Jeffrey Cook/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Two weeks after his hometown of El Paso was the site of a mass shooting, 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke made an unannounced visit to a gun show in central Arkansas to speak with gun buyers and sellers about what can be done to stop gun violence in America.
O'Rourke, who was in between campaign events in Arkansas on Saturday, paid $10 to enter the event, and walked through aisles lined with handguns, AR-15s, stun-guns, hunting rifles, scopes, magazines and knives before striking up a conversation with Preston Linck, who was selling handguns and rifles.
Linck, who later said he doesn't identify with either political party, supports closing the so-called gun-show loophole and requiring background checks for all gun sales.
"I have tables here, but there's no background check," Linck told O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman.
O'Rourke asked him whether Linck would accept a requirement that gun-show sellers like him get a federal firearms license, and Linck responded he would. "Just the only little problem I see, there's so many guns out there, even if you tried to stop selling, they're already out there," Linck told O'Rourke.
But he was skeptical of a proposal O'Rourke made a few days ago -- a mandatory assault weapons buy-back because he doesn't think people would willingly participate.
Larry Beaver, another attendee at the show and a self-described Republican Trump supporter, said he owns many firearms, including assault rifles.
"If you want votes, you're not going to get them by talking about taking this away from people," Beaver told O'Rourke. "People are going to find a way to kill people."
O'Rourke said he is not anti-gun, that he learned to handle a firearm growing up from a sheriff's deputy and has handled an assault weapon. But he wants weapons of war out of the hands of the public and to find ways to prevent rampages like the one in El Paso on Aug. 3, when a man opened fire at the El Paso Walmart killing 22 people and wounding two dozen more.
The El Paso shooting, along with another mass shooting that same night in Dayton, Ohio, that left 10 people dead, and a third incident this week in Philadelphia, where a gunman fired a barrage of bullets at a crew of police officers, injuring six of them, has led to a renewed call to both limit the number and variety of firearms in the country, and increase safeguards that could help keep guns out of the hands of would-be criminals.
The shootings have also meant that the issue of gun violence has taken center stage in the race for president. Candidates have called on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring senators back from their August recess to vote on a background check bill that the Democrat-controlled House passed earlier this year. At least six candidates have also added to mounting pressure on Walmart, one of the nation's biggest gun sellers, to take guns off its shelves until a series of safeguards, including a ban on assault weapons, has been put in place.
O'Rourke, who rushed back to his family in El Paso after the attack, has since vowed to reboot his floundering presidential campaign and seek out tough conversations with voters across the country about immigration, gun violence and racial divisions.
"Those places where Donald Trump has been terrorizing and terrifying and demeaning our fellow Americans, that's why you will find me in this campaign," he told a group of supporters on Thursday in El Paso. He then headed to an area outside Jackson, Mississippi, where federal agents last week rounded up about 680 people accused of violating immigration laws.
Their political differences aside, Beaver said he told O'Rourke, "I respect you for talking to me."
"I saw him walk by and said 'wow what's he doing here?" Beaver said as he recounted their conversation.
He even said he might be willing to support O'Rourke's assault weapons buy-back plan -- so long as he got a fair rate and "the rest of America takes a part in it" too.
For his part, O'Rourke told ABC News, he felt he "learned something by listening to him."
"We're not going to get this done until we include everyone in this conversation," O'Rourke said. "You're never allowed to write anybody off because they're a Republican, because they're a gun seller, because they're at a gun show."
VallarieE/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rolled back a prior nationwide injunction that blocked the Trump administration's attempt to deny most asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.
With that decision, the asylum restrictions can now take effect in border states outside of the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction, which includes California and Arizona.
Reversing the move everywhere outside the 9th Circuit means those who cross the border into California or Arizona will be able to seek asylum, while those entering into New Mexico and Texas will be barred unless they're from Mexico, according to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a former immigration lawyer and policy analyst at the American Immigration Council.
"If this situation continues, smugglers may encourage more people to cross in California or Arizona instead of New Mexico or Texas," Reichlin-Melnic told ABC News. "This could have very dangerous consequences, as Arizona has long been one of the deadliest places to cross the border and temperatures are extreme right now."
Lawyers representing the immigrant advocacy groups that brought the suit could ask the 9th Circuit to overrule the decision or return to the lower court for more clarity in the decision, Reichlin-Melnic said.
The court did not make a decision about whether Trump's new policy was legal or constitutional, but said the district court did not prove why it was necessary to block the policy across the entire country.
The Trump administration's restrictions seek to deny asylum claims and immediately deport people who had passed through a third country en route to the U.S., unless that person had already sought asylum in that other country. The purpose of the plan was to force the vast majority of asylum seekers arriving from Central America to apply for asylum in Mexico without crossing into the United States.
Another court challenge on the same issue continues in Washington, D.C., where a different judge could separately deny or approve the Trump policy.
Johnrob/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration on Friday proposed a new rule that would make it harder for Americans to file complaints of unintentional housing discrimination by local officials or housing developers, a move officials said was necessary to protect businesses from unnecessary legal exposure.
Anti-poverty advocates countered that the draft rule would worsen an already existing “racial wealth gap” in America at a time when African American homeownership remains low.
“The Trump administration designed these changes to make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for communities of color to challenge discriminatory effects in housing," Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement.
Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Department, said the administration is still committed to combating blatant housing discrimination and increasing affordable housing options for Americans. The rule was needed to clarify legal liability in cases where there are allegations that policies have led to housing segregation, he said.
“At the end of the day, this rule not only increases Americans’ access to fair and affordable housing, but also permits businesses and local governments to make valid policy choices," he said.
At issue is how the government enforces the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in the rental and sale of homes. Civil rights groups and anti-poverty advocates have long argued that even with the law, cities and states can perpetuate housing segregation through zoning laws or tax credits, even if unintentionally.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that this kind of “disparate impact” still matters, even if housing developers weren’t intentionally trying to discriminate. The case considered allegations by a Texas-based nonprofit that alleged the state enabled segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits in low-income areas dominated by African Americans and did not supply enough tax credits in wealthier white suburban neighborhoods.
“The Court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act's continuing role in moving the Nation toward a more integrated society,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. Kennedy has since retired.
Under the previous rule, if discrimination is alleged, the state or city had to show that its actions were necessary, not intentionally discriminatory and that there were no other options.
Under the new rule, much of the burden of proof is shifted to the person or group claiming discrimination.
"In a nutshell, the rule relies upon three important words that the court itself used in its ruling and that is, whether the complaint upon practice is arbitrary, artificial, and unnecessary," HUD General Counsel Paul Compton told reporters in a phone call Friday.
Compton said the proposal actually brings government policy closer in line with the 2015 court ruling and uses much of the same language.
But housing advocates argued Friday that the change dismantles a tool used by people of color, families, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community to combat the segregation they face.
Jesse Van Tol, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition a group that works to bring investment to underserved communities, said the rule would create an overly broad exemption to discriminatory practices.
“HUD’s proposal makes it far more difficult for those injured by stealth discriminatory policies to prove discrimination. The bar was already set high and HUD‘s proposal would put it in the stratosphere – it really strains credulity," Van Tol said in a statement.
The rule will be published Monday and will be open for 60 days of public comment.
MicroStockHub/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., will not travel to Israel after all, she announced Friday on Twitter and in a statement, rejecting an earlier approval by the government that would have allowed to come on a "humanitarian visit."
The Michigan congresswoman cited "oppressive & racist policies" for not going to Israeli-occupied West Bank -- and not seeing her grandmother.
"The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter – reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal about what is happening in the State of Israel and to Palestinians living under occupation with United States support," she said in a statement.
"I have therefore decided to not travel to Palestine and Israel at this time. Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart," Tlaib's statement continued.
"Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in--fighting against racism, oppression & injustice," she added on Twitter.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri responded on Twitter, "Just yesterday [Tlaib] sent me a letter, asking to visit her 90 year old grandmother saying, 'it might be my last chance to meet her.'"
He continued in a second tweet, "I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request, aimed at bashing the State of Israel. Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother."
Israel had told Tlaib, as well as fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on Thursday they would not be allowed to visit the country due to their outspoken support for the "boycott, sanctions and divestment" movement.
Both women are Muslim and vocal supporters of the Palestinians. Israeli officials said they would only be able to visit if willing to pledge they would do so as "humanitarians" and not speak out against Israel.
Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, sent a letter to government officials late Thursday, which was approved Friday, the Israeli Interior Ministry said in a statement.
"Interior Minister Aryeh Deri decided on Friday to approve the entry of US Congresswoman Rashida Talib on a humanitarian visit of her 90-year-old grandmother," the statement reads. "Congresswoman Talib sent a letter to Minister Deri tonight pledging to accept Israel's demands, respecting the restrictions imposed on her during the visit, and promising not to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit. In light of this, and in accordance with his commitment yesterday, Minister Deri decided to allow her entry into Israel and expressed hope that her commitment and visit would indeed be for humanitarian purposes only."
Omar is still banned from visiting.
Omar pushed back on criticism of her and Tlaib's intentions with a long thread on Twitter in which she detailed "what we would have seen," including a list from their apparent itinerary and a list of resources and articles.
"Denying visits to duly elected Members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy. We should be leveraging that aid [money to Israel] to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians," she concluded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter Thursday that Israel is "open to any critic and criticism, with one exception: Israel's law prohibits the entry of people who call and operate to boycott Israel."
President Donald Trump voiced his support for Netanyahu and the ban both in an interview prior to traveling to New Hampshire for a Thursday night rally, and on social media.
"Well, I'm only involved from the standpoint of they are very anti-Jewish and they're very anti-Israel," Trump said before departing New Jersey for New Hampshire. "I think it's disgraceful, the things they said. ... What they've said about Israel and Jewish people is a horrible thing, and they've become the face of the Democrats Party."
"I can't imagine why Israel would let them in," he added.
While he made no mention of Tlaib at the rally, he did briefly criticize Omar.
Tlaib and Omar are both freshmen representatives and the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Grouped with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., the four has been called the "Squad."
Ironically, the four women became the targets of Trump's racist Twitter attacks last month when he urged them to "go back" to the countries where they came from, although only Omar was born outside the United States.
Tlaib's mother was born in the West Bank city of Ramallah, while her father was born in East Jerusalem. Her parents eventually immigrated to Detroit, where she was born.
Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(BERKELEY HEIGHTS, New Jersey) -- President Donald Trump phoned up a supporter whose weight he mocked at a rally, a White House official said, after the president mistook the attendee for a protester.
"That guy's got a serious weight problem," Trump said during a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday night, as a protester was removed from the arena. "Go home. Start exercising. Get him out of here please. Got a bigger problem than I do. Got a bigger problem than all of us."
But the person about whose weight Trump joked about turned out to be a supporter not a protester.
The president called the supporter about the moment and left a voicemail during his Thursday night flight on Air Force One back to New Jersey, where he is spending the week at his golf club, the official said.
The supporter told ABC News that the president did, in fact, call him and leave a voicemail. He said Trump thanked him for his support and for coming to the rally.
Asked if the president apologized, the supporter replied, "No, why would he apologize?"
The White House official was unaware if the supporter had been invited to the White House or to another rally, referring questions about a possible rally invite to the campaign.
US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly addressed the most well-known cloud over her campaign -- the senator's controversial claims of Native American heritage and subsequent DNA test -- in two ways: with an apology and a determination to move forward as a partner to tribes.
On Friday, Warren’s campaign put forth a lengthy and exhaustive policy plan aimed at addressing injustices in the Native American community that attempts to do the latter.
"As I said when I spoke to the National Congress of American Indians in 2018, Washington owes Native communities respect – and much more. Washington owes Native communities a fighting chance to build stronger communities and a brighter future," Warren wrote.
Warren left out any mention of the stories of family lore which she repeatedly says led her to identify as Native American over the years. The claims fueled one of President Donald Trump's most oft-repeated insults on the trail, where he frequently refers to the senator as "Pocahontas."
He has used the nickname, which Warren and others have called a racial slur, 18 times on Twitter since 2016, and countless times at rallies, including Thursday night in New Hampshire.
As she said in the 2018 speech she referenced in her policy plan, Warren grew up hearing that her mother’s family was part Native American. The DNA test she took earlier this year, which was poorly received by tribes and which she later apologized to the Cherokee Nation for, showed ancestry "likely in the range of 6-10 generations ago" but does not, as Warren has noted, give her any claim to tribal citizenship.
The plan rolled out Friday both charts a way forward for Native American communities and gives Warren a platform to demonstrate her understanding of issues that she’s been criticized for disrespecting by claiming Native American ancestry. Warren apologized to the Cherokee Nation in February for her decision to take a DNA test to prove her family history.
"We must ensure that America’s sacred trust and treaty obligations are the law of the land - binding legal and moral principles that are not merely slogans, but instead reinforce the solemn nation-to- nation relationships with Tribal Nations," Warren wrote. As in each of her plans so far, the senator from Massachusetts invoked her trademark message: "Accomplishing this will require structural change."
The plan calls for a Cabinet-level position for Native American affairs; an influx of money toward housing, education, health care and infrastructure on tribal lands; a restoration of lands to indigenous communities; and for more attention to be given to the high rates of murdered and missing Native American women.
"The story of America’s mistreatment of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians is a long and painful one, rooted in centuries of discrimination, neglect, greed, and violence. Tribal Nations robbed of more than a billion acres of land. Resources seized and sacred sites desecrated. Native languages and religions suppressed. Children literally stolen from communities in an effort to eradicate entire cultures," Warren wrote. "Native history is American history -- and we must be honest about our government’s responsibility in perpetuating these injustices for centuries."
Warren wrote in the plan that she doesn't expect roughly 19 pages of policy to fix everything.
"This legislation will not address every major policy issue of concern to Tribal Nations and indigenous communities. But it will represent an urgently needed and long-overdue step toward ensuring that the United States finally, and for the first time, fully meets its resource obligations to Indian Country," she wrote.
Among the key points addressed in the plan, Warren calls for criminal justice reform on tribal lands. She cited current law that prohibits tribes from prosecuting non-natives when the crime is committed on sovereign land.
"Consider just one example. In 2003, a 19-year-old Native woman reported a rape by an Army recruiter. Because the recruiter was not a citizen of a tribe, tribal authorities could not prosecute him," Warren wrote in the plan. "There are countless heartbreaking stories like these. 96% of Native female sexual assault victims have experienced violence at the hands of a non-Native person."
In addressing this issue -- and specifically the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women -- Warren proposed a Department of Justice task force "to investigate the epidemic of sexual assaults and murders committed against Native women and prosecute offenders." She would also create a system similar to Amber Alerts, which send widespread messages when children go missing, specifically for Native American women, according to the plan.
"America faces an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. This crisis affects Native women and girls everywhere -- on reservations, in cities, and in rural communities," Warren wrote, citing statistics from the National Crime Information Center that 5,712 indigenous women and girls were reported missing in 2016 and that 84% of indigenous women have experienced violence in their lifetime.
"This is a moral failing and a stain on our country," Warren wrote.
Warren also proposed marijuana legalization on tribal lands, which she cited as part of building up financial infrastructure.
The senator acknowledged that not every tribe is interested in "the economic opportunities associated with changing laws around marijuana," but said "a number of Tribal Nations view cannabis as an important opportunity for economic development."
On the issues of physical infrastructure investments, Warren calls for tripled funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy and significant "set-asides" for improving water tribal drinking water.
Over 25% of rural Native Americans have "experienced electricity problems at their residences," Warren’s policy plan noted, while nearly 40% of homes in the Navajo Nation "do not have access to running water."
The policy is paired with legislation Warren is introducing in Congress alongside Democratic New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women to be elected to Congress and a Warren ally. The legislation, called the Honoring Promises to Native Nations Act, will not head to the floor until after a "public consultation period" where tribal governments, citizens, experts and the entire public can offer "input and suggestions," Warren wrote in the policy plan.
Warren’s policy to address issues in the Native American community comes ahead of her appearance at a Native American presidential forum in Sioux City, Iowa, on Monday. She’ll speak alongside a handful of other presidential candidates, though her appearance there is especially noteworthy and will mark the first time in the presidential campaign that Warren will address the issue before a Native American audience.
Kiyoshi Tanno/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Career State Department employees in one of the agency's critical bureaus faced harassment, mistreatment and retaliation by its top Trump appointees, according to a new inspector general report.
The report on the Bureau of International Organization Affairs centers around two senior officials, Mari Stull, a food and beverage lobbyist turned wine blogger under the name "Vino Vixen," and the bureau's head, Assistant Secretary of State Kevin Moley.
According to the report, Stull harassed career employees who she thought were "disloyal" to President Donald Trump and, together with Moley, they removed some from their responsibilities and even one senior official from her post. Approximately 50, including senior officials, left on their own because of their management style.
In addition to the retaliation, the IG report found that Moley and Stull treated employees in a "harsh and aggressive manner," engaged in "disrespectful and hostile treatment," and created a "negative and 'vindictive' environment." Stull and Moley "frequently berated employees, raised their voices, and generally engaged in unprofessional behavior toward staff."
The report, rich in detail, is based on the 40-plus interviews that the IG office conducted. Stull initially asked the IG to investigate her own claims of fraud, waste and abuse in the office, but later declined to be interviewed. She left the State Department in January 2019, so she no longer has to comply or faces any penalty.
Moley is still serving as assistant secretary and denied several of the accusations, telling the IG office, "The behavior attributed to me regarding raising my voice, berating employees and contributing to a hostile work environment does not represent the person I am or have ever been."
The State Department told the IG that he has received counseling from department leadership "on appropriate leadership and management of the bureau. Further discipline will be considered."
It also accepted other recommendations, including developing a "corrective action plan to address the leadership and management deficiencies" within 60 days.
The International Organization Affairs, or IO, bureau is a lesser known one within the State Department, but its critical function is to be the primary interlocutor with the United Nations and other important international bodies, covering human rights, nuclear issues, climate change, global health and more.
One of the more salacious details that has been reported in the news -- that Stull kept a loyalty list -- was not confirmed by the IG, but it seems in principle she kept one. Employees say in the report that she called them or others in the office "traitors," "Obama holdovers" or "disloyal."
While working at a different agency, Stull sought an IO employee's help with a personal matter. On the advice of the State Department's legal team, he declined. But once at IO, Stull harassed both the employee and his manager for not helping, according to the report. That included bad-mouthing them to senior leaders, assigning a junior employee to "monitor" their phone calls, attempting to take away job responsibilities and barring the employee from traveling to important events like the U.N. General Assembly.
Another employee said working with Stull meant "six to eight hostile interactions per day," per the report. In one instance, she called an employee's report on other nations' U.N. contributions "garbage" and threw it at another employee. In another, she and Moley berated a junior employee until she cried.
When the bureau's principle deputy assistant secretary, a career Foreign Service officer, raised concerns with Moley about Stull and his management, she was eventually removed by Moley -- which the IG report says was a retaliatory move that broke department policy.
Beyond this senior official, Moley dismissed concerns from other employees about Stull and his management, according to the report; Moley said no one ever raised any issues with him. Even when senior officials above Moley's rank raised concerns with him, he "did not undertake any meaningful efforts to address these concerns." In fact, some of the actions described in the report happened after an intervention in June 2018.
When concerns were raised with Stull, she said she was the real victim and told at least one employee that "raising such concerns was pointless because the Trump administration 'has my back.'"
There is a second IG report on similar personnel issues that has yet to be released. That one deals with senior members of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's staff who allegedly retaliated against employees in the secretary's office, including one for being of Iranian descent. One of those staffers, Brian Hook, remains a top adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
adamkaz/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump kicked off his campaign rally in New Hampshire by defending his administration's escalating trade war with China and taking familiar jabs as his potential 2020 Democratic opponents.
The president ran down a list of candidates including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and former Vice President Joe Biden, who he seemed to save most of his venom for.
“What about a sleepy Joe Biden rally? Right? Boy, he’s made some beauties,” the president said. "I sort of hope it’s him.”
“I don't mind any of them. You got Pocahontas is rising. You got Kamala, Kamala is falling. You got Beto. Beto is like, gone,” Trump added.
The president, who delayed additional tariffs on certain Chinese goods this week stated China was “eating the tariffs” and pushed claims that "prices haven’t gone up." But economists insist the China trade war has hit both sides as the tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports are passed on to American business and, through price increases, to U.S. consumers
He applauded farmers, who have been caught in the crossfire of the escalating trade war as China has asked its imports to halt agriculture purchases.
“I would have been great our great Farmers have been so incredible because they've been targeted by China,” the president said.
The president's latest "Keep America Great" rally at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, marks what the Trump campaign said will be its first big step in ensuring what it couldn't do in 2016: Flip the Granite State red.
Losing New Hampshire in 2016 has appeared to be a sore spot for the president, but the reelection team said it's confident he will carry the state in 2020 despite potential indicators otherwise.
"New Hampshire is absolutely part of our winning strategy," Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director, told ABC News.
The campaign also hopes to flip New Mexico, Nevada, Minnesota and Oregon.
And the president's New Hampshire loss won't be the only 2016 relic hovering over the rally on Thursday: Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has said he's "seriously considering" a 2020 Senate run in the Granite State. And Lewandowski is set to travel on Air Force One Thursday for the rally, with rumors swirling about a possible announcement.
The president will make his case to voters in New Hampshire, a state with a serious independent streak, on the heels of ramping up divisive rhetoric and as critics and 2020 Democratic candidates have blamed that rhetoric for inspiring violence against minorities, including the recent massacre in El Paso, Texas.
And while the president lost New Hampshire by fewer than 3,000 votes, in 2020 it could be a taller task as Democrats have flipped the state's House and Senate since 2016.
The president's support remains underwater but steady in New Hampshire, with a 53% disapproval rating, a 42% approval rating contrasted and 5% unsure, according to a recent University of New Hampshire poll.
Trump's campaign said the president is banking on appealing to voters in New Hampshire by pushing for more manufacturing jobs and by touting steps he's taken toward battling the opioid epidemic, in addition to the economy.
"We are working to retain the supporters and voters that he had in 2016, and bring in new ones," Murtaugh said.
Just two weeks after winning in 2016 but losing New Hampshire, Trump tweeted that there was "serious voter fraud" there.
After taking office, the president created a short-lived Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, according to a former member of the Trump administration's now-disbanded commission.
The president's campaign declined to comment to ABC News when asked whether Trump still believes he lost the state because of voter fraud.
Luka Banda/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have issued subpoenas to President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Rick Dearborn, Trump's former White House deputy chief of staff for policy for their public testimony next month as part of the panel's ongoing probe into potential obstruction of justice and public corruption.
"It is clear that any other American would have been prosecuted based on the evidence Special Counsel (Robert) Mueller uncovered in his report. Corey Lewandowski and Rick Dearborn were prominently featured in the Special Counsel’s description of President Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice by directing then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the Special Counsel, and then by ordering him to lie about it," House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement.
The subpoena comes the same day that Lewandowski will join the president at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, amid speculation that he will formally announce a run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire in 2020.
In a tweet, Lewandowski said, "Congress needs to get back to work on the issues important to the American people. Together, we can Keep America Great!"
Mueller's report describes Trump dictating a message to Lewandowski to give to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of the special counsel's investigation to only election interference. As Mueller's report states, Lewandowski never delivered the message and instead asked Dearborn to do so.
"Dearborn also said that being asked to serve as a messenger to Sessions made him uncomfortable," Mueller's report says. "He recalled later telling Lewandowski that he had handled the situation, but he did not actually follow through with delivering the message to Sessions, and he did not keep a copy of the typewritten notes Lewandowski had given him."
Sources told ABC News that Lewandowski would be willing to testify publicly before the committee, but his attorney is encouraging him only to speak about his time working for Trump on the campaign, not about any conversations he had with Trump as president.
The subpoena requests Lewandowski and Dearborn's testimony on Sept. 12.
Democrats see public testimony from them and other prominent Trump figures as key elements of their post-Mueller obstruction of justice investigation as they determine whether to take up impeachment against the president.
The two were on the list of a dozen subpoenas the committee authorized in June, requesting documents and testimony from twelve current and former administration officials and associates of Trump related to their obstruction investigation, but also to the administration's immigration policy.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will join him Thursday evening at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, amid speculation that he will formally announce a run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire in 2020.
Ahead of his rally, Trump told the radio show "New Hampshire Today" he didn't think that Lewandowski had made a decision yet on whether to run, but praised him.
"I think Corey is a fantastic guy. And I don't think he's made that decision yet. I will say this, if he ran, he would be a great senator," Trump said. "If he ran and won, he'd be a great senator. He would be great for New Hampshire."
Lewandowski told ABC News earlier this month that he was "seriously considering" running for Senate, with hopes of unseating incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen who is up for re-election next year.
"I'm seriously considering it," Lewandowski said. "Senator Shaheen has failed the people of New Hampshire by voting in lock step with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. The people of New Hampshire deserve better. If I run, I would be a voice for all the people of New Hampshire."
In a confidential memo obtained by ABC News, veteran pollster Tony Fabrizio, who also conducts polls for the Trump campaign, found from a survey of 400 likely 2020 primary voters in New Hampshire, that Lewandowski was leading the current GOP field, though roughly half of those who responded were undecided.
"Corey Lewandowski would enter the race as the GOP front-runner -- leading the field by double digits due to his stronger personal ratings," the August 13 memo stated. "He could clearly see his lead expand even further with an endorsement from President Trump, who is extremely popular with these GOP voters."
The poll also included other Republican Senate candidates including Ret. Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc and New Hampshire state Rep. Bill O’Brien. Lewandowski had the highest unfavorability rating among those polled.
While the president hasn't formally endorsed him, he has retweeted Lewandowski's tweets of reports that he is leading the GOP Senate field in polls in New Hampshire. Sources told ABC News that Lewandowski would greet the president at the airport in New Hampshire along with his wife and kids and then discuss a potential announcement Thursday night about a run.
Lewandowski, who served as Trump's first campaign manager until he was fired in June of 2016, has remained close to the president and the West Wing, serving as an outside adviser to Trump since his election.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party released a statement earlier this month calling him a "craven lobbyist who has been credibly accused of assault many times."
During the 2016 campaign, Lewandowski was charged with battery for grabbing former Breitbart reporter, Michelle Fields, at a Trump campaign event. The case was eventually dropped.
"Corey Lewandowski is a craven lobbyist who has been credibly accused of assault many times and is chomping at the bit to strip away Granite Staters' health care," New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Josh Marcus-Blank said. "Meanwhile, Senator Shaheen is making a difference for New Hampshire families, leading efforts in the Senate to expand access to health care and taking on the big drug companies to lower the costs of prescription drugs. The contrast couldn't be more clear."
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor, announced the end to his 2020 presidential campaign in a video Thursday morning.
"While this campaign didn’t have the outcome we were hoping for, every moment has been worthwhile and I’m thankful to everyone who supported this campaign and our entire team," he said in the video.
Campaign sources previously confirmed his intentions to ABC News.
Stubbornly low poll numbers, a lack of donors, a mostly new campaign staff following a rash of departures in July and the likelihood of missing the Democrats' third debate all contributed to his decision, according to his campaign.
A self-described "pragmatic-progressive," Hickenlooper struggled to gain momentum while pushing a centrist campaign message focused on restoring the middle class.
Hickenlooper has not decided yet whether he'll consider a Senate run against Colorado incumbent Cory Gardner, sources told ABC News. Democratic leadership is looking to flip that seat, which could tilt the balance of power in the Senate.
In a May interview on ABC News' This Week, Hickenlooper expressed confidence in such a candidacy to George Stephanopoulos.
"I think I'd be a difficult candidate [to beat] as a senator," he said. "I spent my whole life putting teams together, both as an entrepreneur in the private sector, but also as a mayor and a governor. And by building those teams, we have been able to bring people together and do the big, progressive things that people said couldn't be done."
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders has enlisted the help of chart-topping rapper Cardi B in a newly released campaign video.
The unlikely pair filmed last month at a black-owned nail salon named TEN Nail Bar in Detroit, Michigan while the Vermont senator was in the city for the second round of Democratic presidential debates.
In a social media post, Cardi said she fielded questions from her more than 49 million Instagram followers to prepare for her meeting with the senator from Vermont.
“You know, what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to advocate the youth and my community because I feel like there's a serious problem right now in America,” said Cardi B.
In the nearly 12-minute video, Sanders shared his plans to combat police brutality, eliminate student debt and tackle immigration reform with the “Bodak Yellow” rapper.
“We're not only talking about Mexico, immigrants from all around the world that are facing the same problem,” said Cardi B when discussing DACA recipients.
“What we do is we will reestablish the legal protections that the 1.8 million young people in this country today had under DACA,” said Sanders. “So they once again will have those protections and I think we’re going to expand that program to their parents as well.”
Cardi B. also asked Sanders about the cornerstone of his campaign, Medicare-for-all. Sanders acknowledged, as he has in the past, that his proposal would result in a tax increase, but one that would be offset for the "overwhelming majority" of people due to the elimination of other health care payments.
“So people have to understand that no more premiums, no more copayments, no more deductibles. You can go to any doctor you want,” said Sanders. “And you do pay more in taxes, depending on your income. The overwhelming majority of the people will end up paying less than they're currently paying in healthcare. Their taxes will go up but their not going to be paying premiums, deductibles, copayments.”
The Bronx rapper hasn’t shied away from talk about the race for the White House. On a red carpet in April, she expressed support for 2020 presidential candidate Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan’s health care platform and last month she posted an altered Rolling Stone magazine cover to social media that replaced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is also running for president.
Earlier this year, Cardi B. spoke about Sanders on a red carpet and she tweeted in July that she was "really sad how we let him down in 2016."
“Imma always be with Bernie,” she said. “Bernie don't say things to be cool. There's pictures of him being an activist from a very, very, very long time."
Her support of Sanders goes back years -- in a video from the 2016 presidential election cycle, she tells her viewers to, “Vote for Daddy Bernie.”
In the video released Thursday, the pair additionally discussed their shared affinity for the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with Cardi B describing her appreciation for the 32nd U.S. president's ability to rehabilitate the nation's economy while it was engaged in World War II and additionally the social and public works programs of the New Deal.
"It just amazed me that he came up with all of those things, plus personal problems, that, you know, he had polio and everything. This is like, god damn, I love him. He is my favorite," she says.
"Well, I want to be your favorite after I'm elected, but we'll see," Sanders responds.
ABC News(EL PASO, Texas) -- Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke gave a speech in El Paso, Texas Thursday, looking to revive his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, in the wake of a mass shooting in the city that resulted in the deaths of 22 people.
"We must take the fight directly to the source of this problem," O'Rourke said, naming President Donald Trump. "I want to be the leader for this country that we need right now and we do not have ... I want to be the kind of leader for this country that El Paso has raised me and taught me to be."
O'Rourke said that during the rest of his campaign, you'll find him in "places that Donald Trump has been terrorizing and demeaning" -- here meaning immigrant communities.
It's a more unconventional campaign approach to focus less on early primary states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, and more on areas with large immigrant populations. But O'Rourke said he wanted to be there for them, explaining, "Anyone that this president puts down, we're going to do our best to lift up."
The former congressman will be returning to the trail after his El Paso speech, first in Mississippi on Friday, in the aftermath of historic immigration raids, and then in Arkansas for the Democratic Party's Clinton Dinner on Saturday.
With this reboot, he will be calling out the "injustices" of the Trump administration, The New York Times reported Thursday morning and his campaign confirmed to ABC News. Gun control will be at the heart of his campaign.
"I'm confident that if at this moment, we do not wake up to this threat, then we as a country will die in our sleep," he said Thursday. "The response to this has to be that each of us make a commitment to see clearly… and to act decisively in this moment of truth."
O'Rourke said he sees "more clearly than ever" that there are too many guns and too many people who have them "and threaten us with them." He said not only universal background checks, red flag laws and an assaults weapons ban are needed, but also a policy for the government to buy those weapons back.
"To this point, we have a Congress too craven to act, a democracy not up to the task, that favors those who can pay for access," he said, adding there's a "complicity and silence of those who are in a position of public trust."
O'Rourke raised considerable attention for his strong response to the shooting, which included traveling to El Paso and cancelling all presidential campaign events, including eschewing the famous Iowa State Fair.
In the nearly two weeks he's been off the campaign trail, O'Rourke has attended local vigils, high school memorials and protests against Trump's visit to the city. He also crossed the border to the city of Juárez to visit with the family of a Mexican national who was killed in the shooting.
The alleged shooter in the heavily Hispanic city admitted to law enforcement that he was the shooter and was specifically targeting "Mexicans," according to a police affidavit, and O'Rourke said Trump bears responsibility for the shooting in an interview on ABC's This Week the day after the shooting.
"We have a racism in American that is as old as America itself ... But we have always tried, until now, to change that, until this president," O'Rourke said in his speech Thursday. "What he says, and what he does does not just offend our sensibilities … it changes who we are as a country."
During his time in El Paso, O'Rourke has faced some calls to drop out of the presidential race and instead run for Senate again, after coming close to defeating Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. The Houston Chronicle wrote an editorial titled, "Beto, come home. Texas needs you," asking him to consider switching races.
O'Rourke addressed this in his speech, saying that wouldn't "be good enough."
"The kind of challenges that we face in this country at this moment of crisis require an urgency unless we want to reap the consequences of failing to meet them, consequences that we lived and I hope learned form in El Paso on Aug. 3," he said.
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour(WASHINGTON) -- Less than two weeks after a total of 31 people were killed in back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Donald Trump retweeted a tweet that said the United States was not in the "midst of an epidemic of mass shootings.”
The president retweeted Thursday morning a tweet from Fox News host Laura Ingraham, linking to a Reason article, in which Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox blamed the media.
"There is no evidence that we are in the midst of an epidemic of mass shootings," he said. "The number of incidents and casualties are simply too small to make such claims.
"The media coverage of shootings often ends up creating a false sense that gun violence—which is at or near historic lows—is ubiquitous and growing," he continued.
Brian Harrell, Trump’s assistant director for Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security, told ABC News Thursday that "society is becoming more violent every day."
"The fact that highly lethal attacks on houses of worship, schools, and public gathering venues can be executed with little planning and bad-actors are often able to remain undetected until operational, together with the sheer volume of 'soft targets', presents a significant security challenge," Harrell said. "We have seen this violence on full display over the past year. The Department of Homeland Security is very aware of this increase in domestic terrorism activity.”
He added, "These violent actions, against innocent and vulnerable populations, are an affront to all Americans and they have no place in society.”
Beyond mass shootings, the retweet comes after six police officers were shot during a shootout with an alleged gunman in Philadelphia.
Trump tweeted Thursday morning, "The Philadelphia shooter should never have been allowed to be on the streets. He had a long and very dangerous criminal record. Looked like he was having a good time after his capture, and after wounding so many police. Long sentence - must get much tougher on street crime!"
On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for the president, tweeted that the shootout shows how "dangerous it is to be a police officer."
"Our prayers are with them, all the wounded and the ones still engaged. Attacking police officers is an attack on our decent and lawful society,” Giuliani tweeted.
The president retweeted that tweet, too.
A total of 31 people were killed and dozens others wounded in shootings in El Paso and Dayton earlier this month. The shootings renewed calls for gun reform.
ABC News(NEWARK, N.J.) -- As a presidential candidate, Cory Booker has made environmental protections a central tenet of his social justice platform. As a United States senator, he emerged as a leading voice on the front lines of safe water for urban-dwellers.
But a growing water quality crisis gripping Newark, N.J., is bringing fresh attention and scrutiny of Booker's own record when he was that city's mayor -- at a time when the water system was marred by scandal.
The two crises may be separated by time, but as images spread of Newark officials handing out bottled water to residents grappling with dangerous water pollution, ongoing water problems could prove increasingly uncomfortable for his 2020 presidential campaign.
"This is something that he will have to answer for," said Krista Jenkins, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "As with anyone who is a chief executive of a large city, everything that happened under his or her watch is going to become fodder for any of his or her rivals."
In a tweet on Wednesday, Booker called on the federal government to step in.
"Everyone deserves clean, safe water," Booker wrote. "It's shameful that our national crisis of lead-contaminated water disproportionately hits poor black and brown communities like my own."
The latest figures from federal observers show that children in Newark's Essex County are in fact nearly four times more likely to have elevated blood lead levels than those in Flint, where cost-cutting measures resulted in lead and other toxins seeping into the drinking water supply. As a result, city officials handed out filters more than eight months ago. Following recent tests that showed elevated levels of lead in the drinking water of two houses using the filters, the EPA recommended Friday that local officials in Newark distribute bottled water to residents.
In a speech in New York City on Monday, Booker initially sought to address the water crisis in Newark but he did so obliquely, lamenting it as an example of "environmental injustice" without mentioning the city's name. The Watershed scandal
Those who have followed the issue of drinking water quality in Newark say the subject dredges up uncomfortable memories of the years Booker served as mayor, from 2006 to 2013.
Until 2013, the job of keeping water safe belonged to a quasi-public agency called the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation. It fell under the purview of the mayor, who appointed board members and who sat as chair.
In 2014, the New Jersey state comptroller published an investigation into the agency's stewardship of the city's infrastructure that was highly critical of Booker's administration. The investigative report "found that from 2008 through 2011, the [watershed] recklessly and improperly spent millions of dollars of public funds with little to no oversight by either its Board of Trustees or the City" – both of which, at the time, were led by Booker.
The state comptroller's report referred several cases to law enforcement. Federal prosecutors brought charges against eight people involved in the watershed scheme. Six of them pleaded guilty and five of them received lengthy prison sentences.
One of them, Linda Watkins Brashear, the watershed's executive director from 2007 to 2013, was sentenced in 2017 to more than eight years in prison for accepting nearly $1 million in kickback payments for awarding no-show contracts.
Booker had appointed her to the post.
All told, federal prosecutors uncovered how members of the watershed board and employees at the agency brazenly siphoned millions of dollars from the company over the course of several years. Was Booker on the hook?
While Booker was never personally implicated in the scheme, the state comptroller report cited several missteps on Booker's part that led to conditions ripe for scandal.
As the ex officio chairman of the board, Booker never attended a meeting, according to the state comptroller's office. And while Booker's predecessors commonly named proxies to attend board meetings on their behalf, the state comptroller found that Booker failed to designate a replacement.
"When we asked the then-mayor about the lack of board members, he said that he had difficulty moving board nominees through the [City] Council," the state comptroller's office wrote. "We note, however, that the mayor held the seat ex officio and thus did not need the advice and consent of the council to designate an alternate for himself."
In a separate civil suit filed by trustees of the watershed in 2015, plaintiffs named Booker as one of more than two dozen parties responsible for the scandal. But U.S. Judge Vincent Papalia dismissed Booker from the suit in June of 2016, citing a statute that protected him from prosecution because he served on the board only in his capacity as a public servant. The scandal's fallout
Among those who have worked in and closely observed Newark's city government, there is disagreement about whether the residual fallout from the watershed scandal contributed to the city's recent issue with elevated lead levels.
A longtime director of the city's water treatment facility argued that the watershed scandal remained isolated to corporate mismanagement and did not affect the city's water operations.
"The watershed corporation was only responsible for the operations, not engineering," according to Andrew Pappachen, who formerly served as director of the Department of Public Works in Newark. "Mismanagement of the financials, that was the scandal … the operation of the watershed and the engineering were separate [from each other]."
A Booker campaign spokesperson on Wednesday sought to distance the watershed scandal from Newark's elevated lead levels.
"There is just no connection between the people who defrauded Newark residents at the Newark Watershed a decade ago and the very real water crisis impacting Newark residents today -- other than they both share one word in common - 'water,'" according to Sabrina Singh, a campaign spokeswoman.
But Dan O'Flaherty, a Columbia University economics professor and former Newark city employee, penned an independent report in 2011 asserting that fallout from the watershed scandal would have lasting implications for the city's water infrastructure.
"Some people have made a lot of money, but the water and sewer systems still appear to be in bad shape, at least according to the people who run them," O'Flaherty wrote. "Enormous resources have been siphoned into schemes that would benefit those insiders even more, while problems with water and sewer infrastructure continue."
In light of Newark's latest water scare, O'Flaherty told ABC News that he believes the watershed scandal contributed to mismanagement at the agency that has led to the city's current predicament.
"The human capital of the water department was not renewed and deteriorated -- they weren't hiring engineers," O'Flaherty said of Booker's tenure atop the agency. "So you have a seriously depleted department in 2013, and that was a department which made a mistake in the subsequent years."
That mistake occurred in 2015, after Booker was no longer mayor, when city officials decided to adjust water treatment chemistry in an effort to comply with new EPA regulations. Municipal officials lowered pH levels in the city's water treatment facility, with the intended consequence of diminishing cancer-causing chemicals in the water supply, according to several people familiar with the problem.
Erik Olson, senior director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, whose nonprofit has sued the city of Newark over alleged violations to federal law resulting in elevated lead levels, criticized that decision.
"To really address the problem you have to change how you treat the water in a more comprehensive way, and it looks like they were looking for a shortcut -- and the long-term consequence is elevated lead levels, it appears," Olson said.
He described the current water crisis in Newark as a culmination of several factors. Although he did not have detailed knowledge about the watershed scandal, he agreed with O'Flaherty that "you've got to have competent engineering staff running a large water treatment plant.
"If you don't, it's a formula for trouble," Olson continued. "Right now all those chickens are coming home to roost in Newark."
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