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    Battle between House Republicans and firm that produced infamous 'dossier' wages on

    November 17, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON) -- Glenn Simpson, co-founder of the investigative firm Fusion GPS, appeared in federal court on Wednesday to fight ongoing efforts to pry more information from his company.

    The firm, which produced the so-called “dossier” of unconfirmed and salacious allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump, including purported collusion between the Trump campaign officials and
    agents of the Russian government, is seeking to thwart efforts by House Republicans to compel the firm's bank to turn over the company's entire financial portfolio -- a move that could reveal its
    roster of confidential clients.

    The funders of the dossier have already been identified – a Republican-backed publication, The Washington Free Beacon, and a law firm for the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton
    campaign both acknowledged hiring Fusion GPS to conduct research on Trump – but House Republicans nevertheless renewed subpoenas aimed at opening the firm’s financial records.

    Lawyers for the firm have argued that the move is “a poorly disguised effort to harm persons and a business” and filed a temporary restraining order against its bank to prevent them to turning over
    the records to the committee, while lawyers for the House Republicans argued that the committee’s interest “is not limited to the dossier.”

    The court order in the case filed in conjunction with Wednesday's appearance is not publicly available, but a source with direct knowledge of the proceedings told ABC News that the judge is still deciding whether to block the bank from handing over the records to the congressional committee. A hearing on the matter is set for November 30th, the source said.

    Simpson’s appearance on Wednesday comes just one day after a marathon session on The Hill on Tuesday, when he testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee for nearly seven hours.

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Roy Moore's wife: President Trump 'owes us a thank you' for diverting attention from Russia probe

    November 17, 2017
    Categories: 

    (MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- The wife of embattled Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore continued a fierce pushback against allegations of sexual misconduct and impropriety against her husband, holding
    a press conference on Friday with other conservative Alabama women at the state capitol in Montgomery.

    "The people of Alabama understand what's going on here. My husband, Judge Roy Moore is fighting for the people of Alabama and has been fighting for over 30 years. The people of Alabama know him,
    they have seen what he has done," Kayla Moore said.

    Kayla Moore also said, apparently ironically, that she believes President Donald Trump owes her and her husband a thank you for diverting public attention from the federal investigation into
    Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with Trump associates.

    "So the liberal press, Washington Post, who endorsed Hillary Clinton, who also endorsed our opponent gets involved in this race, along with the Human Rights Campaign, the DNC and the Washington
    establishment, all of the very same people who were attacking President Trump are also attacking us," Kayla Moore said, "I personally think he owes us a thank you. Have you noticed you're not
    hearing too much about Russia?"

    Beginning with allegations against Roy Moore that were first reported by the Washington Post late last week and continued this week with other women coming forward, a total of eight women have
    accused Roy Moore of sexual misconduct or impropriety.

    He has strongly denied the allegations, most recently saying at a press conference Thursday, "They're not only untrue, but they have no evidence to support them."

    With the Dec. 12 special election for the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions drawing closer, Kayla Moore and the other women who spoke at today's press conference also took the chance
    to blast the Democrat in the race, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones. They said Jones is an "ultra-liberal" whose positions on abortion rights and transgender rights are, they said, not
    representative of Alabamians.

    "If a far-left liberal Democratic Doug Jones is elected, America is the victim," said one of the speakers, Ann Eubank, legislative chair for Alabama Legislative Watchdogs.

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    How Congress pays for workplace settlements

    November 17, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON) -- Are taxpayers footing the bill for workplace settlements on Capitol Hill?

    Earlier this week, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told MSNBC that Congress has paid out more than $15 million to settle harassment claims over the last 10 to 15 years.

    An aide to Speier -- who is leading the charge on Capitol Hill to reform anti-harassment training and the complaint process -- later clarified that the figure included all workplace complaint
    settlements. But the congresswoman’s comments raised questions about settlement payments in Congress.

    How much money has been paid out?

    Congress has paid $17.24 million for 264 settlements between 1997 and 2017, according to the congressional Office of Compliance, the legislative branch’s workplace administration office.

    An OOC official told ABC News that most of the complaints are not related to sexual harassment, but also include other workplace issues regarding racial discrimination, overtime, and family and
    medical leave, among others.

    In a fact sheet explaining the claims process released Thursday, the OOC said a “large portion” of the cases come from “employing offices in the legislative branch other than the House of
    Representatives or the Senate.”

    “The statistics on payments are not further broken down because settlements may involve cases that allege violations of more than one of the 13 statutes incorporated by the [Congressional
    Accountability Act],” the OCC wrote in the fact sheet.

    In short, it’s not clear how much of that $17 million has been used to settle sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill.

    Where does the money come from?

    The settlement payments come from the U.S. Treasury, according to the terms of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, the marque congressional labor and accountability legislation governing
    work in the legislative branch.

    The CAA appropriates “such sums as may be necessary to pay such awards and settlements,” which are all approved by the executive director of the OCC.

    Speier, who has introduced the Me Too Congress Act with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., would require lawmakers repay the U.S. Treasury for any sexual harassment settlements and make their names
    public.

    "I think it's going to clean up a lot of people's acts," she told ABC News' Mary Bruce in an interview.

    Who approves the payment?

    Any payments regarding House employees must be approved by leaders of the House Administration Committee, according to a committee aide.

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    MD WAZID HOSSAIN/iStock/Thinkstock

    Trump says big game trophy ban reversal is on hold to review 'conservation facts'

    November 17, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has announced that his administration's plan to reverse a ban on big game trophies has been put on hold so he can "review all conservation facts."

    On Wednesday, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed to ABC News that the Trump administration had planned to allow hunters to bring trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and
    Zambia back to the United States.

    However, Trump wrote on Twitter Friday evening that the decision had been placed on hold.

    The proposed reversal was met with widespread backlash, with celebrities and public figures taking to social media to criticize the president.

    The ban on big game trophies had been put in place by the Obama administration in 2014.

    Elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, but a provision in the act allows the government to give permits to import such trophies if there is evidence that the hunting
    benefits conversation of the species.

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    Trump to be presented with $47M deal to arm Ukraine against Russia

    November 17, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump will be presented with the recommendation to finance and sell anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian government — a move aimed at deterring aggression from pro-Russian separatists, a State Department official told ABC News.

    The National Security Council decided during a meeting on Tuesday to greenlight the presentation of a $47 million grant package to the Ukrainian government to purchase American defense arms, including the powerful Javelin anti-tank missiles.

    The president and Congress must approve the sale of anti-tank missiles. The Javelin, a portable missile with a steep price-tag, has been described as "The American Military's Anti-Tank Killer."

    If Trump approves the arms deal, it would be a major shift from the party platform on sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, which was amended when Trump was the party's nominee for president, from supporting "lethal defensive arms" to Ukraine to the more vague "appropriate assistance” -- language that ran counter to the perspective of many of the organization’s Republicans.

    "They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved," Trump said of his campaign in an interview with ABC News's George Stephanopoulos at the time, before adding, "The people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were."

    Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had worked for years for the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was expelled in a popular uprising in 2014.

    Russia invaded Crimea and sent troops and arms into eastern Ukraine shortly after his ouster, leading to a conflict that rages on to this day. The Obama administration never provided arms assistance to Ukraine in response.

    A former Trump White House official and adviser to the president expressed concern to ABC News that arming Ukraine would inflame tensions in the region and aggravate America’s fragile relationship with Russia.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis have been in discussions since June about how to best make the sale. They strongly recommended the decision to finance and sell anti-tank missiles to Ukraine above two other options that would aid in the arming of Ukraine.

    The State Department official added that, in the upcoming weeks, there will be a meeting to discuss the public messaging on the sale — feedback that will be included in the eventual decision.

    But a White House official cautioned that they are not ready to make their decision public.

    "We have no announcement at this time," National Security Council spokesperson Michael Anton told ABC News in an email.

    The State Department was equally non-committal. "The United States has neither provided defensive weapons nor ruled out the option of doing so," a State Department spokesperson told ABC News.

    Ukrainian officials have been publicly optimistic about relations with the United States.

    "We are really satisfied with the acceleration of U.S.-Ukraine relations at the moment," Artur Gerasymov, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and chairman of a military subcommittee, told the publication Foreign Policy in late October.

    Mattis stressed the administration's desire to strengthen ties with Ukraine in an August press conference in Kiev with President Petro Poroshenko.

    "This permits me, better informed, to go back and advocate for what I believe you need, as brought to me by your minister of defense and, certainly, your president," Mattis said. "For example, we've just approved -- just very recently, last couple of weeks -- another $175 million worth of equipment, including some specialized equipment that can be used to help defend the country, bringing to a total of nearly $750 million in the last several years."

    He added, at the time, that U.S. military leadership has been reviewing the American position on providing defensive lethal weapons.

    "I would also point out that, on the defensive lethal weapons ... we are actively reviewing it," Mattis said. "I will go back, now, having seen the current situation, and be able to inform the secretary of state and the president in very specific terms what I recommend for the direction ahead."

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    Republican senator: GOP is 'toast' with Trump in control

    November 18, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Jeff Flake, a frequent sparring partner of President Donald Trump, continues to make enemies in his own party after calling the GOP "toast" while unaware he was still on a live mic.

    Flake, R-Ariz., was at a tax reform event in Mesa, Arizona on Friday night when he was caught bashing the president in a conversation with friend, Mesa Mayor John Giles.

    "If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast," Flake was caught saying by ABC affiliate KNXV-TV.

    Moore is running for the vacant Senate seat in Alabama left by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He has come under fire for a number of allegations of sexual harassment and assault, but has refused to leave the race.

    Trump is a frequent opponent for Flake, who announced last month he would not seek re-election in 2018 in a fiery speech condemning the president from the floor of the Senate.

    Flake indirectly called out Trump in his Senate speech, saying, "We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalies never becomes the normal, with respect and humility."

    He told ABC News' Mary Bruce of Moore in a Nov. 9 interview on Capitol Hill, "If there is any shred of truth to these stories, he ought to step aside. And now."

    Flake's criticism of Trump and the GOP weren't the only interesting comments to be caught on the live mic Friday night.

    Giles was caught appearing to encourage Flake to run for president in 2020.

    "I am not throwing smoke at you, but you are the guy -- just for fun, think about how much fun it would be -- just to be the foil, you know, and point out what an idiot this guy is," Giles said, apparently referring to Trump. "Anyway, I hope you do it."

    Giles, who is a moderate Republican like Flake, has been mayor of Mesa since 2014.

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    US Senate

    How a Senate ethics investigation works

    November 18, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON) -- Top leaders in the Senate are calling for a Senate Ethics Committee review of Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., who was recently accused of forcibly kissing a woman and appearing to grope her while she slept.

    The committee has not announced whether it will pursue a preliminary inquiry into the alleged incidents, which took place before he joined the Senate when he was on an overseas USO tour, but Franken has welcomed an investigation, saying he’d “gladly cooperate.” Franken has also apologized to his accuser, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you."

    On Thursday, the committee announced it would resume its preliminary inquiry into misconduct by Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., whose federal bribery trial ended in a mistrial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has also said if Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is elected in December to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' empty seat, he would likely face an ethics review given the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Moore has denied all the allegations.

    Here’s a look at how a Senate Ethics Committee review would unfold, if and when one occurs:

    Who serves on the committee?

    There are six members on the committee -- Chair Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Vice Chair Chris Coons, D-Del.; Sen. Jim Risch, R-Ind.; Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

    Launching a preliminary inquiry

    Upon the receipt of a complaint or allegation of misconduct, the committee would first decide whether to conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether a violation occurred.

    A preliminary inquiry is similar to grand jury proceedings and could include interviews, subpoenas and depositions. It could last as long or short as the committee needs to conduct its fact-finding.

    After receiving a final confidential report with the findings and recommendations, the committee would then vote to either dismiss the matter, issue a public or private letter of admonition, or to begin an adjudicatory review.

    Conducting an adjudicatory review

    According to the committee's Rules of Procedure, an adjudicatory review is conducted after finding “there is substantial cause for the committee to conclude that a violation within the jurisdiction of the committee has occurred.”

    An adjudicatory review can be performed by outside counsel or by the committee staff. It would consist of interviews and sworn statements and could include a public hearing.

    Upon completion of the review and following a final report, the committee would prepare a report for the Senate, which would include a recommendation if disciplinary action should be pursued. The final report and recommendation of the committee would then be made public, unless the committee votes to keep it confidential.

    Potential disciplinary action

    Potential disciplinary action recommendations could include expulsion, censure and/or payment of restitution. Expulsion would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

    Does the committee have jurisdiction to look into pre-Senate allegations?

    The allegations against Franken occurred prior to his becoming a U.S. senator. Would the committee still have jurisdiction in a case predating someone's time in the Senate?

    The answer is yes - but it hasn’t happened in modern times, according to Robert Walker, who previously served as chief counsel and staff director on the Senate Ethics Committee from 2003 to 2008.

    Walker said he’s unaware of any modern ethics inquiry that stemmed from allegations predating a senator’s time in office but says the committee has left open its ability to consider cases prior to one’s service.

    “The committee has specifically left this an open issue such that in any given case it's up to the committee whether they want to look into pre-Senate conduct,” he said.

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    ABC News

    Republican senator: Trump sexual misconduct allegations 'very disturbing'

    November 19, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON) -- Republican Sen. Susan Collins said sexual misconduct allegations against President Donald Trump that surfaced during the 2016 campaign "remain very disturbing."

    "President Trump was not my choice for the Republican nominee for president, and I did not support him in part because of the way that all of these reports about how he was treating women," the Maine senator told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday. "He is president now and I’m working with him on some issues. But those allegations remain very disturbing."

    At least 16 women have come forward alleging misconduct by Trump, ranging from sexual assault to harassment to inappropriate behavior.

    Collins made her remarks after Stephanopoulos asked if she expected that the country will now see real change on sexual harassment with the current wave of allegations against prominent men from Hollywood to Washington, D.C.

    The senator responded that one problem is that some of the women making the allegations are getting attacked. "Their credibility is undermined," she said.

    Stephanopoulos brought up President Trump, saying, "More than a dozen women came forward during the campaign; [Trump] says that every single one of them are lying.""He did say that," Collins said.

    At least eight women have accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior, which Moore has repeatedly denied. Collins said she believes Moore’s accusers and hopes Alabama will not elect him to the Senate.

    "I did not find him to be credible," Collins said of Moore. "As more and more allegations come forward, that adds to the weight of evidence against him. ... I hope that the good voters of Alabama decide not to send him to the United States Senate."

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    ABC News

    Sex-harassment allegation wave ‘a watershed moment' if men 'man up': Fiorina

    November 19, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON)-- Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett Packard who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, said the current wave of sexual harassment allegations from Hollywood to Capitol Hill "will only be a watershed moment if men decide to step forward."

    Fiorina told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday, "What needs to happen now is the guys need to man up, the guys who know this is happening."

    "Most men are good, decent, respectful men. But enough men are not, and all the other men around them know they are not," said Fiorina, who was part of a "This Week" panel addressing the wave of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations. "I think it's men's turn now to say, 'You know what, we're not going to respect someone who disrespects women. And when that starts to happen, if that starts to happen, then we will have reached a watershed moment."

     

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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    ABC News

    Sen. Susan Collins: 'I want to see changes' in Senate tax bill

    November 19, 2017
    Categories: 

    (WASHINGTON) -- A key moderate Senate Republican said the Senate’s tax bill needs revisions before it is put to a vote.

    "I want to see changes in that bill, and I think there will be changes," Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday.

    She said one problem with the bill is the inclusion of a provision that would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people have health insurance.

    Collins called that provision "the biggest mistake" in the tax act. "I hope it will be dropped," she said.

    The Senate Finance Committee last week approved the Senate GOP leadership's tax-cut bill after the GOP-led House passed its version of a $1.5 trillion overhaul of business and personal taxes.

    Republican congressional leaders want to get tax-cut legislation to the president to sign before Christmas.

    Collins said she prefers the House version of the bill for some of its provisions, such as keeping the tax rate on people who make $1 million or more per year at 39.6 percent.

    “That’s a change I’d like to see be made in the Senate bill so that we can skew more of the relief to middle-income taxes,” the senator said.

    Other changes that Collins said she would like to see in the Senate version include making individual tax breaks, not just corporate tax breaks, permanent, she said.

    "The House made both of them permanent," she said. "I think that is a far better way to go. I also think the reduction in the business tax rate is too steep, and that we could go to 22 percent, and then use that money, which is about $200 billion, to restore the tax deduction for state and local property taxes. That would really help middle-income taxpayers."

    Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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