• iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Eighteen state attorneys general and six cities sued the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department Tuesday over the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 count of the nation’s population.The census has not asked whether members of American households are U.S. citizens since 1950 but planned to in 2020 at the request of the Justice Department, which said it’s needed to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act.The plaintiffs, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, saw an ulterior motive.“This is really just an effort to punish places like New York that welcome immigrants, that are accommodating to immigrants and that embrace the American tradition of open arms to all,” Schneiderman said.The census determines the number of representatives states send to Congress, the number of electors to the Electoral College and the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars. Asking about citizenship, the lawsuit said, “will fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count.”The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, called the decision to ask about citizenship “unconstitutional and arbitrary.”Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum feared it would drive immigrants into the shadows because of concerns about how the federal government will use citizenship information.“This question about citizenship discourages accuracy and inclusion,” she said, noting the constitutional obligation to conduct an “actual Enumeration” of the population every 10 years.The states suing are New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. The cities are Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco and Seattle, along with the US Conference of Mayors.
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  • Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Alex van der Zwaan, the Dutch attorney who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators was sentenced by a federal judge to 30 days in jail and a $20,000 fine on Tuesday.Van der Zwaan, 33, becomes the first person sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian collusion during the 2016 election. The son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, van der Zwaan entered his guilty plea in February for lying about his work in Ukraine with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy Rick Gates.He has no known ties to the Trump campaign. But in sentencing discussions filed with the court, Mueller alleged that van der Zwaan and Gates held discussions with a business associate who was a former Russian intelligence officer during the final months of the 2016 campaign.Judge Amy Berman Jackson told the court that she wanted to impose a sentence that would serve as a deterrence to others.Jackson said she does not consider van der Zwaan a flight risk and will allow him to voluntarily surrender. Jackson added that she would allow van der Zwaan to have his passport back after his 30-day sentence, at which point he can self-deport if Immigrations and Customs Enforcement allows.Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr told ABC News that, as with any federal case, the Bureau of Prisons will determine where van der Zwaan serves his sentence.Before hearing his sentence, van der Zwaan addressed the court about his conduct in lying to federal investigators and apologized to his family and the court.“What I did was wrong,” van der Zwaan said.Van der Zwaan’s attorney, William Schwartz, sought to paint a sympathetic portrait of his client for the court, describing his time in the U.S. as “untethered,” with no job, routine, or friends. Van der Zwaan has been living in a Residence Inn, Schwartz said.Schwartz also made a point of noting that his client “returned to the U.S. voluntarily to correct the record” and turned over his devices.“He realized he had made a terrible mistake and could’ve broken the law,” Schwartz added before asking the court for “a fine without a sentence of incarceration.”Andrew Weissman, an attorney for the special counsel, argued for jail time and pushed back against van der Zwaan’s request for leniency. Weissman agreed with Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who said at the start of the hearing that guidelines allow for a sentence of zero to six months.“This is not an isolated incident,” Weissman said. “There’s a history of conduct that was either criminal or shows a real lack of morality.”“He does not deserve credit for returning to the U.S.”
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  • Pete Marovich/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced on Tuesday that his agency was rolling back Obama-era fuel efficiency and emissions standards for automobiles, calling the move another step in President Trump’s “regulatory agenda.”“Those standards are inappropriate and should be revised,” Pruitt said at the EPA.The change in policy relaxes fuel efficiency and emissions standards for vehicles manufactured between 2022 and 2025. Pruitt did not outline any new standards, saying they are still under evaluation.Current greenhouse gas regulations, which went into effect shortly before President Trump took office, require automakers to roughly double fuel economy to more than fifty miles per gallon. The EPA says that standard would be replaced by one developed in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.“It is very right for us to be here to recognize that what was done in 2011 and 2012, as we evaluate now, is not appropriate going forward and we’re going to get it right,” Pruitt said.The agency also plans to "re-examine" a waiver that allows California to set stricter standards than federally mandated.The auto industry applauded the rollback, arguing that Obama-era standards would have proved costly. But Democrats were quick to criticize the decision.“EPA Administrator Pruitt’s decision to begin rolling back fuel economy standards is a victory for big oil and major corporations at the expense of American consumers and clean air for our kids,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “As usual, the administration sides with big, powerful special interests over the interests of average American families, who will pay the price for lower miles per gallon and dirtier air.”The attorneys general of California and New York have threatened legal action, and the chair of the California Air Resources Board, which determined California’s standards, warned the decision will degrade air quality and undermine automakers’ “regulatory certainty.”The EPA announcement comes as Pruitt faces a series of ethics questions. The White House has launched a formal inquiry into Pruitt’s living situation when he first moved to Washington, D.C., last year. As first reported by ABC News, Pruitt rented a single bedroom in a Capitol Hill townhouse partly owned by Vicki Hart, the wife of energy lobbyist J. Steven Hart.At the EPA Tuesday, Pruitt ignored reporters’ questions about whether he still maintains Trump’s confidence. The president spoke with Pruitt by phone Monday and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly phoned Pruitt on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox has said the arrangement was not a gift and the lease was “consistent with federal ethics regulations.” But Democrats and ethics groups have raised concerns about the agreement. Pruitt has previously come under fire after the EPA spent more than $118,000 on his flights, many of them in first class.“I don’t know how you survive this one,” former New Jersey governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday.
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  • Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Dutch national Alex van der Zwaan is expected to become the first person sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation on Tuesday in federal court in Washington, having pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents.Van der Zwaan, 33, the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, entered his guilty plea in February for lying about his work in Ukraine with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy Rick Gates.He has no known ties to the Trump campaign. But in sentencing discussions filed with the court, Mueller alleged that van der Zwaan and Gates held discussions with a business associate who was a former Russian intelligence officer during the final months of the 2016 campaign.Mueller does not describe the communications and refers to the third party only as “Person A,” but according to a source familiar with the situation that the reference is to Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Ukraine-based business associate of Manafort and Gates.Kilimnik denies the allegations.Manafort worked with Kilimnik as recently as last year, when Kilimnik helped him write a positive opinion article published in Ukraine to burnish Manafort's image, a violation of a court-imposed gag order for which the judge admonished Manafort. Manafort is awaiting trial, having pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, money laundering, and tax evasion charges.“That Gates and Person A were directly communicating in September and October 2016 was pertinent to the investigation,” special counsel prosecutors added in van der Zwaan’s pre-sentencing court document.Gates, who pleaded guilty to reduced charges, is cooperating with Mueller.Van der Zwaan’s exact value to the Mueller probe has been tightly-guarded. Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann submitted papers asking Judge Amy Berman Jackson to limit public access to case records.“Van Der Zwaan is in an unusual position of having information related to the Office’s investigation that is not widely known – including information that he knows first-hand due to his role in the conduct the Office is investigating,” Weissmann wrote, adding that “requests filed by someone with non-public information could, themselves, suggest to third parties investigative facts that are otherwise not widely known.”Van der Zwaan could face up to five years in prison for his crime, but federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson has signaled that a far shorter sentence is likely, noting that federal guidelines call for zero to six months.
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  • Pete Marovich/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jill McCabe, an emergency room pediatrician and the wife of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, has spoken out for the first time since her husband's dismissal, calling attacks on her family "false and utterly absurd."In a forceful rebuke of the barrage of claims made against her "personal reputation and integrity," McCabe wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Post that "I want people to know that the whole story that everything is based on is just false and utterly absurd."McCabe said that in the wake of her husband's firing -- which came one day before his planned retirement -- she aims to speak freely and set the record straight."I am an emergency room pediatrician and an accidental politician -- someone who never thought much about politics until I was recruited to run for state office after making a statement about the importance of expanding Medicaid," she wrote. "That decision -- plus some twisted reporting and presidential tweets -- ended up costing my husband, Andrew, his job and our family a significant portion of his pension my husband had worked hard for over 21 years of federal service."McCabe called the last year and half a "nightmare," adding, "I have spent countless hours trying to understand how the president and so many others can share such destructive lies about me."President Donald Trump targeted the McCabes, unleashing Twitter assaults that called into question Andrew McCabe's integrity, specifically for his work on the Clinton investigation, and suggested that he had a conflict of interest because his wife's campaign accepted donations from political groups affiliated with former Gov. Terry McAuliffe -- who has close ties to Clinton."Ultimately I believe it somehow never occurred to them that I could be a serious, independent-minded physician who wanted to run for office for legitimate reasons."McCabe ran for state office in 2015 after years of working in a hospital emergency room, knowing first-hand the impact of rising health-care costs. Some of the calls urging her to run came from Virginia's then-Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and McAuliffe.During a meeting with the governor, McCabe said that McAuliffe was only interested in discussing her position on expanding Medicaid and "the subject of Hillary Clinton never came up."McCabe insists that her husband, then the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office "kept himself separate from my campaign." He assumed the rule of deputy director after his wife lost her race.He did not knock on a single door on her behalf or even drive his family to knock on doors, nor attend a single fundraiser, McCabe wrote. The only involvement her husband had during her run for office was wearing a campaign T-shirt for a family photo.Bucking this most frequent attack from Trump, Jill McCabe wrote that while her campaign "received funding from the state Democratic Party and the governor's PAC" it was "on par with what other candidates in competitive races on both sides of the aisle received.""All those contributions were publicly reported," she added. "And of course, again, Clinton’s emails never came up -- if they had, I would have found that alarming, immediately reported it and likely pulled out of the campaign."Jill McCabe refuted the claim that contributions to her campaign influenced her husband's decisions while he served at the FBI."This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it makes no sense," she wrote. "Andrew's involvement in the Clinton investigation came not only after the contributions were made to my campaign but also after the race was over."Andrew McCabe previously insisted to ABC News that politics was "absolutely not" a factor in any of the decisions he made while serving at the FBI, and noted that he considers himself a lifelong Republican. He was fired last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the Justice Department's inspector general concluded McCabe misle
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  • IStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats on the House panel with oversight over the Environmental Protection Agency are raising questions about Administrator Scott Pruitt’s controversial rental agreement.As ABC News first reported last week, Pruitt rented a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condo in 2017 partially owned by Vicki Hart, the wife of lobbyist J. Steven Hart, who is registered to lobby for several environmental and energy concerns.On Monday, several Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to Pruitt expressing concerns about the rental.“We are concerned that the unique rental arrangement, in which you only paid rent on the nights you were in town for use of one bedroom in the home, could be a potential conflict of interest,” Reps. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., wrote in the letter.Democrats want to know how Pruitt learned of the rental and whether he paid fair market value for the property, which they argue could have violated Pruitt's ethics pledge not to accept gifts from registered lobbyists. They also want to know whether Pruitt left any “personal materials” in the bedroom when he wasn’t in town if the room was rented out to other tenants and whether he had access to other parts of the condo during his stays on Capitol Hill.Asked about the Democrats’ letter, a Republican committee aide told ABC News the panel has reached out to the EPA for further information about the arrangement.Pruitt’s daughter, McKenna Pruitt, used a second room in the condo during her White House internship last year, despite the claim from the EPA that Pruitt paid $50-a-night for a single bedroom in the brick townhouse steps away from congressional office buildings.EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said Friday that the arrangement was not a gift and that the lease was “consistent with federal ethics regulations.” The agency released two statements from EPA ethics officials defending Pruitt’s arrangement.“Under the terms of the lease, if the space was utilized for one 30-day month, then the rental cost would be $1500, which is a reasonable market value,” the EPA said in an ethics review released by the agency from principal deputy general counsel Kevin Minoli, the EPA’s designated agency ethics official.Other apartments in the Northeast Washington duplex have rented for as much as $5,000-a-month, a source familiar with a neighboring lease told ABC News last week.Democrats have asked for a response from the EPA by Monday, April 16th, ahead of Pruitt’s planned testimony before the panel on April 26th. Pruitt’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Democratic inquiry.The EPA inspector general is reviewing a request to investigate Pruitt’s arrangement from Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group, a spokesperson said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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