• Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate has confirmed Mike Pompeo as the 70th secretary of state by a 57-42 vote.Six Democrats and one Independent voted to confirm Pompeo: Heitkamp, Donnelly, Manchin, McCaskill, Jones, Nelson, and King (I).Every Republican supported his confirmation, with the exception of Sen. John McCain who is still in Arizona battling brain cancer and was not present for the vote.Pompeo faced unprecedented opposition to his becoming the nation's top diplomat – many Democrats who just last year voted to confirm him as CIA director publicly opposed him as the next secretary of state.Last year, Pompeo had little trouble clinching the confirmation to be the director of the CIA. He was confirmed by the full Senate in a 66-32 vote at the time.It is very unusual for a secretary of state nominee to face such opposition.Past secretaries of state, including Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton have breezed through their respective confirmations.“I realize my Democratic friends in many cases feel like that in supporting Pompeo, it's a proxy for support of the Trump administration policies, which many of them abhor. I understand that" Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said last week on the Senate floor.The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Monday along party lines to send Pompeo's nomination to the Senate floor with a favorable report.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • FOX via ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Prosecutors have seized on comments made by President Donald Trump on Fox News on Thursday morning that could undermine his argument that records seized in the FBI’s recent raids of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s properties should be subject to attorney-client privilege.In a phone interview with Fox & Friends ahead of Cohen’s appearance in federal court in New York, Trump distanced himself from Cohen’s legal woes, saying his longtime attorney and confidant handles only a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work.“I don't know his business, but this doesn't have to do with me,” Trump said of Cohen. “Michael is a businessman. He has got a business. He also practices law. I would say probably the big thing is his business, and they're looking something having to do with his business. I have nothing to do with his business, I can tell you.”It didn’t take long for federal prosecutors to take note. In a letter to Judge Kimba Wood filed to the court on Thursday morning, prosecutors suggested Trump may have damaged his own argument with his comments to the cable network.“President Trump reportedly said on cable television this morning that Cohen performs ‘a tiny, tiny little fraction’ of his overall legal work,” wrote U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami. “These statements … suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here.”Cohen has requested that a “special master” be appointed to review the seized material to weed out any potentially privileged material. President Trump’s attorneys have argued that he should get the first look at any documents that might contained privileged communications with Cohen before prosecutors are permitted to review the seized materials.“These critical decisions concerning a sacred privilege are not for a team of prosecutors to make,” Trump attorney Joanna Hendon wrote in a court filing last week.Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, have argued that appointing an outside referee would needlessly delay the investigation. They have said an internal team, separate from the investigators, is capable of reviewing the seized material without prejudice.In Thursday’s letter, prosecutors indicated they’re willing to withdraw their objections to a “special master” and proposed a compromise position that would give the special master a first look for potentially privileged materials “and then hear from both sides before making a final determination.”Judge Wood has signaled that the dispute will play out in public view on Thursday.“Counsel should be prepared to address the process to be undertaken by a Special Master, should one be appointed, to review claims of privilege,” Judge Wood wrote in her order summoning the parties to court. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump offered new insights into his administration's preparations for a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as he defended his bellicose approach and "bigger button" tweet, saying only a "weak" leader would get the U.S. into nuclear war.The details came just hours before South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to meet Kim for a historic one-on-one meeting, but with Trump again casting doubt on his own summit next month or in early June."It could be that I walk out quickly –- with respect, but it could be. It could be that maybe the meeting doesn’t even take place. Who knows?" Trump told FOX's Fox and Friends.The two sides have narrowed down possible locations to five, according to Trump, with three or four dates in the running. One senior U.S. official previously told ABC News that Trump had ruled out China and that it was highly unlikely Kim would agree to meet in the U.S. or Trump to meet in North Korea.Possible venues include Europe – like Switzerland, where Kim went to university, and Sweden, the U.S.'s protecting power in North Korea -- South Asia, and the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, where Moon and Kim are set to meet Friday.Trump also revealed more about the secret visit by CIA director Mike Pompeo – just confirmed as secretary of state – made to Pyongyang. Pompeo was not scheduled to meet with Kim, Trump said, but the North Koreans arranged it after he arrived."We have incredible pictures of the two talking and meeting, which I'd love to release if we can. I'll do that actually. It's not a bad idea," Trump said.Pompeo also met with his North Korean "counterparts," Trump added, presumably in intelligence agencies. But his encounter with Kim lasted more than an hour, Trump said, and "they got along."On Wednesday, Trump was criticized for his warm words for the strongman -- accused of starvation, torture, and brutal repression -- calling him "very open" and "very honorable."Trump reiterated his approval Thursday, commending North Korea because, "They’ve given up denuclearization, testing, research – we’re going to close different sites."But it's unclear if North Korea has really agreed to those things – or whether they've done so in good faith. The country announced on April 21 that it will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and close its nuclear test site Punggye-ri, where it had conducted its six nuclear tests, including its largest last September that purportedly was a hydrogen bomb.Whether that was a sign of them giving in, as Trump argued, is debatable. On state-run Korean Central News Agency, Kim was quoted as saying, "Under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in the northern area has also completed its mission."In other words, the North had already achieved its goal of nuclear weapons, so it no longer needed testing or this facility. It also has yet to publicly say it has agreed to denuclearization – what Trump defined as "they get rid of their nukes."Instead, the world has heard through intermediaries that North Korea has "expressed its commitment to denuclearization," as South Korea's Moon put it last week, or that it is North Korea's "consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula," as official Chinese news service Xinhua reported in March.Either way, those are not the same thing as getting "rid of their nukes."But Trump doubled down on Fox, saying, "We haven't even really that much asked him [to give things up] because we would've asked him, but they gave it up before I even asked."The president attributed that success to his own combative rhetoric."It was very, very nasty, you know, with 'Little Rocket Man' and with the buttons and my button's bigger," Trump said. "Every
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump kicked off a raucous interview Thursday morning with a candid admission that he's been too busy handling his daily duties as commander in chief to purchase a special birthday present for first lady Melania Trump."Well I better not get into that because I may get into trouble," Trump told the hosts of Fox and Friends when asked what he bought for the first lady, who turned 48 years old Thursday. "Maybe I didn't get her so much.""You know, I'm very busy to be running out looking for presents, OK?" Trump reasoned. "I got her a beautiful card and some beautiful flowers."Prior to that admission, the president noted that he in part chose to do the phone interview because of the special day."I picked a very, very special day because it's Melania's birthday so I said, let's do it on Melania's birthday," Trump said. "So happy birthday to Melania."Trump also congratulated the first lady for her work in planning the administration's first state visit for French President Emmanuel Macron, including Tuesday evening's lavish state dinner in the White House.Later in the morning, a video posted on the first lady's Twitter account included a montage of her involvement in the various events during the two-day visit by President Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron. The first lady's office told ABC News following the Trump interview that Mrs. Trump plans to celebrate her birthday "with her family." Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's embattled nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department, Dr. Ronny Jackson, is withdrawing his name from consideration."While I will forever be grateful for the trust and confidence President Trump has placed in me by giving me this opportunity, I am regretfully withdrawing my nomination to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs," Jackson said in a statement issued by the White House this morning.Jackson's nomination has been dogged in recent days by allegations that he improperly dispensed medications and that he wrecked a government vehicle after drinking at a Secret Service farewell party.Jackson is the presidential physician, having served in the role since President George W. Bush's administration."It has been my distinct honor and privilege to work at the White House and serve three Presidents," Jackson said. "Going into this process, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity."Jackson, 50, goes on to rebut the allegations that have been leveled against him as "false and fabricated.""The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated. If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years," he said. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Bill Clark/CQ Roll Cal/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana criticized Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for his spending habits and other behavior during his time leading the agency but said the decision whether to fire him should be left up to President Donald Trump.“This money didn’t fall from heaven, we thank heaven for it but it came out of people’s pockets, it’s what the swamp is all about,” Kennedy told ABC News’ Rick Klein on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast Wednesday, “If you don’t respect taxpayer money, you’re not qualified to serve in my opinion.”Pruitt has faced a wave of criticism following an ABC News report that he'd been renting a room for $50 a night in a Capitol Hill condo owned by the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist, as well as other news reports that he circumvented the White House to give pay raises to several staffers and spent excessive amounts of money on travel and security personnel.Kennedy said he would be saying the same thing if an appointee of the Obama administration had been accused of similar conduct, and said Pruitt "can't go around acting like a big shot," and not expect pushback."There’s no excuse, I don’t care what party you’re in or who you are, you can’t abuse taxpayer money," Kennedy said, "I’m not saying people don’t make mistakes, they do. But when there’s a pattern, that’s misbehavior, and as far as I’m concerned – I don’t know if chucklehead is the right word but people need to behave.”Kennedy also said he expects that Ret. Gen. John Kelly, President Trump's chief of staff, is "not amused" but the allegations dogging Pruitt, and is "trying to get it under control."When asked about the controversy surrounding President Trump's pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Ronny Jackson, Kennedy said he does not know if Jackson is qualified to lead the department, but was reserving judgment until Jackson's confirmation hearing."I don’t know Dr. Jackson, but he deserves his day in court and I’m looking forward to it," Kennedy said, "I just want to give him a fair chance.”Kennedy also offered cautious praise of French President Emmanuel Macron, who he described as "very smart" and "a good politician," but as someone who he disagrees with on some matters of foreign policy."Macron is a charming guy, he’s a good politician and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense," Kennedy said of the French leader who addressed Congress Wednesday afternoon, "[He's] is bright but he’s a little young and it’s just been my experience that some folks you can’t reason with, like President Putin."Kennedy, who attended the state dinner for Macron and his wife Tuesday evening at the White House, heaped praise on first lady Melania Trump for what he called a "great evening.""I was very proud that she is the first lady of the United States. I talked with her before, she’s extremely intelligent, she’s fluent in a number of languages, I have trouble with English. She just did a magnificent job and I thought she was beautiful," Kennedy said.The Louisiana Republican did tepidly critique the Jambalaya served at the state dinner, referring to it as "Washington Jambalaya," but said he enjoyed all the other items on the menu Tuesday night."The lamb was delicious, had some goat cheese. We had Jambalaya, the Washington Jambalaya. I don’t usually eat desserts but the dessert was good. I’m not a big drinker but the wine was excellent. It was just a great evening and I think everybody had a good time.” Kennedy said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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