• Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives at a federal courthouse later Thursday for a hearing to dismiss his case, as well as to suppress evidence seized by federal agents, one thing will not change: the ankle bracelet he has been wearing since he was indicted in late October as part of a strict, court-imposed home confinement.The 69-year-old Manafort has repeatedly -- and unsuccessfully -- sought to provide the court with enough property, cash and other assets to meet the $10 million bail amount set by federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson in his case involving felony charges of money laundering, false statements, conspiracy and failure to register as a foreign agent.Each time, the judge has rejected his proposals, as the case against him centers largely around his complex finances and alleged bank fraud related to a mortgage on one of his properties that he sought to offer as partial backing for his bail. The bank fraud charges are now included in a separate indictment in a federal court in Virginia.Jackson has expressed irritation in multiple proceedings, particularly on the issue of bail, as lawyers for each side have fought over the real, unencumbered value of Manafort’s many properties.The twists and turns of this bail saga have included odd movie references -- Manafort isn’t a “Jason Bourne” figure, though he has multiple passports, his lawyer has argued -- the real estate website Zillow, and a healthy dose of sarcasm and frustration.At one point in his nearly six-month-long quest to shed his GPS ankle device and other restrictions, such as on his travel, Manafort had his physician write a letter to the judge pleading for leniency, saying the defendant’s health was at stake, according to the judge."While he's subject to home confinement, he's not confined to his couch, and I believe he has plenty of opportunity to exercise," the judge sarcastically said in a January status hearing.Manafort’s permanent residence, he has said, is in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.In a February proceeding, the judge blasted Manafort attorney Kevin Downing for trying to offer a home value printed off Zillow."Zillow is actually considered to be pretty accurate, your honor," said Downing, a former Justice Department lawyer.Jackson shot back, "If you had to sell it tomorrow or insure it tomorrow or refinance it tomorrow, you would get an appraisal. You wouldn't print out a page from Zillow."The judge has repeatedly rejected a number of properties the veteran political strategist has offered to back his $10 million bail, most recently last week refusing to accept his condo in Alexandria, Virginia, as it’s already being used to back yet another home’s mortgage, and his flat in New York City, which is part of the tax and bank fraud case in Virginia.Neither property would be unencumbered to back his bond, should the court decide to revoke bail and seize his properties, the judge said.Complicating the Manafort financial picture could also be the fact that prosecutors, who are part of special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign, seized accounts at three different banks, according to recently revealed court documents filed by Mueller's team after Manafort’s attorneys complained that the government was not being forthcoming about warrants it had obtained against their client.No charges against Manafort so far have included his time or work on the Trump campaign.The public should learn more about Manafort’s bail soon, as both sides in the case agreed this week to have the transcripts of two private discussions with the judge released with limited redactions concerning personal information. One proceeding in February was entirely about Manafort’s bail.Manafort’s jury trial before Jackson is set to begin on Sept. 17; his trial in a federal court in Vi
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  • Zach Gibson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two prominent House Republicans met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week over the pace of DOJ document production to Congress, the latest example of friction between congressional Republicans and senior Justice Department officials.Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio -- members of the House Freedom Caucus and the House Oversight Committee, and allies of President Donald Trump -- met with Rosenstein on Monday to express concern over the "slow pace" and "excessive redactions" of documents turned over to Congress, according to an aide.The meeting, first reported by the Washington Post, comes as the GOP chairmen of the House Oversight, Intelligence and Judiciary committees have demanded that DOJ turn over copies of James Comey's memos detailing his encounters with Trump to Congress.Republicans on all three committees are investigating the FBI's handling of the Clinton and Trump-Russia investigations, and have been sharply critical of the pace of DOJ's document production to Congress.Rosenstein, in a letter to the chairmen earlier this week, asked for a few more days to comply with the request for both unredacted and declassified copies of Comey's memos, citing concerns about releasing any documents related to ongoing investigations or that may contain classified information."None of us would want the FBI to release sensitive government records without careful and appropriate review," Rosenstein wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by ABC News.The meetings with Rosenstein and related DOJ document requests come as Trump expressed frustration with the Russia investigation, the recent FBI raid on his personal lawyer Michael Cohen's home and office, and the ongoing legal proceedings in New York.On Wednesday, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told him that he plans to issue a subpoena to force DOJ to turn over the memos.Citing DOJ regulations preventing the department from turning over materials related to an ongoing criminal investigation to Congress, Nadler accused Republicans of attempting to discredit Rosenstein, who supervises special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia."If House Republicans refuse any accommodation short of the Department of Justice handing over custody of these documents -- which it cannot do -- I fear the majority will have manufactured an excuse to hold the deputy attorney general in contempt of Congress," he wrote. "If they succeed in tarnishing the deputy attorney general, perhaps they will have given President Trump the pretext he has sought to replace Mr. Rosenstein with someone willing to do his bidding and end the special counsel’s investigation."Asked about the possible firing of Rosenstein or Mueller on Wednesday, Trump dismissed the speculation."They've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last four five months, but they're still here," Trump said.A spokesperson for Goodlatte did not return a request for comment.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- President Donald Trump, who is preparing for a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks, said Wednesday that while he will remain "flexible," if he feels the meeting will not be "fruitful" he will leave."We’ve never been in a position like this with that regime, whether it’s father grandfather or son," Trump said. "I hope to have a very successful meeting. I few don’t think it will be successful, we won’t have it. If it’s a meeting I don’t think will be fruitful I won't go. If when I’m there, and I don’t think it’s fruitful, I will leave."We'll remain flexible here. I’ve gotten it to this point," the president said.Trump made the comments in a joint press conference with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., at the end of a two-day summit between the leaders.Asked whether the release of three Americans held prisoner by North Korea is a necessary concession ahead of any summit with Kim, Trump did not reply directly but said his administration is currently working to get the Americans freed."We're fighting very diligently to get the three American citizens back," Trump said. "There's a chance of having good dialogue. We'll keep you informed. We are in there and we're working very hard on that. We have come a long way with North Korea."Trump declared that on North Korea, he will not repeat the mistakes of previous administrations and will “continue a campaign of maximum pressure until North Korea denuclearizes.”“Hopefully that meeting will be a great success and we're looking forward to it. It will be a tremendous thing for North Korea and a tremendous thing for the world. We will be doing everything possible to make it a worldwide success,” Trump said.Conversations between Trump and Abe have focused on trade and working towards denuclearizing North Korea. On Wednesday morning, Trump confirmed in a tweet that his nominee for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, took a secret trip to North Korea over Easter weekend to meet with Kim and begin laying the groundwork for the upcoming summit.“I think Mike Pompeo will go down as one of the great secretaries of state. And, by the way, he just left North Korea. Had a great meeting with Kim Jong Un, and got along with him really well, really great,” Trump said to reporters during a working lunch with Abe and advisers.Trump began the Wednesday evening press conference by offering his condolences to the Bush family. First Lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at her home in Houston, Texas.“Melania and I send our prayers to Barbara’s husband of 73 years – I’ll never beat that record,” Trump said.Trump and Abe –both golf enthusiasts--played a round at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach Wednesday afternoon.“Prime Minister @AbeShinzo of Japan and myself this morning building an even deeper and better relationship while playing a quick round of golf at Trump International Golf Club,” tweeted Trump.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- President Donald Trump didn't directly answer on Wednesday when asked whether he's determined it's not worth the political fallout to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein but he noted that both men are still in their jobs."They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last four, five months, but they’re still here," Trump said in response to a reporter's question on the topic during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday.Trump has publicly voiced his frustrations with Mueller and Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's investigation, which Trump has repeatedly described as a "witch hunt." Trump has previously said that many people have advised him that he should fire Mueller."I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens," Trump said last week when asked about whether he would consider firing Mueller. "But I think it's really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, 'You should fire him.'"The president Wednesday again denied broadly that there was any collusion between his campaign and the Russians, which is one of the questions that Mueller's team is investigating."There's no collusion," Trump said, going on to dismiss the notion as a Democrat-created hoax."This was a really a hoax created largely by the Democrats as a way of softening the blow of a loss which is a loss that frankly, they shouldn't have had from the standpoint that it's very easy for them," Trump said. "They have a tremendous advantage in the electoral college in is what it is and this is where it came from."Even as he sought to discredit the basis for an investigation, the president made a point to insist that his cooperation has been complete and comprehensive."As far as the investigation, nobody has ever been as transparent as I have. I have instructed our lawyers: Be totally transparent," Trump said. "We have given them 1.4 million pages of documents, and haven’t used – as I know of for the most part – presidential powers or privilege.The president also expressed his hope that "we’re coming to the end" of the investigation. "We want to get the investigation over with, done with. Put it behind us," Trump said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic co-sponsor of White House-backed prison reform legislation is threatening to walk away from the effort after legislative attempts to attach a concealed carry expansion to the bill, multiple sources familiar with the draft legislation tell ABC News.“We will walk away [and] have no problem doing so," a source close to House Judiciary Democrats' strategy said. "We're saying put up or shut up. Prove you're serious."The Prison Reform and Redemption Act, which Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries' is co-sponsoring along with Republican Rep. Doug Collins, has the support of the White House in an effort that has been led by the president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.But an apparent attempt to tack on an expansion of concealed carry to the bill now has Jeffries reconsidering his position. The draft language is not public and ABC News has not reviewed updates to the bill.“They’re full of it," a person close to Jeffries said in reference to House Republicans. "We will only support a bill that ensures that currently incarcerated individuals are job ready upon release and respect and protects the dignity of women. This bill fails to meet that standard and is loaded with poison pills. In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting when a country is moving toward gun safety, they try to expand concealed carry, which is a nonstarter.""This bill fails to meet that standard and is loaded with poison pills. In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting when a country is moving toward gun safety, they try to expand concealed carry, which is a nonstarter," the source said.Kushner was on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning for a meeting on the legislation and had expected to meet with Jeffries along with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Collins, among members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, according to a list of expected participants provided by the White House.Jeffries, however, did not attend the meeting. His office declined to comment on his absence.But a White House official said that Kushner and Jeffries now plan to have a call on Thursday to go over the language of the legislation. The official also would not elaborate on Jeffries' absence from the meeting earlier in the day.The White House also did not elaborate on the addition of the concealed carry element to the legislation and did not take a position on the change.Mark Holden, who leads a Koch brothers-backed prison reform group and has worked in close partnership with Kushner's team on the issue, says he hasn't heard from anyone who favors the change either at the White House or among conservative groups collaborating on the issue."We’ve been talking for months about a clean prison reform, this is not a clean reform bill," Holden said.Democratic prison reform advocate Van Jones was at the meeting with Kushner this morning. While his group #Cut50 remains engaged in the process, Jones has described the concealed carry addition to the legislation as being "bird poop in the cool aid" and of serious concern."We believe strongly that we should be at the table helping negotiate, but there are some things need to be changed," #cut 50 co-founder Jessica Jackson Sloan said.Jeffries continues to view Kushner, as well as his Republican co-sponsor Rep. Collins, as serious partners in the legislative effort to address prison reform, a person familiar with the effort said and added that the reason for the current impasse appears to be other Congressional Republicans who have since gotten involved in the effort.Rep. Jeffries' office declined to comment for this story. Rep. Collins office did not respond to a request for comment.The Collins-Jeffries bill had been on track to be considered at the committee level in the House this month.
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  • Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The United States Senate — a body steeped in tradition that rarely changes its ways — is expected to soon pass a rule change proposed by Sen. Tammy Duckworth that would allow her to breastfeed her newborn daughter on the Senate floor.Last week, Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, became the first sitting senator to give birth while in office — and with that, she’s experiencing for the first time in history how a new mother might try to balance the needs of a newborn with her duties in the Senate.If she needed to cast a vote on the Senate floor, where no children are allowed, how she would work in time to breastfeed her newborn?Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, is the ranking member on the Senate Rules Committee, which passed the rule change Tuesday night.“The Senate doesn’t change a lot of things but I think it's time to join the real world with family-friendly policies,” Klobuchar said in an interview with ABC News. “We have to be an example for the rest of the country and that's why we’re doing this, in addition to — we’d like more women in the Senate,” she said.“Tammy is the ultimate working mom. She served our country in the military, she lost her legs, she had a baby at age 50 — it’s kind of hard to say no to her,” Klobuchar said of Duckworth, who lost her legs in 2004 when the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting in Iraq was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.If the rule change passes, Duckworth would be able to remain on the Senate floor if she needs to breastfeed her baby during a series of votes, which can take hours, or bring her daughter if she’s called in for a late-night, last-minute vote, an aide to Duckworth said.And, Klobuchar joked, the Rules committee has made a “unilateral decision” that there will be no dress code for the baby. “The various rules that apply to senators like not wearing tennis shoes or flip-flops will not apply to the baby,” Klobuchar said. The baby will also not have to wear an official United States Senate lapel pin, and onesies will be allowed, she said.Duckworth began negotiating the resolution over the course of her pregnancy with senators on both sides of the aisle. Her office was cautiously optimistic, bolstered by bipartisan support from the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican and Klobuchar, a Duckworth aide said.The resolution is now on a fast track and may pass by unanimous consent as early as Wednesday evening, Senate aides said.The new legislation would “ensure no senator with an infant is prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities — and send a message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies,” said Duckworth's chief of staff Kaitlin Fahey in a statement.A few months ago, Duckworth predicted that her pregnancy would force some family-friendly policy changes in the Senate.“Number one, it's going to change some Senate rules because I’m going to make sure it changes some Senate rules. The more women we get into office the more family-friendly legislation we’re going to have,” Duckworth said in February in an interview with Politico.While Duckworth welcomed her second daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, on April 9, she isn’t technically taking maternity leave, which would bar her from sponsoring legislation or voting for as long as she was out.Instead, Duckworth will stay in Washington on an unofficial leave rather than heading home to Illinois. “She’s taking much of the next 12 weeks to bond with her new daughter and with family but she is available to come in for close votes as needed,” Duckworth’s press secretary Sean Savett said.The current resolution doesn’t tackle parental leave for senators, which doesn’t exist because of the complexities of
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