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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday angrily criticized a federal judge's ruling that blocks new restrictions on asylum that he announced earlier this month, calling the court "not fair" and predicting he would win in the Supreme Court.

He blasted the judge as an "Obama appointee" and then once again lit into the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges who would consider an administration appeal pf the district judge's order.

"The 9th Circuit is something we have to take a look at because it is not fair," Trump said. The appeals court, which has jurisdiction over a swath of California, has previously ruled against the Trump administration on a number of immigration policies.

"People should not be allowed to immediately run to this very friendly circuit and file their case -- and you people know better than anybody what is happening is a disgrace, in my opinion, it is a disgrace what happens with the 9th Circuit. We will win that case in the Supreme Court of the United States," Trump said.

The president's travel ban for majority-Muslim countries was blocked by judges in the 9th Circuit, but the Supreme Court later ruled the action was within the president's authority.

On Tuesday afternoon, Trump called the court a "disgrace" and said he intended to put in a "major complaint."

The federal judge's order on Monday blocking the U.S. government from enforcing a ban on asylum seekers at the U.S. border came after Trump's proclamation earlier this month that sought to bar asylum for immigrants who did not enter at designated ports of entry.

Northern California U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled that the president's proclamation goes against the "expressed intent of Congress" and "irreconcilably conflicts" with the Immigration and Naturalization Act, a 1951 law that "deals with one of the oldest and most important themes in our Nation's history: welcoming homeless refugees to our shores." The law states that migrants crossing the border at any point can ask for asylum.

"Whatever the scope of the President's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," Tigar wrote in the ruling. Tigar was appointed to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama in 2012.

As part of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, Congress "clearly commanded ... that any alien who arrives in the United States, irrespective of that alien's status, may apply for asylum -- 'whether or not at a designated port of arrival,'" Tigar wrote, citing the law.

The president's proclamation on Nov. 9 attempted to limit asylum to immigrants who crossed at designated ports of entry and deny asylum to those who entered at other locations along the 2,000-mile southern border.

Immigration advocacy groups filed suit against Trump immediately after he signed the proclamation.

"At this very moment, massive numbers of aliens are arriving at our southern border, threatening to incapacitate our already overwhelmed immigration system," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

"Yet now, a single district judge has issued a nationwide temporary restraining order preventing the executive branch from performing its Constitutional duty to enforce our borders and control entry into the United States. This decision will open the floodgates, inviting countless illegal aliens to pour into our country on the American taxpayer’s dime," Sanders said.

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Subscribe To This Feed -- In an extraordinary statement, President Trump on Tuesday defended Saudi Arabia in the face of mounting pressure over the slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime,” Trump said in his statement.

“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” Trump said in the statement.

He went on: “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

Trump issued the statement without referencing any conclusions in the latest CIA assessment on Khashoggi's murder, which he had said would be completed Tuesday.

The president has so far resisted calls for a stronger response to the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Trump made clear the U.S.-Saudi relationship is one he refuses to diminish. This, despite outrage among members of his own party on Capitol Hill, who have vowed to seek justice in Khashoggi's killing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed the president's position at a briefing Tuesday.

"So it's a mean, nasty world out there," Pompeo said. "It is the president's obligation and indeed the State Department's duty as well to ensure we adopt policies that further America's national security."

He went on: "So as the president said today, the United States will continue to have a relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, they are an important partner of ours."

“They’re an important ally, but when it comes to the Crown Prince, he’s irrational, he’s unhinged, and I think he’s done a lot of damage to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and I have no intention of working with him ever again,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

The Saudis have denied the crown prince ordered Khashoggi's killing.

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!” Trump said in his statement.

Following the president's statement, Senate Democrats are now calling on the intelligence community to state publicly what it believes to have happened to Khashoggi.

"If they will not, I intend to offer legislation to require the IC [Intelligence Community] to release an unclassified public assessment of who ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing when the Senate returns next week," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement.

And Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California also weighed in with a statement: "I plan to vote against any future arms sales and appropriation to Saudi Arabia. I also believe that the United States should consider sanctions against the crown prince and that the Saudi ambassador to the United States should not be allowed to continue in that role."

Over the weekend, Trump said that the U.S. government would complete a "full report" on Khashoggi's death by Tuesday while denying reports that the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.

"They haven’t accessed anything yet -- it’s too early,” Trump said. “That was a very premature report. But that’s possible. We’re gonna see.”

But a State Department official who has seen a version of the CIA's assessment on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi told ABC News it's "blindingly obvious" that the crown prince, known as MBS, ordered Khashoggi's death.

"The idea that it goes all the way to the top is blindingly obvious," said the State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

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Al Drago/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a race that was supposed to be a Republican rout in the Deep South, Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith's campaign seems to be stumbling after a series of public statements were released on video, calling into question her views on race and voting rights.

On Tuesday, photos surfaced on Facebook showing Hyde-Smith donning a Confederate solider hat, with the caption "Mississippi history at its best." The existence of the photos was first reported by Politico.

Hyde-Smith's campaign declined to comment to ABC News for the story.

The campaign of her Democratic challenger, Mike Espy, did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.

This new controversy comes amid numerous missteps by Hyde-Smith, including the uproar over a racially tinged joke about "public hangings," that pushed the race into the national spotlight and an unexpected shift in favorable public perception toward the Democrat. National party leaders, including 2020 potential contenders, are flocking to Mississippi to campaign for Espy and amid the newest scandal ahead of the special election — the last open Senate seat of the 2018 midterm elections.

Although she failed to clinch 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 6 to win outright, Hyde-Smith had been on a winning trajectory in the upcoming runoff on Nov. 27 against Espy, a former Clinton Cabinet secretary.

The two candidates are set to square off for the first time in a debate Tuesday night beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

The white, Republican senator embraced a supporter at a Nov. 2 campaign stop in Tupelo after he praised her and said before a cheering crowd, "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row."

Only four days later, another video surfaced showing Hyde-Smith seeming to support voter suppression.

"Then they remind me, that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea," she said to a group of supporters in Starkville on Nov. 3.

Despite evoking language reminiscent of lynchings that scar Mississippi's history and also appearing to support voter disenfranchisement — another battle wound for African-Americans in the south — Hyde-Smith did not apologize for either comment.

Instead, she called the first "an exaggerated expression of regard" and the latter "a joke."

Her African-American challenger’s long-shot bid has now edged closer into competitive territory and the national Democratic network mobilized in the hopes of delivering a potential upset.

Pouring in resources to bolster support from the state’s Democratic base and sending in Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to campaign alongside the former congressman, Democrats are staking their hopes on Espy to continue their momentum in the midterms.

On Monday, Former Vice President Joe Biden, another potential 2020 contender, endorsed the former agriculture secretary in a video.

The top Democratic super PAC for Senate Democrats, the Senate Majority PAC, invested $500,000 to flood the states' airwaves. The ad buy began on Nov. 16. A first ad targeted Hyde-Smith on health care, suggesting she is in the pocket of health insurance companies and will increase health care premiums — without mentioning the Affordable Care Act.

As a red state Democrat in the south, Espy’s task is a balancing act: embracing the core of his voters who he can help propel him back into national politics, while also convincing more moderate voters of his political independence.

Using his moderate appeal to attract white voters, Espy is running as an "independent" Democrat.

"Even though I'm a Democrat, I'm an independent — a small 'I' — Democrat, meaning that I'm a Mississippian first," Espy told ABC News in an interview last month.

During the campaign, Espy showed rising momentum as he outpaced both Republicans by raising $1.17 million in the third quarter. He has raised over $163,000 in new contributions as of Nov. 13, according to his latest FEC filing.

Voters in Mississippi are expected to return to the polls next week, among them will be the state’s African-American population, which stands at 38 percent, the largest of any state in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the Nov. 6 election, black voters made up 33 percent of the electorate, and Espy captured a staggering 91 percent of that demographic, according to exit polls.

The challenge for Democrats as they compete in uncharted regions of the country, however, is Mississippi’s long history as a ruby red bastion for Republicans. The last time the state elected a Democrat to Congress was 1982 when former Sen. John Stennis secured a final seventh term. The last time the state sent an African-American to the Senate was during the Reconstruction Era when the state voted in former Sens. Hiram Revels and Blanche K. Bruce in the late 1800s.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump carried the state by nearly 20 percentage points over Hillary Clinton. And although he advanced to the runoff after defeating another Republican in the race, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Espy only benefited from the special election’s non-partisan jungle primary format that requires a candidate to net a majority of the vote to win outright.

Espy advanced to the runoff after the two Republican contenders split the GOP vote, garnering 40.6 percent of the vote on Nov. 6, only 0.8 percent behind Hyde-Smith. McDaniel netted about 16 percent of the vote.

Now, the Magnolia state is finding itself in the same breath as neighboring Alabama — a state that sent Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate last year, after a sexual misconduct scandal crippled Trump-backed Republican Roy Moore’s bid. Jones, a civil rights attorney, became the first Alabama Democrat elected to the Senate in 25 years.

Espy hopes that he can replicate Jones’ stunning victory and shrink the GOP’s advantage in the incoming Senate. Similar to the coalition that successfully sent Jones to the Senate in 2017, Espy will have to turn out African-American voters and appeal to moderate white voters to win.

"We have to get the African-American vote out in higher numbers than it's ever come out before," he told ABC News. "We have to make sure everyone regardless of race comes out. Get the African-American vote out. Get enough of what I call 'purple people.' They may be Republicans, they may be Independents, I don't care."

But some Republicans are intensifying their efforts to secure Hyde-Smith's hold on her seat amid growing concerns over her candidacy.

On the eve of the special election, President Trump is heading back to the state for two rallies to salvage her presumptive lead. His visit to Tupelo and Biloxi, two GOP strongholds in the state, is being buttressed by support from national Republicans, who are spending more than $1 million on ads across the state.

On Tuesday, Trump said it was a "shame" that Hyde-Smith is facing criticism over a comment "said in jest."

"I know she feels badly about it," the president told reporters.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee independent expenditure is contributing over $700,000 in ads and might boost their spending, according to a Republican source with knowledge of the ad buy. A first ad began airing on Nov. 15, focusing on Trump's "drain the swamp"rallying cry and attacking Democrat Mike Espy as a "high paid lobbyist."

A top Republican super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, also began running ads statewide on Nov. 16, with an ad buy reaching just over $1 million for TV and radio through the runoff. There’s also a $130,000 digital component, according to spokesperson Chris Pack.

A new digital ad from Hyde-Smith's campaign, released Friday, touts an alleged connection between Espy and the African despot who refused to give up power in the Ivory Coast and is now on trial for crimes against humanity in International Criminal Court.

The statement and the ad are based on a Fox News report, released Thursday, that published a U.S. Department of Justice Foreign Agents Registration Act document that questions if Espy lied about receiving payments as part of a lobbying contract with the Ivory Coast's former president.

Hyde-Smith reported 17 new contributions totaling $65,700, including $5,000 from Google's PAC, on Tuesday, shortly after the controversy erupted, according to Open Secrets.

Google's contribution is the PAC's first to Hyde-Smith’s campaign, but the company told Open Secrets it was made far before her controversial remark.

"This contribution was made on November 2nd before Senator Hyde-Smith’s remarks became public on November 11th," a Google spokesperson told Open Secrets. "We do not condone these remarks and would not have made such a contribution had we known about them."

But some top Republicans distanced themselves from Hyde-Smith in the wake of her controversial comments and even conceded that the outcome of this race is no longer assuredly in the hands of the GOP.

"I think we have to be concerned when candidates say stupid things," ABC News contributor and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on ABC’s This Week. "Candidates matter. And so now this race will be much more watched. I think the Republican will still win but I think they’ll be much more watched because when candidates say things that, you know, aren’t — aren’t right, aren’t smart, they get more attention."

When asked if he thought the seat was legitimately in play, Michael Caputo, a former senior advisor to the Trump campaign said, "I think so. Mike Espy, by the way, appeals very much to white voters. He is a very bright man with a lot of history of strong contributions in Washington."

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Amid reports that first daughter and White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump exchanged hundreds of official government business emails using a personal email account, top Democrats on Capitol Hill "want to know if Ivanka complied with the law" and in the next Congress plan to continue their investigation of the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act.

Trump’s reported use of a personal email account to conduct official government business, first confirmed by the Washington Post, creates an awkward dynamic in the West Wing.

Her father’s presidential campaign heavily criticized Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server account during her tenure as Secretary of State.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat who’s in line to become the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next year, promises any potential investigation into Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s emails won’t be like the “spectacle” Republicans led in the Clinton email probe.

“We launched a bipartisan investigation last year into White House officials’ use of private email accounts for official business, but the White House never gave us the information we requested,” Cummings, D-Md., noted. “We need those documents to ensure that Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and other officials are complying with federal records laws and there is a complete record of the activities of this Administration. My goal is to prevent this from happening again — not to turn this into a spectacle the way Republicans went after Hillary Clinton. My main priority as Chairman will be to focus on the issues that impact Americans in their everyday lives.”

The Oversight committee has jurisdiction over records and transparency laws, and Cummings helped write an update to the Presidential and Federal Records Acts that was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014. That measure mandates that every federal employee, including the President, forward any message about official business sent using a private account to the employee’s official email account within 20 days.

Ivanka Trump’s lawyer explained through a spokesman that while transitioning into government, “Ms. Trump sometimes used her private account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family.”

“To address misinformation being peddled about Ms. Trump’s personal email, she did not create a private server in her house or office, there was never classified information transmitted, the account was never transferred or housed at Trump Organization, no emails were ever deleted, and the emails have been retained in the official account in conformity with records preservation laws and rules,” stated Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s ethics counsel Abbe Lowell. “When concerns were raised in the press 14 months ago, Ms. Trump reviewed and verified her email use with White House Counsel and explained the issue to congressional leaders.”

Citing Lowell’s statement, a senior Democratic committee aide noted: “it appears that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner did not comply with that law.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee first started a bipartisan investigation into White House senior advisor Jared Kushner’s email usage in 2017, though the probe did not advance past Republicans in charge of the panel.

Oversight Democrats already have constructed a list of more than 50 subpoenas and inquiries denied by Republicans they say will be revisited after Democrats take majority control in the 116th Congress in January.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Army might shift some of its troops along the border to California where caravans of migrants seeking asylum have gathered in Tijuana, Mexico across the border from San Diego, but clarified that no timelines have been determined for the possibility that some troops could leave the border ahead of the mission's scheduled end on Dec. 15.

"We are continually assessing our resources and refining requirements in close coordination with the Department of Homeland Security," according to a U.S. Army North statement.

The Army command, headed by Lt. Gen. Jay Buchanan, is overseeing the deployment of 5,800 active-duty military personnel to the border in support of Customs and Border Protection as it prepares for the arrival of several migrant caravans making their way through Mexico from Central America.

"We may shift some forces to other areas of the border to engineering support missions in California and other areas," according to the statement.

A significant number of the 5,800 active-duty troops assigned to the border support mission were sent to Texas because it was a shorter distance for the migrant caravans to travel compared to California.

But the first of the migrant caravan has headed west instead with up to 3,000 migrants now in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, where they are waiting to make their way to a port of entry to seek asylum.

The Army statement suggests some of the 2,800 troops assigned to Texas or the 1,500 in Arizona could be moved to California to provide more logistical support to CBP.

The statement was prompted by a news report that indicated Buchanan had suggested in an interview that some of engineering units involved in building up the new military facilities along the border could leave the border in coming days, ahead of the scheduled end date.

"No specific timeline for redeployment has been determined," the statement continued. "We will provide more details as they become available."

Redeployment is the military term for when troops have completed their mission and return to their home base.

The active-duty troops are currently serving in Texas, Arizona and California as part of a mission to provide engineering, logistical and transportation support to CBP.

On Tuesday, the White House is expected to announce new authorities that would allow active-duty troops to protect CBP personnel from a threat, according to a U.S. official.

Currently, the troops serving on the border may act in self-defense, but they do not have the authority to intervene if CBP personnel are overwhelmed by migrants.

Defense Secretary James Mattis had rejected an earlier CBP request which would have allowed troops to perform activities like crowd and riot control because the Pentagon considered them to be law enforcement duties.

Active-duty troops are prohibited by federal law from performing law enforcement activities unless specifically ordered by Congress or the president.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is set to announce on Tuesday that active duty troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border will be granted new authorities that allow them to protect Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel from a threat, according to a U.S. official.

Currently, the 5,900 troops on the southern border can act in self-defense, but do not have the authority to intervene if CBP personnel were overwhelmed by migrants.

CNN was first to report about the additional authorities.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not confirm the expected White House announcement but stressed in a statement the importance of personnel safety.

“As Secretary Nielsen has said, we will not allow our frontline personnel to be in harm’s way," DHS spokesperson Kate Waldman told ABC News. "We will do everything we can to protect those who defend our nation’s sovereignty and secure our border. We appreciate the Department of Defense stepping in to assist the Department of Homeland Security as needed.”

Three thousand migrants, mostly escaping violence and poverty in Central America, have poured into Tijuana in recent days, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. port of entry across from Tijuana in San Ysidro, Calif., was closed for three hours early Monday after immigration authorities said they had received reports that members of a migrant caravan were gathering in Tijuana and planned to "rush" the border.

CBP closed northbound lanes towards the nation's busiest border crossing, while military troops worked to install items like "jersey barriers and concertina wire," CBP said. According to a DHS official, the suspension of the port also allowed CBP to move additional personnel to the area.

However, it turned out to be a false alarm with CBP saying no migrants ever arrived.

The new authorities come as Defense Secretary James Mattis had earlier rejected a CBP request that would have allowed troops to perform activities like crowd control and riot control because the Pentagon considered them to be law enforcement.

Active duty troops are prohibited by federal law from performing law enforcement activities unless specifically ordered by Congress or the president.

Troops are currently scheduled to deploy to the border through Dec. 15 unless the Pentagon is "directed otherwise," Department of Defense spokesperson Col. Rob Manning told reporters on Monday.

"And at some point in time when the work is done, we'll start downsizing capability or shift capability elsewhere on the border," Manning said, adding that the troop presence would fall in line with requests from CBP and DHS.

The Pentagon has yet to provide an official cost estimate for the deployment.

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Steve Pope/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As speculation swirls over whether Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker might try to rein in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Mueller’s team argued to a federal appeals court Monday that Whitaker’s appointment “has no effect” on the special counsel’s authority and that Mueller continues to have “the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States Attorney.”

“Acting Attorney General Whitaker’s designation neither alters the Special Counsel’s authority to represent the United States nor raises any jurisdictional issue,” Mueller’s team wrote in a brief filed Monday. “The Special Counsel continues to exercise the same authority, and the jurisdiction of the district court and this Court is intact.”

The filing came as part of an ongoing legal battle between Mueller’s team and Andrew Miller, a former associate of political provocateur Roger Stone. Miller has refused to comply with a subpoena demanding his testimony before a federal grand jury, and a lower-level court judge found him in contempt of court. Miller and his lawyers are now urging the U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C., to reject the contempt finding, insisting Mueller’s appointment was unconstitutional.

After President Donald Trump appointed Whitaker to take control of the Justice Department – and the Mueller probe -- the federal appeals court asked both sides to weigh in on whether the appointment alters the case.

Over the past year, Whitaker has repeatedly criticized Mueller’s investigation, at one point even suggesting how a new attorney general could choke off funding to Mueller’s office. A Justice Department spokeswoman recently said Whitaker “is fully committed to following all appropriate processes and procedures at the Department of Justice.”

Miller’s team argued to the court the designation of Whitaker as Acting Attorney General “has no effect on this case.”

In their own brief filed Monday, Miller’s attorneys agreed with Mueller that Whitaker’s new role had no impact on the arguments in the case.

“The short answer is that the designation of Matthew G. Whitaker as Acting Attorney General by the President following the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not affect Appellant’s argument that Special Counsel Mueller was required to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate under the Appointments Clause as a principal officer,” Miller’s lawyer, Paul Kamenar, wrote.

Kamenar added that the designation had no effect on Miller’s alternative argument that Mueller was required to be appointed as an inferior officer under the Excepting Clause by the then “Head of the Department” -- in this case, Sessions -- and not by Rosenstein.

Miller’s appeal is steered by the National Legal and Policy Center, a well-funded conservative legal group with a deep history of mounting legal challenges against left-leaning organizations and Democratic politicians.

Kamenar’s challenge to the legitimacy of the special counsel probe is based on a claim that Mueller’s appointment was not handled properly. He argues Mueller has been effectively operating as a “U.S. Attorney at large,” and as such, should have been appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate – neither of which occurred.

Earlier this month, a panel of three D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judges presiding over the case heard opening arguments in the matter just 24 hours after President Donald Trump’s dismissal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The latest court filings come in response to a request from the federal judges for additional briefs to address President Donald Trump’s appointment of Whitaker to replace Sessions, and what impact the change had on either party’s arguments. Miller, 34, has told ABC News he paints houses for a living now but served as an aide to Stone until 2013.

Stone, who was a longtime informal political adviser to Trump, once described Miller as his “wingman” because he helped manage Stone’s schedule, travel and media appearances, and also provided “some I.T. work.” Miller identifies himself as a libertarian and has said he did not support Trump’s candidacy, but he did accompany Stone to the 2016 Republican National Convention.

More than a dozen individuals associated with Stone have met with the special counsel since last summer and many of those have appeared before the grand jury impaneled by Mueller’s team. The witnesses have told ABC News they were asked about Stone’s dealings during the 2016 election and what if any contact he may have had with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange through an intermediary - an allegation Stone denies.

In response to the special counsel's brief, Kamenar told ABC News in a statement on Monday, “The Special Counsel’s brief simply argued that the appointment of Whitaker has no bearing on the way the Court should resolve our challenge to Mueller’s authority. In that regard, we both agree. But if we’re right and Mueller is unconstitutionally appointed as an inferior officer, Whitaker would need to appoint him anew to make Mueller legal for any future actions he might take.”

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Subscribe To This Feed -- The midterms elections may have ended earlier this month but another election season is in full flight between the two turkeys vying to become this year’s official National Thanksgiving Turkey.

This year’s candidates: Peas and Carrots.

One of the two turkeys will be selected via an online White House poll to become this year's National Thanksgiving Turkey.

The turkeys have been carefully groomed for a White House event, trained from a young age to be comfortable with lights, crowds, and music to make them comfortable in the limelight.

“When we started we had 50 of them and then we worked with them to see which ones were nicer, not as aggressive, we've kind of trained them to sit on a table and usually if you put your hand softly on their back it calms them and they'll be really calm, we hope, and we train them to kind of gobble sometimes,” National Turkey Federation Chairman Jeff Sveen told ABC News.

This year's turkeys hail from a farm in South Dakota. They were driven to Washington over the weekend and checked into the Williard Hotel, where the birds are staying in their very own hotel suite ahead of White House event.

And though only one turkey will get the official White House pardon, both will be spared from the Thanksgiving table.

After tomorrow’s pardoning ceremony, Peas and Carrots will move down to Virginia Tech University where they will be housed at a facility named “Gobbler’s Rest” where they will live out the remainder of their natural lives. But while these turkeys are guaranteed not to become dinner, these 20-week old birds likely only have a few good months of life left to live.

"With these domestic turkeys they don't have a long lifespan because they were bred for a purpose of going into the food supply, and if these guys live to a year, that's great, beyond that that's greater, so they don't have a long life span," explains Rami Dalloul of Virginia Tech University.

The tradition of the president pardoning a turkey can be traced back as far as President Abraham Lincoln, who spared a turkey from becoming the family's Christmas meal at the intervention of his son.

But the tradition of the formal turkey pardoning, as we know it today, didn't start in earnest until President George H.W. Bush in 1989, who jokingly passed down a pardon to the turkey presented to him as animal rights activists protested nearby, according to the White House Historical Association.

"Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table, not this guy – he's granted a presidential pardon as of right now – and allow him to live out his days on a children's farm not far from here," Bush said at the time.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump White House in a letter says it is dropping its effort to suspend the press pass belonging to CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta but has outlined a set of rules that, if they aren't followed, "may result in suspension or revocation" of a journalist's press pass.

"Your hard pass is restored," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine wrote to Acosta. "Should you refuse to follow these rules in the future, we will take action in accordance with the rules," they wrote after outlining the rules. Trump was "aware of this decision and concurs," according to the letter.

The letter outlines four rules: a journalist "will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists," follow-up questions will be permitted "at the discretion of the president or other White House officials taking questions," "yielding the floor" is defined as "physically surrendering" the microphone and, lastly, "failure to abide" by any of the rules may result in "suspension or revocation of the journalist's hard pass."

Acosta was stripped of his press pass without warning earlier this month after a heated exchange during a press conference with President Donald Trump one day after the midterm elections. His press pass was temporarily restored by a court order Friday and the judge ordered both legal teams to submit a status report detailing how they would like to proceed by 3 p.m. on Monday.

The Friday ruling guaranteed Acosta use of his press pass to the White House through the end of the month. But over the weekend, the White House wasted no time informing Acosta of a “preliminary decision” to suspend his pass after that period is up. Lawyers for CNN responded Monday by filing for an emergency hearing the week after Thanksgiving, “or as soon thereafter as possible.”

CNN has since dropped its suit saying in a statement "Today the White House fully restored Jim Acosta's press pass. As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary. We look forward to continuing to cover the White House."

The letter cites “behavior” at a press conference the day after the midterms that “violated the basic standards governing such events” as the reason to suspend Acosta’s pass. It’s signed by Bill Shine, deputy chief of staff for communications, and Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, who are both named as defendants in the initial lawsuit.

Over the weekend, Acosta and CNN’s legal team wrote back to Sanders and Shine, calling the letter an “attempt to provide retroactive due process” and requesting the White House “refrain from — yet again — violating the constitutional rights of CNN and Acosta.”

In the letter, Acosta wrote that there were "no so-called 'widely understood practices'" governing press conferences, which the White House jumped on in outlining four rules on Monday.

CNN filed a lawsuit earlier this week claiming that revoking Acosta's press pass to the White House, known as a "hard pass," violated the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly repeatedly emphasized at the court hearing on Friday that his decision to return Acosta's press pass, with a temporary restraining order as litigation continues, was based on the Fifth Amendment, under which the judge ruled Acosta was denied his right to due process. Due process would give Acosta and CNN the chance to rebut and challenge the appropriateness of the government’s action.

In his closing remarks, Kelly made clear that the ruling, which is only the beginning of the court proceedings to decide Acosta’s White House access, was narrow and didn’t determine whether or not Acosta’s First Amendment right was violated.

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Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump continues to squabble with retired Adm. William McRaven, the commander of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, now falsely claiming credit in a tweet for pointing out the terrorist’s name in a book he authored before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Here's how the back-and-forth is unfolding.

Trump's Bin Laden claim

Trump’s tweet is an apparent reference to a book he authored in 2000, titled "The America We Deserve," where the future president criticizes President Bill Clinton’s shifting national security policy.

In the book's sole Bin Laden reference, Trump only briefly mentions the terrorist leader and does not fully address the scope of the threat he posed.

“Instead of one looming crisis hanging over us, we face a bewildering series of smaller crises, flashpoints, standoffs, and hot spots. We’re not playing the chess game to end all chess games anymore. We’re playing tournament chess — one master against many rivals,” Trump wrote. “One day we’re all assured that Iraq is under control, the UN inspectors have done their work, everything’s fine, not to worry. The next day the bombing begins. One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin-Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.”

Trump's claim on military aid to Pakistan

In his second tweet, Trump boasts about cutting off military aid to Pakistan. In September, the Pentagon canceled a remaining pot of $300 million bound for Pakistan, bringing the total in military assistance cuts to $800 million this year.

That's financial aid that the U.S. had traditionally reimbursed to Pakistan for military spending to hunt militants. The Trump administration says it is withholding that money because Pakistan has done little to end the safe haven there for terrorist groups operating in the region.

The State Department’s assistance to Pakistan is less, contributing to programs that support economic development, education and social services, and democracy and human rights promotions.

In FY 2018, the State Department shelled out $337 million to Pakistan, a cut representing nearly half of the $631 million it received in FY 2017, and down from a high of $691 million in FY 2015, according to the department's foreign assistance tracker.

Trump V McRaven

Trump initially slammed McRaven as a "Hillary Clinton fan" during an interview with Fox News that aired this weekend, contending it would have been nice if bin Laden had been captured sooner.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?” Trump asked rhetorically, emphasizing that bin Laden lived in a “mansion” in Abbottabad, Pakistan. “But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”

McRaven responded to Trump’s comments on Fox News, denying that he backed any candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign while standing by his previous comments that the president's attack on the media is the greatest threat to U.S. democracy.

"I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else," McRaven noted. "I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for. I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times."

"I stand by my comment that the President's attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime," McRaven continued. "When you undermine the people's right to a free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the Constitution and all for which it stands."

Last August, McRaven defended former CIA director John Brennan after Trump revoked his security clearance, writing a critical op-ed for the Washington Post where he asked the president to revoke his own security clearance in solidarity with Brennan, also a frequent critic of the president.

"Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him," McRaven wrote. "Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency."

McRaven, a former Navy SEAL, led the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014 before retiring from the military.

Days after he asked Trump to revoke his security clearance, McRaven resigned from his position with the Defense Innovation Board, an advisory committee of former Defense senior officials who make recommendations on future projects and technologies.

Trump has not revoked McRaven’s security clearance.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump continues squabble with commander of raid that killed Bin Laden


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JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- This year's White House Christmas tree, a 19 1/2-foot-tall Fraser fir, was plucked from the North Carolina mountains, but was nearly abandoned before being chosen.

Before it was presented Monday in Washington, D.C. the tree hailed from Larry Smith's tree farm in the mountains of Newland, N.C.

The tree nearly had a different fate, according to Smith.

“I’d basically abandoned it,” Smith told the Charlotte Observer.

However, he told the newspaper that two White House officials who chose the tree loved the “natural look” of the fir that had not been trimmed in a few years.

“It’s like a Cinderella story,” Smith added.

Smith did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The officials went to his farm after Smith won the 2018 Grand Champion designation at the National Christmas Tree Association’s Christmas Tree Contest in Green Bay, Wis., giving him the honor of providing the official White House Christmas tree, High Country Press reported.

It was his fifth try, according to the Avery Journal.

The tree was cut down on Wednesday and transported by flatbed truck to the White House presentation on Monday.

Smith and his family were on hand to present this year’s tree to President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump. The tree will be displayed in the Blue Room of the White House this holiday season, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, a trade group.

As is tradition, the tree arrived by horse-drawn carriage. The Marine band played Christmas-themed tunes as the president and first lady walked around the carriage, admiring the tree from all angles.

The first couple also stopped to pose for a few photos with some onlookers.

Having one of his trees selected as the White House Christmas Tree “is the most prestigious honor” he could ever receive, Smith told the Observer.

“It’s like winning the Super Bowl,” Smith said.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women newly-elected to Congress, is helping spearhead an effort to allow religious headwear, such as hijabs or kippahs, on the House floor.

The proposal would reverse a 181-year ban on headwear of any type in the House.

Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, said on Twitter that wearing a religious headscarf is her First Amendment right.

Omar, could be one of the first federal representatives to wear religious headwear in Congress. She’s joined by Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib as one of the first two Muslim women representing their districts on Capitol Hill.

The rule change was proposed last week by Nancy Pelosi in the wake of a historic wave of diverse lawmakers elected to Congress. Pelosi, who aims to reclaim her position as Speaker of the House, is working with Ranking Member Jim McGovern and Omar.

The change would “ensure religious expression” by “clarifying in the rules that religious headwear is permitted to be worn in the House chamber,” according to the proposal. The House rules proposal is part of a Democratic rollout aimed at restoring "inclusion and diversity." Democrats also want to create an independent diversity office to “facilitate a diverse workforce with qualified candidates that is reflective of our Members” and their districts, as well as an amendment on House rules to clearly “ban discrimination on the basis of sexual identification and gender identity.”

Before her victory in the midterms, Omar made history in Minnesota when she was elected to the State House in 2016 as nation's first Somali-American legislator.

The current rules were adopted in the 1800s without much debate and the language was eventually modified to read, “Every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House.” It was custom in the British Parliament to wear hats while in session.

The new proposals, if approved, will take effect in January with the start of the 2019 legislative session.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Florida's most embattled election official is resigning, effective January.

After drawing more criticism than anyone in the state during the -- at times -- messy recount that unfolded in Florida following Election Day, Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes has submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Rick Scott.

"Although I have enjoyed this work tremendously over these many election cycles, both large and small, I am ready to pass the torch," Snipes wrote to Scott. She asked for her resignation to be effective Jan. 4, 2019.

Snipes had previously hinted she might step down after 2018's vote recount had finished, but she had not said so definitively. A county official who does not work for the state, Snipes was first appointed in 2003 and had been re-elected since.

Snipes drew more attention and criticism than any election official during Florida’s vote recount, which ended Sunday with local election officials racing to meet a noon deadline to send results from the race for state agriculture commissioner and the U.S. Senate contest. Scott defeated sitting Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Scott’s campaign successfully sued Snipes in federal court, as a judge ordered her to release vote totals. Amid allegations of “fraud” by Scott, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi prompted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Snipes, but no investigation ever materialized. A federal judge also said Scott’s team lacked evidence of misconduct.

Her office reportedly intermingled about 20 provisional ballots that shouldn't have been counted, out of a batch of 205. It also failed to meet a 3 p.m. deadline on Thursday, uploading results late to the state website after previously completing the first round of recounting on time.

As Republicans alleged improprieties in Florida's vote counting and recounting, attention turned repeatedly to Snipes and to Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

In perhaps the best encapsulation of Florida’s recount problems, Snipes announced to a canvassing board meeting on Saturday that her office may have misplaced more than 2,000 ballots while counting votes in the state's agriculture race. Recounting in other races had already been completed.

Snipes assured those in attendance: “The ballots are in the building. The ballots are in the building.”

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Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The View host Meghan McCain has penned a powerful note about her father John McCain almost three months after losing him to cancer.

McCain, 34, shared an inside look into the strong bond and special relationship the father-daughter duo shared for years before his death earlier this year.

Alongside a picture of McCain cooking breakfast, Meghan wrote on Instagram, "84 days without you. You used to get up early in the morning and go get us all Starbucks in town in the Cottonwood Safeway and then come home and make eggs and bacon. You always had a giant venti cappuccino. We would eat on the porch and talk about life and politics while you read the newspaper and watched out for the hawks to fly by."

She added that there is nothing she wants more than to have one of those mornings with her father now and that "I don’t know how you go from talking to someone seven times a day to never."

The grieving daughter compared life now to some kind of "parallel universe I fell into."

"The pain of missing you and the grief that comes with it continues to be sharp and primal. Some waves are more intense than others but they come every day relentlessly," she added.

But as she's said before, her father made Meghan strong and instilled his resilience into his beloved daughter.

"I fight on because that is what you told me I had to do and demanded of me. I know you made me so tough and strong with the intensity that only you could have purposefully -- and for that I am the most grateful," she continued. "I love you forever."

She closed with a note about grief and in efforts to inspire others, adding that no one should put a time limit on moving on with your life after losing someone you love so much.

"We all do it differently in different ways," she wrote.

The post is filled with fans thanking her for sharing and sending condolences on her immense loss.

McCain continues to share the late icon's impact on her life, wishing co-host Whoopi Goldberg a happy birthday last week, posting a sweet picture of her father visiting the set of The View.

"I don’t know what I would do without you. Thank you for your friendship to both me and my family. You are a ball of love and light in this crazy world and I am so grateful for you," she wrote to Goldberg.

John McCain, a Vietnam War hero and one of the most distinctive figures in modern American politics, died at the age of 81 this past August.

His passing sent out shockwaves of grief that cut across politics, and he lay in state in the Capitol, an honor reserved only for major American figures.

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Leavenworth County Board of County Commissioners (NEW YORK) --  The governor of Kansas is demanding the resignation of a white county commissioner who claimed he was "part of the master race" when talking to an African-American consultant during a public meeting last week.

Gov. Jeff Colyer is asking Louis Klemp, chairman of the Leavenworth County Board of Commissioners, to step down following his "inappropriate remarks" made during a public meeting on Nov. 13.

"Racial and discriminative language have no place in our society, and most especially when spoken by someone holding a public office," Colyer said in a statement. "The inappropriate remarks made by Leavenworth County Commissioner Louis Klemp are unacceptable and do not reflect the values of the county which he represents. As such I call on him to step down as county commissioner."

During a public meeting on Tuesday, Triveece Penelton, a consultant for VIREO Planning Associates in Kansas City, was making a presentation to the board of commissioners about community engagement on a potential development of rural land in Tonganoxie, Kansas.

In a video of the meeting, posted on the Leavenworth County Board of Commissioners' YouTube channel, Klemp expressed his displeasure with a plan to develop the land as residential. He said he favored an industrial development that would return revenue to the county.

 Speaking directly to Penelton, Klemp said, "I don’t want you to think I'm picking on you because we're part of the master race. You know you got a gap in your teeth. You're the masters. Don’t ever forget that."

Klemp did not explain what he meant by the comment.

The term "master race" stems from Nazi terminology, often describing Adolf Hitler's belief in a superior Aryan race.

Klemp did not respond to requests for comment Sunday from ABC News.

Penelton also could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Leavenworth County Administrator Mark Loughry issued a statement defending Klemp, saying the commissioner was referring to a gap in his own teeth and noting that Penelton had a similar gap.

"The use of the term 'Master Race,' as ill-advised as it may be, was not a reference to Nazis or used in a racist manner in this instance," Loughry said in a statement. "Leavenworth County has a zero tolerance for racism or discrimination in any form from any staff members. I am deeply sorry that one misconstrued comment by a member of our elected governing body has caused so much grief, sorrow and hatred."

But Robert Holland, one of Klemp's colleagues on the commission, said Klemp needs to be disciplined.

"When he said 'master race,' there is no master race," Holland told ABC affiliate station KMBC-TV in Leavenworth. "I mean, we're all Americans, we're all human beings. There is no master race."

Holland said he is considering a motion to remove Klemp, whose term on the board runs through Jan. 15, from being chairman of the board.

Meanwhile, the Leavenworth City Commission held a special meeting on Thursday and issued a statement condemning Klemp's remark and asked that he apologize and step down.

"These comments have resulted in widespread negative attention and have harmed the overall perception of residents, businesses, cities, organizations and agencies in Leavenworth County," the Leavenworth City Commission said in its statement. "The City Commission unequivocally denounces the use of 'master race' or any other language that has historic ties to racism, division and bigotry in any setting at any time."

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