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  • Vacclav/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned Friday following domestic abuse allegations, a senior White House official confirmed to ABC News. The news was first reported by the Washington Post.Sorensen’s resignation came on the heels of separate domestic abuse allegations against former White House staff Secretary Rob Porter from two of his ex-wives. Porter denies the claims.The abuse allegations against Porter roiled the West Wing and ultimately led to Chief of Staff John Kelly indicating to President Donald Trump that he’s willing to offer his resignation in the wake of the president’s displeasure over how the issue was handled, sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News.Senior White House officials were aware of the allegations against Porter for months, sources told ABC News, but did not know the extent of the claims. ABC News has not spoken with Sorensen nor with his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, who, according to the Washington Post, said she reported his behavior to the FBI during their background check of the speechwriter.According to the Washington Post, Sorensen denies the claims and said he was victimized by his wife."Before we were contacted by the media, we learned last night that there were allegations. We immediately confronted the staffer, he denied the allegations and he resigned today," Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said in a statement.
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  • lucky-photographer/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --(WASHINGTON) -- The White House indicated on Friday that President Donald Trump won't declassify a memo from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, citing national security concerns.White House Counsel Don McGahn invited the committee to "revise" the memo to address national security concerns, and wrote in a letter to committee Chairman Devin Nunes that the "Executive Branch stands ready to review any subsequent draft" for release.The 10-page Democrat-authored document was written as a response to the four-page memo from Republican committee staff accusing the FBI and DOJ of bias and improperly seeking surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page."Although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time," McGahn wrote.FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in a letter to McGahn released by the White House on Friday, expressed concerns about the release of portions of the Democratic memo.Congress could vote to overrule the president’s decision, but such a move appears unlikely.The GOP memo accuses law enforcement officials of relying heavily on uncorroborated allegations about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia in applications to an intelligence court to surveil Page, whom authorities suspected at the time of being a Russian agent, arguing that the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele “formed an essential part” of the Page application in October of 2016.It also alleges that DOJ official did not disclose to the court that the dossier was funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and that the Page surveillance application contained information about Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, which "triggered" the opening of the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and allegations of ties to Russia.The minority memo describes in greater detail why law enforcement officials wanted to conduct surveillance on Page beyond the information contained in the Steele dossier, according to sources familiar with the document. It is said to indicate that the court was made aware of the political motivations behind the information provided by Steele, but that specific Democratic organizations were not identified.The committee voted unanimously to release the memo on Monday, giving the president five days to determine whether to withhold the document on national security grounds.President Trump reviewed the Democratic memo with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, White House chief of staff John Kelly told reporters on Tuesday.Kelly said he had given FBI, DOJ and intelligence officials until Thursday to review the document. “Then we will brief the president on it, he’ll have a decision to make,” Kelly said.He described the Democratic memo as “not as clean as the first one,” suggesting that the White House could release it with redactions.On Capitol Hill, partisan sparring over the release of the memos has marked a low point in relations between Republicans and Democrats on the traditionally bipartisan committee, with many members expecting that the panel's once-united Russia investigation will likely end with dueling majority and minority reports.Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intel committee, took issue with the administration's action."One week ago, the Department of Justice and FBI implored the White House not to release a deeply flawed and inaccurate memo prepared by Chairman Devin Nunes. The White House ignored their concerns and approved the publication of the Republican memo with no redactions even though the action was described by the agencies as extraordinarily reckless and omitting material facts," he said.
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  • lucky-photographer/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump’s comments offering well wishes to former White House staff secretary Rob Porter — who is facing multiple allegations of domestic violence — are drawing scrutiny from lawmakers and politicians."He says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent, so you'll have to talk to him about that," the president said in the Oval Office of Porter on Friday."It's obviously a tough time for him, he did a very good job when he was in the White House and we hope he has a wonderful career, and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him,” Trump said.He made no mention of the women who allegedly endured abuse from Porter which they claim ranged from choking to punching in the face to shaking violently.Porter has denied the claims as "outrageous allegations" that are "simply false" and called them part of a "coordinated smear campaign."Speaking to thousands of fraternity and sorority leaders in Indianapolis, former Vice President Joe Biden blasted the president for wishing Porter well and saying he was good at his job."Over this past week, we have just seen abusers of the highest ranks within the Oval Offic," Biden said. "Translate this into every day terms – is there any other crime – and it’s a crime — where there’d be an explanation the reason why we shouldn’t pay attention to the transgression is because they’re good at something?"Democratic lawmakers weighed in with criticism on Twitter.No one's surprised that Trump would defend a man who abuses women. But a President publicly empathizing with an abuser rather than the women who came forward will have profound negative effects on how we deal with intimate partner violence in this country. https://t.co/tarklVjxNb
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  • CharlieTong/iStock/Thinkstock(HARRISBURG, Pa.) -- Control of the House of Representatives will be heavily affected by a battle being fought in the Pennsylvania state government.Battle lines have been drawn in the state between the Republican-controlled state House, the Democratic governor, and the state Supreme Court over what the state’s congressional map will look like for the 2018 election.GOP leaders in the state house will make their opening offer Friday night, when they present a map to Gov. Tom Wolf.“The Republican Legislative Leaders in the House and Senate have agreed to a Congressional District Map that complies fully with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order and opinion. We will be submitting our map to the Governor this evening," Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and Speaker of the House Mike Turzai said in a joint statement on Friday.In January, the state Supreme Court ordered the state's 18 districts redrawn, saying they were illegally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans by the GOP-controlled legislature. Republicans currently hold the advantage – 12 House seats to the Democrats’ five (one seat is empty but was held by the GOP). The GOP has fought hard to keep the current map, even going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled this week that the districts must be redrawn.The next deadline in the map redrawing process is Feb. 15, which is the date by which Wolf must approve the map from the state legislature.The governor sounded non-committal in a statement released on Friday."I intend to do my part to implement the Court’s order and ensure that fair maps become Pennsylvania’s new reality," he said.It is unclear if Democrats in the statehouse played a role in the map to be submitted on Friday."While an ideal scenario would be a consensus map that can garner the support of both chambers in the General Assembly and that meets standards for fairness, it remains unclear, at this time, if the entire General Assembly will be engaged in such a bipartisan process. If not, I will evaluate what options are at my disposal to ensure Pennsylvanians get the fair map they deserve under our constitution," Wolf said.Given the considerable power over the midterm election the new map is expected to play, both parties are heavily invested in its outcome.The court ruling calls for a new map to be in place by Feb. 19. And the clock is ticking. The filing deadline in the state is March 6 and candidates have to gather signatures to fill out the petitions in the districts they plan to run in. Once they know the districts.“All bets are off,” said pollster G. Terry Madonna of the Franklin and Marshall College about what the districts will look like when the new map is out.There is a small possibility there could be a lawmaker versus lawmaker matchup.One of the big battles is expected in the suburbs of Philadelphia in the neighboring 6th and 7th Congressional Districts. The 7th Congressional District, which wiggles and winds around Philadelphia and its surround area, is nicknamed “Goofy kicking Donald Duck” because of the odd way that it’s drawn.That district is represented by Rep. Pat Meehan, who is retiring, so even if the district is combined with Rep. Ryan Costello’s 6th district next door it wouldn’t be a Republican member vs. a Republican member in November.Both of those seats are expected to be Democratic targets though.There is also talk about the southwest part of the state, in the area around Pittsburgh — the 18th and the 12th Congressional Districts.The 18th Congressional District was represented by Tim Murphy, who resigned. Complicating matters, the special election for his seat is March 13 and is under the old congressional map.But whoever wins will run for re-election in November under the new map. And, depending on how the lines are drawn, could find themselves running against Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus, who repr
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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A source familiar with the matter confirms that Rachel Brand, associate attorney general and number three in command at the Justice Department, will be soon stepping down with only nine months on the job after receiving another offer of employment.Her pending departure comes as the agency faces criticism after a controversial memo authored by the Republican staff on the House Intelligence Committee was released alleging abuses of government surveillance powers at the FBI and Justice Department.Brand remains on the job at DOJ, but has accepted a job as general counsel at a Fortune 50 company.Brand has kept largely a low profile at DOJ and is known primarily pushing for the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. She could have become more prominent if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had recused himself from the Robert Mueller special counsel probe.Brand would likely have taken over since Attorney General Jeff Session has recused himself from the investigation.Brand is also the first woman to serve as associate attorney general. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both previously appointed her to federal government positions.She grew up in Iowa and attended the University of Minnesota, Morris and graduated from Harvard Law School.She once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and also once worked on former North Carolina Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s presidential campaign, according to a 1999 article in the Legal Times.Her executive branch experience came after she joined the Bush administration, first as an assistant counsel under Alberto Gonzales, then later as the principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, where she focused on issues related to the war on terror.In 2005, she was confirmed by the Senate as the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy, a position she left two years later.She then went to work for the law firm Wilmer Hale — a firm that also once employed Mueller and other attorneys on his team.
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