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Yana Paskova/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Michael Cohen, the former longtime fixer and personal attorney for Donald Trump, appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon, pleaded guilty to eight counts and said in open court that he made illegal campaign contributions "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office."

The campaign finance violations are associated with Cohen’s role in alleged hush money agreements with two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who claim to have had affairs with Trump.

The "candidate" Cohen referred to was not named in court but the criminal information identifies Cohen as the personal attorney "to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States."

The information states that Cohen made a contribution to "Individual-1" and "did so by making and causing to be made an expenditure, in cooperation, consultation, and concert with, and at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign, to wit, COHEN made a $130,000 payment to Woman-2 to ensure that she not publicize damaging allegation before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election."

“I participated in this conduct for the principal purpose” of influencing an election, Cohen said.

The president's current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was quick to react.

"There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen's actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time,” Giuliani said in a statement.

An attorney for Cohen, Lanny Davis, issued a statement as well.

"Michael Cohen took this step today so that his family can move on to the next chapter," he said.

"This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump," Davis continued, referring to comments Cohen made in an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

"Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?” Davis said.

Cohen had agreed to a deal with federal prosecutors in New York that required him to plead guilty to the violations of campaign finance law as well as several felony charges of bank fraud and tax evasion.

The tax charges stem from Cohen’s personal business dealings and investments in real estate and the taxi industry.

When the federal judge asked Cohen if he understood that he could get a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison if sentenced consecutively, Cohen said “yes.”

The government estimates Cohen would face some significant prison time under the deal, which will also require Cohen to make a substantial monetary forfeiture.

Though Cohen has been for weeks publicly signaling a willingness to consider a cooperation pact with authorities, it is unclear if there is a provision in the deal that requires Cohen to cooperate in ongoing federal investigations, either in New York or in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

There was no immediate indication of a cooperation agreement with the government -- but the absence of a cooperation deal - while it would be notable - would not completely eliminate the possibility that Cohen could subsequently provide information to investigators that might result in a more lenient sentence.

Given Cohen’s proximity to Trump during the past decade, including throughout his meteoric rise from mogul and reality television star to the White House, observers consider him one of most potent legal thorns to confront Trump’s presidency since he took office.

“The guy who knows where all the bodies are buried,” said Seth Hettena, an author and veteran journalist who has chronicled Trump’s business career.

The investigation into Cohen was referred to New York’s Southern District by special counsel Robert Mueller, and if Cohen agrees to cooperate, the information he provides could benefit the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But it remains unclear if he has committed to cooperate.

Cohen’s relationship with Trump dates to the mid-2000’s after Cohen, who owned condominiums in multiple Trump buildings in New York, took Trump’s side in a legal dispute with the condo board at Trump World Tower on Manhattan’s East Side. Cohen eventually went to work for the Trump Organization, where he held the positions of executive vice president and special counsel to Donald J. Trump.

"Michael Cohen has great insight into the real estate market," Trump said of Cohen in a 2007 New York Post interview. "He has invested in my buildings because he likes to make money – and he does."

In addition to working inside the Trump Organization as a lawyer and problem solver, Cohen built a diverse portfolio of investments.

At one point that included running 260 yellow cabs with a Ukrainian-born partner – a partnership that ended in 2012. He also invested millions in real estate, often turning a tidy profit. For instance, a building he bought in 2011 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for $2.1 million, sold three years later for $10 million in cash.

The FBI raid on Cohen’s home and office in April gave the most significant indication his business dealings could become a legal problem for him.

Then in May, Evgeny Friedman, 46, a Russian immigrant known as the “Taxi King,” struck a plea deal that included a commitment to assist federal prosecutors investigating Cohen’s business practices.

At the time, veteran defense attorney Michael Volkov, who is not tied to this case, told ABC News he thought that spelled trouble for Cohen’s legal prospects.

“The government now has a strong inside witness who can assist in explaining many of Cohen’s business activities and potential fraud schemes, especially when it came to valuing the medallions for loan purposes,” Volkov said at the time.

In a Tweet shortly after Friedman’s plea arrangement, Cohen sought to distance himself from Friedman.

“I am one of thousands of medallion owners who entrust management companies to operate my medallions according to the rules of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission,” Cohen wrote. “Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other.” Hettena, author of the book Trump/Russia: A Definitive History, said Cohen’s legal trouble is not a surprise to anyone who closely studied his legal career.

“This is a pattern with him,” Hettena said. “This is a guy who is willing to cut corners. To bend rules. Whatever is going to help whatever interest he is serving.”

For more than a decade around the office in Trump Tower – and around New York – Cohen’s loyalty to Trump was unquestioned as he developed a reputation as Trump's "pit bull."

"It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit," Cohen said in a 2011 interview with ABC News. "If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished."

In 2010, Cohen was among the creators of a website, ShouldTrumpRun.org, that sought to encourage the New York real estate tycoon and reality television star to pursue a challenge to President Barrack Obama in the 2012 election.

"I think the world of [Trump]," Cohen told ABC News in the 2011 interview. "I respect him as a businessman, and I respect him as a boss."

Cohen’s dealings at the Trump family business covers a broad sweep of its global empire – including several projects that have caught the attention of federal investigators. Cohen played an integral role in early discussions about a possible Trump Tower in Moscow – negotiations that were going on during the early months of the 2016 presidential campaign.

That deal never reached fruition.

Cohen has confirmed he attended a lunch meeting with a Ukrainian politician one week after Trump took office, where the two men discussed the potential for Cohen to share a Ukraine peace proposal with his contacts at the White House.

“He could be extremely valuable,” said Matthew G. Olsen, a former federal prosecutor and ABC News contributor. “He was not just a personal lawyer but also was President Trump’s so-called fixer for a number of years. So he would have had access to lots of very personal information involving his business dealings.”

Cohen’s name appeared repeatedly in the now infamous dossier of unverified allegations, which included salacious claims about Trump, prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.

The agent, who was hired by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that was paid initially by Republicans and later by Democrats, alleged in the dossier that Cohen was involved in attempting to covering up contacts between Russian operatives and members of Trump campaign, according to the document.

Cohen fiercely denied the claims.

In January, he tweeted “Enough is enough of the #fake #RussianDossier” before filing a lawsuit against Buzzfeed, the news outlet that first published the document – a suit he later withdrew.

In January - the Wall Street Journal first revealed Cohen’s role in negotiating a secret non-disclosure agreement with adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels. The deal – which was executed less than two weeks prior to the November presidential election – paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence.

Government watchdog groups quickly filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice, asking the agencies to investigate for possible violations of campaign finance law.

Following the disclosure of the Daniels’ deal, Cohen insisted that he had acted on his own in the Daniels deal and that he had not been reimbursed by the campaign or the Trump Organization.

He told ABC News that the funds used to pay Daniels came from an existing home equity line of credit.

Two sources familiar with the search warrant that led to the raids on Cohen properties told ABC News in April that federal agents were hunting for records tied to Cohen’s personal business dealings and secret deals with Trump's alleged mistresses, media organizations during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On April 5, four days before the authorities raided Cohen’s properties in New York, President Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he didn’t know why Cohen had paid Daniels or where he had gotten the money to pay her. The president later acknowledged, in a financial disclosure form filed last month with the Office of Government Ethics, that he had reimbursed Cohen.

Then there is Karen McDougal, who in August 2016 signed a $150,000 deal with American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, that transferred to the company the rights to her story of an alleged ten-month romantic affair with Trump in 2006. The magazine never published her story. McDougal alleged in a lawsuit filed earlier this year that Cohen had allegedly conspired with her former attorney to bury the story. McDougal settled her lawsuit.

President Trump, through his representatives, has denied the allegations of McDougal and Daniels.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON)  -- A federal jury in Virginia found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on eight counts of financial crimes, marking the first major prosecution won by special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russian meddling during the 2016 election.

Manafort was found guilty on the eight counts of the special counsel’s 18-count indictment. Each count carries a hefty prison term – when combined, he is facing a maximum of 80 years behind bars, but at sentencing, the total will likely be less. The federal judge declared a mistrial in the other ten counts after jurors could not reach consensus.

Manafort showed no emotion as the judge told him to stand and face the jury, and the judge’s clerk declared him guilty on a succession of counts. His wife, Kathleen Manafort, also remained stoic, displaying no response to the verdict was read.

Leaving court on Tuesday afternoon, Manafort’s lead counsel, Kevin Downing, told reporters that his client was “disappointed” and “weighing his options.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors secured an 18-count indictment on tax- and bank-fraud charges against Manafort back in February. At trial, the special counsel rested its case after parading more than two dozen accountants and associates of Manafort over the course of two weeks, painting the longtime Republican operative as a man who shielded millions of dollars from American authorities in order to fund his lavish lifestyle.

During one of the most dramatic moments of the trial, defense attorneys representing Manafort sought to shift blame onto Manafort’s long-time business partner and Trump campaign deputy manager, Rick Gates. During his testimony, Gates admitted to stealing from Manafort and using that money to finance at least one extramarital affair.

Last Tuesday, Manafort’s attorneys rested their case, electing not to call any witnesses or mount a defense.

In closing arguments on Wednesday, prosecutors slammed Manafort as a liar and a schemer. "When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort's money, it's littered with lies,” special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres said, telling jurors that Manafort is “not above the law.”

"He lied to his tax preparers, he lied to his bookkeeper, because he wanted to hide that money and avoid paying taxes," Andres added, emphasizing the mountain of documents presented to jurors – not the witnesses – as evidence of Manafort’s guilt.

Defense counsel disagreed. Attorneys Richard Westling and Kevin Downing sought to point the finger at Gates, who they say was the mastermind behind Manafort’s legal woes, making the case to jurors that prosecutors failed to meet the burden of proof in charging Manafort with all these crimes.

Having been found guilty, Manafort, 69, faces the possibility of serving the rest of his life in prison. Manafort will be the second figure in Mueller’s investigation to serve a prison sentence. Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators in April and served a 30-day prison term.

This past Friday, President Donald Trump expressed sympathy for his former campaign chairman, who he called a “good person,” telling reporters gathered at the White House that “it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.” Asked whether he will pardon Manafort, Trump declined to answer.

The president repeated that sentiment Wednesday upon his arrival for a rally in West Virginia.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Trump told reporters, adding that the conviction on financial charges in his view strayed from the original mission of the Special Counsel probe.

“It had nothing to do with Russian collusion so we continue the Witch Hunt,” he said.

Manafort faces another trial brought by the special counsel next month in Washington, D.C., where Manafort has been charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and foreign lobbying violations.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif, and his wife, Margaret E. Hunter, were indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego Tuesday on charges that they converted more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and filed false campaign finance records with the Federal Election Commission.

According to the 48-page indictment, the Hunters illegally used campaign money to pay for expenses that they could not otherwise afford from 2009 through 2016. The purchases allegedly included family vacations to Italy, Hawaii, Phoenix and Boise, Idaho; school tuition; dental work; theater tickets; and domestic and international travel for almost a dozen relatives. The Hunters also spent tens of thousands of dollars on smaller purchases, including fast food, movie tickets, golf outings, video games, coffee, groceries, home utilities, and expensive meals, the indictment alleged.

To conceal their personal spending, the Hunters mischaracterized the purchases in FEC filings as "campaign travel," "dinner with volunteers/contributors," "toy drives," "teacher/parent and supporter events," and other false descriptions, according to the indictment.

The House Ethics Committee was also investigating allegations of Hunter's improper use of campaign funds, but announced in March that it would continue to defer to the Department of Justice investigation.

Hunter has maintained in the past that he was not aware of the improper spending, and repaid his campaign committee roughly $60,000 to cover the expenses.

The indictment is "all political," said Hunter's spokesman Michael Harrison, adding that Hunter is "definitely still running for re-election."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded that Rep. Hunter resign -- and that Speaker Ryan publicly urge him to do so.

"The charges against Congressman Hunter are further evidence of the rampant culture of corruption among Republicans in Washington today. Once again, one of President Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress has broken the public trust and abused his position to enrich himself and his family. Speaker Ryan must immediately call on Congressman Hunter to resign, and affirm that no one is above the law," she says in a statement.

Earlier this month, a lawyer representing Hunter wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asking him to review whether the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California should be recused from the case because two assistant U.S. attorneys allegedly attended a private fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign -- accusing the office of political bias against him.

A plainspoken former Marine, known for using a vape pen during a congressional hearing and calling for a preemptive strike on North Korea in 2017, Hunter has served in Congress since 2009, after replacing his father who was retiring, former House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter. He was one of the first lawmakers to endorse President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

In an interview with ABC affiliate KGTV in February, Hunter, who had faced some pressure not to run for reelection from Washington Republicans, expressed confidence in his campaign and dismissed the allegations against him.

While Democrats hoped that Hunter's ethics woes would derail his reelection bid, Hunter easily won his primary in June, snatching more than 48 percent of the vote. Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, an Obama campaign alum, who worked as a spokesman at the Labor Department in the Obama administration, will face Hunter in November after winning second place in the jungle primary, which is known as a qualifying primary where the top two candidates move on to the general election, with nearly 17 percent of the vote.

Barring legal action, Hunter is still expected to appear on the ballot in November: there is no mechanism under California election laws to replace the top two finishers in a jungle primary on the general election ballot, according to the California Secretary of State's office.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After meeting with Judge Brett Kavanaugh for two hours Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican and a key swing vote on the Supreme Court nominee, said he told her he believes the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in favor of abortion rights is "settled law."

"We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. He said that he agreed with what Justice Roberts said at his nomination hearing in which he said that it was settled law. We had a very good thorough discussion about that issue," Collins said.

During his 2005 Supreme Court hearing, John Roberts called the abortion decision "settled as a precedent of the court” but did not go so far as to pledge to committee members that the decision should never be overturned.

Collins, who supports abortion rights, said earlier this summer that she would not vote for any nominee who demonstrated “hostility” to Roe but that, at that point, she had not seen such hostility from Kavanaugh.

She said she also discussed with Kavanaugh his decision in the Garza v. Hargan case, which she noted was the only case dealing with abortion in which he cast a vote.

During that case, Kavanaugh twice went on the record as opposing other courts’ rulings that allowed a pregnant immigrant teen in federal custody to have an abortion, first as part of a lower court who overturned the original ruling, and then as part of a dissent when the D.C. circuit court overturned his decision.

Collins said she would not announce her decision on whether or not to vote for Kavanaugh until after the Senate Judiciary Committee holds confirmation hearings beginning just after Labor Day. With 50 Senate Republicans likely to vote, Kavanaugh needs as many Republicans as he can to vote yes in order to offset what is expected to be widespread opposition from most Democrats.

Kavanaugh was also meeting with at least five other senators – all Democrats – Tuesday.

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Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Microsoft has thwarted newly attempted cyberattacks by Russian hackers targeting U.S. political campaigns before the midterm elections, the company alleged Monday.

The tech behemoth’s Digital Crimes Unit acted on a court order last week, shutting down six fake internet domains operated by hackers associated with the Russian government, the Redmond, Washington-company said in a blog post late Monday.

“Attackers want their attacks to look as realistic as possible and they therefore create websites and URLs that look like sites their targeted victims would expect to receive email from or visit. The sites involved in last week’s order fit this description,” Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote. “We’re concerned that these and other attempts pose security threats to a broadening array of groups connected with both American political parties in the run-up to the 2018 elections.”

The six domains are among the 84 fake websites Microsoft has shuttered in the past two years associated with a group of hackers that goes by the name Strontium, Fancy Bear and/or APT28, which is associated with the Russian government, the company said.

The news came less than a month after Microsoft disclosed failed phishing attacks targeting three undisclosed candidates in this year's midterm elections. It did not say who it believed was behind those attacks.

The fake websites in the most recent attempts appeared to mimic domains associated with the conservative nonprofits Hudson Institute and International Republican Institute. The latter has six Republican senators and at least one leading senatorial candidate on its board, according to Microsoft.

The other domains seemed to reference the U.S. Senate but they were not specific to any particular offices, according to the Microsoft president.

“Despite last week’s steps, we are concerned by the continued activity targeting these and other sites and directed toward elected officials, politicians, political groups and think tanks across the political spectrum in the United States,” Smith said. “Taken together, this pattern mirrors the type of activity we saw prior to the 2016 election in the United States and the 2017 election in France.”

Jan Surotchak, Europe regional director for the International Republican Institute, blamed the Russian Federation. Russia has repeatedly denied such accusations.

“Moscow is actively trying to sway public opinion throughout Europe as a way to expand its military and political clout,” Surotchak said in a statement Tuesday morning. “It’s not just in places like eastern Ukraine. It’s in places we once believed were firmly in the democratic camp, such as Visegrad, the Baltic States, and much of the Balkans. IRI is one of the few organizations in a position to quickly and effectively counteract this misinformation.”

The Hudson Institute did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. Microsoft said it was in contact with both organizations after the apparent hacking attempts.

Microsoft said there was no evidence to suggest that the fake “domains were used in any successful attacks.”

Microsoft also announced a new initiative, AccountGuard, to help political candidates combat hacking attempts. The added protection is free for all political candidates, campaign offices, think tanks and political organizations which “we now believe are under attack,” according to Microsoft.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --  Voters in Alaska and Wyoming head to the polls Tuesday, states that offer a look at the role of self-funders in the midterm cycle and the enduring power of political dynasties.

In Alaska, one of the most politically idiosyncratic states in the country, a three-way race for governor is developing that has both the state’s Independent Gov. Bill Walker and Democrats worried that an easy path for a Republican victory in November is taking shape.

The entry into the Alaska race by former Sen. Mark Begich, one of the most well-known politicians in the state, has complicated what was already a tough re-election bid for Walker, who has taken criticism for cutting into the state’s unique welfare system that is funded by revenue from oil production.

Walker has until Sept. 4 to decide whether to stay on the ballot and fight out a three-way race until November or cut a deal that involves someone dropping out of the race.

In staunchly conservative Wyoming, the governor’s mansion is almost certain to remain in GOP hands come November, but the Republican primary promises to be a competitive race between long-time party mega-donor Foster Friess, State Treasurer Mark Gordon, attorney Harriet Hageman and businessman Sam Galeotos.

Friess has faced criticism that he is simply trying to "buy" the governorship in the state, and has blanketed the state with more than $1 million in advertising throughout the primary, the most of any Republican in the race. At a recent debate Hageman attacked Friess as a "part-time Jackson jetsetter," and declared that, "Wyoming is not for sale," according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

In addition to both gubernatorial races, both of the states’ at-large U.S. House seats are up this cycle, as well as the Wyoming U.S. Senate seat currently held by GOP Sen. John Barrasso, who is seeking a third term.

Barrasso, an ally of President Trump, is facing a primary challenge from businessman Dave Dodson. Trump called Barrasso "absolutely outstanding in every way," in a late July tweet, attempting to boost the incumbent ahead of the primary.

Polls close in Wyoming Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. eastern time, and the polls in Alaska close at midnight eastern time.

Legacy, incumbency create a GOP opening in Alaska

A former carpenter and worker on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Bill Walker's path to the Alaska governorship was complicated to say the least.

After a failed gubernatorial bid to unseat Alaska's Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in 2010, Walker, the former Republican Mayor of Valdez, decided to forgo another GOP primary and began to gather signatures to appear on the general election ballot.

But after failing to form a political coalition, Walker switched his party affiliation to undeclared and formed a so-called 'unity ticket' with Alaska Native leader Byron Mallott, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

The alliance between Walker and Mallott narrowly prevailed over Parnell in the general election by just over 4,000 votes. Walker enjoyed broad popularity early in his term, but faced with an economic downturn due to a drop in oil prices decided to make cuts the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), the welfare system that pays dividends to every Alaskan that gets its funding from oil money.

The move was criticized by both parties, but Walker defended it as a way to preserve the APF's long-term viability, saying at the time that if the system is not fixed, "it will go away in the next couple of years."

The 2018 race was upended by the late entry of Begich, a former Anchorage mayor that represented the state for one-term in the U.S. Senate from 2008 to 2014, and endorsed Walker's gubernatorial bid in 2014, even though Walker did not do the same for Begich's re-election bid.

Walker again opted out of a primary against Begich and again said he and Mallott would run as a unity ticket for a second time.

Begich's bid has fueled Democrats' hopes that they can capture the governorship in a state that skews heavily Republican at the presidential level but has also legalized marijuana and often embraces more liberal positions on social issues like abortion. The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) praised Begich's decision to enter the race.

"Mark Begich’s candidacy gives Democrats a strong opportunity to retake the governorship in Alaska," DGA Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson said in a statement in early June after Begich's announcement.

At a recent campaign stop in the town of Homer, Begich referenced the surprise 2010 victory in the state by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who lost a GOP primary before going on to win the general election as a write-in candidate, as evidence that there is a path to victory in a three-way statewide race.

“The first thing I’d say, in a three-way race for U.S. Senate, Lisa Murkowski won with 39 percent — and you had to write in her name,” Begich said, according to the Homer News.

The presumptive Republican nominee is former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, who is locked in a two-way race with former Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell. Dunleavy has run as a "tough on crime" Republican and in an ode to President Donald Trump is touting his plan to "Make Alaska Safe Again."

"The explosive growth in violent and property crime that Alaska has experienced in recent years demands an aggressive response," warns Dunleavy's campaign website, "Alaska now leads the nation in almost every category of crime, making our state the most dangerous in the country."

Dunleavy consolidated local support early and has the endorsement of Parnell and GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan, two of the most powerful political forces in the state. Treadwell did not enter the race until June 1, well into the primary process.

The possibility that Begich and Walker could split the vote among the state's large population of political independents is what continues to fuel GOP hopes that they could re-take the governor's mansion in 2018.

A GOP mega-donor makes a run at the Wyoming governor's mansion

It is likely the governor's mansion in Wyoming will remain in GOP hands come November. The state has sided with the Republican nominee for the last two cycles by more than 40 points, and Democrats are not expected to invest in the race considering the large number of more viable pickup opportunities elsewhere.

The real action Tuesday night will be in the GOP primary for governor, where GOP mega-donor Foster Friess, who was the main booster behind former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's 2012 presidential campaign, is facing off against State Treasurer Mark Gordon and a field of four other challengers that include attorney Harriet Hageman and businessman Sam Galeotos. Wyoming's Republican Gov. Matt Mead is term-limited this cycle.

Friess has pledged to serve only one term as governor and would donate his salary to a charity of Wyoming voters' choice, his assistant Bailey Shelbourne confirms to ABC News in April when he announced his bid. Friess, a 78 year-old former investment manager whose net worth was in 2012 rumored to be upwards of $530 million according to the Wall Street Journal, was also rumored to be interested in a bid for the U.S. Senate this year, but would have had to defeat a sitting senator in Barrasso.

Both Friess and Galeotos have tied themselves closely to President Trump, but Friess scored the backing of the president's eldest son, Don Jr., an endorsement he trumpets on the front page of his campaign website. Friess also has the backing of Santorum and Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, while Gordon has the backing of local Republican heavyweights like former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, who represented the state in the U.S. Senate for nearly two decades.

Friess is also known for a cringe-worthy comment he made to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell back in 2012. When asked about Rick Santorum's focus on social issues like access to contraception, Friess told Mitchell: "This contraceptive thing, my gosh it's such inexpensive -- back in my days they'd use Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives, the gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly."

Friess later apologized for the comment, writing in a blog post: "My aspirin joke bombed as many didn’t recognize it as a joke but thought it was my prescription for today’s birth control practices."

Gordon ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in Wyoming in 2008, losing the Republican primary to Cynthia Lummis, who went on to win the seat and served in Congress for almost a decade. Gordon was appointed to the position of Wyoming State Treasurer in 2012 and won a full term in the office in 2014.

The Republican primary has been a pricey battle, with Friess dropping $550,000 on television advertising, the most of any GOP candidate, according to the Casper Star Tribune.

The race will also be another test of the strength of self-funding candidates this cycle. Friess has loaned his campaign $2.4 million, while both Galeotos and Gordon have given their bids over $1 million each, according to a local organization that tracks state campaign finance filings.

The leading Democratic candidate in the governor’s race is former Wyoming House of Representatives Minority Leader Mary Throne, who is facing three challengers on Tuesday for the nomination. If she wins the primary on Tuesday, Throne will be the 10th female Democratic nominee for governor this cycle, and the 14th overall, a record number according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The ten female gubernatorial nominees for Democrats will also be a new high-water mark for a major political party in one election cycle.

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U.S. Department of Justice(WASHINGTON) --  A man who authorities believe is the last known Nazi collaborator living in the U.S. has been arrested and deported to Germany.

At the order of President Donald Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents removed 95-year-old Jakiw Palij from his Queens, New York, home on Monday.

Justice Department officials say Palij served as an armed guard at a death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and later lied to American immigration officials about his role in those atrocities when he entered the U.S. after the war.

ABC News was there when Pajil was removed by wheelchair from his home on Monday, but he did not answer any questions. Looking frail with missing front teeth visible through his white beard, the only noise he made was a pained howl as agents hoisted him from his wheelchair onto the ambulance stretcher.

Representatives for Palij didn't respond to ABC News request for comment.

The administration released a statement after Pajil landed in Germany early Tuesday:

"President Trump commends his Administration’s comprehensive actions, especially ICE’s actions, in removing this war criminal from United States soil," the statement read. "Despite a court ordering his deportation in 2004, past administrations were unsuccessful in removing Palij. To protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families, President Trump prioritized the removal of Palij. Through extensive negotiations, President Trump and his team secured Palij’s deportation to Germany and advanced the United States’ collaborative efforts with a key European ally."

Palij's deportation has been a long time coming.

He'd been accused of working at the Treblinka death camp -- including on an infamous day in November 1943 in which 6,000 prisoners were killed, according to the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum writes that SS police unit shot all 6,000 prisoners. An attachment of Jewish laborers was brought in to burn and bury the corpses. "After completing this dreadful work, the Jewish laborers were shot and their bodies burned," the website reads.

After falsely telling authorities he spent the war at his hometown in Germany, Palij gained entry into the U.S. in 1949. He was eventually granted U.S. citizenship in 1957.

It wasn't until 2003 that he was tracked down by federal authorities and exposed. A New York immigration judge revoked Palij's U.S. citizenship and ordered him to be deported in 2005.

At the time, Palij denied that he was a collaborator, telling The New York Times, he was conscripted at 18 when the Nazis took over his farm.

"I know what they say, but I was never a collaborator," Palij told the paper at the time.

The U.S. said in the statement about his deportation that he lied about not being involved.

"Palij had lied about being a Nazi and remained in the United States for decades," the statement said. "Palij’s removal sends a strong message: The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil."

The Department of Justice also lauded the deportation in an early morning email.

"Jakiw Palij lied about his Nazi past to immigrate to this country and then fraudulently become an American citizen," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement. "He had no right to citizenship or to even be in this country. Today, the Justice Department -- led by Eli Rosenbaum and our fabulous team in the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, formerly the Office of Special Investigations -- successfully helped remove him from the United States, as we have done with 67 other Nazis in the past."

U.S. officials say his deportation had long been stymied by Germany's reluctance to take him in.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Trump told U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to make Palij's deportation his number one priority when he got to Berlin.

In May, U.S. diplomats acknowledged Grenell's efforts.

It's unclear if Palij will face prosecution in Germany, which had previously maintained that they were not in a position to accept him because he's not a German citizen.

Pajil, who is Ukranian-born, had been living in the Jackson Heights, Queens neighborhood for 13 years. Protesters have regularly gathered outside of Palij's house and the push for his deportation has garnered bipartisan support. In 2017, every congressional member of the New York delegation wrote a letter to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to deport Palij before he dies.

The president made no mention of Palij's deportation during an event Monday honoring ICE employees.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who was among those calling for Pajil's deportation told ABC News the U.S. is "no place for a war criminal."

"I’m glad this man is finally being sent back. He’s a war criminal and did not deserve to live in the US. He doesn’t deserve to die in the U.S., a place of freedom and equality where we respect each other’s differences."

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The attorney for White House counsel Don McGahn sought to reassure Donald Trump’s legal team in recent days that his client did not incriminate the president in his interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, sources familiar with their communication confirm to ABC News.

“He did not incriminate him,” attorney William Burck wrote in an email to Trump's lawyers, described to ABC News by sources with knowledge of the email.

The email was first reported by The Washington Post.

McGahn has spent more time speaking with Mueller's investigators than any other White House witness, sources have told ABC News. He has met with the special counsel's team on at least three separate occasions.

The White House has no way of knowing what exactly McGahn said during these multiple interviews -- and sources say they are relying on Burck's report back, as he was present during the questioning, according to sources with knowledge of the interviews.

Burck declined to comment on the email. His message to Trump's team is an indication he has sought to counter speculation in the media that McGahn may have turned on Trump and provided damaging information.

He only issued this statement over the weekend when The New York Times first published a story about McGahn's extensive cooperation with the special counsel:

“President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the Special Counsel team’s questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must,” Burck said in the statement.

Trump tweeted about the meetings between McGahn and Mueller early Monday, again stating he allowed the interviews. He also criticized Mueller with some of the harshest words of his presidency, calling him "disgraced and discredited.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Labeling former CIA director John Brennan "the worst CIA Director in our country’s history" in a tweet, President Donald Trump on Monday challenged Brennan to file a lawsuit over the president's stripping of his security clearance last week.

The president appeared to be responding to comments made by Brennan over the weekend, calling the president's decision to revoke his security clearance "another example of his egregious abuse of power and authority" and saying he is weighing legal action as a means to prevent the president from stripping clearances from more former officials.

"I have been contacted by a number of lawyers and they have already given me their thoughts on the basis of him doing this in the future. If my clearances and my reputation as I’m being pulled through the mud now, if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump doing this against other people, to me, it’s a small price to pay so I’m going to do whatever I can personally to prevent these abuses in the future, and if it means going to court I’m going to do that," Brennan said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Even as the president said he hopes Brennan sues, he predicted that the former CIA director ultimately will not follow through with any legal action and accused Brennan of being "involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt."

But in fact, Mueller's probe did not begin until months into the president's term, long after Brennan left his role as head of the CIA. While Brennan has not been involved in the special counsel's inquiry, he has been an outspoken critic of the president's since leaving public service.

Following Trump's news conference last month in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brennan called Trump's performance "nothing short of treasonous."

Those criticisms of the president were cited in the White House's reasons for revoking Brennan's clearance. In announcing the president's decision last Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders cited "risks posed by [Brennan’s] erratic conduct and behavior."

The president's action against Brennan has drawn a strong rebuke from former officials across the intelligence community, including a statement from 15 former high-ranking intelligence officials, another statement from over 60 former CIA officers, and yet another statement from a group of 175 former national security officials.

"We believe ... strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so," the group of 175 former officials said in the most recent statement released Monday.

In a second tweet on Monday, the president suggested that many of the people coming to Brennan's defense are not doing so to vouch for Brennan's character -- calling him a "political hack" -- but instead because they want to keep their own clearances.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday is expected to formally announce its replacement for the Clean Power Plan, a signature policy designed to fight climate change that was supported by President Barack Obama.

The new plan will include measures aimed at making it easier for electricity produced from coal to compete with natural gas and renewable sources, such as eliminating rules that would require coal plants to install pollution-reducing technology, according to The Wall Street Journal, which received an advance copy of the plan.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Journal the Clean Power Plan under Obama "was centered around doing away with coal."

The Trump administration's replacement for the Clean Power Plan, called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, is not expected to include ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which the CPP sought to do. Instead, more states likely will be given additional flexibility to set their own goals on how to limit the release of carbon dioxide and other materials that contribute to global warming.

Trump and administration officials have said that under Obama the EPA acted outside its legal authority and that regulations under the plan would have been too restrictive and expensive for companies that produce power from coal.

The requirements under the original Clean Power Plan plan never were enforced because the Supreme Court stayed the rules after legal challenges. The Trump administration's proposal is likely to face lawsuits that also could delay it from being enacted.

The Clean Power Plan was at the center of Obama's efforts to slow the effects of global warming. When it was announced, Obama called it "the biggest, most important step" the country has taken to combat climate change.

Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the plan was not the "be all, end all" to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but that it was meant to start the country on a trajectory to meet its goal of reducing emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

A more coal-friendly policy would be "making us the only country in the world that is divesting itself of climate actions that make sense from every perspective," she told reporters. "In trying to now be the king of coal, it just doesn't make any sense."

Environmental advocates have slammed the Trump administration for rolling back policies intended to combat climate change and reduce air pollution.

The Obama administration's analysis found that reducing air pollution from power plants through the Clean Power Plan could prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of asthma attacks every year.

Lynsday Moseley Alexander, director of the healthy air campaign for the American Lung Association, said any proposed rule that doesn't reduce pollution would fall short.

"We've already lost time in the fight against climate change from when the Clean Power Plan was adopted, so we need any replacement for the Clean Power Plan to do more, not less, and achieve the maximum health benefits possible by reducing carbon emissions," Moseley Alexander told ABC News.

Joe Goffman, former senior counsel in the EPA's air office, said grounds for a legal challenge to the new proposal could include that EPA has manipulated data to support rolling back or repealing the Clean Power Plan.

In one example, Goffman said, the EPA under Obama considered money customers would saved from lower utility bills as a benefit, but the Trump administration considered the lost income for utility companies an argument against the rule.

"Both in its legal interpretation and its approach to cost-benefit analysis, the EPA committed what scientists and regulators consider the cardinal sin of taking a results-oriented approach and then fashioning in an ad-hoc way the methodologies it relies on to produce those results," Goffman told reporters.

Even if the real-world impacts are indefinitely stalled, former EPA officials said the decision to walk back the rule sends a message to the rest of the world that the U.S. is sticking with coal and taking itself out of conversations about new technology and improving air quality.

Members of the public can comment on the proposal for the next two months.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has publicly argued in recent years that American presidents should not be subject to criminal investigation while in office, saying in a 2009 law review article that it would be too “time-consuming and distracting.”

But a newly released memo from his time as a deputy to independent counsel Ken Starr reveals that Kavanaugh pushed to question then-president Bill Clinton about graphic details concerning his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.

The Washington Post previously reported some details from the August 1998 memo.

In it, Kavanaugh insists -- ahead of a sit down with Clinton -- that the president should not get any "break" and needed to provide "full and complete" testimony regarding their encounters.

"He should be forced to account for all of that and to defend his actions," Kavanaugh wrote to Starr. "It is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear -- piece by painful piece."

Kavanaugh listed 10 suggested questions for Clinton about his relationship with Lewinsky, including “If Monica Lewinsky says that she gave you oral sex on nine occasions in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?” and “If Monica Lewinsky says that you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?”

It's not clear how many of the suggested questions may have been asked of Clinton.

The full memo can be read here.

While Kavanaugh appears to have advocated graphic questioning of Clinton, he also pushed behind the scenes for those details to be kept out of Starr's public report.

In another memo to Starr in late August 1998, Kavanaugh signals an uneasiness about including sexually explicit details and language in the report.

“IS IT TOO GRAPHIC?” Kavanaugh asked in an Aug. 31, 1998, memo to other lawyers in the Office of Independent Counsel, run by Starr. “SHOULD IT BE MORE GRAPHIC (kidding)?”

These memos emerge as Democrats prepare to grill Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing next month about his views on executive power and the extent to which presidents should be subjected to aggressive investigative scrutiny – especially in light of the possibility that question could shortly come before the Supreme Court.

In the 2009 law review article, Kavanaugh wrote, “Congress might consider a law exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel. Criminal investigations targeted at or revolving around a President are inevitably politicized by both their supporters and critics.”

He added, “The point is not to put the President above the law or to eliminate checks on the President, but simply to defer litigation and investigations until the President is out of office.”

This is not something I necessarily thought in the 1980s or 1990s. Like many Americans at that time, I believed that the President should be required to shoulder the same obligations that we all carry. But in retrospect, that seems a mistake,” he wrote. “Looking back to the late 1990s, for example, the nation certainly would have been better off if President Clinton could have focused on Osama bin Laden without being distracted by the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and its criminal investigation offshoots.”

Some lawmakers see a double standard in Kavanaugh's record: aggressive on Clinton, but after that advocating a more lenient approach to sitting presidents.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has said Trump picked Kavanaugh because he knows he would be “a barrier” to prevent special counsel Robert Mueller from subpoenaing the president.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At a White House event Monday to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and border agents, President Donald Trump invited a Hispanic-American immigration officer to speak about his role in an operation in which 78 undocumented immigrants were arrested.

But in introducing the officer, Trump -– seemingly trying to encourage him -- noted the officer “speaks perfect English.”

The smiling officer thanked Trump as he stood beside him at the lectern but made no comment on the president's remark.

In his opening speech, Trump targeted Democrats and issued a dire warning that any ‘blue wave’ in the November midterms would result in open borders and rampant crime across the U.S.

“The fact is, people respect law and order and they love our law enforcement and I think we're gonna have much more of a red wave than what you're going to see as a phony blue wave,” Trump said. “Blue wave means crime, it means open borders, not good.”

Trump during his speech took aim straight at members of the Democratic party who have recently called for ICE to be abolished, describing supporters of the movement as “extremists.”

“We will not stand for the vile smears, the hateful attacks and the vicious assaults on the courageous men and women of ICE, border patrol and law enforcement,” Trump said. “The extremists who attack ICE and CBC like to portray themselves as champions of social justice, they are not. But their radical policies are the ultimate injustice, hurting innocent Americans and spilling innocent blood.”

The so-called #AbolishICE movement saw a surge in mainstream attention as images began to surface out of the southern border following the Trump administration's enforcement of a 'zero tolerance' policy that resulted in the separation of hundreds of children from their parents who had crossed the border illegally.

Democrats who support dismantling the agency include New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, arguing its enforcement responsibilities could instead be delegated to outside government departments.

“People are dying because of their either lack of knowledge, lack of understanding, or just plain stupidity," Trump said.

According to the White House, roughly 150 ICE officers, Customs and Border Patrol agents, and law enforcement officials attended the 'Salute to the Heroes' ceremony in addition to several state and local lawmakers.

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Facebook/George Papadopoulos(WASHINGTON) -- George Papadopoulos, the embattled former foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump’s campaign, is strongly considering backing away from the agreement he struck with special counsel Robert Mueller that led him to plead guilty to lying to the FBI, his wife told ABC News.

“He will make his final decision tomorrow,” said Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, who has been vocal online and in television appearances speaking out on his behalf since prosecutors revealed they want her husband to serve jail time. “He needs a serious conversation with his attorney.”

Papadopoulos tweeted his own musing about his next move Monday afternoon, saying, “Been a hell of a year. Decisions.”

The decision will be fraught for Papadopoulos, who pledged to assist prosecutors with the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign in exchange for lenience on charges that, according to his wife, may have included allegations of improper work for the Israeli government.

If he backs away now, she said, he could face a raft of new charges.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his contacts during the campaign with a professor who, prosecutors alleged in court filings, had “substantial connections to Russian government officials.”

On Friday, Mueller submitted a recommendation that Papadopoulos serve up to six months in jail for lying to the FBI, a request that includes a strong rebuke of a man prosecutors said had failed to assist with their investigation.

The government said he should be held accountable for having repeatedly misled them “about critical facts, in an investigation of national importance, after having been explicitly warned that lying to the FBI was a federal offense. The nature and circumstances of the offense warrant a sentence of incarceration.”

Papadopoulos, who had served as a volunteer to the Trump team, traveled as an emissary from the campaign to foreign leaders in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Court records filed by Mueller said the professor approached Papadopoulos after learning of his role in the Trump campaign. The court filing does not name the professor, but he has since been widely identified as Joseph Mifsud, then the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy. ABC News has been unable to reach Mifsud for comment.

The professor told Papadopoulos the Russians had “dirt” on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails” that they had procured, according to the court documents.

Papadopoulos reportedly bragged about that offer to an Australian diplomat, who then tipped off the FBI and launched that agency’s counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Papadopoulos was arrested by the FBI when he arrived at Dulles International Airport in July 2017 and initially charged under seal.

In an interview Monday, Mangiante Papadopoulos said her husband never saw the evidence amassed against him when he agreed to the plea agreement. Some of that material has recently been turned over to his attorney, and Papadopoulos expects to review it ahead of his decision, she said.

She said her husband has grown suspicious of government allegations that the professor was a Russian intelligence asset at all.

“He could be nobody,” she said. “He could be a charlatan.”

The government’s sentencing recommendation includes signs the Mueller team felt betrayed by Papadopoulos after he struck a plea agreement and pledged his full cooperation.

The filing says Papadopoulos repeatedly withheld key details about his contacts with Russians and neglected to turn over the cell phone he used to communicate with Mifsud until the government expressly asked for it.

“His lies negatively affected the FBI’s Russia investigation, and prevented the FBI from effectively identifying and confronting witnesses in a timely fashion,” the filing says. “His lies were not momentary lapses. He lied repeatedly over the course of more than two hours, and his lies were designed to conceal facts he knew were critical: the importance of the information he received from the Professor, and his own communications and contacts with Russians and Russian intermediaries during the Trump campaign.”

Papadopoulos’s legal team will file their own sentencing assessment to the court in two weeks, and is expected to ask for probation.

Since her husband’s guilty plea in exchange for cooperation with the Mueller probe, Papadopoulos has been living in Chicago. Federal investigators have imposed restrictions on his travel until his sentencing, which is now scheduled for September 7.

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Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Labeling former CIA director John Brennan "the worst CIA Director in our country’s history" in a tweet, President Donald Trump on Monday challenged Brennan to file a lawsuit over the president's stripping of his security clearance last week.

The president appeared to be responding to comments made by Brennan over the weekend, calling the president's decision to revoke his security clearance "another example of his egregious abuse of power and authority" and saying he is weighing legal action as a means to prevent the president from stripping clearances from more former officials.

"I have been contacted by a number of lawyers and they have already given me their thoughts on the basis of him doing this in the future. If my clearances and my reputation as I’m being pulled through the mud now, if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump doing this against other people, to me, it’s a small price to pay so I’m going to do whatever I can personally to prevent these abuses in the future, and if it means going to court I’m going to do that," Brennan said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Even as the president said he hopes Brennan sues, he predicted that the former CIA director ultimately will not follow through with any legal action and accused Brennan of being "involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt."

But in fact, Mueller's probe did not begin until months into the president's term, long after Brennan left his role as head of the CIA. While Brennan has not been involved in the special counsel's inquiry, he has been an outspoken critic of the president's since leaving public service.

Following Trump's news conference last month in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brennan called Trump's performance "nothing short of treasonous."

Those criticisms of the president were cited in the White House's reasons for revoking Brennan's clearance. In announcing the president's decision last Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders cited "risks posed by [Brennan’s] erratic conduct and behavior."

The president's action against Brennan has drawn a strong rebuke from former officials across the intelligence community, including a statement from 15 former high-ranking intelligence officials, another statement from over 60 former CIA officers, and yet another statement from a group of 175 former national security officials.

"We believe ... strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so," the group of 175 former officials said in the most recent statement released Monday.

In a second tweet on Monday, the president suggested that many of the people coming to Brennan's defense are not doing so to vouch for Brennan's character -- calling him a "political hack" -- but instead because they want to keep their own clearances. 

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  President Donald Trump may be notorious for using his Twitter handle to bully and insult, but that’s not deterring first lady Melania Trump from speaking out against cyberbullying.

“Let's face it, most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults,” Trump said in remarks to a cyberbullying summit outside Washington, D.C., Monday.

Promoting positive behavior on social media among the nation’s youth is part of the first lady’s “Be Best” initiative focused on children’s wellness.

“In today's global society, social media is … part of our children's daily lives,” Trump noted on Monday. “It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly.”

Trump told the audience that adults have a role to play in guiding the next generation in best practices for social media engagement, even as she also encouraged adults to listen to children’s ideas for best practices going forward.

“By listening to children's ideas and concerns, I believe adults will be better able to help them navigate these often difficult topics,” Trump said, while also saying: “But we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits.”

As the first lady participated in the summit, President Trump spent part of his Monday morning firing off a series of tweets in which he blasted special counsel Robert Mueller as “disgraced and discredited” and also labeled former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance he revoked last week, as “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history.”

The first lady’s communications director on Monday defended her advocacy on the issue, in spite of the contrast it draws to President Trump’s social media habits, as something that should be celebrated.

“She is well aware of the criticism, but that will not deter her from doing what she feels is right,” communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “I would hope most people in this country are proud that they have a strong and independent First Lady who only has the best interests of children at heart - I know I am.”

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