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  • Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, failed to disclose campaign emails regarding Russian overtures to the Trump campaign and Wikileaks to congressional investigators, top senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday.In a letter circulated to media outlets, chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Kushner failed to provide the committee with all the documents requested as part of their investigation into Russian election interference."We appreciate your voluntary cooperation with the committee’s investigation, but the production appears to have been incomplete," they wrote in a letter to Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell.On Thursday, Grassley and Feinstein referenced “several documents that are known to exist” that Kushner did not previously turn over to the committee.Those documents, they said, include an email to Kushner about Wikileaks that he forwarded to another campaign official, another regarding a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” Kushner also forwarded, and “communications” with Belorussian-American businessman Sergei Millian.Millian, a naturalized American citizen who led a Russian-American business group, is reported to be the source of some of the allegations in an uncorroborated intelligence dossier about Trump and Russians. He was in Moscow in 2013 at the time the dossier claimed Trump was involved with Russian prostitutes. Millian has said he was not the source.Keith Schiller, Trump’s former head of security who accompanied him to Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant, recently told House investigators he turned down an offer to provide Trump with women in Moscow, and that he thought the offer was a joke.Grassley and Feinstein also asked Kushner to turn over phone records and documents related to Kushner’s security clearance and President Trump.“You also raised concerns that certain documents might implicate the President’s Executive Privilege and declined to produce those documents,” they wrote. “We ask that you work with White House counsel to resolve any questions of privilege so that you can produce the documents that have been requested.”Lowell, Kushner's attorney, tells ABC News, "Mr. Kushner and we have been responsive to all requests. We provided the Judiciary Committee with all relevant documents that had to do with Mr. Kushner's calls, contacts or meetings with Russians during the campaign and transition, which was the request.”“We also informed the committee we will be open to responding to any additional requests and that we will continue to work with White House Counsel for any responsive documents from after the inauguration. We have been in a dialogue with the committee and will continue to do so as part of Mr. Kushner's voluntary cooperation with relevant bi-partisan inquiries.The warning to Kushner’s team comes amid new developments regarding the Trump campaign and Russia.Earlier this week, Donald Trump Jr. admitted to communicating with Wikileaks over Twitter’s direct messaging system. During the election the group released emails from Democrats that U.S. intelligence officials believe were hacked in an effort orchestrated by the Russian government.And on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned once again about his knowledge of campaign contacts with Russia. He initially said he was not aware of such contacts, a claim that was scrutinized after unsealed court documents and congressional testimony indicated that he was aware of campaign aides’ contacts with Russians.Kushner, who is of interest to investigators because of his proximity to Trump and his role in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, was questioned by House and Senate Intelligence Committee inve
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  • US Department of Interior(WASHINGTON) -- The office of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was warned Wednesday that an investigation into Zinke's official travel was delayed by "absent, or incomplete documentation," the latest snag in the months-long controversy over Trump administration officials' travel.The Interior Department's inspector general issued the management advisory to Zinke's office, explaining that paperwork for the secretary's travel was insufficient and that the department's ethics office had not included sufficient documentation in its trip reviewing process. Such warnings are given when the department needs to be made aware of a deficiency immediately, so it may begin working to correct it, according to a spokesperson.The advisory further notes that the inspector general has been unable to determine the number of trips by which Zinke was accompanied by his wife, Lolita Zinke, due to the incomplete records. It does state that, aside from the documentation issue, the department has cooperated with the probe.Scrutiny of Cabinet members' travel reached its apex earlier in the fall after a number of officials found themselves in the midst of inquiries over their use of private and military aircraft in lieu of commercial flights. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in late September, expressing regret that the issue of his more than 25 chartered and military flights "created a distraction."The investigation into Ryan Zinke's travel began after he chartered three flights since March totaling $12,375. A spokesperson for the secretary has said that commercial options weren't viable in each instance. Other officials whose travel is under audit include Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.The Interior Department's inspector general's office is asking Ryan Zinke's office to provide complete documentation by Dec. 11 as well as develop better procedures to process travel documents in the future.Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt blamed his and Ryan Zinke's predecessors at the department in his response to the inspector general's letter, writing: "When I arrived at the department … it was clear to me that the secretary and I inherited an organizational and operational mess from the previous administration."Bernhardt added that they are following the same procedures used under former Secretary Sally Jewell and that they "remain dysfunctional." He pledged that the department will work to provide documents for travel in 2017 and will start documenting travel for Lolita Zinke.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill Thursday meant to strengthen the existing background check system for firearms.The Fix NICS Act, which refers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, would set up incentives and penalties for state and federal agencies to boost their compliance with existing requirements that they report criminal history records to the system, helping ensure it stays up to date.“Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement on Thursday. "This bill aims to help fix what’s become a nationwide, systemic problem so we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.”Devin P. Kelley, the man who has been identified by federal and state law enforcement officials as the shooter who killed 26 people, including an unborn child, in Texas on Nov. 5, was court-martialed while in the Air Force on charges of assault on his wife and child in 2012. But his convictions were not reported to the background check service used for gun buyers, and he was able to purchase the weapon that was used in the Nov. 5 shooting.Outspoken gun control advocate Sen. Chris Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats from Connecticut, helped Cornyn craft the bill in a rare instance of bipartisanship on the issue. It is also being backed by Republican Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Dean Heller of Nevada, as well as Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.“Mass murderers in Sutherland Springs, Charleston, and Blacksburg were legally prohibited from accessing firearms, but gaps in NICS allowed each of them to walk out of a gun store with the weapons used to commit their crimes," Blumenthal said.The announcement of the bill comes one day after another bipartisan group of senators — made up of Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Shaheen — sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to ask how the Department of Defense classifies and reports cases of domestic violence, specifically referring to Kelley and the Texas church shooting."The recent tragedy in Texas has raised serious questions about cooperation between the military justice system and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in preventing statutorily barred persons from purchasing firearms," the letter read. "As you know, the military failed to send pertinent information relating to Devin P. Kelley’s domestic violence related convictions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) at the FBI."The Fix NICS Act would punish federal agencies that fail to upload relevant records to the background check system by prohibiting bonuses for political appointees, and would incentivize state agencies to comply by offering federal grants.It would also allot funding for a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative "to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law," according to a statement announcing the bill.Murphy, who advocates more sweeping gun control legislation than the Fix NICS bill, said that it is a step in the right direction.“It’s no secret that I believe much more needs to be done. But this bill will make sure that thousands of dangerous people are prevented from buying guns," Murphy said, adding that the bill "provides the foundation for more compromise in the future.”Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Drew Angerer/Getty Images(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore denied allegations of sexual misconduct again Thursday at a press conference in Birmingham alongside faith leaders and his wife, Kayla.Moore said that the accusations against him are "an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama."McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, and a score of top Republicans have called on Moore to leave the race.Moore called the allegations, first reported by the Washington Post, false."They're not only untrue, but they have no evidence to support them," he said.During the press conference, Moore was surrounded by more than a dozen faith and political leaders — including former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes — who all offered impassioned defenses.Moore left no doubt about whether he will drop out of the race for the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions."I'll quit standing when they lay me in that box and put me in the ground," Moore said.White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during Thursday's press briefing that the decision on whether or not Moore should be a U.S. senator should be left to the people of Alabama."The president said in his statement earlier this week that if the allegations are true, then Roy Moore should step aside. He still believes that," Sanders said.The Alabama Republican Party also released a statement of support for Moore."The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race," the party said in a statement.The special election between Moore and his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, is scheduled to be held on December 12. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Reaction from both parties continues to pour in after a female radio host claimed that Al Franken, now Minnesota’s junior Democratic senator, groped her while she was sleeping aboard a military plane on her way home from a USO tour several years ago.The host, Leeann Tweeden also claimed he forcibly kissed her when they were performing together for troops overseas.Franken has since apologized for the incident, writing in a statement Thursday, “While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for an ethics investigation into the allegations against Franken, a move that also garnered support from his Democratic counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer."As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable-in the workplace or anywhere else,” McConnell said in a statement on Thursday.“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated,” Schumer said, “I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment.”Franken also called for an ethics investigation, adding "I will gladly cooperate."Other Democratic senators have since weighed in on the allegations, supporting an ethics investigation into Franken’s alleged actions.The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) have both called on either sitting Democratic senators or various Democratic candidates for the U.S. House to return campaign contributions they have received from Franken.“These allegations are disgusting and Democrats who took Senator Franken’s campaign money need to take action,” said NRCC Communications Director Matt Gorman.The NRSC sent out emails targeting various Democratic senators that are up for re-election in 2018, including Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.V. and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.“After today’s shocking revelations regarding Senator Al Franken’s behavior towards women, Tammy Baldwin must denounce her Democrat colleague and return campaign donations she has received from him,” NRSC communications director Katie Martin wrote in an e-mail.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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