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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's counselor, Kellyanne Conway, slammed former FBI Director James Comey, suggesting an announcement he made about Hillary Clinton's emails during the 2016 election may have been a deciding factor."This guy swung an election," Conway told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America Monday. “He thought the wrong person would win.”Conway, who appeared on GMA in the wake of the airing of Comey's exclusive interview with Stephanopoulos on Sunday night, was apparently referring to Comey's comments about his decision to announce, in a letter to Congress, the reopening of the Clinton email probe on Oct. 28, 2016, 11 days before the Nov. 8 election.Stephanopoulos asked Comey in the interview, "At some level, wasn't the decision to reveal influenced by your assumption that Hillary Clinton was going to win and your concern that she wins this comes out several weeks later and then that's taken by her opponents as a sign that she's an illegitimate president?"The former FBI chief responded, “I don’t remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump, and so I’m sure that it was a factor,” Comey said. "I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she’s going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out."Clinton has said she thinks Comey's announcement about the email probe so close to the election killed her chances of winning.Conway on GMA also excoriated Comey as a publicity hound, who is merely trying to promote his book, "A Higher Loyalty, that is to be released Tuesday."The president is very confounded the that this person is always able to divert the spotlight to him," Conway said. "He has a very deft way of making things about him."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- President Donald Trump has slammed the so-called “dossier” as fake, phony, dirty, horrible and a disgrace.But former FBI Director James Comey said he believed from the outset that the British intelligence officer who wrote the report was a “credible source.”“It was coming from a credible source, someone with a track record, someone who was a credible and respected member of an allied intelligence service during his career,” Comey said, referring to former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. “And so it was important that we try to understand it, and see what could we verify, what could we rule in or rule out.”The “dossier” is a 35-page document containing raw intelligence compiled by Steele.Comey talked about the FBI’s first impressions of the dossier during his exclusive interview with ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos ahead of the April 17 release of his book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.“It, at its core, was consistent with the other information we'd gathered during the intelligence investigation,” he said of the dossier.Comey said there were three goals behind the Russian effort, which are “at the core” of the dossier: to “dirty up the American democracy”; to damage Hillary Clinton in her candidacy because Russian President Vladimir Putin “personally hated” her; and “to help Donald Trump become elected president.”“Those allegations are at the core of the Steele dossier, and we already knew that was true from totally separate information. And so at its core, it said something that was consistent with what we believed,” Comey told Stephanopoulos.Comey said he was aware of who funded the report, which Steele compiled for Fusion GPS, a political research firm co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson.“I was told at some point that it was — the effort had originally been financed by a Republican source to develop material, opposition research on Donald Trump,” Comey told Stephanopoulos. “Then after the Republican nominating process ended, the effort was taken up and funded by a Democratic-aligned group trying to get opposition research on Trump. … I never knew … who the groups were, but I knew it started with Republicans paying for it and then Democrats were paying for it.”But when asked if he thought the document was credible, Comey referred to its source.“Well, certainly the source was credible. There's no doubt that he had a network of sources and sub-sources in a position to report on these kinds of things. But we tend to approach these things with a bit of a blank slate, trying to figure out, ‘So what can we replicate?’ This guy, who's credible, says these things are true. Okay. That means we should try and replicate that work to see if we can develop the same sources,” Comey said.Comey stressed that the dossier was not the reason why federal authorities opened an investigation into possible connections between some members of the Trump presidential campaign team and Russia.“The investigation began because of reliable information that George Papadopoulos was having conversations about obtaining information from the Russians,” Comey said, referring to the president’s former campaign foreign policy adviser. “That's probably as far as I can go at this point.”Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October 2017 to making false statements and material omissions in January to investigators probing interference in the 2016 presidential election, in relation to his contacts with a London-based professor with ties to the Russian government.Comey said he isn’t “sure” how much of the information in the dossier checked out.“The answer is, I don't know,” he said.Comey added that when he left the F
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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is recused from the Michael Cohen investigation, ABC News has learned.Berman was not involved in the decision to raid Cohen's office because of the recusal, two sources familiar with the matter tell ABC NewsThe recusal was approved by senior Justice Department officials who report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the sources said. Rosenstein himself was notified of the recusal after the decision was made.The raid of Cohen's office was handled by others in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and approved by a federal judge.Berman is a Trump appointee with ties to Rudy Giuliani who donated money to the 2016 Trump campaign.The U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Ahead of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Senate hearing Tuesday, an army of 100 life-size Mark Zuckerberg cardboard cutouts stood on the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C. The cutouts were wearing t-shirts that read "fix Fakebook."The display, titled "Four Solutions to Fix Facebook," was organized by a left-leaning global advocacy group, Avaaz, with a goal to "call attention to the hundreds of millions of fake accounts still spreading disinformation on Facebook," the organization told ABC News in a statement."Avaaz has set up a fake army of Mark Zuckerbergs to flood the U.S. Capitol just as fake news and fake profiles have flooded our democracies," said Nell Greenberg, campaign director at Avaaz, in a press release. “As Zuckerberg gets ready to testify before the Senate, hundreds of thousands of people are calling on him to delete 'Fakebook' by banning all fake accounts. They banned thousands in France and Germany to protect democracy, it’s time to extend the same protections to the US and worldwide.”Over 880,000 people worldwide signed an open letter to Zuckerberg, internet CEOs, and government regulators asking for them to protect democracies, Avaaz wrote in the statement.The four solutions they are proposing are that Facebook, internet CEOs and government regulators should "ban all bots, alert the public any and every time users see fake or disinformation, fund fact checkers around the world, and submit to an independent audit to review the scale and scope of fake news," Avaaz wrote in the statement.Though they aren’t expecting a direct reaction from Zuckerberg and aren’t sure he saw the “Zuckerbots” when he arrived on the Hill, the group is also running ads in Politico and the Washington Post on “how to fix Fakebook.”“It will be very hard for him to miss it,” a spokesperson for Avaaz said.Zuckerberg will testify Tuesday in a highly-anticipated hearing on privacy concerns, fake news and alleged foreign efforts to use Facebook to spread disinformation before the 2016 election, issues that have set the social media giant back on its heels.“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well,” Zuckerberg plans to tell 44 members of Congress, according to his prepared remarks, expressing contrition yet again for allowing third parties to harvest the data without the consent of Facebook’s users.“That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here,” Zuckerberg’s planned remarks read.Avaaz is the same advocacy group behind last month's display of 7,000 children's shoes, also on the Capitol lawn, in memory of every child who has died due to gun violence.7,000 children's shoes laid out on Capitol lawn to honor lives lost to gun violenceIn February, the advocacy organization put up a trio of mobile billboards by Sen. Marco Rubio's home in Miami, Florida. The billboards asked why there was no congressional movement on gun control, with one of the billboards reading, “How come, Marco Rubio?”
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of an early morning FBI raid on his personal attorney, sources close to President Donald Trump and his legal team say the president is “less inclined” to sit down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.For the last several months, the Trump legal team has been having active negotiations with the Mueller team working toward a potential interview which would have included either a face to face interview with parameters, a written questionnaire or some mix of both, sources have told ABC News.Yet in the wake of Monday’s FBI raid on the home and office of Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal counsel, multiple sources tell ABC News things might be changing and that the president per one source is “understandably less trusting” of Mueller and his team.Multiple sources say advisers don’t know how to deal with the president’s frustration and are bracing for what he may do next. One source in close contact with the White House says any and all possibilities are in play.During a lengthy rant late Monday in the Cabinet Room, the president told reporters the special counsel’s team was the most “conflicted group of people I have ever seen.” The sources emphasize that no final decision on a potential interview by the president with the special counsel’s team has been made, as negotiations continue. The president’s lawyers handling the Russia probe – Jay Sekulow and Ty Cobb – declined to comment.In late March, Trump said he would sit down for an interview with the Mueller team saying "Sure I would like to. I would like to,” in response to a reporter’s question.It was just after 7 o’clock Monday morning that FBI agents were dispatched by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to three locations tied to Cohen – his home, his office in Rockefeller Center and a hotel he was currently staying at on New York’s East Side. It was Mueller’s team that passed information on to the Department of Justice, which referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office New York, but the raids and investigation are separate from the ongoing investigation into Russia meddling during the 2016 election. It was during this raid that sources tell ABC News agents took personal and financial records dating back as far as 2013. Sources say the search was for evidence of possible bank and wire fraud in addition to possible campaign finance violations. Agents also took documents related Cohen’s dealings with adult film star Stormy Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election, according to multiple sources. Cohen’s personal electronic devices were also seized in Monday’s raid.Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan told ABC News in a statement that the FBI “executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients. I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”The purpose of the raid remains unclear. Cohen has been questioned by lawmakers as part of a separate congressional probe. During that questioning, sources have told ABC News, Cohen was asked about a proposal pitched to the Trump Organization during the 2016 campaign to pursue development of a Moscow tower bearing Trump’s name.Cohen told Trump about the project three times, and said in a statement his lawyer released in August that he reached out to the Kremlin about the proposal before the project was ultimately abandoned. No money changed hands, he said.In a statement at the time Cohen told ABC News: “The Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected.” Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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