky Lab has been focused on protecting people and organizations from cyberthreats, and its headquarters' location doesn't change that mission," Kaspersky Lab said in its statement. "[J]ust as a U.S.-based cybersecurity company doesn’t allow access or send any sensitive data from its products to the U.S. government, Kaspersky Lab products also do not allow any access or provide any private data to any country's government."

In an interview with ABC News, Eugene Kaspersky said, "My response if I’m asked to spy on anyone coming from any state, any government -— not only Russian —- will be definite 'no.'"

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Could these be the first splashes of an impending blue wave?

Only time will tell, but Democrats have flipped two statehouse seats in New Hampshire and New York in districts won by Donald Trump.

Democrat Edie DesMarais narrowly defeated Republican Matthew Panche in New Hampshire last night, winning by 4 percentage points — just 56 votes. Trump won that district, 51 to 44 percent, according to an analysis by the Daily Kos.

Wolfeboro, the major city in that district, has long been a GOP stronghold in the statehouse — which has 400 members, the largest in the nation. Democrats have never won that district, according to the state's Democratic Party.

Representative-elect Edie DesMarais becomes 1st EVER Wolfeboro Democratic Representative. First seat to flip since 2016 election #nhpolitics

— NH Democratic Party (@NHDems) May 24, 2017

 "We are pleased to see that Democrats are showing up, working hard and turning out with a renewed sense of purpose," said New Hampshire House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff in a statement.

In New York, Democrat Christine Pellegrino defeated Republican Thomas Gargiulo, 58 to 42 percent — a dramatic reversal from Trump's 60 to 37 percent victory in that district, according to the Daily Kos.

This is humbling & powerful. I cannot wait to get 2 Albany to be the voice 4 LI District 9!
We #Flippedthe9th @OurRevolution @NYSUT pic.twitter.com/uOyOpE039v

— Christine Pellegrino (@ChristineNY09) May 24, 2017

Special elections at the federal level have had some positive indications for Democrats, but the party hasn't been able to pick up any victories.

Democrats lost narrowly in Kansas' 4th Congressional District in April, losing by 7 percentage points in a rural, conservative district that Trump won by nearly 30 percentage points in November. And Democrat Jon Ossoff came up just short of the 50 percent threshold needed to win Georgia's 6th Congressional District outright, with a runoff to be held next month.

A special election in Montana for its U.S. House seat is slated for Thursday. Republican multimillionaire tech executive Greg Gianforte faces off against Democratic populist singer-songwriter Rob Quist in the statewide district, which leans Republican, after Ryan Zinke vacated the seat to become the interior secretary.

Republicans have so far been successful at fending off Democratic challengers in major special elections over the last six months, despite Trump's broad unpopularity and polls showing an energized Democratic base.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The latest analysis of the GOP’s health care bill concludes that the plan would leave 14 million more people uninsured next year if it becomes law, a number that rises to 23 million by 2026.

The bill, known as the American Health Care Act, passed the House with only one vote to spare earlier this month.

The new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office shows little improvement in the number of uninsured from the scoring done on past iterations of the bill, which ultimately were not voted upon.

The CBO's estimate also indicates that the Republican health care plan would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion oven ten years. The slight revision from the previous estimates will allow Senate Republicans to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

Senate budget rules require the AHCA to save $2 billion over ten years in order to be taken up under reconciliation – a process that would allow Senate Republicans to pass the bill with only 51 votes.

If the nonpartisan CBO determined that the bill didn't pass muster for reconciliation, Democrats would have been able to hold up the bill with filibuster, which could send the bill back to House Republicans to amend and hold another vote.

An earlier analysis of the bill estimated that 24 million Americans would lose health insurance by 2026 if it becomes law.

Wednesday's report also estimates that the GOP bill would raise premiums over time for people who are less healthy in states that seek and receive the controversial waivers from rules enforcing the coverage of pre-existing conditions from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The analysis appears to undermine the Republican argument that the proposal wouldn't impact Americans with pre-existing conditions. The CBO indicates that it would by making health care less affordable for some consumers.

"Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all," reads the report.

The report echoes earlier analyses which predicted that premiums could rise greatly for a portion of the population that would no longer receive tax credits at the rate it does under the current law -- namely, older and poorer policy holders.

The CBO's analysis of subsidies in 2026 indicates that net premiums for a 64-year-old earning $28,500 would rise from $1,700 to between $13,600-$16,100 under the AHCA, depending on whether the person lives in a state requesting waivers for market regulations.

Savings could become more common for wealthier individuals who would benefit from tax credits pegged to age rather than income, according to examples cited by the CBO. As the law stipulates, an individual earning $68,200 in the CBO's example receives the same credit as someone at the same age earning $28,500.

Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House have criticized the CBO for inaccuracies in its analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. While the CBO overestimated the number of people who would ultimately receive insurance, it was correct in noting that the amount of those uninsured would fall.

With all CBO reports, Wednesday's analysis notes that there are a number of factors that contribute to the uncertainty of its forecasts but that it "endeavored to develop estimates that are in the middle of the distribution of potential outcomes."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday he disagreed with President Trump’s description of former FBI Director James Comey as a "nut job."

"I don’t agree with that and he’s not," Ryan said in an interview with Mike Allen at a conference with media company Axios.

The New York Times reported Friday that Trump called Comey a "nut job" in his Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, one day after he fired him from the FBI. The White House did not deny the report to ABC News.

"I like Jim Comey," Ryan said Wednesday. "I know that there are people on both sides of the aisle who are concerned about decisions he made."

Ryan said Comey was put in an "impossible position" at the FBI with the Clinton email investigation, after former President Bill Clinton met briefly with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch at an airport in Phoenix.

After that encounter, Lynch said she would accept the recommendation of the FBI in the investigation, recusing herself from leadership of the probe.

Ryan said he supported letting the Russian election interference investigations "take their course" at the Department of Justice and on Capitol Hill, declining to comment about items "under ongoing review."

He praised Trump’s "energy and engagement," noting his involvement in passing the GOP health care bill in the House.

"I’ve never seen a president ... get so deeply engaged on a person-to-person basis to help achieve a goal," he said.

The Wisconsin Republican also predicted that Congress would be able to send Trump a tax reform bill by December 23rd, the end of the legislative calendar.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, told ABC News that he will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on June 6 as part of its ongoing investigation of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

He also confirmed to ABC News that he has retained legal counsel.

In a May 23 letter addressed to Representatives L. Michael Conway and Adam Schiff, the ranking members of the committee, Page outlined his objections to former CIA director John Brennan’s testimony Tuesday that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the election.

"I saw interaction that in my mind raised questions of whether it was collusion," Brennan said. "It was necessary to pull threads."

Page, however, dismissed Brennan’s claims as “false Russia conspiracy theories,” and provided a five-page “Appendix,” complete with footnotes, detailing a point-by-point protest.

“The vast majority of the open session testimony by Mr, Brennan and other Clinton/Obama regime appointees who have recently appeared before your committee loyally presented one biased viewpoint and base of experience.” Page wrote. “When I have my turn next month, I look forward to adding some accurate insights regarding what has really been happening in Russia over recent years including 2016.”

When reached for comment, a spokesman for Rep. Schiff said the congressman would not confirm or comment on upcoming witnesses. The committee has typically not announced its plans until much closer to a scheduled hearing.

Page, a New York businessman who owns a consulting firm called Global Energy Capital, joined the Trump campaign in March of 2016, but after he traveled to Moscow in July to deliver a speech at the New Economic School advocating for better relations with Russia, the campaign attempted to distance their candidate from Page.

In an interview with ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America in April, Page wavered on whether he discussed easing sanctions against Russia with anyone in the Russian government during that trip.

"Something may have come up in a conversation," Page replied. "I have no recollection, and there's nothing specifically that I would have done that would have given people that impression."

"Someone may have brought it up," he continued. "And if it was, it was not something I was offering or that someone was asking for."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Republicans on Capitol Hill are preparing for the release of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the GOP health care bill that passed the House earlier this month.

The estimate of the American Health Care Act impact on the federal deficit could determine whether the Senate will take up the measure, which passed with only one vote to spare in the House.

Senate budget rules require the AHCA to save $2 billion over 10 years in order to be taken up under reconciliation — a process that would allow Senate Republicans to pass the bill with only 51 votes.

If the nonpartisan CBO determines that the bill doesn’t pass muster for reconciliation, Democrats would be able to filibuster the measure, which could send the bill back to House Republicans to amend and hold another vote.

Republican leadership aides say it's unlikely the bill won't meet the Senate requirements.

The CBO score will also include an estimate of whether the number of Americans with health insurance would change and by how much.

An earlier analysis of the bill estimated that 24 million Americans would lose health insurance under the GOP’s AHCA, compared to Obamacare.
 
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.