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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Immigration reform is taking center stage on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers grapple over an elusive legislative solution to save up to 1.8 million Dreamers facing deportation.While the newly-minted bipartisan spending agreement extends government funding until March 23, the absence of an immigration bill on the president’s desk could prompt a Democratic revolt and lead to another shutdown next month.After the Senate passed the bipartisan spending agreement in the early hours of Friday morning, McConnell began the procedural steps to begin an immigration debate next week.Now, Democrats are closely watching House Speaker Paul Ryan for his next move on immigration reform.The Senate is expected to act before and independently of the House, where Speaker Paul Ryan has promised lawmakers he’d tackle a solution for DACA recipients upon successful package of the spending deal.Ryan and other GOP leaders insist that a House bill address four pillars of reform – ending the diversity visa lottery, terminating chain migration, beefing up border security and settling on a solution for Dreamers facing deportation.The White House has instructed Congress to work out the details, though the president’s own framework includes appealing aspects to Democrats, such as a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. Ryan also stressed that the bill must be “one that the president will sign” into law. That’s been a nebulous qualifier that’s riled Democrats. Ryan says it’s a commonsense standard to avert a potential presidential veto.“I want to make sure that we get it done right the first time. I don't want to just risk a veto. I want to actually get it done the first time and I think we can get there,” Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said. “I'm confident we can bring a bipartisan solution to the floor that can get signed into law and solve this problem. We want a DACA solution. We want an immigration solution. I'm confident we can get there.”Two Democrats on opposing ends of the vote explained their contrasting perspectives on Ryan’s pledge to move to immigration next.“The fact that the Speaker just cannot give us a firm commitment on a vote on the Dreamers, something that Mitch McConnell seemed to be willing to do,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, said, explaining why he voted no. “The Speaker just really did not give the kind of assurance we need.”But California Democratic Rep. Jim Costa, one of the few surviving Blue Dog Democrats left in Congress, told me that he believes Ryan’s pledge, so he felt comfortable voting in favor of the deal. “When the Speaker closed, he clearly indicated that it was his intention to address the DACA issue and I'm going to hold him to his word, and I hope that he keeps his word,” Costa said.Although Ryan publicly stressed his “commitment to working on immigration is a sincere commitment,” Kildee isn’t buying it and blasted the speaker and President Trump’s trustworthiness. “It's really up to [Ryan] to determine whether he's going to be a man of his word,” Kildee said. “You know, saying that we'll take up immigration is one thing; actually putting something on the floor is something else. What we've learned from this president and unfortunately from the Speaker is that words are cheap. You know, actions speak louder than words.”There are several options on the legislative field for lawmakers to consider, including a bipartisan bill favored by Democratic leaders that’s sponsored by Reps. Pete Aguilar (D-California) and Will Hurd (R-Texas), and the Goodlatte bill preferred by the bulk of House Republicans.Aguilar and Hurd’s bill, H.R. 4796, the USA Act of 2018, has 27 Republican cosponsors, as well as 27 Democratic cosponsors.H.R. 3548, the Border Security for America Act of 2017 introduced by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Hom
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When the Senate Homeland Security Committee released nearly 400 texts messages between two FBI officials at the center of a political firestorm earlier this week, the committee’s Republican chairman said the new messages – with their mocking of Donald Trump and conservative causes – affirm Republican allegations of bias within the FBI and Justice Department.But the text messages — sent between an FBI lawyer and a senior counterintelligence agent with years of experience investigating Russian espionage — also reflect deep concern over Russian efforts to attack American democracy and significant worries about the U.S. government’s willingness to stand up to the Kremlin.The text messages go as far back as the Obama administration through June of last year.“Is it going to take some f-----g 9/11-type event for everybody to stop saying, just coordinate better, have lots of meetings, figure it out?” agent Peter Strzok wrote to attorney Lisa Page in October 2016, as Strzok and his division within the FBI were investigating Russia’s efforts to hijack the 2016 presidential election and potentially coordinate with Trump’s associates.Two months earlier, as the FBI’s investigation was getting underway, Strzok texted Page, “OMG l CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT THESE ALLEGATIONS AND THE PERVASIVE CONNECTIONS. What the hell has happened to our country!?!?!??”In another text message around the same time, Strzok described Russian operatives as “conniving cheating savages.”“At statecraft, athletics, you name it,” he wrote to Page. “I’m glad I’m on Team USA.”But for months, Strzok – who described himself as a “conservative Dem” – questioned whether the Obama administration would respond strongly enough to Russia’s assault on the U.S. election.“I have really no faith the administration will deal with it effectively,” Strzok wrote to Page in September 2016.Page responded: “Nope. You shouldn't.”In a text message a month earlier, Strzok told page he had been “thinking about what the administration will be willing to do re Russia.”After expressing support for President Barack Obama, Strzok added, “Just not a fan of the weakness globally.”Since his days on the campaign trail, Trump has consistently questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion that “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order,” and those “activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations,” as the intelligence community’s January 2017 report put it.In August 2016, after Trump had been nominated as the Republican candidate for president and as Strzok was considering whether he should change jobs, Page texted Strzok: “[M]aybe you're meant to stay where you are because you're meant to protect the country from that menace.”Trump’s own intelligence chiefs have endorsed the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia tried to meddled in the 2016 election.But Trump has dismissed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt,” insisting there is no evidence that his campaign colluded with Russian operatives. Mueller has charged two Trump associates with lying about their contacts with Russians.On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, released roughly 384 text messages, which his committee obtained last month from the Justice Department. A small portion of the 384 text messages had been previously released to the public, and they span key moments over the past two years, including the beginning of the 2016 pr
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  • Chip Somodevilla / Staff / Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump today took aim today the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, accusing Representative Adam Schiff of being “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington.”“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information,” he tweeted of former FBI Director James Comey, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “Must be stopped!” Schiff tweeted in kind today, advising Trump to turn "off the TV" help "solve the funding crisis." The tweeting comes as Democrats call on the president to approve the release of a Democratic memo said to counter claims made in the memo Trump declassified Friday at the request of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. The committee is set to vote this afternoon on whether to release their memo.Schiff also thinks “it’s very possible” the staff of the GOP committee chairman Devin Nunes “worked with the White House and coordinated the whole effort” to declassify and release the memo alleging abuses of government surveillance powers at the FBI and the Justice Department, he said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”Trump praised Nunes today for last week’s release of the House Republican memo.“Representative Devin Nunes, a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!” the president tweeted today. Nunes, on Fox & Friends this morning, accused Democrats of “almost 100 leaks” coming from the House Intelligence Committee.The partisan fight is likely to continue as Nunes has vowed more reports on alleged politically motivated bias inside the Trump administration.“We have several other areas that we're looking at but I don't want the American people to think we will have a memo that will go through this process,” Nunes said on Fox News. “When we get enough facts, we'll figure out a way to let the American people know.”Trump says the GOP memo alleging bias inside the FBI clears him in the Russia investigation, tweeting this weekend: “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.” Some Republicans are distancing themselves from the president’s claim. Representative Trey Gowdy, who helped draft them memo, said it does not affect special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.“I actually don’t think it has any impact of the Russia probe,” Gowdy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The father of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months, will attend the Olympic ceremonies in PyeongChang as a special guest of Vice President Mike Pence, administration officials confirmed.An official told ABC News the vice president will take every opportunity to remind the world of what happens in North Korea."As you saw in the State of the Union, the president laid out what happened to Otto and the vice president will be there with Mr. Warmbier at the Opening Ceremonies to remind the world of atrocities that happened in North Korea," the official said. Otto's parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, were guests of the president and first lady at the State of the Union, where Trump described the "depraved character" of the North Korean regime and pledged to "honor Otto's memory with American resolve." The president also acknowledged North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho in the speech last week. Warmbier died on June 19, 2017, at the age of 22, just six days after he was evacuated from North Korea.He was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from a restricted area while visiting the country on a sightseeing tour. After a one-hour trial in March 2016, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Reaction across Capitol Hill to the controversial memo compiled by Republican staff on the House Intelligence Committee was swift.Democrats harshly criticized the decision to release the memo, which President Trump authorized Friday morning in a letter relayed to the House Intelligence Committee. The memo details the process that led to the court-approved surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a suspected Russian agent.Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, wrote in a statement Friday, "Chairman Nunes' decision, supported by House Speaker Ryan and Republican Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to publicly release misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes."Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the decision "reckless and demonstrates an astonishing disregard for the truth.""This unprecedented public disclosure of classified material during an ongoing criminal investigation is dangerous to our national security. This will make it far more difficult for the Intelligence Committees to conduct meaningful, bipartisan oversight of intelligence activities in the future. This action was also taken without regard to the damage it could do to our ability to protect Americans from threats around the globe," Warner said.Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, declined to comment on the memo when asked by ABC News.In a letter to President Trump, top Democrats from the House and Senate warned against using the contents of the memo as a rational to fire special counsel Robert Mueller."We write to inform you that we would consider such an unwarranted action as an attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation. Firing Rod Rosenstein, DOJ Leadership, or Bob Mueller could result in a constitutional crisis of the kind not seen since the Saturday Night Massacre," the letter, sent Friday by both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other members of the House and Senate leadership, said.Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., also harshly criticized the release of the memo."In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy," McCain wrote in a statement Friday. "The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him."Other Republicans, however, defended the decision, saying the information needed to be released to the public in order to ensure full transparency. Some Democrats expressed grave concerns over the precedent set by the release of the memo. Republicans, like Representative Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., took a more nuanced approaching, acknowledging the concerns raised by the memo but also urging caution.
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