Archives
  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for a closed door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee.Bannon is expected to face questions about the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.This meeting comes after Bannon resigned as executive chairman of Breitbart News following the release of Michael Wolff’s tell-all Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The book, which includes harsh comments from Bannon on the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, renewed questions about Trump’s campaign activity.Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign in August of 2016, brandished the Trump Tower meeting as "treasonous," according to Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
    Read more...
  • Metropolitan Baptist Church/Facebook(LARGO, Maryland) -- A pastor in Maryland who had Vice President Mike Pence as a captive audience on Sunday took the opportunity to attack the politician's boss, calling President Donald Trump's comments on Haiti and Africa "hurtful," "dehumanizing" and "vulgar."Dr. Maurice Watson, pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, Maryland, ripped into Trump's reported negative comments about Haiti and African countries, though he never specifically mentioned Trump's name.Pence and his wife, Karen, were sitting in the front pew."It is alleged that a hurtful, dehumanizing, visceral, guttural, ugly adjective that I cannot repeat in church, was allegedly used to characterize some of the nations of Africa," Watson said in his Sunday sermon, which was posted on the church's Facebook page. "And a statement was made that we ought to welcome people from Norway more than we should welcome people from Haiti. I stand here today as your pastor to vehemently denounce and reject such characterizations. Whoever said it is wrong, and they oughta be held accountable."You are owed an apology, but you probably won't get one," Watson added.The congregation loudly applauded Watson's words.WUSA said Pence was left "red-faced" by the comments. A spokesperson for Pence denied that to The Associated Press. Pence and his wife were in attendance at the church for the congregation's honoring of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.Trump has also denied he called Haiti and African nations "s---hole countries" in a meeting with various politicians who were trying to negotiate a deal on DACA last Thursday. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was in the meeting, said there was no question the president said these "hate-filled things."Watson appeared on CNN on Monday night, where he said he didn't see the vice president's reaction to his comments, but said they had nothing to do with Pence being in attendance."It didn't have anything to do with the vice president, it had to do with the fact that I'm a pastor," Watson told CNN. "As a pastor, I have to speak up for my people. And the vice president just happened to have been there."Pence did not refer to the visit on his social media pages, though he did share photos of he and wife wife laying a wreath at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., later in the day.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • Twitter/@ColbertLateShow(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump found himself in the hot seat on Monday after he decided to go golfing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, breaking with a years-long tradition set by previous presidents who commemorated the holiday by performing civic duties.The late-night shows found the topic rich for attack on Monday night."In the past, Presidents Obama and Bush did volunteer work on this day to honor Dr. King. President Trump today played golf to honor him," Jimmy Kimmel said Monday on Live. "He made his 95th visit since becoming president to one of the golf courses he owns: the Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach. Just as Dr. King would have wanted, which is especially glaring considering the fact people have been calling Trump a racist all weekend."The criticism came just one day after Trump declared that he is "not a racist" as he denied reports that he referred to Haiti and African countries as "s---hole countries.""No, no, I'm not a racist," Trump told reporters on Sunday. "I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you."The comments were reportedly made during a closed-door meeting with members of Congress to discuss immigration on Thursday.According to the reports, Trump also said the United States should accept more immigrants from countries like Norway.Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, tried to find humor in the situation -- now referred to as 's---hole-gate.'""'I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed' seems like a ridiculous statement from Donald Trump, until you realize he was speaking to the chief reporter from the Klu Klux Kronicle," Noah said Monday evening.He pointed out that two U.S. lawmakers claimed they personally heard Trump make the vulgar remark, but he said the president’s alleged vulgarity was not his main concern."Him having a poo-poo mouth is not the story for me," Noah said. "The president of the United States condemning entire groups of people as worthless and undesirable based on what country they happen to be born in, that's the story."Over on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert asked his guest, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., if he thought Trump made the controversial comments."I have no doubts," Schumer replied. "Donald Trump has lied so many times it's hard to believe him on anything let alone this."His comments over and over and over again can be described as nothing but racist and obnoxious," he added.Schumer also presented the president with a challenge that he said would prove that he wasn't racist."Actions speak louder than words," Schumer said. "If you want to just begin the long road back to proving you're not racist or bigoted, support the bipartisan compromise three Democrats and three Republicans put on the floor, everyone gave, and get the Dreamers safety here in America."That's what he should do," he added.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department has long been a lightning rod for political criticism, but this past year brought it to a new level — with a Republican president taking sharp aim at the Republican attorney general he nominated.Even as Attorney General Jeff Sessions pressed forward on some of President Donald Trump’s top priorities — such as immigration enforcement — Sessions was sharp criticism from Trump, who was reportedly angered by Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and alleged collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives.For much of the summer of 2017, it was unclear if Sessions would last until fall.But Sessions held on, and in doing so he was able to continue addressing issues he has championed such as going after so-called “sanctuary cities,” promoting marijuana enforcement, fighting the growing opioid epidemic and gang-related violence, and changing civil rights enforcement policies.Early in his tenure as attorney general, Sessions backed a Trump administration decision to overturn Obama-era policies that said federal anti-discrimination laws meant students at schools across the country must be allowed to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. He has also made other moves that have angered the LGBTQ community.At the same time, he has committed federal resources to investigate murders of transgender individuals around the country.Sessions has gone further than any recent attorney general to target “sanctuary cities,” threatening to pull federal grants from any jurisdiction that doesn’t cooperate with federal authorities to detain and turn over undocumented immigrants.Meanwhile, the Justice Department under Sessions is sending millions of federal dollars toward initiatives to help state and local police battle the opioid epidemic, which Sessions repeatedly notes is killing Americans at record levels. Sessions has also pushed U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country to refocus on prosecuting drug-related crimes.Similarly, in early January, Sessions announced that the Justice Department was "rescinding" Obama-era guidance over how federal authorities should go after marijuana-related crimes, touting the move as "a return to the rule of law." However, senior Justice Department officials struggled to explain how the new policy would actually differ from that of their predecessors.Over the past year, while Sessions has promised to go after gangs like MS-13, he has also faced tough questions over whether the federal government is doing enough to prevent gun violence like the deadly assault launched in Las Vegas last year. 58 people were killed and hundreds of others injured.Many lawmakers and others have called for stricter regulation of “bump stocks,” which were used in the deadly Las Vegas attack and allow gunmen to turn semiautomatic rifles into near-automatic weapons.During an event with Justice Department interns last summer, one intern asked Sessions why he supports "pretty harsh policies for marijuana and pretty lax gun control laws" when "statistically guns kill significantly more people than marijuana does."In response, Sessions noted that more fatal accidents are now caused by drugs than by alcohol, and he said the American Medical Association "is crystal clear" that "marijuana is not a healthy substance." "I don't think America's going to be a better place if marijuana's sold in every corner grocery store," Sessions said.This story is part of a weeklong series examining the first year of the Trump administration.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly one year after he took his own oath of office, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has defied all the major headlines about him: He’s still here.But his record at the State Department is, at best, mixed, with fierce, vocal critics decrying his “hollowing out” of the esteemed agency and steady supporters praising him for being one of the “adults in the room” across from a president with whom he has major disagreements.If either side makes one thing clear, it’s that Tillerson has a tough job working for a president who has made clear that he makes the decisions.“The one that matters is me,” Trump told Fox News in November, when asked by the conservative commentator Laura Ingraham why he hadn’t appointed more of his own “people” at the State Department.“We don’t need all the people that they want,” Trump continued. “I’m the only one that matters because, when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”That’s a neat summary of where things stand at State — an agency with many of its top roles still unfilled, with what some describe as low morale and others say has an uncertain future, and with a leader who boldly barrels on, but is often undercut by his own boss.Since the beginning, Tillerson and his team have had to do battle with the White House over personnel picks, slowing the process down. But a couple weeks shy of Tillerson’s one-year anniversary, there are still 54 senior positions vacant — although the secretary announced in August he would eliminate 20 of those in his “redesign” of the department.But that redesign process has left many scratching their head — with a deeply unpopular hiring freeze still in place and the first wave of minor changes to personnel and IT policy announced only last month.It’s led to some very public criticisms, from retired ambassadors or fleeing foreign service officers — and even the president of the foreign service union, who questioned if there were ulterior motives at work.Among the other senior roles, 22 are filled by officials in an acting capacity. Although there are people doing the work, they do not enjoy the full legal authority of their role or the image of speaking on the administration’s behalf to the world. There were about a half dozen more, but they were in acting roles so long, that they were required to return to their original roles by law.It’s not just in Washington either. Some 30 ambassador posts are still empty, with the embassy’s second-in-command, or charge d’affaires, leading the U.S. mission. Those include ambassadors to key allies where there is a desperate need for diplomacy, like South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.“People don’t know who to contact at State anymore or in the administration in general,” one European source told ABC News. “It’s hurting the U.S. diplomatically — and others are quick to step into that power gap.”By year’s end, Tillerson had made some progress, according to top aides, who point in particular to the case of Susan Thornton. The acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs is a career diplomat who hit the ground running with Tillerson on the North Korea threat.The two developed a rapport, but despite Tillerson’s intention to give her the job full-time, he was blocked by the Steve Bannon, and the nationalist-wing of the White House who saw her as too weak on China.Last month, the White House announced Trump’s nomination of Thornton in what Tillerson aides touted as a victory — one symbolic of his intention to stay, they said.That’s the looming question that has dogged the former ExxonMobil CEO for more than half of his tenure now. It’s no secret he disagrees with his boss on the Iran nuclear deal, climate change a
    Read more...