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  • Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to blame President Trump Wednesday for the delay in reaching a bipartisan deal to protect those who benefit from DACA."I'm looking for something President Trump supports," McConnell told reporters Wednesday afternoon. "He's not yet indicated what measure he's willing to sign.""As soon as he figures out what he is for," McConnell added, "then I will be convinced we're not just spinning our wheels but actually dealing with a bill that can become law."McConnell said that as far as a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded goes, "I'm certainly going to take up what the House sends us," insisting that he believes that a House-approved CR would have a good chance of passing the Senate.McConnell's comments come as President Trump and other Republicans have said that if the government is shutdown over the dispute, blame will fall on Democrats. House Speaker Paul Ryan, on Wednesday, admonished Democrats for withholding their votes on a continuing resolution, calling it "baffling to me that Democrats would be willing to block funding for our military over unrelated issues."On the same subject, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer there remains strong Democratic support to oppose a continuing resolution. Republicans are in charge, Schumer said, and blame for a government shutdown would fall on them."We hope to avoid it," Schumer said Wednesday. "We're going to do everything we can to avoid it, we hope we will. But if we don't, it's going to fall on their backs."Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urged her colleagues to vote against the GOP spending bill. Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., continue to push their bipartisan deal on DACA. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, however, said Wednesday that deal "fell short of what [President Trump] was looking for."
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an Oval Office meeting at the White House Thursday, President Trump grew frustrated at a proposed bipartisan immigration plan that would scale back the visa lottery program, but not eliminate it, asking those in the room why they would want people from Haiti, Africa and other "s---hole countries" coming into the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.The president suggested instead that the U.S. should have more people from places like Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday, according to these sources.The White House did not deny that the president made these remarks. Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah issued this statement to ABC News:“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation. He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”A senior White House official, speaking on background to ABC News, acknowledged that the president "grew frustrated when the conversation turned to the issue of the visa lottery deal."According to a separate source, the president was set off after Senators Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who are part of a more moderate group of senators working on an immigration deal, proposed cutting the visa lottery program in half. The president, who has said he wants the program eliminated erupted at that point, according to the source, asking why they should allow people from Haiti, Africa and other "s---hole countries" to come to the United States. One official said salty language was used on both sides.Trump’s comments immediately sparked outrage from lawmakers.Beyond the shocking language, Thursday’s meeting represented a major hurdle in discussions over a permanent substitute for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, established by executive order by President Barack Obama, following Trump's announcement in September that he would end the program.Several different groups of lawmakers are working on their own immigration proposals. Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that any solution should address four principles: a DACA solution, funding for border security measures and reform of the diversity visa lottery program and the practice of family-based migration.DACA protects around 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants, brought to the United States when they were very young, from deportation. But if Congress fails to act, those DACA recipients could face deportation as early as March 6 because they were unable to renew their protection.Members of the more moderate “Group of Six,” consisting of Durbin, Graham, Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., began announcing to reporters early Thursday afternoon that they had reached an agreement in principle among themselves.But around the same time they were touting their achievement, Graham and Durbin were meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office to brief him on their plan. The White House also invited more conservative members of both chambers to join: Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.“Durbin and Graham had a clear plan to try to g
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  • Photo: Michael Thomas/ Getty Images(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ rise has been rapid and colorful. As a Navy SEAL, he won a bronze star and a purple heart. Then he quickly became a Republican golden boy.Elected in 2016 at age 42 with no previous political experience, he is the nation’s second youngest governor (after New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu). His swift ascent included a Rhodes Scholarship, military service targeting terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa, a stint as a White House Fellow and founder of a national veterans organization.He had been a Democrat up until 2015 when he switched parties to run for governor as a Republican. Donald Trump’s 19-point win in Missouri helped him beat a two term Democratic attorney general who had won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.But Missouri political insiders have viewed Jefferson City as just a pit stop for the ambitious Greitens. And they apparently aren’t the only ones: according to funding records examined by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, his gubernatorial run was fueled by $3.3 million in donations from wealthy Republicans in 37 states outside Missouri.“Obviously this outside money is grooming him for a presidential run,” says St Louis University Political Science Professor Ken Warren.Greitens has not been secretive about his ambitions. Eight years ago, he reserved the website name “EricGreitensForPresident.com”. His tenure in office has included trips to political events in Iowa, Michigan, Virginia and Nebraska. His drive was apparently evident even during his military service. Sources told ABC News that some of his fellow SEALs saw him as someone who joined the unit for the political advantage it would garner.But the latest turn in his storied career may alter his anticipated future. Only hours after he delivered the state of the state address to Missouri’s legislature, a local St. Louis television station reported that the rising political star had an extra-marital affair in 2015. The station obtained a tape recording of the woman confessing the affair to her then husband. Not only did she and Greitens engage in consensual sex, according to the tape, but the activity included bondage and the details that Greitens took a picture of the naked woman, intending it for blackmail to keep her from revealing their relationship.Greitens and his wife, Sheena, issued a joint statement Wednesday night after the report aired, admitting that “he was unfaithful in our marriage” and that “this was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility and we dealt with this together honestly and privately.”A separate statement from Greitens' attorney denied the suggestion of blackmail. The attorney, Jim Bennett, wrote in an email Thursday that any allegation of violence is "completely false." He said Greitens and the woman had a consensual relationship.The question now is whether this “deeply personal mistake” will deeply damage the bright public career of an up-and-coming Republican star.“He has really awesome credentials: educational credentials, military credentials, do-gooder organization credentials," Warren said. "So I would say this scandal is something that would hurt him more than a lot of people because he’s got so much on the line that he can throw away, or possibly has thrown away, by this embarrassing affair.” Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • US Department of the Interior(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is facing a political backlash from state governors and congressional lawmakers after announcing he would take Florida out of a plan to expand offshore oil drilling off to more than 90 percent of the nation's coastline.White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Thursday denied Zinke's action was a political favor."I'm not aware of any political favor that that would have been part of. So, no," Sanders said.Just last week, when Interior officials announced the drilling expansion, they said there would be a lengthy process of meetings and public comment before the draft plan was finalized.But on Tuesday night Zinke tweeted he would remove Florida from the plan after flying to Tallahassee to meet with Gov. Rick Scott.And in a statement Zinke said, "I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver."Scott spoke out quickly against the plan before it was officially announced and Zinke told the Washington Post on Wednesday that Scott also contacted him in writing and that he felt an obligation to respond because they worked together personally on the federal response to Hurricane Irma.Governors from several other coastal states quickly cried foul and said that they also wanted their states exempted as well.Zinke told the Post that meeting was the first in a "series of conversations" with other governors from both parties but as of Wednesday morning his spokesperson said they had not received requests from any governors and did not know if he had any other meetings scheduled.On Thursday at least two of those governors, the governor of North Carolina and the governor-elect of Virginia have now written to Zinke requesting a meeting to discuss taking their states out of the plan. Both say that increasing offshore drilling would hurt tourism in their states, the same reason Zinke gave for exempting Florida. The congressional delegation from New Jersey also wrote to Zinke asking him to visit the state and reconsider including it in the plan to expand drilling.Senators representing coastal states also expressed outrage over Zinke's treatment of Florida."I think that when we're talking about leadership of this country, we should treat all states as equals and we should not be selective and we shouldn't play political games," Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said.Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., noted that Zinke mentioned in his Florida statement that he was considering "the local and state voice" when it came to the new offshore drilling policy."Look. Local voices have already spoken about this in Virginia and said we don't want it. So we're entitled to the same exception and we're going to fight until we get it," he said.Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., claimed the decision was a political stunt in a speech on the Senate floor and said he has filed a bill to permanently ban drilling off the coast of Florida."When last week the Secretary of the Interior, Sec. Zinke, announced that they were opening up nearly all federal waters, including all of those around Florida, we of course went in to fighting mode again - and we will fight this and it will be defeated. But now it turns out, madam president, that that was just a political stunt because late yesterday, one day after officially publishing the plan in the federal register, Secretary Zinke flew to Florida, met with the governor of Florida for 20 minutes at the Tallahassee Airport, and suddenly announced that he had not decided to quote "take Florida off the table." It sounds like a political stunt," Nelson said on the floor Wednesday.Another Democrat, Rep. Ted Lieu from California, suggested that Zinke's decision could bring legal challenges. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is under fire following a pair of seemingly contradictory tweets that thrust confusion into the debate over a program deemed critical by government national security agencies.The controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which authorized the U.S. government to seek to monitor electronic communications of foreign persons suspected of terrorist activities, passed the House on Thursday in a 256-164 vote, but not before the president issued confusing statements via twitter that drew his support for the measure into question."This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?" Trump tweeted Thursday morning.That tweet seemed to contradict a statement from the White House just 12 hours earlier which expressed clear support for the measure, — and it seemed to support a proposed amendment to reform the program that the White House had also said it didn't want. The 'USA Rights' amendment proposed by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., would have banned government officials from looking through Americans' data collected under FISA's '702 program' without a warrant.That amendment failed Thursday morning in a 183-233 vote. Opponents of the proposal, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the proposed change would “disable” the 702 program. The White House came out against the amendment and for re-authorization on Wednesday, though President Trump appeared to oppose the measure in a tweet Thursday morning.Over an hour and a half later after his first tweet on Thursday, the president sent a second tweet on the subject seeming to clarify that he supports FISA re-authorization, with potential privacy concerns addressed separately."With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land," Trump wrote. "We need it! Get smart!"Trump's tweets drew criticism from a top democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees. In a tweet Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called Trump's initial criticism of the law "irresponsible" and "untrue," adding "FISA is something the President should have known about long before he turned on Fox this morning."Fox News did a segment on FISA Thursday morning around the same time Trump first tweeted, where he appeared to quote the broadcast.“I don't understand why Donald Trump is in favor of this,” Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News senior judicial analyst, said on the network. “His woes began with unlawful foreign surveillance and unconstitutional domestic surveillance of him before he was the president of the United States and now he wants to institutionalize this. Mr. President, this is not the way to go.”Following the president's first tweet, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., appeared on Fox News where he said he spoke with the president about his own concerns surrounding FISA, and said the president indicated he would back reforms put forward by Amash and Paul himself."The administration has voiced support for reauthorization but I think the president indicated to me that he believes that any reauthorization should have significant reforms," Paul said.Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Cali., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on the House floor during debate over the FISA bill that House GOP leaders should postpone consideration of the bill in light of Trump's tweets."I do think we need more time to work on this bill and I think that was only underscored this morning by the contradictory statements coming out of the administration," he said, calling for "more time to discuss this with our members." House Speak Paul Ryan called President Trump following his first tweet of the morning, according to a source fa
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