• United States Department of the Treasury(LOS ANGELES) -- Fears of a bomb outside Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's Los Angeles home turned out to be a waste -- literally.A box of gift-wrapped horse manure was to blame for a bomb scare in a driveway near Mnuchin's Bel Air, California, home Saturday evening, according to Los Angeles ABC station KABC.Police were called at 7:30 p.m. PT about a suspicious package left in the driveway next to Mnuchin's home, but addressed to the treasury secretary. The bomb squad was immediately summoned to check on the package -- only to discover it was manure.The package was signed as being from "the American people," according to KABC.The scene was cleared by 9:30 p.m. and no evacuations were ordered, police said.It's unclear whether Mnuchin or his wife, actress Louise Linton, were home at the time. The former Wall Street hedgefund manager purchased a $12.6 million home in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, according to Realtor.com, and also owns a home in the Hamptons and an apartment in Manhattan, in addition to the Bel Air mansion.President Trump's treasury secretary has drawn scrutiny over requesting a government plane for his honeymoon to Scotland, France and Italy this summer. He did not end up using the taxpayer-funded jet to fly to Europe after the request sparked an inquiry by the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General, sources tell ABC News.But he has also drawn ire for using private government jets at unnecessary taxpayer expense when a commercial flight would serve the same purpose. Mnuchin reportedly took a government jet to Kentucky in August, which the inspector general reviewed after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shared photos of them watching the eclipse. Mnuchin said the trip was not to view the eclipse, but instead was government business.Mnuchin's wife, Linton, largely sparked a widespread inquiry into Trump administration officials improperly using government-funded private planes when she shared an Instagram picture in August returning from that trip to Kentucky, bragging about her high-end Rouland Mouret pants, Tom Ford sunglasses, Valentino high heels and Hermes scarf.The scandal led to the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in September over repeatedly chartering private planes for government travel.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to attack FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who has come under fire from Republicans alleging bias at the Department of Justice.
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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Gates, the indicted former Trump deputy campaign manager, was ordered by a Washington, D.C., federal judge on Friday to explain why his appearance in an online fundraising video “to be shown to journalists and disseminated on social media” was not a violation of a gag order.U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave Gates, who was charged in October with money laundering and crimes related to foreign lobbying registration violations, five days to show that "his reported personal participation in the creation of a fundraising video" did not violate her November order, according to the case docket.GOP lobbyist and conservative radio host Jack Burkman hosted the Dec. 19 Facebook Live forum for Gates, who appeared from his home in Richmond, according to the forum’s page.In the prerecorded video, which sources tell ABC News is authentic, a bearded Gates appears seated in front of a large, framed American flag. Looking straight into the camera, Gates thanks attendees “for your support and for your belief in my cause. By being here tonight, you are giving us the tools we will need to fight.” Gates, while acknowledging the gag order and saying he was “not able to talk specifically about the case,” added that those who give “are ensuring that supporters from across the United States hear our message and stand with us."Jackson, in her Nov. 8 gag order, instructed all parties “to refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.”In her Friday order, the judge also asked Gates about the “nature of his relationship, if any, with Jack Burkman” and asked that he “indicate whether Burkman's comments are being made at [Gates’] direction or the direction of his counsel.”Burkman, at the fundraiser, thanked “members of the press” for attending the event, and made clear his relationship with Gates and his view of the legal actions he faces, saying, “My personal beliefs are that my good friend, Rick, is really the victim of a very unfair prosecution.” Burkman went on to say he thinks that Gates and his co-defendant, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, along with indicted former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, “have been very unfairly targeted” by special counsel Robert Mueller, whom Burkman derided as “increasingly desperate.”A spokesman for the agency that sponsored the Facebook Live event told ABC News, “We can confirm the authenticity of the video message and the fundraiser.” The owner of the agency did not immediately respond to a question from ABC News on whether Gates asked Burkman to say what he did.Jackson, however, made clear in her order that she “is not intimating that the creation of a legal defense fund or the expression of personal views by third parties not acting at the behest of the defense would violate its order.” Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is expected to announce his approval of a plan to sell anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian government, a move that would mark a significant escalation in lethal U.S. military support for Ukrainian forces battling Russian-aligned forces in the border region, four State Department sources tell ABC News.If the president formally signs off, the plan will be presented to Congress for a 30-day review period where it would need to be approved before the State Department can implement it.The sale of anti-tank missiles, which could possibly include the U.S.-made Javelin system, provoked a strong reaction from Russia on Saturday, saying it "crossed the line," and could threaten to derail Trump’s calls for better relations with Moscow.The total defense package of $47 million includes the sale of 210 anti-tank missiles and 35 launchers. Additional supplies will need to be purchased, according to a senior State Department official.“We have nothing to announce at this time,” National Security Council spokesperson Marc Raimondi told ABC News.In a statement, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told ABC News, "The United States has decided to provide Ukraine enhanced defensive capabilities as part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity, to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression. U.S. assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself. The United States remains committed to the Minsk agreements as the way forward in eastern Ukraine. We have no further comment at this time."Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, responded harshly to the news of the pending deal in a statement on Saturday."The United States, in a certain sense, crossed the line, announcing the intention to transfer weapons of direct damaging action to Ukraine," the statement said, translated from Russian. "American weapons can lead to new victims in our neighboring country, to which we cannot remain indifferent."Earlier this week, the Kremlin condemned Trump’s approval to allow the commercial sale of small arms and light weapons to Ukraine.Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that sale “will once again motivate the hotheads” in the Ukrainian government and "unleash bloodshed again." The head of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, Vladimir Shamanov, also condemned it as a “sophisticated and irresponsible step.”A State Department source stressed that the move to supply even more powerful anti-tank missile is purely for defensive purposes.ABC News first reported that the interagency memo has been sitting on the president’s desk for weeks.If Trump announces his approval, the memo will likely make its way to Capitol Hill. Congress has 30 days to approve the measure. There is broad support by Senate Republicans.After the announcement of the sale of smaller lethal weapons, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Trump should take the next step and approve the sale of anti-tank missiles.“I urge the president to authorize additional sales of defensive lethal weapons, including anti-tank munitions, and to fully utilize security assistance funds provided by the Congress to enable Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” McCain said in a statement.As violence in the eastern region accelerates between the Ukrainians and separatists supported by Russia, the Ukrainian government has made it clear that they are in dire need of offensive hardware.The death toll stands at over 10,000 people since fighting began in 2014, according to a December report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.The war has been at a standstill along the eastern front since Russia seized Crimea in 2014.“What we are awaiting and have called for is the provision o
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  • U.S. Secret Service(WASHINGTON) -- Just before dawn on Friday, the U.S. Secret Service held its first full-scale training exercise involving potential threats at the White House.In one scenario, agents responded to an intruder who breached the White House fence; an attack dog took him down.There were other emergency situations, including medical; some others were classified for security reasons. Friday's training was developed over the course of many months and involved around 100 agents, officers and other personnel. It took place across the entire White House complex.Agents usually train at the James J. Rowley Training Center in Laurel, Maryland, where there is a K-9 training facility, a driving course, empty buildings for attack scenarios and more.But officials said nothing approximates the scale and the complexity of the White House.The new Secret Service Director Randolph Alles -- a former Marine general -- said he is employing his past experience: We train like we fight."The Secret Service is bound to the unique no-fail mission of protecting the White House,” Alles said in a statement. “The worldwide threat environment is real. These threats require us to constantly train so that we can evolve with the trends and tactics of our adversaries.”The protective agency decided that the current threat environment called for something unprecedented -- a full-scale training exercise with the White House up and operating.“We want to always train in the most realistic environment possible,” said Kimberly Cheatle, U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge of training, in an interview with ABC News.She said it offered the opportunity to test command and control, operational readiness, communications and myriad other scenarios.“We always want to test for the ‘what if’ and all the possibilities that are out there,” she said.When asked why this had never been done before, Cheatle said, “There are obviously precautions we wanted to take on an operational facility, and those considerations had to be taken into account when we were plotting out this particular exercise.”Numerous intruders have breached and attempted to breach the White House perimeter over the past few years. And there are new potential threats such as weaponized drones, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned about in its updated security bulletin this year."The Secret Service is constantly evaluating what’s happening in the environment, in the world, in the threat environment, so we’re constantly conducting those assessments and then adjusting from there," Cheatle said.The goal of Friday's training was to better prepare agents who protect the president to deal with emerging threats such as drones and avoid the missteps of the past.The White House exercise took place before President Trump left for the Christmas holiday, though the Secret Service would not disclose the itinerary of the president.The agency said it received the full cooperation of the administration during the planning and coordination of this exercise.While this was the first dynamic exercise on the White House grounds, the Secret Service has conducted four White House complex-themed table-top exercises, as well as an active-shooter training at the White House since May.The Secret Service said it is constantly looking at ways to enhance and modernize security. For instance, construction on an updated fence -- designed to better keep out jumpers -- is expected to begin in the spring of 2018.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump signed the $1.5 trillion rewrite of the tax code into law at the White House on Friday capping off a victory lap before leaving to spend the holidays in Mar-a-Lago."Everything in here is really tremendous things for businesses, for people, for the middle class, for workers. And I consider this very much a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs. Corporations are literally going wild over this," Trump said.Trump indicated that he was going to wait until after the new year to sign the bill, but when he saw reports on the news speculating about the timing he "immediately called and said let’s get it ready."The measure, known as the the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is being hailed by the GOP as the biggest legislative achievement for Trump and congressional Republicans. After the bill’s passage, Trump celebrated with Republican lawmakers at the White House’s South Lawn.“It will be an incredible Christmas gift for hard-working Americans,” Trump said in his remarks on Wednesday.Republican leaders House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held an enrollment ceremony for the bill on Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.Trump also on Friday signed a $4 billion defense spending bill and a one month-long stopgap spending bill aimed at keeping the government running until January 19. The "continuing resolution" passed both GOP-controlled chambers on Thursday and maintains current government spending levels.
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