• iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --  President Donald Trump expressed his support for the pro-life "March for Life" in a speech from the White House Friday, applauding what he called an "incredible movement" and thanking those in attendance for embodying the theme of the march: "Love saves lives."The president, who delivered his address from the Rose Garden as rallygoers at the March for Life watched on video screens just a few blocks away on the National Mall, was the first sitting president to address the gathering, which is in its 45th year."I want to thank every person here today and all across our country who works with such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure that parents have the care and support they need to choose life," Trump said. Though the president's position on the matter appeared unequivocal Friday, he faced questions during his presidential campaign about past support for a woman's right to have an abortion.In a 1999 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Trump said he was "very pro-choice." Asked about his comment during an August 2015 Republican debate, the then-candidate said he had "evolved" on the issue."They asked me a question as to pro-life or -choice. And I said … that I hate the concept of abortion. I hate the concept of abortion," Trump said. "And then since then, I've very much evolved."Friday's speech to the march's typically religious audience came a day after the Trump administration announced a new Department of Health and Human Services division intended to protect "conscience and religious freedom." In his remarks, the president pointed to the initiative as a key victory, saying it will defend the individual rights "doctors, nurses and other medical professionals."While Trump did not attend last year's march, which occurred a week after his inauguration, Vice President Mike Pence spoke and the president tweeted his support for the event then."The #MarchForLife is so important. To all of you marching --- you have my full support!" he wrote last year.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds substantially greater Republican risk in a government shutdown, with Americans by a 20-point margin saying they’re more likely to blame Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress than the congressional Democrats if one occurs. Forty-eight percent in the national survey say they’d blame Trump and the GOP, vs. 28 percent who’d blame the Democrats in Congress. An additional 18 percent would blame both equally.See PDF for full results, charts and tables.As is often the case in Washington mud fights, political independents make the difference: They’re more likely to blame the Republican side by 46-25 percent. But there’s also a broad gender gap, with comparative GOP vulnerability among independent women and even among Republican women – notable results a day before the 2018 women’s marches on Saturday. Results among independents are similar to the 1996 and 2013 shutdowns; in both cases, the public generally – and independents in particular – blamed congressional Republicans. Those experiences send a clear warning signal: Both shutdowns were highly unpopular.Partisan gaps also disfavor the GOP in this survey, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates: Seventy-eight percent of Democrats say they’d blame Trump and the GOP caucus for a shutdown, while fewer Republicans, 66 percent, say they’d blame the Democrats in Congress. And women are 16 points more apt than men to say they'd blame Trump and the GOP.The political and gender gaps come together: While just 9 percent of Republican men would cast blame on their own side of the aisle, this doubles to 18 percent of Republican women. (GOP women also are 13 points less apt to say they’d blame the Democrats.) Further, 38 percent of independent men would blame the Republican side, but 55 percent of independent women say they’d do so. Democratic men and women, by contrast, are well aligned on the question.Ideological divisions are typical, and again include gender differences, with both moderate women and conservative women more likely than their male counterparts to say they’d blame Trump and the GOP for a shutdown. Further, there’s a split within conservative ranks. Among strongly conservative Americans, 68 percent say they would blame the Democrats in Congress, 15 percent Trump and the Republicans. Among “somewhat” conservatives, blame on the Democrats eases to 45 percent, while intention to blame Trump and the Republicans jumps sharply, to 32 percent.The survey was conducted Monday through Thursday, just as the shutdown issue was coming to a head. While actual blame if a shutdown occurs may differ, the public’s been prescient in the past. When a shutdown loomed in March 2011, 45 percent said that if it occurred, they’d blame the Republicans in Congress, not Barack Obama. Two and a half years later, when a shutdown did occur, 53 percent blamed the GOP.MethodologyThis ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Jan. 15-18, 2018, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,005 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-40 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Pageantry and politics mix at the White House at those most festive of evenings when the president rolls out the red carpet to host a foreign head of state at the presidential mansion for an official state dinner. But in a break with precedent, the Trump White House has yet to use the power of the Oval Office to its full social and diplomatic advantage by feting a foreign leader with the honor of a state dinner.Almost every other president in the last century hosted at least one such affair during the first years of their presidency — the trend remaining unbroken until now in presidential history as far back as Herbert Hoover’s presidency.The formal dinners, which are part of a larger affair of an official state visit, provide the president with a powerful opportunity to do the business of diplomacy complimented with the flourishes and flattery of hosting an allied leader to a grand social affair.“It is an event that also showcases global power and influence,” according to the White House Historical Association. “The traditional toasts exchanged by the two leaders at the dinner offer an important and appropriate platform for the continuation of the serious dialogue that has taken place earlier in the day.”President Barack Obama first rolled out the red carpet for India's prime minister Manmohan Singh, while President George W. Bush welcomed Mexico’s Vicente Fox and President Bill Clinton hosted South Korea’s President Kim Young-sam - all in their first years in the White House. But even though President Trump has welcomed more than 35 heads of state and foreign dignitaries to the White House and multiple other countries have bestowed Trump with the honor of official state dinner and elaborate welcoming ceremonies — complete with honor guards, marching bands and red carpets — Trump has yet to return the favor to another foreign leader in such elaborate fashion.“It is unprecedented and also unpresidential not to host state dinners for heads of government who visit,” said Barbara Bordine, a retired U.S. ambassador professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University. “One of the things that he's lost, on the diplomatic side, is the ability to be looked at as a good and gracious host in the way he expects to be hosted himself. It looks as if you expect others to play court to you but you won't return the favor.”White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says there is no ‘‘singular reason’’ why there has not yet been a state visit but teased that the administration hopes to schedule a state visit soon.Formal state visits aside, Trump has bestowed special treatment on two visiting leaders, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and China’s President Xi Jinping, with invitations to his Mar a Lago club in Florida, where the leaders were afforded opportunities for relaxed, extended one-on-one interactions. During Abe’s visit, the two leaders spent hours getting to know one another while hitting the links on Trump’s golf course.  Ahead of Xi’s visit, one senior administration explained the president’s preference for hosting him at his Florida home expressly for the purpose of escaping the trapping of official Washington.“It's a place where he feels comfortable and at home, and where he can break the ice with Xi Jinping without the formality, really, of a Washington meet-up,” the official said prior to Xi’s visit.While Trump has demonstrated a preference for engaging with world leaders in unconventional settings, the president has also expressed disdain for at least one state dinner prior to becoming president.Back in 2015, then-candidate Trump criticized then-President Obama for hosting China’s President Xi Jinping to a state dinner at the White House."I would not be throwing him a dinner. I would get him a McDonald’s hamburger an
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  • Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The House a cleared a must-pass bill Thursday night to fund the government through Feb. 16, sending the measure to the Senate as lawmakers scramble to avoid a government shutdown amid a fight over the fate of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.The measure passed by a 230-197 vote, with a handful of Republicans joining Democrats in voting against the measure.Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus largely backed the measure, after spending much of the day in negotiations with the White House and GOP leaders over concerns about military funding levels and the larger debate between the White House and Capitol Hill over immigration reform.The package would fund the government through mid-February, and also includes a measure to renew funds for a program, known as CHIP, providing low-income children with health insurance for six years. Democrats largely opposed the measure over the amount of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the lack of progress on protecting roughly 700,000 Dreamers from deportation in March.In the Senate, Democrats have pledged to oppose the bill unless it includes protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.Last-minute negotiations were disrupted Thursday by an early morning tweet from President Trump that appeared to undermine the GOP strategy to include CHIP funding to attract Democratic votes.Trump later spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the White House and top GOP leaders said the president did in fact support Republicans’ short-term spending package.The measure now moves to the Senate, where the math still appears to be a challenge for Republicans, who would need Democratic votes to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to pass it.  Senators sparred on the floor Thursday evening, but didn't get anywhere.Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, N.Y., suggested that the Senate pass a four- or five-day clean continuing resolution in order to continue debate on DACA, which would require getting a better sense of what the president wants out of a deal.“Maybe the Majority Leader -- we're trying to help you, Mitch -- can pin down exactly what President Trump wants,” Schumer said, looking at his Republican counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ky.McConnell accused his Democratic colleagues of holding up government funding in order to force a deal on DACA, which he insisted has no urgency until March.“The reason we're here right now is our friends on the other side of the aisle say, 'Solve this illegal immigration problem right now or we're going to shut the government down,'” he said.Debate in the Senate was expected to pick back up at 11 a.m. on Friday.A shutdown would begin just after Friday's midnight deadline -- Saturday being the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.
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  • Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Nancy Pelosi is being put to "werk." The House Democratic Leader is a guest judge on the drag queen competition show "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" during the upcoming season, which kicks off on VH1 on Jan. 25. Pelosi has already taped her appearance. All I can say is, you betta werk! Had a fabulous time with @RuPaul and good luck to all the queens. #DragRace," Pelosi tweeted ThursdayPelosi is in good company: Past guest judges include Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, and upcoming guest judges include Vanessa Hudgens, Kristin Chenoweth and Vanessa Williams. The show's permanent judges are RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews. "Each week the top two queens will 'lip-sync for their legacy' for the power to send one of their peers home," VH1 explained in a press release. "Competition will be fierce as the queens shift their strategies and work extra hard to not only impress RuPaul and the judges, but to also impress each other."
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  • Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Four U.S. service members who were removed from Vice President Mike Pence's communications team after bringing women back to their Panama hotel rooms in August have been punished. Three Army soldiers have received General Officer Memorandums of Reprimand, Army spokeswoman Adrienne Combs told ABC News. The reprimand can impact promotions, reenlistment, or retirements, if a review board evaluates the soldier's personnel filed, she said. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek confirms one airman involved received "appropriate administrative action." "Due to the Privacy Act we do not discuss personnel actions or information about individual Airmen," Stefanek said. "However, behavior of this nature is absolutely unacceptable and is completely contrary to our core values in the United States Air Force." The news was first reported by the Washington Post. Separately, ABC News reported that service members from the Army and Air Force had been removed from their roles at the White House amid allegations they had improper contact with foreign women while traveling with President Trump in Vietnam in November. Combs confirmed that the Vietnam incident is still under investigation, but should be complete next week, after which time the chain of command will evaluate whether any corrective action is warranted.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved
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