• US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Sen. Bob Corker criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan for warning Republicans that if they don't pass health care reform, President Trump may work with Democrats on the issue."We have come a long way in our country when the speaker of one party urges a president NOT to work with the other party to solve a problem," the senator from Tennessee tweeted Thursday in response to Ryan's comments to CBS News.Corker appeared to be responding to the speaker's comments in an interview that aired Thursday on CBS This Morning, in which Ryan said Republicans should support the GOP legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare or risk that the president could work with Democrats.Ryan said Trump was "deeply involved" and "really rolled up his sleeves" in last week's effort to pass the Republican health care bill in the House.But, the Wisconsin Republican said, "What I’m worried about, if [Republicans] don’t do this, he’ll go work with Democrats to try to change Obamacare, and that’s hardly a conservative thing.""I know he wants to get things done with the Republican Congress. But if this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we'll push the president into working with Democrats," the speaker said."I want a patient-centered system," Ryan said. "I don't want government running health care."Ryan did not say whether he has reached out to House Democrats, including his counterpart, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, on health care."Nancy and I see things very, very differently," Ryan said.President Trump initially blamed Democrats when Republican leaders last Friday pulled their health care bill from the House floor because of a lack of support. But days later, the president extended an olive branch to the opposing party.“I know that we're all going to make a deal on health care, that's such an easy one, so I have no doubt that that's going to happen very quickly,” Trump said Tuesday night at a reception for U.S. senators at the White House.The next day, ABC News asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer for the president's response to a letter from Senate Democrats offering to work with Trump on improving the Affordable Care Act, instead of, as the GOP wants, repealing the law.Spicer affirmed that the White House goal is "to repeal the law and replace it," but also said, "We're willing to engage with people."
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump took aim at the Freedom Caucus Thursday morning in a tweet, saying that it will do damage to the Republican Party.Members of the caucus helped play a key role in the decision not to bring the GOP health care bill to a vote in the House last week."The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!" Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While the House Intelligence Committee is embroiled in controversy, the Senate Intelligence Committee's chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, and vice chair, Sen. Mark Warner, are committed to getting to the bottom of Russian interference in the U.S. election and any possible collusion between President Trump, his aides and the Russian government.The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold an open hearing Thursday and several witnesses, including Gen. Keith Alexander, the former National Security Agency director, are expected to testify.Thursday's hearing will last about two hours and will look at "the policies that we think Russia is implementing and to look at the technologies that display their capabilities," according to Burr."This investigation's scope will go wherever the intelligence leads," Burr said Wednesday in a joint press conference with Warner. "So, it is absolutely crucial that every day we spend trying to separate fact from fiction."The Senate Intelligence Committee sent requests to 20 individuals to be interviewed, and so far five are scheduled.On the House side, Democrats are calling for Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to recuse himself from the committee's probe because of doubts that he would not be impartial in the investigation.The Senate Intelligence Committee's leaders made clear Wednesday that they do not want to be associated with the House's investigation."We're not asking the House to play any role in our investigation. We don't plan to play any role in their investigation," Burr explained.The Senate Intelligence Committee held an opening hearing in January in which intelligence leaders blamed the Russian government for the hacking of individuals and organizations involved in the 2016 presidential election."We have high confidence that President Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election," James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said at the time. "The goals of this campaign were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency. Putin and the Russian government also developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has repeatedly sparked outrage among women since he entered the political fray in the 2016 race.On one hand, he has garnered praise from some corners for promoting women to top positions within his company and to certain positions within his Cabinet, and can count women such as Kellyanne Conway, his former campaign manager, among his closest advisers.On the other, he has drawn fire for his comments over the years, including a tape that surfaced just before the election that showed him bragging about groping women, for which he later apologized.He also faced criticism for a lack of women in key positions in his administration, taking actions during his presidency that some say are detrimental to women's interests and appearing in pictures surrounded by men at forums and executive order signings.White House press secretary Sean Spicer praised the work that Trump has done for women before his appearance at an event focused on women's empowerment this afternoon."Women's History Month is coming to an end, but the Trump administration is committed to empowering women in the workplace. The work that we started this month will not end at the end of this month, but will continue," Spicer said.Here is a review of the clearest actions affecting women that have been taken by the Trump administration during the first 69 days of his presidency.Taking action on abortion and women's healthOn what Trump considered the first full day of work, Jan. 24, the president issued an executive memorandum reinstating the Mexico City policy, which bars federal funding for overseas groups that provide access to or counseling about abortions.Introduced by President Ronald Reagan at a United Nations conference in Mexico City in 1984, the policy was dubbed the "Global Gag Rule" by abortion-rights groups.The policy, which has been heavily criticized by Democrats, has been rescinded and reinstated multiple times since its inception.Aside from the executive memorandum, the other ways in which the Trump administration would change health care for women were stalled with the decision not to vote on the American Health Care Act last week.If the health care plan had been adopted, Planned Parenthood effectively would have been stripped of Medicaid clients and largely defunded, and individuals would have been banned from using their federal tax credits on plans that covered abortions, an incentive to insurance companies to stop offering the procedure.Also, over the next few years, certain "essential health benefits," which currently include maternity care, would no longer be covered by Medicaid.Photos showing Trump during signings and appearances related to women's issues have raised some eyebrows.When he signed the Mexico City policy and when Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with Republican leaders about the health care plan on March 23, pictures showed Trump surrounded only by men. One photo that was tweeted by Cliff Sims, a special assistant to Trump, from the March 23 meeting shows that Conway was in the room, but the photo that Pence chose to share from the same meeting showed 25 men and no women.Focus on working womenTrump has participated in several roundtable discussions about female entrepreneurs and women-run businesses. The issue is one known to be close to his daughter Ivanka's heart as well.The topic was discussed at a meeting with women entrepreneurs with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Feb. 13 and earlier this week, Trump hosted a roundtable with women small business owners on Monday March 27."Empowering and promoting women in business is an absolute priority in the Trump administration because I know how crucial women are as job creators, role models, and leaders all throughout our communities," he said at the event.He has also spoken about other issues that directly relate to women at various points in his presidency -- including his joint address to Congress on Feb. 28 -- though he
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It appears to be a tale of two Russian investigations.There is the probe in the House Intelligence Committee that has been publicly marred by controversy over the actions of the chairman, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., once a member of the Trump transition team, and his wrangling with Democratic counterpart, Adam Schiff, D-Calif.Then there is the Senate, where, by contrast Wednesday, the leaders of that body's Intelligence Committee presented a united front as they shared details of their ongoing inquiry into Russian interference, including possible collusion with a campaign, and vowed to "get to the bottom of this."The probes, which are running simultaneously with an FBI investigation into potential collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials, represent a critical juncture in the nascent administration.The investigations have split lawmakers largely along party lines, with the GOP honing in on leaks of classified information and the "unmasking" of Americans within the intelligence community and Democrats emphasizing Russian meddling in the presidential election.Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice-Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., appeared together at a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday and defined the scope of their committee's work."An outside foreign adversary effectively sought to hijack our most critical democratic process, the election of a president, and in that process, decided to favor one candidate over another," said Warner. "We're here to assure you, and more importantly, the American people who are watching and listening, that we will get to the bottom of this.""This is one of the biggest investigations that the Hill has seen in my tenure here," said Burr.Warner's invocation of his and Burr's long-standing working relationship during their appearance and shared "concern about what the Russians have done and continue to do around the world" stood in stark contrast to the current fracture at the top of the House Intelligence Committee where Nunes is being questioned about his impartiality, willingness to share information and methods in acquiring intelligence.Since it was revealed Monday that Nunes traveled to the White House grounds last week in order to meet with a source who provided him with information that Americans were swept up in foreign surveillance efforts -- details about which he later briefed the press and the president on before consulting his committee -- a number of congressional leaders, and even one Republican, have called from his recusal from the investigation.Nunes has refused to remove himself, a stance backed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.On Tuesday, Nunes cancelled all of this week's House Intelligence Committee meetings. The next day he said his committee has to hear from FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers behind closed doors before the investigation can proceed, but a committee spokesperson said Schiff wouldn't sign the letter inviting Comey back to the Hill.Schiff told CNN he expected to meet with Nunes Thursday. "We do need to get to the bottom of it. Otherwise there will be this permanent cloud hanging over our investigation," he said.The intelligence leaders on the Senate side gave no indication Wednesday that they are facing any of the same cooperative difficulties. Burr -- himself an adviser on Trump's campaign who said his Intelligence Committee work "overrides any personal beliefs that I have or loyalties" he has -- ticked off a lengthy list of steps the committee is taking in its probe, including 20 interview requests that "may turn into private and public hearings.""The staff has been provided an unprecedented amount of documents," said Burr. "Those documents include documents that, up to this point, have only been shared with the Gang of Eight [party and intelligence committee leaders] and staff directors on the house and senate side."Nunes has yet to share the information he viewed on the White House grounds
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  • NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — New red flags about Jared Kushner’s business dealings have emerged with his recent disclosure of a December meeting he held with the chief of a Russian development bank, leading Democratic lawmakers tell ABC News."Mr. Kushner needs to come clean and be fully transparent with the public — immediately — about all of the businesses that he continues to profit from while he serves in the White House," Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, told ABC News.Kushner, 36, who is married to Ivanka Trump, played a central role in his father-in-law’s 2016 campaign and has since taken a job as one of President Trump’s senior advisors. He had already faced questions about a December meeting he held with the Russian ambassador when reports surfaced this week about a second contact. The White House confirmed that Kushner met in December with Sergei Gorkov of VneshEconomBank, or VEB Bank, at the suggestion of the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. But the substance of the previously undisclosed meeting remains something of a mystery.A senior White House official said the conversation was "general and inconsequential" and that Kushner took the meeting as part of his campaign role of interfacing with foreign dignitaries. But the bank described the discussion to ABC News as a "negotiation" in which "the parties discussed the business practices applied by foreign development banks, as well as most promising business lines and sectors."The December meeting came as the Kushner real estate firm was in the midst of what it has described in public statements as “active, advanced negotiations ... with a number of potential investors” about the redevelopment of the New York City skyscraper it owns at 666 Fifth Avenue.On Nov. 16, Kushner dined with executives from the China-based Anbang Insurance Group to discuss a potential $4 billion redevelopment of the New York tower – a deal that reportedly fell apart this week, according to published reports. The rumored venture prompted a letter from Congressional Democrats who expressed concern about the company’s entanglements with the Chinese government, and about continued uncertainty about the extent to which Kushner had separated himself from the family real estate business he had until recently overseen."Even if Mr. Kushner has in fact divested from 666 Fifth Avenue, it appears his immediate family stands to benefit from a deal with Anbang, potentially violating federal ethics laws that bar '[a]n employee [from using] his public office for his own private gain ... or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity,'" said the March 24 letter signed by Cummings and Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Tom Carper (Del.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Gary Peters (Mich.).To date, neither Kushner nor the family real estate firm has explained the nature of the meeting with VEB Bank. An official representing the Kushner firm responded to ABC News' questions Wednesday evening saying Kushner was the only executive from his family’s real estate firm to attend."VEB is not providing financing, lending, or any other services to Kushner Companies," the company official said.The bank would not make a conventional choice as a business partner as it is operating under the shroud of U.S. sanctions imposed after Russian incursions into Ukraine. Adding to the troubling optics of the meeting, Democrats said, was the recent involvement of a senior VEB Bank executive in a bungled Russian spy ring in New York. In May, a VEB executive named Evgeny Buryakov was sentenced to 30 months in prison for gathering intelligence for the Russian Federation as an agent under non official cover, known as a “NOC.”Senators overseeing the Russia investigation have already said they expect to ask Kushner about the meeting
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