Political News

Trump deletes social media video about election victory referencing 'Unified Reich' after facing backlash

TruthSocial

(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Donald Trump on Monday deleted a social media video that referenced the phrase "Unified Reich" after his critics said the phrase mirrors that of Nazi Germany.

The phrase "Unified Reich" appears as a part of hypothetical news articles in the video that announce Trump's hypothetical victory in the 2024 election, with the narrator asking, "What happens after Donald Trump wins?"

Under a big headline that says, "WHAT'S NEXT FOR AMERICA?" there is a smaller headline that appears to read: "INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED DRIVEN BY THE CREATION OF A UNIFIED REICH."

The video then predicts an economic boom, tax cuts, border security and deportation of undocumented immigrants if Trump wins the 2024 election.

A spokesperson for the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign on Monday night slammed the video saying it was "parroting Mein Kampf."

"Donald Trump is not playing games; he is telling America exactly what he intends to do if he regains power: rule as a dictator over a ‘unified Reich,’ Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer wrote in a statement.

"Parroting Mein Kampf while you warn of a bloodbath if you lose is the type of unhinged behavior you get from a guy who knows that democracy continues to reject his extreme vision of chaos, division, and violence," Singer continued.

In a statement to ABC News, the Trump campaign claimed it is not a campaign video but rather a random online video reposted by a staffer who did not see the word.

“This was not a campaign video, it was created by a random account online and reposted by a staffer who clearly did not see the word, while the President was in court,” Karoline Leavitt, the campaign press secretary, said in a statement.

The video was posted at 1:58 p.m. ET when the trial in Trump’s hush money trial was at lunch. The video was taken down Tuesday morning, after existing on Trump's social media page for more than 18 hours.

The video appears to have been made using an existing video template that mimics an old newspaper, several parts of the template referencing historic dates and events.

In the template, one mock news article appears to say, "INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED IN 1871, DRIVEN BY THE CREATION OF A UNIFIED REICH," the reference to the year 1871 not visible in the video Trump shared because it was blurred and cut.

Over the past year, Trump has repeatedly faced similar criticisms of echoing words of Nazi Germany or fascist figures, including during a rally in November last year when he compared his political opponents to "vermin" that he will "root out."

Trump has also repeatedly said undocumented immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our country" -- drawing scrutiny from critics who say that language is used by white supremacists and Hitler, who infamously wrote about "blood poisoning" in his book Mein Kampf.

Trump later claimed he's never read Mein Kampf, saying he's using such language "in a much different way" when he disparages undocumented immigrants.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung last year too rejected the comparisons to Hitler and Mussolini," calling it a "ridiculous assertion."

"Those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and their sad, miserable existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House," Cheung said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Austin says 'expectation' is Ukraine won't use US weapons outside its territory, despite Russian advance

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin holds a joint press conference following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon, May 20, 2024, in Arlington, Va. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON) -- The United States' top military leaders said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has opened "another front" in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, home to the country's second-largest city.

"Putin's forces have opened another front to seize sovereign Ukrainian territory, and the Kremlin's invaders are obliterating Ukrainian villages, killing innocent civilians and bombarding civilian infrastructure including dams and power plants," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters after a meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group, an international working group coordinating defensive assistance for Kyiv.

Despite the Russian advance, the defense secretary said U.S. weapons shouldn't be used beyond Ukrainian territory.

"Our expectation is that they continue to use the weapons that we provided on targets inside of Ukraine," Austin said.

U.S. military assistance, another $60 billion of which was passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in April, is arriving as Ukraine faces a Russian offensive that could determine the "character" of the war, ​Can Kasapoğlu, a senior fellow and political-military affairs expert at the Hudson Institute, told ABC News.

Gen. C.Q. Brown, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that Russia's new offensive "aim[s] to establish a shallow buffer zone along the Ukrainian border."

"Russia anticipates that this will divert Ukrainian focus and capabilities from other critical areas," he said.

Kharkiv was recaptured by Ukraine in a fall 2022 counteroffensive after Russia took the city in its initial invasion in February 2022.

Russia has not breached the Ukrainian front line, but Kasapoğlu said the front line is not stabilized, leaving doubt as to whether Ukraine can hold the city if Russia mounts an effort to take it.

"The Russians managed to secure many tactical gains" in the Kharkiv region and around the city of Kharkiv, Kasapoğlu said, and the Russians can be expected to "try to enhance these tactical footholds ... and gradually move forward to get Kharkiv city in artillery range."

"This may go beyond merely a subordinate effort or a distractive effort," Kasapoğlu continued.

If the offensive is a main effort, and the Russians can recapture Kharkiv after winning it once and then losing it, "the chances are really slim for Ukraine to launch a large-scale counteroffensive and retake territory from the Russians," Kasapoğlu said.

It could become clear "in the forthcoming weeks" whether Russia can "translate [its] tactical gains into strategic gains" and retake Kharkiv, Kasapoğlu said.

After completing its spring conscription, Russia has sufficient manpower, and the scope of the Kharkiv offensive is largely a function of whether Putin chooses to double down, Kasapoğlu said.

The United States' supplemental package included much-needed artillery, as well as munitions for air defense, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his forces need more.

The crisis in Kharkiv is "the world's fault," Zelenskyy told ABC News' James Longman Friday, adding: "We cannot afford to lose Kharkiv."

Air defenses, which Austin said the contact group discussed at length Monday, are crucial, Zelenskyy told Longman. 

"All we need are two Patriot systems," he said.

The U.S. package includes munitions for the Patriots but not the systems themselves. The Germans have committed to providing one -- a move praised by Austin on Monday -- but the Pentagon chief said in April the system wouldn't be a "silver bullet" for Ukraine's defense.

Long-range ATACMS, a missile system the U.S. acknowledged it dispatched to Ukraine for the first time in April, could have made a difference in Ukraine's early defense of Kharkiv, according to Kasapoğlu.

This would have been the "ideal weapon" to counter a heavy buildup of Russian troops, Kasapoğlu said, but because the Russians were striking for the first time from their own territory -- and not from within Ukraine -- Ukraine was restricted from using them by allies' conditions.

Victoria Nuland, former undersecretary of state for political affairs, told ABC News' Martha Raddatz on This Week Sunday that American weapons should be available to Ukraine for Russian targets.

"I think if the attacks are coming directly from over the line in Russia, that those bases ought to be fair game, whether they are where missiles are being launched from or where the troops are being supplied from," she said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


With RFK Jr. seeking spot on debate stage, a look at the last independent candidate to make it

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- In October 1992, businessman and independent presidential candidate Ross Perot stood at a podium to the left of Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush at the third presidential debate of the general election cycle.

An independent candidate for president has not made it on the debate stage since.

Three decades after Perot participated in all three general election debates en route to winning nearly 20 million votes, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. hopes to join President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in next month's CNN debate.

Kennedy, though, faces a difficult task in meeting CNN's thresholds, which the network announced last week after it said it had reached agreements with Biden and Trump on the terms of the debate, to be held in Atlanta.

To qualify, Kennedy must net at least 15% in four separate national polls that meet CNN's standards for reporting and appear on enough ballots to reach 270 electoral votes.


Kennedy polls around 10 percent, according to 538's national polling average, and he is confirmed on the ballot in only enough states to reach 35 electoral votes, according to state officials.

The independent candidate has insisted he will meet the criteria, and in a post on X last week, he accused Trump and Biden of "colluding" to keep him off the debate stage after Biden and Trump agreed one of the conditions of the debate is that it's just between the two of them -- barring Kennedy from participating.

Kennedy said Sunday that his team was "in discussions" with CNN, though he did not elaborate on what those talks entailed. A CNN spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

The independent candidate said last week that he would meet the criteria, though he did not specify how, while also accusing Trump and Biden of "colluding" to keep him off the debate stage.

It was less difficult in 1992 for independent candidates to qualify for presidential debates, according to Ballotpedia, which noted that the Commission on Presidential Debates did not automatically exclude a candidate based on poll numbers then (in 2000, the commission cemented a 15% polling minimum as part of its criteria).


Perot qualified for the 1992 debates using criteria set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organized the debates since 1988. But those criteria did not include a 15% polling threshold like the one Kennedy faces today. The commission implemented such a threshold in 2000, which CNN has adopted for its June debate,

Moreover, Perot had achieved ballot access in all 50 states, which he accomplished in part by having an "enormous amount of money," according to Bernard Tamas, a professor at Valdosta State University and author of the book, "The Demise and Rebirth of American Third Parties."

Perot also had the support of a large swath of the American electorate -- enough so that he led Clinton and Bush in polls earlier that year, a marker Kennedy has not approached this cycle.

Perot was "well received" in the 1992 debates, Tamas told ABC News. But he may have turned off a portion of the electorate who saw him as "not highly scripted or well prepared" on key issues, according to Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin.

Despite eventually winning millions of votes across the country, Perot did not win a single state.

Increasing partisanship and party loyalty may have contribute to the fact that no independent candidates since Perot have made a major debate stage, Burden told ABC News.

"[In] '92, when Perot did so well, was probably the last presidential election before the real ramp-up in partisan animosity got escalated over time, and so I think there were more voters who were open to considering a candidate who wasn't of their party, and a lot of voters who weren't attached to a party psychologically," he said.

Kennedy enjoys strong support relative to recent independent presidential candidates, but Tamas noted while Kennedy is likely to get ballot access in each state, the 15% polling threshold is still a high bar that the candidate will have to work hard to reach.

"In terms of getting his support up to 15%, while possible, that's going to be the much more difficult hurdle for him [in making a debate stage]," Tamas said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


DHS warns of threats to election posed by artificial intelligence

Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The threat posed by artificial intelligence programs is real and creates a serious challenge going into the 2024 election, according to a new federal assessment.

The analysis, compiled by the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by ABC News, outlines how, with less than six months before Election Day, next-generation technologies meant to fuel advancement also offer opportunities for misuse that could threaten the democratic system's bedrock of elections.

"As the 2024 election cycle progresses, generative AI tools likely provide both domestic and foreign threat actors with enhanced opportunities for interference by aggravating emergent events, disrupting election processes, or attacking election infrastructure," the May 17 document said. Those tools, the bulletin said, can be wielded to "influence and sow discord" in upcoming U.S. elections by those who view them as "attractive" and "priority" targets.

"This is not a problem for the future. This is a problem of today," said John Cohen, the former intelligence chief at the Department of Homeland Security, and now an ABC News contributor. "Foreign and domestic threat actors have fully embraced the internet, and they are increasingly using advanced computing capabilities like artificial intelligence to conduct their illegal operations."

Already, those attempting to target elections have done so "by conducting cyber-enabled hack-and-leak campaigns, voice spoofing, online disinformation campaigns, and threatening or plotting attacks against symbols of the US elections," the bulletin said.

And now, the analysis warns, the innovative abilities of generative AI can be used against future elections.Those tools can be exploited "to confuse or overwhelm voters and election staff to disrupt their duties" by creating or sharing "altered" or deepfaked pictures, videos or audio clips "regarding the details of Election Day, such as claiming that a polling station is closed or that polling times have changed, or to generate or promote other tailored false information online."

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary in January, a robocall seeming to impersonate the voice of President Joe Biden circulated, encouraging recipients of the call to "save your vote" for the November general election, rather than participate in the state's primary, according to audio obtained at the time by ABC News.

That "generative AI-created audio message" was specifically flagged in the DHS analysis, which also noted "the timing of election-specific AI-generated media can be just as critical as the content itself, as it may take time to counter-message or debunk the false content permeating online."

"This may be one of the most difficult elections for Americans to navigate finding ground truth in our lifetimes," said Elizabeth Neumann, a DHS assistant secretary during the first years of Donald Trump's presidency, and now an ABC News contributor. "It's not just whether a politician is telling you the truth, but you won't even be able to trust your own eyes at the images you're seeing in your social media feeds, in your email and possibly even traditional media, if they don't do a good enough job vetting the material."

The 2024 race has been marked by increasingly toxic rhetoric, and the intermingling of inflammatory campaign trail hyperbole and courtroom theatrics, as Trump faces four criminal cases in which he maintains his innocence. Hate speech, misinformation and disinformation are running rampant on social media and in real life -- even as rapidly evolving technology remains vulnerable, experts said. Meanwhile, wars in the Middle East and Ukraine continue overseas, dividing Americans' views on foreign policy, with the conflicts rippling out in protests at major U.S. college campuses from coast to coast.

"Threat actors can attempt to exploit deepfake videos, audio content, or other generative AI media to amplify discontent," the DHS analysis said. "A well-timed deepfake or piece of AI-generated media for a targeted audience could spur individuals to take action that may result in violence or physical disruptions directed toward the elections or candidates."

The threat landscape has grown "more diverse and more complex," and protecting the integrity of U.S. elections faces more challenges than ever due to the accelerating sophistication of artificial intelligence, top intelligence officials told lawmakers last Wednesday.

"Using every tool we have is critical as the challenge is expanding," Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a Senate committee holding a hearing focused on threats to the 2024 elections. "There are an increasing number of foreign actors, including non-state entities who are looking to engage in election influence activities," she said, adding "relevant emerging technologies, particularly generative AI and big data analytics, are increasing the threat by enabling the proliferation of influence actors who can conduct targeted campaigns."

"Innovations in AI have enabled foreign influence actors to produce seemingly authentic and tailored messaging more efficiently, at greater scale," Haines added. "Even as the threat landscape is becoming increasingly complicated, it is my view that the U.S. government has never been better prepared to address the challenge," in part thanks to lessons learned from the 2016 presidential election.

Authorities at every level need to be ready to defend against artificial intelligence disseminating fake news at this delicate moment, experts said.

"One of the most important things we need to be doing now is educating and preparing the public. Because they will be the people who are being targeted with this content -- the public is the intended target -- and the objective is to influence how people behave," Cohen said.

"State and local officials need to have a plan, so that when this content is detected, they can use trusted sources of communication to counteract and correct inaccurate information. Once that content hits, it's going to spread across the online media ecosystem rapidly, and has to be counteracted immediately," Cohen added. "Law enforcement and our security community have been slow to adapt to this rapidly evolving threat environment. We're still using the strategies of yesterday to deal with a threat of today. In a way, it's bringing a knife to a gunfight."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Sen. Schumer tells Democrats he'll reintroduce bipartisan border bill

Phil Roeder/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will bring the bipartisan border deal that was negotiated early this year by a group of Senators back up on the floor this week for a standalone vote, he said in a letter to his colleagues released Sunday night.

The move to hold another vote on this legislation comes as Senate Democrats try to renew their push on the Southern border ahead of the 2024 election.

"We are hopeful this bipartisan proposal will bring serious-minded Republicans back to the table to advance this bipartisan solution for our border," Schumer wrote in a letter to his colleagues. "I will be honest: I do not expect all Democrats to support this legislation. Many of our colleagues do not support some of the provisions in this legislation, nor do I expect all Republicans to agree to every provision. But that is often how bipartisan legislation must be shaped when dealing with an issue as complex and politically charged as our nation’s immigration laws."

It's ultimately very unlikely that holding a vote on this legislation now will lead to a different outcome.

The bipartisan border bill was negotiated over the course of several months by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., and Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. The legislation was negotiated after Senate Republicans said they would not vote to advance additional aid to Ukraine without the implementation of provisions to shore up the southern border.

Lawmakers worked behind the scenes for months to negotiate the legislation. But the bill, which made modifications to parole and asylum provisions, was rejected almost immediately after its release by almost the whole of the Senate Republican conference at the urging of former President Donald Trump.

"The former President made clear he would rather preserve the issue for his campaign than solve the issue in a bipartisan fashion. On cue, many of our [Republican] colleagues abruptly reversed course on their prior support, announcing their new-found opposition to the bipartisan proposal," Schumer said in the letter.

Senate Republicans did eventually reverse course and approve funding for Ukraine without border provisions, so Schumer said he will now hold a separate vote on the border bill without anything accompanying it.

But Senate Republicans who spoke to ABC News last week said that if Schumer brought the border bill back up, it wouldn't change their perspective on voting for it.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, who had championed the bipartisan border discussions before ultimately voting against advancing the final product in February, said Schumer is trying to distract from a border crisis that Tillis believes is ultimately President Biden's making.

"Let's just be realistic. They are looking at the polls. They're getting hammered; Biden is getting hammered for the failure at the border," Tillis said. "So Schumer is going to do everything he can to say 'nothing to see here this failure is not real' and it is real. And he knows it won't pass."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Biden faces silent protests at Morehouse commencement

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

(ATLANTA) -- President Joe Biden was met with silent protests as he delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College in Atlanta on Sunday, after some students and faculty members voiced strong opposition to his visit over the president's handling of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

In his speech before the president's address, valedictorian DeAngelo "DJ" Fletcher called for an "immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza."

When Biden spoke, he directly addressed the issue, saying, "What’s happening in Gaza and Israel is heartbreaking."

"We can't stop wars that break out and break our hearts," Biden said. "I want to say this very clearly: I support peaceful, nonviolent protests. Your voices should be heard, and I promise you I hear them."

Later, he revealed that even his own family is frustrated by failed attempts to create lasting peace in the region.

"What after? What after Hamas? What happens then? What happens in Gaza? What rights do the Palestinian people have? I am working to make sure we finally get a two-state solution. The only solution: for two people to live in peace, security and dignity," Biden said. "It is one of the hardest, most complicated problems in the world. There's nothing easy about it. I know it angers and frustrates many of you, including my family."

As the graduates filed in for the ceremony Sunday, some were noticeably wearing Palestinian flags and keffiyehs, a headdress typically worn by men in the Middle East, draped around their shoulders.

While there were no disruptive protests, students and faculty showed their opposition in other ways. A handful of graduates turned their chairs when Biden spoke. One faculty member stood with her back turned away from the president with her right fist raised.

Notably, there was an age divide in support among Morehouse graduates: The alumni sitting to the left gave standing ovations during and after Biden's speech, while the 2024 graduating class mainly remained seated throughout.

While Biden spoke, faculty held up the Democratic Republic of Congo's flag prominently behind him. The country is involved in its own humanitarian crisis stemming from unprecedented violence in the country.

Morehouse's valedictorian delivered remarks before Biden, saying that in honor of the school's legacy, he felt it was right to call for a cease-fire.

"It is only right for the class of 2024 to utilize any platform provided to stand in solidarity with peace and justice," Fletcher said. "The Israel-Gaza conflict has plagued the people of its region for generations."

"It is my stance as a Morehouse man -- nay, as a human being -- to call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in the Gaza strip," Fletcher said. "Hear the people of this world sing the song of righteous justice."

Biden looked pensive and stoic as he was seated behind Fletcher and clapped after the valedictorian called for an immediate and permanent cease-fire.

Biden later noted he's also called for a cease-fire in Gaza.

"It's a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That's why I've called for an immediate cease-fire. An immediate cease-fire, stop the fighting. Bring the hostages back," Biden said. "I've been working on a deal as we speak. Working around the clock to ... get more aid into Gaza, rebuild Gaza."

The Rev. Hardy Spurgeon Bennings III, who offered a prayer at the start of the ceremony, also addressed the war in Gaza and conflicts in other regions, saying the young men graduating should hold those in power accountable and call for protecting human life everywhere.

"God, make this class those men with a moral conscience that will cause this country to be mindful of its moral duty," he said, later adding: "Make these men men who will hold our communities and our country accountable for valuing human life."

"Whether it is a baby in a mother's womb, or whether it is a baby who a mother expects to come home in the afternoon, whether it's a child in an underprivileged school or a charter school, whether they live in Israel or Palestine, Ukraine or Russia, the Congo or Haiti, God, give us men who will value life and call us to accountability," the reverend said.

Morehouse College praised students' silent protests during Biden's commencement address.

"We are proud of the resilient class of 2024's unity in silent protest, showing their intentionality in strategy, communication, and coordination as a 414-person unit," the college said in a statement.

The college added that "peaceful assembly is core to the Morehouse College social justice tradition."

The college also praised Biden and his administration for "listening and, most importantly, applying what our community and the global society have requested."

"The work is nowhere near finished, and Morehouse College will continue centering consequential, nuanced dialogue and critique to foster positive societal change," the college said.

Biden's speech came during an election year in a key swing state in front of a key voting bloc -- Morehouse is one of the country's most famous historically Black colleges -- and after much speculation over how he would be received.

Polling shows Biden faces headwinds to win over some young and Black voters who voted for him in 2020, and protests erupted in recent months on college campuses across the United States over the president's handling of the war in Gaza. Morehouse ultimately decided not to rescind Biden's invitation to speak at its commencement, and a vote was held to confirm he would be granted an honorary doctorate.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Van Hollen: 'I do not have concerns' about Biden at debate

ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Sunday that he's unconcerned about how President Joe Biden will fare at his first debate with former President Donald Trump next month.

The two candidates' agreement bucked the Commission on Presidential Debates, the longtime organizer of such forums. Biden's camp suggested the body was unable to handle Trump as a candidate on stage, and the former president has long decried the group as biased against him, leveling similar accusations as the ones he does against mainstream media outlets.

Van Hollen, a Biden ally, pointed to the president's State of the Union address in March during which he delivered a vociferous defense of his record, a speech many supporters touted to suggest worries over his age and mental acuity were overblown. Those concerns will be front and center again after Biden and Trump agreed Wednesday to a June 27 debate hosted by CNN and a Sept. 10 debate hosted by ABC News.

"I do not have concerns. I mean, there were people who said they were concerned about the State of the Union address. He came out swinging, he delivered a very clear message to the American people," Van Hollen told "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

"Look, it's not about the age of the candidate. It's about the ideas [of] the candidate, what they're going to do for the American people going forward," he added. "Donald Trump is all about revenge, he's all about the past. Joe Biden is about fighting for the American people and putting forward an agenda for the people."

Biden and Trump debated twice during their 2020 race, with the first clash a largely chaotic affair followed by a more serious forum after more intense moderator intervention.

This time, the terms the Biden campaign demanded include having no audience and allowing moderators the flexibility to cut off mics for the candidates, including when they're not speaking.

"I think this is an advantage to the American people. They want the candidates [to] focus on issues, on the economy, on foreign policy," Van Hollen said. "What Donald Trump likes is a carnival-like atmosphere. He's more of an entertainer than a serious debater on the issues. And so, I think this helps the American people crystallize the choice."

6 months out, a tight presidential race with battle between issues and attributes: POLL
Still, Van Hollen said he would recommend Biden not hold back if Trump is perceived to cross a line during the debate. Biden asked, "Will you shut up, man?" during a 2020 debate when Trump began interrupting him.

"You have to show the human side of people," Van Hollen said. "... I can understand the president of the United States responding and letting him know that's what he thinks.

Republicans, meanwhile, think the debates hand Trump an advantage.

Challenges for Trump and Biden emerge even as both cruise: Exit polls
Polls have shown voters trust Trump more than Biden on issues that most concern them, including the economy and immigration.

"I think the choice is going to be clear in this election, and I think people will see it on that debate stage in June," Marc Lotter, a former Trump-Pence campaign official, told Raddatz on Sunday. "Donald Trump, I think it's basically a strategy of reality and real life. The reality is that people are struggling in real life to pay for groceries and gas, the open border problem, crime, the wars raging around the world."

Lotter also nodded to concerns over Biden's age, noting a debate is different from a State of the Union address and that Trump often speaks off the cuff to reporters and large crowds of supporters.

"I think the American people need to see Donald Trump and Joe Biden side by side," he said. "This is not a Joe Biden that can shield himself with his staff walking to Marine One or take the short stairs or use a teleprompter. This is going to be live recall, and Donald Trump gets up there two or three times a weekend and pontificates for 90 minutes. Joe Biden rarely does an actual hard interview. This is going to be a challenge for President Biden."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Alabama State University receives Wall Street firm’s historic endowment assistance

Courtesy of Kayleigh Dunn

(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- Alabama State University is partnering with private equity firm Neuberger Berman to manage the school's $125 million endowment – making it the largest such partnership between a Wall Street firm and a public historically Black college and university (HBCU) ever.

The new relationship is a "blessing," according to ASU President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. He called the partnership overwhelmingly impactful for ASU.

"Through this partnership with Neuberger Berman, not only do we look at the long term stability of the institution, but also the investment in students who will be receiving scholarships for generations to come," Ross said. "Because of monies generated by our endowment, because of this partnership, we ensure that students are able to benefit from what we're doing."

Ross is confident both scholarships and internships will benefit current students like rising junior Kayleigh Dunn. The finance major said she is still pinching herself after landing a coveted summer job at the firm in New York City.

That dream job, Dunn said, will allow her to merge interests in equity and personal finance. Both her dad and grandparents attended the school, so she wants to show that HBCU students have long deserved these opportunities.

"I feel like HBCU students are coming hard," she said. "We know the work we can do. And we know if we get a chance to be there, and we get a chance to put our best foot forward, we're going to make waves."

As higher education faces a watershed moment with attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion and the Supreme Court's elimination of race-based admissions, Ross said the partnership excites the ASU community.

"Longevity is in our DNA and through that we have to continue to wave the banner to let them know that HBCUs really are the greatest thing that happened within the African American community when you look at the production of powerful citizens across this nation," he said.

Ross told ABC News attaining financial wealth management from the sixth largest private equity firm in the world will also address decades of underfunding

"As the endowment grows, we will be able to use some of those funds, not only for scholarships, but also to help to secure and stabilize our infrastructure," he said, adding "That's why it's necessary to make sure that you have the right partner [Neuberger Berman] with the right vision, because they can move along with you in that time of growth."

Dominique Baker, associate professor of education and public policy at the University of Delaware, said the partnership is unique for HBCUs.

"Public HBCUs have been denied their rightful funding from the state and the federal government for a significant period of time," Baker said. "And so getting these types of fund managers is not enough when it comes to thinking about the type of funding support that public HBCUs should be receiving," she added.

Meanwhile, Neuberger Berman Private Wealth Adviser Xavier Peoples said he is helping invest ASU's endowment so the school reaches its long-term financial goals.

Issuing a call for support from more companies, Peoples told ABC News "when HBCUs do well, America does well."

"When HBCUs do better, when their endowments do better, America does better," he said. "It gives America a greater [pool] of college graduates that can come in to our workforce. Wall Street firms should be all in on working with historically Black colleges and universities and helping their endowments to be the best that they can be."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Democrats look to band together after Maryland's bruising Senate primary

Marilyn Nieves/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Angela Alsobrooks emerged as the victor in a bruising Democratic Senate primary in Maryland -- and now the state's Democratic Party faces the challenge of reuniting to take on a formidable Republican opponent in the general election.

Alsobrooks, a county executive in a Maryland suburb outside the nation's capital, defeated Rep. David Trone and now faces the daunting task of taking on a popular Republican challenger, Larry Hogan, a two-term former GOP governor.

While Maryland is a deep blue state, Alsobrooks is not on a glide path to a Senate win. Experts tell ABC News that Democrats, wounded in the Alsobrooks-Trone battle, needs to realign to take on Hogan -- with nothing short of control of the U.S. Senate at stake.

Both Alsobrooks and Trone sounded a conciliatory note in their election night speeches on Tuesday, signaling a hope to mend the party and keep the Senate seat -- vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin -- in Democratic hands.

"I want you to know we are united in order to keep the Senate blue," Alsobrooks said.

Trone urged his supporters to "come together to support the Democratic Party so we can hold this U.S. Senate."

The Maryland Democratic Party is also showcasing what it says is a unified front, releasing statements from members of Maryland's congressional delegation and from local leaders praising Alsobrooks and Trone. One of those statements came from Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., who had endorsed Trone, but now urged Democrats to band together to not let "Mitch McConnell's handpicked candidate turn control of the U.S. Senate over to Republicans."

Former Democratic state party chair Yvette Lewis told ABC News that the grassroots work to bridge the gap between the candidates' supporters began right after the primary.

"People started making phone calls and mending fences [on Wednesday] -- I was a part of that -- to make sure that everybody knows that the primary is over, and that it's time for us to come together for the general election," Lewis said.

"You can't just brush people aside and say, OK, this is over. Now it's time to come to the table … What you have to do is validate them, validate their work and thank them for the work that they did. And then welcome them to this new coalition."

Susan Turnbull, another former state party chair for the Maryland Democratic Party, expressed similar optimism: "What we do in Maryland, is work as Team Maryland," she told ABC News.

One official who endorsed Trone, Prince George's County State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy, said she's "eager to rally behind [Alsobrooks] to retain control of the Senate and ensure Maryland remains blue."

Michael Hanmer, director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland, told ABC News that Trone and Alsobrooks must now work together to show party unity.

"Another key piece of strategy is not just to get Trone to say nice things and be supportive in words [about Alsobrooks], but to go out and work with Alsobrooks … rather than just be on the sidelines," Hanmer said.

Alsobrooks and Trone's campaigns did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News about their next steps after the primary.

Lewis said that Trone supporters can be a vital part of Alsobrooks' success as well.

"We want them to canvass, we want to phone bank, we want them to help us raise the money … we want them to be part of the entire process," she said.

Alsobrooks wasted no time as the newly-minted Democratic nominee in aiming criticism at Hogan, reminding supporters of the stakes for Democrats in their upcoming battle.

"The fight ahead will not be easy. There are a lot of people in our state who say, 'Oh you know it's Maryland. It's a blue state. We can worry about another race someplace else …' but it will only stay a blue state if we put in the work," Alsobrooks said at her election night event.

Hogan, speaking to supporters on Tuesday night, said he already anticipated the politicking ahead.

"Over the next few months, you are going to hear a whole lot more of this political BS, and Marylanders are going to be inundated with scare tactics and false attacks. Don't let them get away with it," he said.

Hanmer anticipates that Democrats will need to articulate how they feel Hogan will be different as a senator -- and a potential deciding vote in the chamber -- than during his time as governor working with a Democratic-controlled legislature. He said it will be a challenge to get people to rethink their approach to Hogan, who won the governor job by about 5 points in 2014 and 12 points in 2018, and he left with sky-high approval ratings.

Hanmer said Democrats face a challenge in that Alsobrooks doesn't have as much statewide recognition as Hogan.

"[Alsobrooks] hasn't had a statewide position before, so I think there's still going to be a lot of people that need to get to know her."

ABC News' Tal Axelrod contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Trump attends son Barron's high school graduation on day off from court

FILE, Steven Hirsch-Pool/Getty Images

(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Former President Donald Trump attended his son Barron's high school graduation at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach on Friday, after the judge overseeing his hush money trial in New York granted him a day off court to allow him to attend.

It was a break from sitting in the courtroom for the former president, who, as a defendant, has been requited to attend his trial most days of the week over the past five weeks, except on Wednesdays when the court is not in session.

The trial is usually in session on Fridays but Judge Juan Merchan canceled court this Friday to let Trump attend the graduation ceremony.

Before arriving at the ceremony, Trump posted on his social media platform: "Going to Barron's High School Graduation. Great student, wonderful boy! Very exciting! DJT"

Trump, who arrived at the school in a motorcade Friday morning sporting a black suit and a blue tie, sat in the front center row of the bleachers throughout the graduation ceremony, with former first lady Melania Trump, Barron's mother, sitting next to him and her father Viktor Knavs sitting next to her.

The former president and the former first lady occasionally clapped and waved at the direction of where the graduates were, including when Barron walked up the stage.

Trump stayed throughout the graduation ceremony, which was a private event and lasted for about an hour. Oxbridge Academy is a private preparatory school for grades 6-12.

Barron Trump, who recently turned 18, made headlines last week when he was selected as one of Florida's at-large delegates for the Republican National Convention, along with other members of the Trump family who have played more active role in Trump's campaign, including Trump's older sons, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Trump's youngest daughter, Tiffany Trump.

Following the news of Barron Trump being selected as a delegate, Trump repeatedly said during media interviews that his son likes politics and he's "all for" his son delving into the political world -- while stressing he's still "very young."

Trump even said Barron Trump tries to give him political advice, saying it's "very cute."

But just days after the delegate selection news came out, Melania Trump's office announced that Barron Trump would be declining an opportunity to serve as Florida's GOP at-large delegate to the Republican National Convention due to "prior commitments."

"While Barron is honored to have been chosen as a delegate by the Florida Republican Party, he regretfully declines to participate due to prior commitments," her office said in a statement to ABC News.

Trump has used Barron Trump's graduation as his campaign message and a fundraising opportunity, repeatedly blasting the judge in the hush money trial for forcing him to skip his family's important moment -- although the judge had not ordered that -- before the judge allowed him to take time off the trial.

Trump uses similar rhetoric to claim the court schedule is keeping him off the campaign trail during a critical period of the election cycle, though earlier this week, he used Wednesday, his usual day off from the trial, to fundraise with wealthy donors in Ohio and Kentucky. On Tuesday, after court, Trump attended another high-dollar fundraiser in Manhattan.

And on Friday, Trump is not sticking around in Florida to spend the rest of the day with his family. He's flying out to Minnesota to headline the Minnesota Republican Party's Lincoln Reason Gala fundraiser -- in a state he and his campaign have recently been targeting in an effort to expand the battleground map.

"We're also looking really great in the state of Minnesota, which hasn't been one since 1952, and we're leading in the polls and the state of Virginia," Trump said at a rally in New Jersey last weekend.

On Saturday, he's scheduled to deliver remarks at a National Rifle Association event in Dallas.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Biden announces new grants to further desegregate schools on Brown v. Board anniversary

Caroline Purser/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden on Friday announced new grants aimed at further desegregating magnet schools, as he marked the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that desegregated America's public schools.

"My Department of Education is investing $300 million, including another $20 million announced today to support diversity in our schools," Biden said in remarks at an NAACP event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The $20 million in new grants is for school districts in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas, to create magnet programs geared toward "attracting students from different social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds," the White House said.

The Education Department earlier this week released a report that found there remain gaps in education among Black and Latino students and their white counterparts in high school math, science and computer science.

The White House frames these steps as an effort to "continue the work" of the landmark Supreme Court ruling.

"After [the] Brown vs. Board [of Education] decision, the public schools gradually -- and often much too slowly -- were integrated. Graduation rates for Black and Latino students increased significantly though," Biden said. "The Brown decision proves a simple idea: we learn better when we learn together."

Biden used his speech to take on political rival, former President Donald Trump, whom he referenced simply as "my predecessor."

"My predecessor, and his extreme MAGA friends, are now going after diversity, equity and inclusion all across America. They want a country for some, not for all," the president said.

Biden sought to draw a contrast between himself and Trump.

"I've always believed that the promise of America is big enough for everyone to succeed, and I mean that, everyone to succeed," Biden said. "That's what Brown is all about. That's what we're all about. That's what America's about."

The grant announcement is part of a larger multi-day push by the Biden administration to make inroads with Black voters who his campaign is counting on in November's presidential election.

On Thursday, the administration announced it is taking formal next steps to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. Also, Biden met with plaintiffs from the landmark Brown case and their families on Thursday.

"Once upon a time, they were excluded from certain classrooms. But 70 years later, they're inside the most important room of all, the Oval Office, where they belong," Biden said. "They're a living reminder that once upon a time, wasn't that long ago."

Biden added that despite this progress, there is more to do.

Biden also said that before his remarks on Friday he met with the "Little Rock Nine," the children who first integrated their district's public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Later Friday, Biden was set to meet privately with the leaders of the historically Black "Divine Nine" fraternities and sororities, before traveling this weekend to deliver the commencement address at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

"The founders of Morehouse understood something fundamental: education is linked to freedom," Biden said. "Because to be free means to have something that no one can ever take away from you. And that's the power of an education. That's why the Brown decision to commemorate today is so important."

Biden also used his remarks to tout the work his administration is doing in higher education to ease the economic toll on young people.

"While college degrees are still a ticket to the middle class, that ticket is becoming too expensive," Biden said. "Too many, too many young people, Black students are dealing with unsustainable debts in exchange for a college degree."

Michelle Stoddart contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Johnson disappointed that House committee meeting devolved into chaos over Greene's 'fake eyelash' comments

ABC

(WASHINGTON) -- Speaker Mike Johnson on Friday said he is disappointed in the chaos and name-calling that happened during a raucous House Oversight Committee markup on Thursday night when Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clashed over Greene's comments that Rep. Jasmine Crockett wore "fake eyelashes."

"It was not a good look for Congress," the speaker told ABC News. "We all -- I think -- need to control the emotions better and get the job done."

Tension flared Thursday night during the committee's markup of a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the audio recording of President Biden's interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur. However, the drama had nothing to do with that, and led to a nearly hourlong disruption where lawmakers shouted over eachother.

"I think the decorum in the house is an important tradition to maintain," said Johnson, the top Republican in Congress who is known for his civility. "So we'll be talking about that with our members. I think Hakeem Jeffries needs to do the same on the Democrat side."

It all began when the Georgia Republican made a crack about the Texas Democrat's eyelashes -- "I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you're reading" -- which was made when Crockett pushed back to a line of questioning from Greene.

Democrats called for Greene's eyelash comment to Crockett to be stricken from the record and the congresswoman to be barred from speaking for the rest of the proceedings. Greene repeatedly shouted she was "not apologizing."

"That is absolutely unacceptable, how dare you attack the physical appearance of another person," Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, said.

"Are your feelings hurt?" Greene responded.

"Oh baby girl … don't even play," Ocasio-Cortez shot back.

The proceedings devolved then into further chaos with lawmakers shouting over each other and Democrats repeatedly trying to force Greene to apologize. At times, House Oversight Committee chair James Comer said he struggled to hear over the shouting and repeatedly worked to bring order to the proceedings. Comer even called a brief recess to figure out how to parliamentary respond to Greene's remarks.


"Why don't you debate me … you don't have enough intelligence," Greene said to Ocasio-Cortez during the exchange.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., made a crack about Democrats on the committee not wanting to work.

Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., shot back, "like showing up for a vote?" -- presumably a jab at the fact that Luna and several other members missed much of Thursday on Capitol Hill attending former President Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York.

"You have a lot to say being that you're on retainer for the judge's daughter. Sorry trust fund kid," Luna replied -- a reference to the daughter of Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing Trump's trial. The judge's daughter has been the target of Trump and Republican's criticism over her work for a digital consulting firm that they claim creates an "ongoing financial interest" tied to the former president's criminal trial.

Luna also said Democrats should be disciplined for making unspecified cracks about "Marjorie's body."

"I hope you brought your popcorn," Greene added, then moved on to talking about how her "body is pretty good" given how she is "going to turn 50 this month."

After a vote to strike Greene's comments failed along party lines, Greene eventually continued her remarks and the hearing continued.

Despite the chaos and disorder that unraveled during the markup, the GOP-led House Oversight Committee ultimately voted 24-20 late Thursday to approve a report recommending a contempt of Congress resolution against Attorney General Merrick Garland for his failure to turn over audio recordings of the Special Counsel Robert Hur interview with President Joe Biden.

The Garland contempt resolutions now head to the full House for a vote.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Pentagon's temporary pier off Gaza is ready to begin delivering aid

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defense Forces emplace the Trident Pier on the Gaza coast, May 16, 2024. -- U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon's temporary floating pier system was anchored onto a beach in Gaza on Thursday amid the Israel-Hamas war, and U.S. officials say humanitarian aid will begin flowing "in the coming days."

Officials did, however, stress that while the pier -- formally called the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, or JLOTS, capability -- will help bring aid to the strip, the real long-term solution in Gaza is to fully open the land routes so more aid can flow in.

Pentagon officials said aid will begin flowing quickly, though initially it will be at a slow pace to ensure the system is working properly before operations are scaled up.

"This morning, just a few hours ago, the pier was successfully affixed to the beach in Gaza, and in the coming days, we will commence the delivery of aid," Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters Thursday.

"The pier is temporary in nature," he added. "This maritime route is additive and is not meant to replace land routes into Gaza."

Several aid organizations, including United Nations organizations, have warned Gaza is experiencing "catastrophic" levels of hunger and need, and a top U.N. official recently warned northern Gaza is experiencing a "full-blown famine."

Cooper said there are currently 500 tons of aid waiting to be transported ashore via JLOTS, a complex operation involving a floating platform, small ships and an 1,800-foot pier or causeway where food aid will be offloaded for distribution by nongovernmental aid agencies inside Gaza.

Located a few miles offshore, the floating platform is a way station for aid as it's unloaded off cargo ships onto trucks that are then carried aboard small vessels that will take them to the causeway, which is attached to land. It enables the U.S. to deliver aid without having troops on the ground in Gaza.

While U.S. officials said the flow of aid would begin "in the coming days," the Pentagon's deputy press secretary, Sabrina Singh, told reporters Thursday the process will play out slowly at first.

"We have to we have to make sure that everything operates in a seamless [way], so you're gonna see us again, go from that crawl, walk, run," Singh said during a Pentagon press conference. "It's going to start off small and scale up."

Singh emphasized that once ashore, the food aid will be distributed inside Gaza and will not be warehoused in the area where the pier is attached to land.

"We believe that aid should flow without any stoppage," Singh said.

The expectation is that the JLOTS system will be able to bring between 90 and 150 truckloads a day of aid, equivalent to 2 million meals, but U.S. officials said it was more accurate to focus on the number of tons of aid that will be flowing into Gaza instead of the "imperfect measure" of truckloads.

"The real measure that we're striving toward getting at and understanding is what is reaching the people and communities in need and making sure it's the right assistance," said Sonali Korde, assistant to the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

Security for U.S. forces and nongovernmental organizations participating in the JLOTS system is a top priority, officials said, adding the Israel Defense Forces will provide security at the point where the aid will arrive and be transferred to the United Nations and other NGOs.

But officials said the security for those working on bringing aid ashore could still be improved.

"The deconfliction measures are not where they need to be at, given the complexity of the environment," Korde said. "So those conversations are ongoing. They need to continue and they need to get to a place where humanitarian aid workers feel safe and secure and able to operate safely, and I don't think we're there yet."

Weather conditions that caused high sea states delayed the anchoring of the JLOTS system by more than a week, and Cooper acknowledged weather conditions may affect JLOTS operations in the future.

"There are light storms, medium storms, heavy storms. One ... variable we cannot control here is the weather. So we'll just see what that looks like," Cooper said. "It's very favorable here in the coming days and week or so. And our goal is to move as much humanitarian assistance as possible during that period, and then we'll make assessments going forward as we would with any military operation and the weather."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Biden asserts executive privilege over audio of interview with special counsel Hur

Thinkstock/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department on Thursday informed House Republicans that President Joe Biden has formally asserted executive privilege over the audio of his interview with special counsel Robert Hur, who investigated Biden's handling of classified documents.

It's a move that the department said effectively shields Attorney General Merrick Garland from any criminal exposure, though Republican lawmakers moved ahead anyway toward trying to hold him in contempt of Congress.

The GOP-led House Oversight Committee voted 24-20 late Thursday to approve a report recommending a contempt of Congress resolution against Garland for his failure to turn over audio recordings of Special Counsel Robert Hur's interview with Biden.

The Garland contempt resolutions now head to the full House for a vote. It’s not clear when that vote will occur, but Speaker Johnson’s office tells ABC News it won’t be tomorrow/Friday.

Republicans sought access to the audio recording of Hur's interview of Biden as part of their stalled impeachment probe into the president.

The DOJ previously provided a transcript of Biden's interview to House Republicans. The White House, in its reasoning for asserting executive privilege, expressed concern the tapes would be unfairly manipulated by GOP lawmakers.

The special counsel's yearlong probe into Biden's handling of classified documents ended with no criminal charges being recommended because the evidence wasn't sufficient to support a conviction.

However, the 388-page report Hur released created a political firestorm as the special counsel described Biden as someone who could appeal to a jury as an "elderly man with a poor memory" and detailed instances where Hur said Biden couldn't remember when his son died or what years he was vice president. Republicans jumped on the assertions made in the report related to Biden's mental acuity, which the White House forcefully pushed back on.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, as his committee met Thursday to markup the contempt report, argued the audio recordings are "necessary” and the transcripts “alone are not sufficient evidence of the state of the president's memory."

"Clearly President Biden and his advisors fear releasing the audio recordings of his interview because it will again reaffirm to the American people that President Biden’s mental state is in decline," House Oversight Chairman James Comer said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

Garland, in rare public comments Thursday morning speaking to reporters outside his office, accused House Republicans of mounting a series of "unprecedented" and "unfounded" attacks on the DOJ.

"We have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the committees get responses to their legitimate requests, but this is not one," Garland said defending the decision to exert privilege. "To the contrary, this is one that would harm our ability in the future to successfully pursue sensitive investigations."

The attorney general added, "Look, the only thing I can do is continue to do the right thing. I will protect this building and its people."

Hur's yearlong probe into Biden's handling of classified documents ended with no criminal charges being recommended because the evidence wasn't sufficient to support a conviction. However, the 388-page report Hur released created a political firestorm as the special counsel described Biden as someone who could appeal to a jury as an "elderly man with a poor memory."

House Republicans were first informed of the privilege decision in a letter from Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte, who cited what the department called its "extraordinary" cooperation and "good faith" efforts to provide Republicans with all relevant materials from Hur's probe.

Uriarte further detailed in his letter how the department previously made available the transcript of Biden's interview with Hur, and argued Republicans have failed to provide any reason that the audio would add further value to their efforts to investigate Biden.

In explaining the move to have Biden formally assert executive privilege over the remaining materials sought by Republicans -- which includes the audio of the interview with Biden's ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer -- Uriarte pointed to longstanding DOJ policy "held by administrations of both parties that an official who asserts the President's claim of executive privilege cannot be prosecuted for criminal contempt of Congress."

"With the information you now have, the Committees ought not to proceed with contempt and should instead avoid unnecessary and unwarranted conflict," Uriarte said.

White House Counsel Ed Siskel also wrote a letter to Jordan and Comer explaining the decision to assert executive privilege over the recordings.

In it, Siskel argued Biden has a responsibility to protect the executive branch's law enforcement agencies from "undue partisan interference."

"The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal -- to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes," Siskel wrote.

ABC News' Mary Bruce, Lauren Peller and Will Steakin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Harris accepts CBS News' VP debate offer for the summer

Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Kamala Harris has accepted an offer from CBS News to participate in a vice-presidential debate this summer, the Biden campaign said Thursday.

Harris accepted CBS News' proposed dates of July 23 or Aug. 13, the campaign said.

"The Biden-Harris campaign has informed CBS News that we accept the network's invitation to participate in a Vice Presidential debate, in studio, on either of two dates," the campaign said.

Trump has not yet made his vice-presidential pick, thought several potential hopefuls appear to be working to get in the former president's good graces through participation in his fundraisers and attending his New York criminal trial.

The news of the vice-presidential debate came a day after President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, agreed to two debates before the general election. One will be a prime-time debate at ABC News studios on Sept. 10. The debate will air on ABC News, ABC News Live and Hulu. Before that, they will participate in a CNN debate on June 27 in Atlanta.

The vice presidential debate would have the same guidelines that the Biden campaign outlined on Wednesday -- including that it would not have an in-person audience, that there be firm time limits for answers, alternate turns to speak and candidate's microphone should only be on when it is their turn to speak.

As part of the debate negotiations, the Biden campaign proposed a vice-presidential debate in late July after the Republican National Convention. The former president has said he doesn't plan to make an announcement about his vice-presidential pick until closer to the RNC.

"Well, I'm not in a rush and we'll do it sometime around the convention, but we have a lot of great people in the Republican Party," Trump said in an interview with ABC affiliate WPVI in April, when asked about a potential vice presidential candidate.

"We look forward to the Trump campaign accepting one of these dates so that the full debate calendar for this campaign can be set," the Biden campaign said.

Like the presidential debates, the vice-presidential debates are happening on an accelerated timeline.


Vice presidential debates have traditionally been held within the first two weeks of October. Harris and former Vice President Mike Pence squared off on Oct. 7, 2020.

ABC News' Sarah Beth Hensley, Lalee Ibsaa and Soorin Kim contributed to this report.

 

 

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.