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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --  The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Friday that it has spent more than $3.5 million on Administrator Scott Pruitt's security team since taking office, significantly more than his two predecessors.

As more ethical questions prompted investigations into the cost of Pruitt's security detail and travel, members of Congress have questioned whether the increased spending was justified.

The agency says that Pruitt needed 24/7 security – more than previous administrators – in response to an "unprecedented number of threats" against him. Because of the threats, the EPA says, Pruit and his security team needed to fly first class and the total includes those costs.

Documents released by the EPA show that the agency spent more than $2.7 million on payroll for the administrator's security detail between April 2017 and March 2018 and nearly $760,000 on travel for his detail during the same 12 months.

Pruitt was sworn in in mid-February 2017. The agency spent almost $500,000 in that January - March fiscal quarter but it's not clear how much of that was after Pruitt was confirmed.

The documents show that agency spent significantly less on the security detail for the two previous EPA administrators under the Obama administration, Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy. Payroll and travel for Jackson's detail cost about $1.9 million for her first year in office in 2009 and 2010. McCarthy's detail cost almost $2 million for her first year starting in July 2013.

An EPA spokesman said the agency plans to proactively release security costs multiple times a year to be more transparent. The documents released this week are posted on a page of the EPA's website for materials frequently requested through the Freedom of Information Act.

“Administrator Pruitt has faced an unprecedented amount of death threats against him and to provide transparency EPA will post the costs of his security detail and pro-actively release these numbers on a quarterly basis. Americans should all agree that members of the President’s cabinet should be kept safe from violent threats," EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement.

Pruitt said he would tell his staff to switch him to more flights in coach earlier this year but the former head of his security detail has defended the decision to increase security. Investigations into threats against Pruitt that have been publicly released found no imminent threat to his safety, despite language like calling Pruitt "evil" or a message saying that they hope a family member would die.

At least two investigations into reported threats against Pruitt are still ongoing.

The agency released documents with the cost of both salary and travel for the administrator's protective detail on its website, with the total cost for each fiscal quarter going back to the 2009 fiscal year.

Despite the criticism over the cost of his security detail President Donald Trump has defended Pruitt, saying that Pruitt received death threats.

Documents released by the EPA inspector general, however, have questioned whether the threats were credible and properly vetted to justify upping Pruitt's security to 24/7. The inspector general also found that the agency decided to increase Pruitt's security before he took office, saying that one office was told "Pruitt requested 24/7 protection once he was confirmed as administrator."

The EPA's inspector general is currently looking into the cost of Pruitt's security detail.

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US House Office of Photography(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was already facing a tough re-election bid in California’s 48th Congressional District – with 15 candidates running against him, including a former protégé – when he told a delegation of Orange County realtors that it is acceptable to refuse to sell homes to LGBTQ people.

“Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone [if] they don’t agree with their lifestyle,” Rohrabacher told an Orange County Association of Realtors delegation at a May 16 meeting in Washington, D.C., Wayne Woodyard, a former Orange County Realtor president who was at the event, told the Orange County Register.

Rohrabacher told the Orange County Register Thursday that homeowners should have "a right to choose who they do business with."

“We’ve drawn a line on racism. But I don’t think we should extend that line," he told the paper. "A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”

Rohrabacher’s campaign confirmed to ABC News the sentiments in the comments were accurate.

Campaign spokesman Greg Blair said in a statement that the congressman "does not believe the federal government should force those with strong religious convictions into a personal or business relationship that is contrary to their religion.”

Rohrabacher made the comments to a group of realtors including members of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) who were meeting with the congressman to seek his support for including LGBTQ protections under the Fair Housing Act, according to a letter sent by the group's founder, Jeff Berger, to the president of the National Association of Realtors.

The National Association of Realtors had included Rohrabacher in its "President's Circle" – a list of candidates it prompted members to donate to this election cycle.

The group pulled the congressman from this list after reports of the comments surfaced, telling ABC News "after reviewing all new, relevant information, it was determined that Representative Rohrabacher will no longer receive support from NAR’s President's Circle."

Rohrabacher is seeking a 16th term in office – he's been in Congress for three decades – but his comments come as he faces his toughest primary yet in California's 48th Congressional District, which is centered in Huntington Beach in Orange County.

The top-two primary, in which the two most-voted candidates will move on to the general election regardless of party, is June 5 – and Democrats had seen an opening as talk of a 'blue wave' in Southern California intensified in neighboring districts.

Democratic candidate Harley Rouda, a favorite of national Democrats to win a place on the November ballot, took no time to condemn the congressman's comments.

"Rohrabacher's comments are appalling and unacceptable," said. "These comments show once again that Dana Rohrabacher has no right being in office and representing the people of this district."

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iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The bill establishing Pentagon policy for the next fiscal year includes items on President Donald Trump's military wish list, including giving service members a pay raise, laying ground rules for a military parade and making progress on establishing a military branch focused on outer space.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of a more than $700 billion military authorization bill Thursday and is now awaiting a Senate floor vote, while the House of Representatives has already passed its version, where some of Trump’s wish-list items are better detailed. The National Defense Authorization Act sets spending levels, but then Congress must pass a separate bill to actually allocate funds.

Here’s a look at some of the items that President Trump will likely be paying closest attention to:

SERVICE MEMBER PAY RAISE: In both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA service members get a 2.6% pay raise. The House version also extends special pay and bonuses to service members in high-demand fields. Earlier this year Trump erroneously said he gave service members their first pay raise in 10 years, when in fact they have had their salaries raised at least 1 percent every year for more than 30 years. What is correct is that this is the largest pay increase service members have seen in nine years.

MILITARY PARADE: The House version of the NDAA gives the Secretary of Defense the authority to fund a military parade in Washington, D.C., to satisfy President Trump’s stated desire for an event like the Bastille Day parade he witnessed during his trip to Paris. In a statement, House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry said he “agrees with President Trump that it is appropriate to honor and celebrate 100 years of patriotic sacrifice in a way that expresses appreciation and admiration for our men and women in uniform, including a parade in the nation’s capital and a national celebration for that purpose.”

But the bill also puts significant limits on the amount of military equipment and personnel that can be devoted to the parade – all at the Secretary of Defense’s discretion.

Language in the House bill allows the Secretary of Defense to expend funds specifically “for the display of small arms and munitions” as well as the participation of ceremonial military units, but it also expressly prohibits the use of funds for “motorized vehicles, aviation platforms” and munitions other than those used for customary ceremonial honors. Thornberry’s statement added that his proposal would prohibit the use of operational units or equipment in the parade if the Secretary of Defense believes their inclusion would hamper readiness.

The Senate version, named after Armed Services Committee chair John McCain, R-Ariz., does not contain any language covering President Trump’s desire for an elaborate military parade in Washington D.C. like the one he witnessed during a trip to Paris which commemorated Bastille Day. “There was discussion about it in committee but it ultimately was not added,” a Senate Armed Services Committee aide told reporters Friday.

SPACE FIGHTING: President Trump has occasionally expressed his desire to see the United States’ military dominance expand in outer space, alluding to an eventual new military corps. "I said, 'Maybe we need a new force. We'll call it the Space Force,'” he said at an event in March. "And I was not really serious. And then I said, 'What a great idea. Maybe we'll have to do that. That could happen. That could be the big breaking story.”

So far, Congress and the military haven’t caught up to Trump’s lofty plans, but they have been laying the groundwork. Last year, in fact, the House Armed Services Committee tried to establish a Space Corps within the Air Force, similar to the Navy’s Marine Corps, but the Senate committee sought to expressly prohibit any such setup. The compromise between the two committees was to require several bureaucratic steps to consolidate the Air Force’s command of military space operations.

This year, the House’s request is slightly different. It seeks to establish a fighting force, housed within the Air Force, which would be dedicated to space warfighting, giving it less autonomy than a separate corps would. It also requires the Secretary of the Air Force to increase the number and improve the quality of its civilian and military “space cadre,” submitting a report to Congress on its plans by next March.

The Senate’s bill has no language on space but an aide said last year’s NDAA provided a “pretty significant homework assignment” for the Air Force to focus on, including standing up Air Force Space Command as the single authority for all decisions related to space security.

“The committee is waiting to see what comes out of the department on that,” the aide said.

The Senate could vote on its NDAA as soon as the first week of June, after which point the two committees must merge their bills in a conference committee.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Twenty-two Republicans have now signed onto a petition to force a freewheeling immigration debate in the House of Representatives, as Speaker Paul Ryan continues to warn that the rare procedural maneuver will not produce legislation President Donald Trump would sign into law.

GOP Reps. Tom Reed of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania signed the discharge petition on Thursday, and with just a few more GOP signatures needed, that inches Congress closer to an immigration floor fight as soon as next month.

Preferring not to team with Democrats on a DACA remedy, Ryan said he and his leadership team are “trying to find that sweet spot” on an alternate immigration package that would garner a majority vote behind only Republican ayes.

“We’re having a very productive conversation with our members,” Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. “Obviously we don’t think a discharge petition is a good idea. It will not produce a result that will make it into law, and so we’re having very constructive conversations with our members about how we can find consensus on a bill that could actually solve the problem and make it into law.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer also signed the petition, pushing the total to 213 signatures - just five short of the 218 needed to succeed.

If all 193 Democrats sign on, 25 Republicans would be needed to satisfy the threshold. Right now, two Texas Democrats, Reps. Filemon Vela and Vicente González, have maintained they won’t sign the petition, so in all likelihood, the effort needs five more Republican signatures to succeed.

“If we go down this path or that path, meaning failed paths that are guaranteed no law gets made, it’s kinda an exercise in futility as far as I’m concerned,” Ryan said.

The House Republican Conference will meet June 7 for a special immigration meeting to plot out a course of action, as leaders strive to find elusive consensus on legislation that will receive a vote before June 25, when the discharge petition fully ripens.

In the case of the discharge petition, moderate Republicans and most Democrats are hoping to advance H.Res 744, bipartisan legislation introduced in March. The bill would allow the full House to debate as amendments a range of four competing DACA proposals, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s “Securing America’s Future Act.”

House Republican leaders have worked for months to advance the Goodlatte bill, but concede they are far short of 218 Republican votes needed to send it to the Senate.

Two more bills that would advance to the floor during the debate are the bipartisan “Dream Act of 2017, introduced by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.,” as well as the “USA Act of 2018,” fronted by Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif. That bill is essentially comprised of the DREAM Act with an extra $25 billion added for border security.

Ryan would also be able to choose any other single piece of legislation to plug the fourth slot in the "Queen of the Hill" approach.

Under Queen of the Hill rules, if more than one alternative obtains a majority, the winner is the one that receives the greatest number of votes. It is unclear if any of the competing measures would garner a majority.

Despite Ryan’s pessimism, Pelosi believes the Queen of the Hill approach would at minimum produce a bipartisan product to send to the Senate.

“Queen of Hill gives Congress a chance to work its will in the most generous way,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “Everybody will have their chance to vote on, whether it's Goodlatte, the ‘Make America White Again’ bill, or it's pure DREAM Act, which would be ideal.”

Ryan and the GOP leadership team have pressured rank and file Republicans to stay off the petition.

“Now, they are threatening Committee assignments, support in campaigns,” Pelosi observed. “We hear all kinds of things that they are threatening Members if they do not abandon this. But we'll see. Let's see.”

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Steven Ferdman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A tweet Friday morning from a former top Trump advisor set Twitter afire, reading simply, “Dgfffcf,” with an apparent picture of Hillary Clinton and controversial movie mogul Harvey Weinstein at a dinner event.

The mysterious phrase appeared to be from the Twitter account of Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security advisor.

Flynn pled guilty in December to making false statements related to his contact with Russians - reduced charges in exchange for cooperating in the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

Flynn last tweeted the day after he pled guilty.

Twitter followers pounced. Many offering a link to a once mysterious Trump tweet, “Covefe.”

The tweet was ultimately deleted, and Flynn’s son sent out a tweet-explainer of his own, “FYI @GenFlynn Twitter account was hacked this morning....currently addressing...”

A source confirmed this to ABC News saying, “It appears that his Twitter account was hacked. General Flynn did not send the tweet.”

Weinstein on Friday turned himself into police in New York City to face rape and sexual misconduct charges, before being released on $1 million cash bail and fitted with a GPS tracking device.

In the photo, sitting alongside Clinton and Weinstein - which appeared to be from Planned Parenthood's 100th-anniversary gala last year- was Huma Abedin, top confidante to the former Secretary of State.

Abedin’s ex-husband, disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner, created a firestorm on Twitter when a lewd selfie was posted to his account. He claimed, at first, that he had been hacked. That was later proved untrue.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) -- President Trump delivered a commencement address at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland Friday, declaring to the graduating class that “America is back” and “respected again” on the international stage.

“We are witnessing the great reawakening of the American Spirit and of American might. We have rediscovered our identity, regained our stride and we're proud again,” Trump said. “Our country has regained the respect that we used to have long ago abroad, yes they’re respecting us again, yes, America is back.”

The president's commencement address comes a day after the president cancelled a planned summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, which had been scheduled to take place in Singapore on June 12th, saying it would be "inappropriate" to move forward with the meeting given the "tremendous anger and open hostility" expressed in a previous statement from North Korea that threatened the possibility of nuclear showdown and disparaged Vice President Mike Pence as a "political dummy."

The president told the graduates that his interest in building up the military is as a means to prevent war but also told the graduates that “victory, winning, beautiful words” would be the only option in the event of inevitable conflict.

“The best way to prevent war is to be fully prepared for war, and hopefully we never have to use all of this beautiful new powerful equipment but you know you're less likely to have to use it if you have it,” Trump said. “And if a fight must come there is no other alternative: Victory, winning, beautiful words, but that's what it's all about.”

As he drew near to the end of his remarks, the president pointed out that he was given the option to leave the commencement ceremony after delivering his speech, or to stay for just the top awardees, or stay to shake the hands of each graduate.

“What should I do? What should I do?” the president asked rhetorically, canvassing the audience.

“I'll stay, I'll stay,” the president said, responding to the applause from the audience.

At one point, the president made a vague reference to the Naval Academy’s winning streak in the annual Army-Navy matchup, saying he didn’t want to mention who won the game, but applauding the school’s record of “winning.”

“Let me take a guess you're still not tired of winning. Winning is such a great feeling, isn't it a great feeling? Winning, a great feeling, nothing like winning, gotta win,” Trump said.

In closing his remarks, the president applauded the graduates for their service to country and their skill as warriors.

“You are warriors, you are champions, and you will lead us only to victory,” Trump told the graduates. “Anchors away!”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump said Friday the summit with North Korea on June 12 may still happen despite his decision to cancel it less than 24 hours ago.

“It could even be the 12th, we’re talking to them now, they very much want to do it, we want to do it, we’re going to see what happens," Trump told reporters at the White House Friday.

Reacting to a statement from North Korea in which they signaled a continued interest in sitting down with the US in response to President Trump's letter to Kim Jong Un that he had decided to cancel the planned June 12 summit, the president said the statement was welcome.

“We're going to see what happens. We're talking to them now, it was a very nice statement they put out, we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

Trump, calling it a "sad moment in history," wrote in a letter to Kim yesterday that it would be "inappropriate" to move forward with the planned summit given the "tremendous anger and open hostility" displayed by North Korea in a previous statement early this week in which they disparaged Vice President Mike Pence as a "political dummy" and warned about going head to head in nuclear warfare. The president issued an ominous warning in retort.

"You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used," Trump wrote

Asked by ABC News' chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl if he thinks the North Koreans are playing games with him, the president replied, “Jon everybody plays games you know that, you know that better than anybody.”

Trump ally and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham told NBC News on Friday that the president had told him he thought the North Koreans were "playing him."

Though President Trump isn't ruling out the potential for a June 12th summit to move forward, a senior administration official told reporters Thursday evening that it would be difficult at this point to properly organize a meeting on June 12th, as previously planned, given the short timeline.

“There's really not a lot of time," the official said. "We've lost quite a bit of time that we would need in order to -- I mean there's an enormous amount of preparation that's gone on the past few months…. but a certain amount of dialogue needs to take place so that agenda is clear in the minds of those two leaders. And June 12th is in 10 minutes, but the president has said that he someday looks forward to meeting with Kim.”


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's nominee for the top State Department position for refugees and migration has drawn fierce criticism over several of his past comments about immigrants.

Dr. Ronald Mortensen, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and a former Foreign Service officer, is known for his hardline views on immigration. He's also criticized top Republicans as advocating for amnesty, and he accused Arizona Sen. John McCain of rolling out a welcome mat for ISIS.

The White House formally nominated Mortensen Thursday to be the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, the agency's top diplomat tasked with solving refugee crises overseas and potentially resettling refugees in the U.S.

The Trump administration has admitted a historically low number of refugees so far this fiscal year, and advocates are concerned he "has been sent to dismantle the refugee protection and resettlement program at the State Department," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigrant group America's Voice.

"This is like Richard Spencer being appointed head of the civil rights unit at [the Department of Justice]," Sharry told ABC News, referring to the white supremacist. "It's not the fox guarding the chicken coup. It's a monster in charge of the chicken coup."

The previous assistant secretary also was critical of Mortensen's nomination.

Anne Richard, appointed by President Barack Obama and now a professor at Georgetown University, told ABC News in an email: "I'm hoping the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will use the confirmation process to determine whether we are still a country that welcomes refugees and immigrants. This was an unshakable part of our identity as Americans, but the Trump administration has unilaterally changed this 241-year old policy."

Neither the White House nor the State Department have responded to requests for comment.

Mortensen has written extensively about his views on immigration, consistently arguing, as he wrote in an op-ed for The Hill last year: "The vast majority of adult illegal aliens are committing felonies by virtue of being active in America."

He's also said immigrants in the U.S. illegally are "lying, cheating and destroying the lives of innocent American children for their own selfish purposes."

Although his views aren't too far from Trump's, Mortensen also has bashed other Republicans like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for being "amnesty advocates."

But some of his sharpest words have been for McCain, whom he accused of "roll[ing] out the welcome mat for ISIS on America's southern border."

"McCain has provided ISIS with unfettered access to the United States for both its personnel and their weapons of death and destruction," Mortensen wrote in a 2014 op-ed. "Should ISIS or some other terrorist group take advantage of McCain's welcome mat, he will only have himself to blame as he goes in the eyes of many from war hero to collaborator."

He went on to claim that ISIS may be "pre-positioning" on the Mexican side of the border "with car bombs ready to go."

Some advocates said they were skeptical Mortensen would be confirmed because of his comments about Republicans because, as is true with most assistant secretary positions, that's up to the Senate.

For all of his pieces on immigration, however, Mortensen has written and said little about refugee resettlement in America, let alone the massive refugee-aid programs to which the U.S. contributes, including endeavors to protect, repatriate and locally integrate refugees, migrants and others displaced by conflict.

The Trump administration was strongly criticized for admitting less than a quarter of the 45,000 refugees it set as a cap for the fiscal year at the halfway point. The 45,000 figure was already the lowest ceiling in the refugee resettlement program's 43-year history.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Top congressional leaders met with senior intelligence and law enforcement officials Thursday in a series of White House-brokered meetings to review highly-classified information about the Russia investigation, including possible details about a reported FBI informant in touch with several Trump campaign advisers during the 2016 presidential campaign.

And in a surprise development, the president's new lawyer handling the Russia investigation, Emmet Flood, attended and participated in at least part of the briefings as did White House chief of staff John Kelly, sources confirmed to ABC News.

Democrats have raised questions about the appropriateness of any White House involvement, concerned that it would further politicize what is supposed to be an independent probe.

President Donald Trump has said the briefings could provide proof of his unsubstantiated claim the FBI was likely spying on his campaign.

Responding to questions about why Flood and Kelly were there, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement saying "Neither Chief Kelly nor Mr. Flood actually attended the meetings but did make brief remarks before the meetings started to relay the President’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law."

"They also conveyed the President’s understanding of the need to protect human intelligence services and the importance of communication between the branches of government. After making their brief comments they departed before the meetings officially started," her statement continued.

At noon, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, met at the Justice Department with FBI Director Chris Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Ed O'Callaghan, a Justice Department official and deputy to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Nunes and Gowdy left about an hour later without speaking to reporters.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, joined Gowdy and Nunes in the initial briefing at noon, at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s request after Democrats were initially excluded by the White House.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., attended the noon briefing as well because he was scheduled to travel to Texas for a fundraiser for House Republicans, according to an aide. Other congressional leaders were scheduled to get their DOJ briefing Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill.

Ryan later put out a statement referring to the House Intelligence Committee Nunes chairs, saying "Inherent in the committee’s work is the responsibility to ask tough questions of the executive branch. That is why we have insisted and will continue to insist on Congress’s constitutional right to information necessary for the conduct of oversight."

Kelly had helped arrange what was originally planned as just a DOJ briefing for Nunes and Godwy as Republicans continue to spar with the Justice Department on requests for documents and information related to a myriad of GOP investigations into the department.

The meeting comes as President Trump continues to stoke unsubstantiated claims that the FBI planted a spy inside his presidential campaign.

“A lot of bad things have happened. We now call it ‘Spygate,’” Trump said as he departed the White House Wednesday. Countering Trump, Schiff has said the controversy should be called "Lie-gate."

After the second briefing concluded, Schiff read a statement on behalf of himself, Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner - Democratic members of the so-called "Gang of 8" – congressional leaders who get high-level intelligence briefings.

"Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols,” Schiff said.

Following protests from top Democrats and Republicans, the White House arranged a second briefing for members of the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group of top lawmakers in both chambers who have access to the most sensitive intelligence.

As of Thursday morning, some details remained in flux.

The meetings are the result of a subpoena Nunes issued earlier this month demanding classified documents related to the source, a request the Justice Department denied over national security concerns.

The Washington Post
and New York Times first reported that the FBI sent an informant to talk to several campaign aides during the 2016 election as evidence that a second special counsel is needed.

After Nunes threatened to move to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress over the refusal, the Justice Department invited Nunes and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy to DOJ for a briefing on the documents.

On Sunday, Trump entered the fray, calling for the DOJ to investigate whether the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled” his presidential campaign, and whether it was ordered by Obama administration officials – allegations he has not backed up with evidence.

The Justice Department subsequently directed the DOJ inspector general, the agency's watchdog, to expand its ongoing investigation of surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page during the presidential election to include the president's concerns.

Nunes has said the request relates to classified information relevant to his ongoing investigation into allegations of political bias at the Justice Department related to the Russia investigation, but it was unclear to both Republicans and Democrats Thursday what information the group will learn about the alleged informant.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the meeting “unacceptable and very inappropriate” and accused Republicans of setting up the session to learn information to aid Trump’s defense in the Russia investigation.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday that the meeting “should be called off,” and called Nunes a “known partisan whose only intent is to undermine the Mueller investigation.”

Pelosi and Schiff have also expressed concern that Kelly, the White House chief of staff, could potentially participate in a meeting related to the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation. The Justice Department said Kelly would participate in both meetings, but Schiff said he had been informed by the head of one intelligence agency that Kelly would not take part in the sessions.

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Bettmann / Contributor(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump signed a full posthumous pardon for former heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson in a surprise Oval Office ceremony alongside actor Sylvester Stallone, former heavyweight boxer Lennox Lewis, and others.

"It's my honor to do it. It's about time," Trump said during the ceremony in the Oval Office.

Just 30 minutes before reporters were called to the event, Stallone posted a picture of himself on Instagram.

“He was treated very rough, very tough,” Trump said of Johnson on Thursday as he signed the pardon.

In 1913, Johnson, a noted boxing legend, was convicted by an all-white jury with violating the Mann Act after transporting a white woman he was dating across state lines for “immoral purposes.”

He served one year in prison.

Others have taken up the cause for Johnson to receive a rare posthumous pardon including Senators John McCain, R-Arizona, Harry Reid, R-Nevada, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Earlier this year, McCain, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., reintroduced legislation urging a posthumous pardon.

Last month, Trump tweeted that "Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson," the president tweeted Saturday. "His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial. Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!"

Trump's other recent pardons include Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of President Donald Trump's cancellation of a planned nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, members of Congress were quick to play the blame game.

Some members of Congress lauded Trump, saying he made the right decision to call off the summit if North Korea did not intend on getting rid of its nuclear weapons, while others blamed Trump for his "amateur" antics and lack of preparation.

"My understanding is it's been difficult to communicate with them over the last short period of time; maybe Kim Jong Un is having some second thoughts," said Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Thursday morning. "There's been some feelings recently that maybe they were not sure -- maybe not quite ready, if you will -- on the North Korean side to have this kind of meeting. We need to make sure if we're going to have this meeting, it's going to be productive."

The House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a statement that the administration should continue to apply diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

“Our goal is to peacefully end North Korea’s nuclear threats. The administration should continue to look for opportunities while applying maximum diplomatic and financial pressure against Kim Jong Un. Our allies -- including South Korea and Japan -- need to stand with the United States. There can be no daylight between us,” Royce said in a statement.

Some Democrats criticized the president, saying the decision showed that he was not prepared to deal with the tactics of Kim Jong Un.

Sen. Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that Trump had failed at the art of diplomacy.

"The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal," Menendez said.

"Look, I have said all along that it is a lack of a strategy, and deep preparation that is needed before you agree to entering such a high-profile summit. So Kim Jong Un already received some of what he wanted in recognition that he could be seen as reasonable. And it’s amazing to me that this administration is somehow shocked that the North Koreans are acting as North Korea acts," he said.

Sen. Rand Paul blamed the canceled summit on the "bombastic rhetoric" coming from both Trump and Kim Jong Un. The Kentucky Republican said that if we "dialed the rhetoric down and try to have normal diplomatic language between the countries, we might have a better chance of having a summit."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump in a letter directly to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday announced that he is canceling the much anticipated nuclear summit, calling it a "truly sad moment in history."

"Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place."

 The president's letter comes after North Korea issued a statement calling Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for comments he made suggesting that the so-called Libya model could be applied to North Korea if Kim doesn't make a deal with President Trump and threatening to pull out of the summit.

At the U.S.'s urging, under the leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Libya, nixed its early-stage nuclear program. Years, later he was ousted and killed with help from NATO-backed troops.

"Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States," the North Korean statement read.

The White House

In an apparent response to the North Korean threat, the president issued a threat of his own in his letter — warning about the United States' "massive" nuclear capabilities.

 "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used," Trump writes.

In the letter, the president leaves open the possibility of meeting at a future date, telling Kim to reach out to him directly by phone or letter if he decides he would like to meet.

"Someday, I look very much forward to meeting you," Trump writes. "If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is one step closer to achieving a bipartisan legislative victory with the passage of a prison reform bill that has been championed by the president’s son-and-law and adviser Jared Kushner in the House of Representatives.

“The First Step Act” passed the House Tuesday by a sweeping bipartisan 360-59 margin but is expected to face stronger political headwinds in the Senate, where the leading Republican on the key House Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley has expressed his opposition to a narrow prison reform bill that does not also tackle broader sentencing reforms.

"You have a president that needs a big bipartisan victory and if we just did what the House did, it would be a spit in the ocean compared to the problem we face," Grassley told ABC News.

The House bill aims to reduce recidivism, and among other provisions, would expand education for federal prisoners and require them to be placed in facilities closer to home.

The legislation has been criticized by some Democrats and civil rights groups who argue that it does not go far enough in reforming the justice system and in reducing the size of the prison population.

But a source familiar to the process says the bill's passage in the House with 70 percent of Democrats voting in favor of the measure puts pressure on Senate Democrats to support the legislation.

"That says there is massive momentum," the source said. "That means that whatever has been said in an ivory tower doesn't matter. That means Democrats are going to be forced to vote in favor of this bill."

And on the Republican side, the source predicted, the fact that the bill has the backing of the president, the source said, will force Republicans to get in line.

"The president needs a victory and this would give him a bipartisan one," the source said. "Kushner is on board, Trump is on board, that will steamroll any Republican opposition. I have no doubt that Trump will sign this bill into law."

Kushner has led a more than year-long effort within the Trump administration on the issue, working behind the scenes within the White House to carve out a middle ground for seeking reforms to the criminal justice system that could be accepted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has rejected efforts to seek broader sentencing reforms.

The White House heralded the bill’s passage Tuesday, with press secretary Sarah Sanders saying in a statement that the “strong bipartisan vote paves a path for action by the Senate."

The House bill’s bipartisan co-sponsors Reps. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., celebrated their legislative accomplishment Tuesday, with Jeffries making clear that he sees the bill as just the first step in a series of reforms he believes are still needed to the nation’s justice system.

“The FIRST STEP Act is not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. It's simply the end of the beginning on a journey undertaken to eradicate our mass incarceration epidemic in America,” Jeffries said.

Collins said the ball is now in the Senate’s court as to whether they will seize upon the current political moment to improve the lives of the nation’s incarcerated population.

“Today’s vote answers a question in the House and asks one of the Senate: Given the chance to accomplish good in this moment, will you act today or regret your inaction tomorrow?” Collins asked rhetorically in a statement.

Companion legislation to the House bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan duo: Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI.

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@SenJohnMcCain(WASHINGTON) -- Former Sen. Joe Lieberman says he was unaware Sen. John McCain regretted not selecting him as his 2008 running mate until the Arizona senator shared that sentiment in his new book and in an upcoming documentary.

“I must say, I kind of wondered, but we never talked about it. It was a classic, as close as we are,” Lieberman laughed as he spoke to ABC News. “What he said in the book meant a lot to me really because he had never said that before, and it was sort of just an expression of our friendship at a difficult time."

In his new book, "The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations," McCain described his regret over not adding Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-Independent, to his ticket at the urging of his advisors.

"They were giving me their best counsel. It was sound advice that I could reason for myself," McCain wrote. "But my gut told me to ignore it, and I wished I had."

Lieberman, a former Connecticut senator who served alongside McCain for 24 years, has visited his friend several times since he was diagnosed with glioblastoma last summer and calls him by phone about once a week. Lieberman said he plans to travel to Arizona this weekend to visit McCain.

Asked if there might be another reunion of the "Three Amigos," the nickname given to McCain, Lieberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. in the coming months, Lieberman said, “I hope we get to go out together because it’s the three of us. It’s just an extraordinary friendship really and I consider it to be one of the blessings of my life truthfully.”

The trio reunited in Arizona last August shortly after McCain's first chemotherapy treatment following his brain cancer diagnosis.

Lieberman also weighed in on the controversy involving the White House staffer who made disparaging remarks about McCain, saying she needs to apologize publicly.

“I just think they should have apologized right away and I guess there has been a personal apology to Meghan McCain," he said. “John of all people knows, he’ll always say 'I’m far from a saint,' but so we all make mistakes and the best thing to do when you do is to acknowledge it and move on but I’m surprised that they haven’t.”

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK CITY) -- New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon did not receive enough votes today at the New York Democratic Party Convention to guarantee her a spot on the primary ballot.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won more than 95 percent of the votes from the state Democrats, giving him the party’s nomination for his re-election campaign. Nixon, the former “Sex and the City” actress-turned-politician, said that she will work to get the 15,000 petition signatures she needs from across the state to get onto the ballot.

Nixon showed up to the party’s convention but was not offered a speaking slot. She told reporters that she knew wouldn’t get the 25 percent of the vote, so why did she attend the convention?

Because “it’s my party too. I’m a lifelong Democrat,” she told ABC New York station WABC.

Earlier in the day, she said she was attending the convention because “I think it’s important that at the Democratic convention there be at least one actual Democrat running for governor present today because Andrew Cuomo as Andrew Cuomo has said about himself, he has governed this state in a way that any Republican would be proud of.”

Nixon left the convention before the voting finished and Cuomo was not there during voting, but he did make a surprise appearance after Hillary Clinton’s keynote speech. Regarding the vote, Cuomo said, “For me, it’s an affirmation of everything we have done. I work very, very hard, as you know.”

Cuomo will address the convention on Thursday. The state’s primary election is on Sept. 13.

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