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  • US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump lashed out at Sen. Dianne Feinstein Wednesday for releasing a transcript from the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan, closed-door interview of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, calling her unilateral move “possibly illegal.”Slapping the senior California Democrat with a new nickname, “Sneaky Dianne Feinstein,” Trump tweeted that the senator “who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace.”Feinstein - who has never said there was no collusion - denied that she had done anything illegal in releasing the transcript, but did express regret that she did not tell her Republican counterpart, Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley -- beforehand. The two are close and normally work well together, according to numerous members on both sides of the aisle.“I was looking for Grassley. I meant to tell him, but I didn’t have a chance to tell him. And that concerns me,” Feinstein said. “But that transcript has been so abused that the time has come for people to just take a look at it. I think people can make up their own minds.”Grassley, an Iowa Republican, for his part, was lower-key about the perceived transgression by his Democratic counterpart.“Obviously I was a little disappointed, because I had an understanding ahead of time that it would be released when we both agreed to release it,” Grassley said of the transcript publication, but he added, “I think we’re going to move forward without any glitch.”But he steadfastly refused to comment on the portion of the President’s tough tweet that said “Republicans should finally take control!” - with the senator rejecting a reporter’s attempt to show him the tweet.“I don’t want to get into what the President said...I don’t intend to have a discussion with the president,” Grassley said emphatically.“I hope he doesn't call me to tell me things you said he said,” Grassley added with a grin, knowing that any such presidential interference in an investigation would be highly unusual.And despite a rift developing in recent months between investigators for Grassley and Feinstein, with each making separate requests for interviews and documents, staff on each side worked hard Wednesday to emphasize that the panel’s bipartisan Russia investigation was not dead.Sen Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a former long-time chairman of the Judiciary panel, called Feinstein’s unusual move “improper” but said unequivocally that what the senator did was not illegal.“She’s a wonderful senator. I don’t have any desire to censure her,” Hatch said, adding that there are “certain approaches you abide by” that pay homage to the longstanding comity that has existed between the chairman and ranking member of the panel.Democratic committee member Kamala Harris stood by her fellow Californian, adding, “I say, ‘Good for her’ for making the decision - to have the courage to say, ‘Listen, the American public wants to know.’ There are no rules preventing it from happening. The witness asked that it would happen...Good for her.”Committee Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who last week joined Grassley in referring the author of the infamous Trump dossier to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, tweeted, “It’s not enough to simply release the transcript from the co-founder of #FusionGPS Glenn Simpson. I want the entire story regarding Fusion GPS, the Dossier, and the Department of Justice to be revealed.”Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, called the Trump tweet "absolute rubbish, reprehensible and irresponsible. The release of this transcript was fully
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  • Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Building off momentum from a bipartisan meeting hosted by President Trump, lawmakers are racing to craft a plan to protect so-called 'Dreamers' -- but Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on how to fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.In a news conference Wednesday, the president likely made that negotiation even harder -- by insisting again that any immigration deal must include funding for a border wall.“We need the wall,” he said. “Any solution has to include the wall because without the wall, it all doesn’t work.”The president's comments came as congressional leaders huddled at the Capitol to discuss immigration reform. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin attended the meeting. Cornyn told reporters lawmakers have made enough progress in negotiations to potentially announce the framework of an immigration deal by the end of next week.Democrats want DACA protections to be tied to a spending deal as government funding is set to expire on January 19th, but Republicans insist it won’t be part of a spending bill.House Republicans have introduced their own proposal, the first piece of legislation to emerge following the president's meeting with lawmakers. The measure from Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and Martha McSally, R-Arizona, dubbed the Securing America’s Future Act, would pair border security funding with stricter enforcement of immigration laws.For DACA recipients, the Republican measure would allow provide recipients temporary legal status that would require renewal every three years. That status would allow them to work and travel overseas freely, but would require them to “make use of existing paths to green cards,” according to a summary of the legislation. The measure would also end the diversity visa program and terminate the process that allows citizens and green-cards holders to sponsor family members for immigration – which Republicans refer to as chain migration – by allowing only those groups to sponsor spouses and minor children.The Senate is taking a more bipartisan approach with a so-called "gang of six" – Senators Michelle Bennet, D-Colo., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bob Menendez, D-N.J. – meeting Wednesday.“Well, I just know that we can't wait for the House to actually draft a bill and move it in that process,” Flake said. “It's gotta start in the Senate and we'll see where it goes in the House.”As lawmakers work to find a solution, a federal judge in San Francisco Tuesday night temporarily blocked the administration from ending the DACA program, which applies to roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The administration announced the drawdown of the program in September, saying it would be phased out by March.The ruling from U.S. District Judge William Alsup said the administration must resume receiving DACA renewal applications for existing enrollees while lawsuits play out in court.“The ruling last night in no way diminishes the urgency of solving the DACA issue,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.The president reacted to the case by calling the court system “broken and unfair.”White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the ruling “outrageous” and said the issue should “go through the normal legislative process."While some lawmakers are eyeing a bipartisan deal, President Trump has acknowledged the political landmines that might exist, especially if they turn to comprehensive immigration reform.“If we do this properly, DACA, you're not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform,” the president said Tuesday. &l
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  • BrianAJackson/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --  The White House is calling the federal court ruling to halt dismantlement of DACA "outrageous," but immigration advocates see it as a victory -- although not a lasting one.On Tuesday, a federal district judge in California issued a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration's effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The program was begun under the Obama administration to offer deportation relief and work authorization to young people brought to the U.S. as children, known as "Dreamers."On Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced it was ending the program and phasing it out over the following six months.Since the program's initiation in 2012, nearly 800,000 unauthorized immigrants have been granted protection. DACA recipients will begin losing status as of March 6 in waves, though some who were unable to re-apply have already lost benefits.Since the administration announced the end to DACA, 12,710 DACA recipients have had their status expire, but there were also a number of approvals for new, initial requests.There are currently, 686,100 DACA recipients, according to Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS), which manages the program.The court ruling came on the same day that the White House held a bipartisan meeting to discuss immigration reform and amidst ongoing congressional negotiations to reach a DACA deal. The president hosted more than a dozen Republican and Democratic senators for talks on immigration, which turned into a highly unusual, real-time negotiation in front of cameras.At one point, Trump said that any legislation must be bipartisan and should be "a bill of love." It also must include, he said, funding for a wall "on a good portion" of the border."Many Democrats oppose the wall -- a major Trump campaign promise.The White House said that during the closed-door portion of the meeting, lawmakers "reached an agreement to negotiate legislation that accomplishes critically needed reforms in four high-priority areas: border security, chain migration, the visa lottery, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy."In the wake of the district court ruling, Trump said that the court system is "broken and unfair" and cited the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the appeals court for cases in California."We find this decision to be outrageous, especially in light of the President’s successful bipartisan meeting with House and Senate members at the White House on the same day," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "An issue of this magnitude must go through the normal legislative process. President Trump is committed to the rule of law, and will work with members of both parties to reach a permanent solution that corrects the unconstitutional actions taken by the last administration."The Department of Justice, which will be responsible for appealing the ruling, said it doesn't change the fact that DACA "was an unlawful circumvention of Congress.""Tonight's order doesn’t change the Department of Justice’s position on the facts: DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens. As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress, and was susceptible to the same legal challenges that effectively ended DAPA," said DOJ spokesman Devin O'Malley in a statement.In July, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court split left in place a lower court’s opinion that blocked then-President Obama’s expanded executive action from going into effect. The program, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), could have offered more than four million undocumented immigrants a chance to remain in the country without fear of deportation.The Trump administration "acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner. Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protectin
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  • US Senate(NEW YORK) -- Sen. Thom Tillis had high praise for President Donald Trump's leadership during a bipartisan immigration reform meeting at the White House Tuesday, commending his willingness to be flexible on key issues in the negotiation and for allowing the press to observe the proceedings for nearly an hour -- a grant of access unprecedented under the Trump administration."There was genius displayed yesterday in the meeting. It's sort of a rare genius up here -- it was actually listening and being flexible," said Tillis, R-N.C., in a Wednesday interview on the Powerhouse Politics podcast with ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein.Tuesday's summit included spirited debate between Democratic senators advocating for protections for so-called "Dreamers" -- the young, undocumented immigrants previously protected by the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy- and Republican legislators who largely want to pair new immigration laws with guarantees for increased border security, potentially including funding for Trump's controversial border wall proposal.While Trump has been steadfast since the early days of his presidential campaign about his desire for a wall, Tillis said that at the White House Tuesday, Trump told him he would abide by whatever deal the senators could strike among themselves."Probably the most compelling statement that he made to me yesterday was, 'I will honor what you all decide you can agree on. I will accept something and sign in to law something that's short of what I would prefer, in the interest of solving the problem,'" the senator relayed.Yet in a news conference at the White House Wednesday afternoon, Trump made clear that he won’t defer to Congress on all matters when he was asked about the possibility of being presented with a bill that does not include funding for a border wall."No. No," the president said. "It's got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety. We need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in... Any solution has to include the wall, because without the wall it all doesn't work."Describing himself as "a silver lining kind of guy," Tillis named a number of positive developments from the discussions, among them, Trump "saying it's not going to be a monolithic wall from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico" and "showing that he's willing to accept something maybe less than what he started out with." He further praised the decision to allow reporters to document the conversation for 55 full minutes."I thought it was a great idea," Tillis said, adding, "One thing that was funny, I think it was about 30 minutes into it, I looked up at all the journalists and they're all looking around like, 'Do they know we're still in here?'"The North Carolina Republican, who introduced legislation in September to prevent a president from removing a special counsel, additionally commented on the status of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, which Trump again called a "witch hunt" in a tweet Wednesday morning. Tillis said he thinks that he and his colleagues should "step back, let the investigations play out and let them be as broad or as narrow as the special counsel and the Department of Justice think they need to be."His proposal, he said, was not a indictment of the actions of Trump or Mueller in this specific instance, but a protectionary measure he hopes could have an "enduring impact for future administrations" as well."I think it has less to do with influencing this investigation and more to do with the Senate and the Congress asserting some influence over the handling of the special counsel, which obviously was created under Congressional action," Tillis said.The senator did have a suggestion for a separate inquiry however, one related to The Washington Post's December decision to list the fried chicken chain Bojangles -- which was founded in the Ta
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump would not commit Wednesday to being interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the Russia investigation and called the prospect "unlikely," despite saying last year that he would be willing to speak with him."We'll see what happens," Trump said when asked if he would be open to such a meeting. "Certainly I'll see what happens, but when they have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview."Trump's position, stated during a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the White House, came in the wake of reports this week that Mueller and his team raised the possibility of an interview with the president during a meeting with his attorneys.A source with knowledge of the meeting, which occurred last month, said that it was not the first instance in which Mueller expressed a desire to meet with Trump as he continues to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion with the Trump campaign.Last June, the president provided a different answer when asked by ABC News' Jonathan Karl whether he would open to speaking with Mueller. At the time Trump was refuting congressional testimony by former FBI director James Comey in which Comey claimed that the president had asked for Comey's loyalty.Trump said he would "100 percent" be willing to share his version of the encounter with Comey under oath. When Karl followed up to ask if he would do so with the special counsel, the president said he "would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you."As has become routine, Trump fervently denied Wednesday that any collusion took place and described such a suggestion as "a phony cloud" that has hung "over this administration and our government.""It has hurt our government," he added. "It does hurt our government."
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