• iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Rep. Dave Trott are part of a string of moderate Republicans retiring this year.And while LoBiondo’s New Jersey coastal district and Trott’s Northwest Detroit district may appear to have little in common other than they were both carried by Donald Trump in 2016, the race to replace them demonstrate the primary problems Republicans face in seats held by retiring GOP lawmakers, a factor that could boost Democratic hopes of retaking control of the House of Representatives.In LoBiondo’s South New Jersey district, finding a quality GOP candidate has proven a challenge. And while there’s still time before the April 2 filing deadline, Democrats have State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a well-known, powerful local politician, whose entry into the race caused several political watchers to declare the contest a toss-up.There’s a different problem in Trott’s Michigan district – too many Republicans want an opportunity to replace him in Congress, leading to splintering concerns: primaries so crowded with candidates that a more conservative one or a controversial name could be crowned the winner, possibly leading to a seat loss or governing problems for the GOP next year.The Republican problem is not new. For the past decade the party has seen districts held by long-time lawmakers with no heirs apparent or faced messy, crowded primary fields in these contests.“One thing that is just generally true about midterm elections is that open seats can be hard to hold, particularly if the political winds are blowing in the other party’s direction,” said Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.Democrats have faced the problem too. In 1993 and 1994, 20 Democratic lawmakers retired leading up to the Republican revolution that resulted in their control of the House.There are 21 House seats this cycle where GOP lawmakers are simply hanging up their hats and calling it a day. And it’s fueling Democratic dreams of picking up the 24 seats they need to retake the House in November.There are GOP success stories in these districts, of course. In Washington’s competitive 8th Congressional District, Republican candidate Dino Rossi is seen as a strong contender to hold the seat and is leading his closest Democratic competition in fundraising.“The cream always rises to the top and we are poised to have strong candidates in House races who can articulate our powerful economic message in contrast with a Democratic Party that thinks thousands of dollars in individual employee bonuses and millions of dollars of new investments is ‘crumbs,’” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Jesse Hunt.But there are other districts like LoBiondo’s, where a moderate Republican is retiring and there’s no strong heir apparent. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida is one of them.Candidates Crowd the PrimariesAcross the country in California, moderate Republican Ed Royce is not seeking reelection and there’s a large field of contenders to replace him. And that the same problem can be seen further south in retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s district.Issa’s seat in particular would be a prize catch for Dems. In an interesting twist, there are two Republican contenders with different backers: state assemblyman Rocky Chavez was endorsed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former state assemblywoman Diane Harkey is supported by Issa.Democrats have the same problem in the district, however, with a big field of candidates dominated by two prominent names: Doug Applegate, a retired Marine who came within one point of defeating Issa in 2016 and Sara Jacobs, a former Hillary Clinton staffer who’s the granddaughter of Irwin Jacobs, a Qualcomm founder. She’s backed by EMILY’s List and has loaned her campaign a million dollar
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  • George Frey/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ahead of Mitt Romney’s expected announcement Thursday that he's launching a campaign for the U.S. Senate from Utah, a longtime adviser to the former GOP presidential candidate says he'll model his re-entry into national politics after former President John Quincy Adams.“Mitt will be a John Quincy Adams-esque Senator, if you will,” Ron Kaufman, a senior adviser to Romney told ABC News’ Mary Bruce and Rick Klein on the “Powerhouse Politics Podcast” Wednesday.“Adams had three public roles: He was a great Secretary of State, great one-term president, but he was even a better member of Congress when he became senator in a very contentious Congress in those days - and was a consensus builder and was praised for it,” Kaufman added.John Quincy Adams was the son of former President John Adams and served as president from 1825-1829 before serving in the U.S. House from 1831-1848 representing Massachusetts.Kaufman also said Romney, like Adams, will work to be a consensus builder in Washington, building on his years as the Republican governor of Massachusetts, when he worked with a state legislature controlled by Democrats.“He brings a special quality to Utah in the Senate that will kind of bring a center. I don’t mean an ideological center – kind of the way he was governor of Massachusetts where you had 140 representatives and only 20 were Republicans,” Kaufman said, “He was able to bridge the gap between the House and the Senate, and Republicans and Democrats, and be the centrist.”When asked about Romney’s frosty relationship with President Donald Trump, a man he called a “phony” and a “fraud” during the 2016 presidential campaign, Kaufman said speaking out during a campaign is very different from attempting to work together to govern.“I think these men and women that get elected as a senator, representative or president know what is spoken in the blood sport of a campaign is different than what is spoken in the halls of Congress or the White House,” Kaufman said.Trump has called Romney a “fool” a “mixed-up man who doesn’t have a clue” and “one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics."Kaufman also cautioned against characterizing Romney’s run as solely about speaking out against President Trump.“He’s running to be the senator from Utah not the senator of the country. He’ll do the right thing,” Kaufman said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- The chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle has been charged with stealing the identities of multiple immigrants over a four-year span, according to charging documents obtained by ABC News on Wednesday.Raphael A. Sanchez is accused of devising a scheme to defraud major banks by using the identities of seven people who were “in various stages of immigration proceedings" with ICE between 2013 and 2017, according to the documents, which were filed in federal court on Monday.Prosecutors alleged that he "devised and intended to devise a scheme" to defraud the several financial institutions, including American Express, Bank of America and Capital One, in an effort to obtain money and property under "false and fraudulent pretenses," the documents said.Sanchez, who resigned from his post at the agency effective Monday, faces charges of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.His lawyer, Cassandra Stamm, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment early Wednesday. She did, however, tell CNN that she planned to withhold comment on the matter until after Sanchez appeared in court.Sanchez is scheduled to make his first court appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday.This case is under an investigation conducted by ICE's internal affairs office, according to the immigration agency. ICE could not comment further and referred additional questions to the Department of Justice, as the matter is now pending judicial proceedings.
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  • Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A GOP lawmaker’s divorce from a powerful lobbyist has captivated Capitol Hill, prompting another Republican member to deny allegations that he is romantically linked to his colleague’s estranged wife.In an interview Tuesday evening, Rep. Darrell Issa confirmed he received a letter from Rep. Mike Turner last week seeking a deposition in Turner’s divorce from Majida Mourad.“He’s looking to do discovery for something I don’t know or understand, and I think a little bit of it’s been blown out of proportion,” Issa, R-California, said. “I’m not a fact witness, to my extent. The letters talk about his claim that he was swindled into a fraudulent marriage by a woman he wants to be paid about $1.5 million for divorcing. I don’t know more than that, and it’s not my marriage or divorce, so I don’t need to.”Records show Turner is seeking a $1.5 million divorce settlement.Multiple sources say Turner also wants Issa to answer questions about his friendship with Mourad before the marriage, during the marriage and after Turner filed divorce.At the invitation of Turner, Issa says he served as an usher in the 2015 wedding to Mourad. The marriage lasted less than two years.“There were a lot of us there for a beautiful wedding in Dayton and whatever went wrong, went wrong,” Issa said.Last May, Turner, an Ohio Republican who once served on the House Oversight Committee when Issa was chairman, filed for divorce from Mourad, a former congressional aide-turned energy lobbyist who is currently the vice president of government relations at Tellurian Inc.Under Ohio court’s common pleas granting divorces, Turner identified “fraudulent contract” as justification for the divorce filing, multiple sources confirm. Turner did not file under “adultery,” which Ohio also lists as a common plea – a point Issa stressed twice during a four-minute interview.“I made an outright, straight, clean, no ifs-ands-or-buts denial,” Issa said. “As far as I know she’s been completely faithful to her husband and you know, certainly I would have nothing to do with anything there. She’s made the same denial, and now I understand that he’s not claiming that. In Ohio, you can claim infidelity. He didn’t.”Turner’s spokeswoman Morgan Rako declined to comment for this story. Turner’s lawyers, Wayne Waite and Jennifer Brumby, also did not respond to messages seeking comment.Issa says he has been friends with Mourad for more than 20 years, even before he took office in 2001, when they met through her capacity as an aide to the late Rep. Sonny Bono.“I was a big supporter of Sonny’s,” Issa recounted. “[Mourad] and I are both Lebanese-Americans and I know her mother, I know her father, and you know, she’s been in this town for a long time.”Issa says he intends to cooperate with Turner’s request on one condition: “If they’ll give the nature of what they would like to ask, I’ll give them an honest answer,” he said.Sanford K. Ain, one of Mourad’s attorneys, confirmed that Mourad also received a copy of Turner’s letter to Issa, though he also declined to provide a copy.“Ms. Mourad is saddened that her short marriage of just over a year did not work out and she hopes to resolve it quickly in a dignified fashion. The parties are engaged in litigation currently in Montgomery County, Ohio and it will be handled and resolved in the courts. Ms. Mourad will not comment on details of the litigation and would prefer it be kept private,” Ain wrote in a statement. “Because it has been raised, Ms. Mourad was never unfaithful to Congressman Turner during the marriage, before or after Congressman Turner filed for divorce. Any allegation of her being unfaithful to Congressman Turner
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  • NSA via Getty Images(FORT MEAD, MD.) -- Shots were fired Wednesday morning as an unauthorized vehicle tried to enter the secure campus of the National Security Agency's headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. authorities said.The incident happened shortly after 7 a.m. ET and "weapons were discharged in the course of the incident, which remained under investigation at this time," NSA spokesman Tommy Groves said in a statement."The situation is under control and there is no ongoing security or safety threat," Groves added. "The FBI is presently leading the investigation."Three men, including the driver, were inside the unauthorized vehicle at the time of the incident, and investigators believe the car was a rental, according to Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore field Office. The FBI is investigating why shots were fired, Johnson said, but preliminary information indicates the gunfire was directed at the vehicle."That’s part of the investigation, to determine exactly what happened here," Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "This vehicle did come onto the NSA compound unauthorized and NSA has a series of protocols that they respond to these types of events, so that is part of our investigation and one of the questions we’re trying to answer."NSA police took three people into custody, Groves said, adding that the incident is not terrorism-related.The driver of the car, an NSA police officer and a civilian onlooker were injured during the incident and transported to a local hospital, according to Johnson. While he didn't know the status of the wounded driver, Johnson said the injuries sustained by the officer and the civilian were described as not life-threatening.Groves, the NSA spokesman, said earlier that preliminary reports indicate the injuries were not from gunfire.Sources told ABC News the injuries were vehicle-related.An earlier statement from the NSA said the incident took place "at one of NSA’s secure vehicle entry gates."FBI agents responded to the scene, working in collaboration with NSA police, sources told ABC News.The investigation is ongoing.ABC News' Becky Perlow and Morgan Winsor contribute
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  • Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Mike Pence thinks the White House could have done a better job of handling the Rob Porter domestic abuse scandal but stands by White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly."Well, this administration has no tolerance for domestic violence, nor should any American. As I said, and as the White House has said, I think the White House could have handled this better. I still feel that way," Pence said."That being said, any more counsel I have on this, I'll share with the president of the United States."Pence's comment came as it emerged that Porter was up for promotion to be Kelly's deputy chief of staff - one of the top jobs in the West Wing - before he resigned, two White House officials familiar with the matter confirm to ABC News.The allegations against Porter by his ex-wives have sparked a firestorm and raised questions about when White House officials knew about them. Testimony from the FBI director appeared to contradict the White House account of when Porter's background check was completed. Porter has denied the accusations.Pence was interviewed by Axios' Mike Allen Wednesday in Washington and was asked specifically about Kelly's handling of the scandal. When the allegations first surfaced in an article in the Daily Mail, Kelly called Porter a “a man of true integrity and honor," but did not make mention of the victims.Pence wouldn't directly answer the question but praised Kelly's service."There are very few Americans or American families that have served this nation more honorably or have sacrificed more for this country than the family of General John Kelly," said Pence. "His distinguished service as Chief of Staff gives me and the president great confidence in this man."John Kelly has done a remarkable job as chief of staff for the president and I look forward to continuing to work with him for many, many months to come."
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