• ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump says he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller.Upon returning to the White House from Camp David on Sunday, the president answered a few questions from reporters on the South Lawn. When asked by ABC News whether he is considering firing Mueller, who is leading the investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the election, he said, "No, I’m not," then asked reporters, "What, are you surprised?"Also during questioning, Trump criticized Mueller's team for accessing thousands of emails sent and received by transition officials before his inauguration, suggesting it was done so illegally.Trump's criticism echoes that of his transition team's legal counsel, Kory Langhofer, who in a statement to ABC News on Saturday said, "This morning we sent a letter to the House and the Senate concerning unauthorized disclosure of private and privileged transition emails with the special counsel's office."In a copy of that letter also obtained by ABC News, the legal counsel claims the disclosure of the emails amounts to "unlawful conduct" as a release of "privileged communications" of nongovernment officials.A spokesman for the special counsel neither confirmed nor denied Langhofer's allegations, but said in a statement to ABC News, "When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process."Regarding the emails, Trump said, "I can’t imagine there's anything on them, frankly, because, as we said, there's no collusion -- there’s no collusion whatsoever."
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Democrat who heads the party's senatorial campaign committee said Republicans need to end what he called a “concerted effort” to undermine the credibility of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.“I think Republicans should end their concerted effort to undermine the credibility of the Mueller investigation,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview on This Week Sunday.The Maryland senator also questioned why the White House is concerned about Mueller’s probe.“The question is, 'What are they afraid of? What is the White House afraid of?'” he said.Mueller has so far charged four people, including Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.When President Trump was asked Friday whether he would consider pardoning Flynn, he said, "I don't want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet.”After Trump’s comment, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said, "There is no consideration at the White House of any pardon for Michael Flynn."Similarly, Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, in August told USA Today that firing Mueller has "never been on the table."Van Hollen on Sunday told Stephanopoulos that he takes the president's team at its word that firing Mueller is not under consideration.“I certainly hope that is the case,” Van Hollen said.He also discussed the GOP tax plan, which Congress is expected to vote on early this week. He slammed the 1,000-page bill as “huge giveaway to big corporations.”“This is a total betrayal of President Trump's economic populist message on the campaign trail,” Van Hollen said. “Millions of middle-class taxpayers will see their taxes go up, even though Republicans promised that would not happen.”
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The No. 2 Senate Republican said it would be a "mistake" for the Trump administration to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. John Cornyn of Texas on This Week Sunday about reports that allies of President Donald Trump are laying the groundwork for the firing of Mueller, who is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with Trump associates.Cornyn responded, "I read that the president’s own lawyer says that’s not going to happen. I think that would be a mistake, myself."The Texas senator added that Mueller should make sure that FBI agents and prosecutors on his team are completely unbiased. A senior FBI agent was removed from Mueller's team after repeatedly calling Trump an "idiot" in text messages."There are plenty of FBI agents and prosecutors who have not been politically involved on behalf of Democrats or overtly critical who can serve in this important investigation," Cornyn said. "I have confidence in Director Mueller. I just think that he would be concerned about the appearance of conflicts of interest that would undermine the integrity of the investigation."Cornyn also said he's "confident" the Republican tax plan will pass this week, saying it will benefit the economy and individual Americans."We're going to get the economy roaring back again, and improve pay, and increase jobs, and make America more competitive in the global economy, as well as simplifying the tax code and giving everybody in every tax bracket a tax cut," Cornyn said. "I am confident we will pass this, probably on Tuesday."Stephanopoulos asked if Republicans would still be able to pass the tax legislation if Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is currently in a hospital as he battles cancer, does not return to Capitol Hill by Tuesday.“Well, I won't speculate on Sen. McCain's health. We hope he comes back,” Cornyn said.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A lawyer for Donald Trump's presidential transition team has sent a letter to House and Senate lawmakers alleging that emails among transition officials have been illegally obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.Counsel for Trump for America Kory Langhofer told ABC News in a statement Saturday, "This morning we sent a letter to the House and the Senate concerning unauthorized disclosure of private and privileged transition emails with the special counsel's office."The letter from Langhofer to the House and Senate oversight committees, obtained by ABC News, accuses the special counsel's office of obtaining thousands of emails through the General Services Administration (GSA) as part of a records request regarding communications of several transition officials who had worked on issues related to national security.Langhofer said the emails that he alleges were illegally provided to Mueller involve 13 transition staff, including four senior officials.The Trump transition legal team claims the disclosure of the emails amounts to "unlawful conduct" as a release of "privileged communications" of nongovernment officials, and that it breaks with years of legal precedent around preserving the privacy of presidential transition teams.The GSA -- which assisted the Trump team with administrative functions during the transition to office, including hosting its email services -- did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.A spokesman for the special counsel neither confirmed nor denied Langhofer's allegations, but said in a statement to ABC News, "When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process."A House Oversight Committee spokesperson told ABC News Sunday that it had received Langhofer's letter, but that the handling of his inquiry would be best addressed in the court system."The central issues raised are fact-specific legal issues which involve issues of privilege, waiver (express, implied, actual and constructive), standing to assert claims of privacy, expectations of privacy and the reasonableness thereof, third-party consent, statutory constructions, and inevitable discovery among other issues," the spokesperson said in a statement. "These are issues to be briefed by the parties (or others with cognizable legal claims and standing) and decided by the court -- not Congress."The content of the emails or why Mueller could be interested in them is unclear. The special counsel has been investigating contacts between some former Trump campaign officials and Russians in his probe to determine whether any crimes were committed.
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  • Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEWARK) -- Police in Newark, New Jersey, are stepping up their protection of Sen. Cory Booker after he and his family received a death threat, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement Saturday."The Newark Police Division has been notified by the United States Capitol Police (USCP) regarding a threat on the life of New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and his family members," Baraka said. "As a result, members of the Police Division’s Executive Protection Unit have been assigned to provide security at the senator’s residence in Newark."He continued, "The USCP provides protection to members of Congress and we are closely coordinating with the agency to ensure Sen. Booker is able to carry out his duties of serving New Jersey's residents in Congress in a safe manner."Baraka added that the security detail "will have no impact on police services."No further information about the death threat on the Democratic New Jersey lawmaker and his family was provided.Booker, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, traveled to Alabama the Sunday before the state's contentious Senate race to rally support for Democrat Doug Jones, who beat GOP candidate Roy Moore.Since Booker gave a rousing speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, many have speculated that he may be a potential candidate in the 2020 presidential elections. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Chris Kleponis/Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump is brushing off concerns that the GOP's final tax bill will unfairly benefit wealthy Americans over the middle class."I think the greatest benefit is going to be for jobs and the middle class," Trump told reporters Saturday on the South Lawn prior to his departure for Camp David.His comments followed congressional Republicans' release Friday evening of a thousand-page tax bill that includes deep tax cuts for corporations and tax breaks for the wealthy while offering what most economists say are more limited benefits for middle-class Americans.When asked Saturday why tax cuts for individuals are temporary while those for corporations are permanent in the bill, the president said it would be up to the next administration whether to extend the individual tax cuts."What will happen is, at the end, whichever the administration is in years from now, they'll make it and maybe can even make it more generous if we can get the economy like it should be," Trump said.Asked by ABC News whether he believes passing the tax bill is a "done deal," the president was optimistic and slammed Democrats for what he called "standard soundbites" against the GOP plan."The Democrats have their soundbites -- their standard soundbites -- before they even know what the bill is all about; they talk about for the wealthy," Trump said. "This is going to be one of the great gifts to middle-income people of this country they have ever gotten for Christmas."After Trump spoke on the phone Friday with Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Corker of Tennessee, who had both expressed doubts about key components of the tax bill, the two senators announced their support, clearing the way for the president's first major legislative victory since taking office. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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