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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, CIA director Mike Pompeo, is facing stiff opposition to his becoming the nation's top diplomat - and it may be unprecedented.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote on Pompeo’s nomination on Monday and right now it's not clear if he has the votes to receive a positive recommendation.

If the Senate panel rejects Pompeo’s nomination – and it’s looking increasingly likely that it will – it would be a first.

Never before in at least a century has a secretary of state nominee received an unfavorable recommendation from the Foreign Relations Committee, according to information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

“We have found no case of a Secretary of State nominee receiving other than a favorable report by the Committee on Foreign Relations,” the Historical Office confirmed in an e-mail.

Pompeo will still get a vote before the full Senate even with an unfavorable recommendation.

But with many Democrats who just last year voted to confirm him as CIA director now publicly opposing him as the next secretary of state, Pompeo’s confirmation is on a razor's edge.

Just how unprecedented is this scenario? The last time any cabinet-level nominee who was reported unfavorably by a committee but went on to be confirmed by the full Senate was 73 years ago when Henry Wallace was confirmed to be the Secretary of Commerce on March 1, 1945.

Here’s the math on the Senate panel vote

Republicans on the 21-member panel hold a slim one-seat majority over Democrats.

So far, every single Democrat in the committee has announced their opposition to Pompeo, with the exception of Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who, as of Thursday afternoon was still “leaning against” his nomination. Coons also opposed Pompeo’s nomination to be director of the CIA last year.

Despite the Democrats’ opposition, Republicans could squeak out a favorable recommendation for Pompeo were it not for Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul has adamantly refused to support Trump’s nominee due to his objections to some of Pompeo’s foreign policy positions.

And Pompeo fared no better after meeting with Paul in person on Thursday. After the meeting, Paul reiterated that he was still a 'no' on Pompeo despite the president saying Wednesday of Paul: "He's never let me down."

Why does this vote matter?

It is very unusual for a secretary of state nominee to face such opposition.

Past secretaries of state, including Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton have breezed through their respective confirmations.

“I realize we’re in an atmosphere now where that is just not going to be the case,” Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said Thursday on the Senate floor. “I realize my Democratic friends in many cases feel like that in supporting Pompeo, it's a proxy for support of the Trump administration policies, which many of them abhor. I understand that.”

“I hope that the members on the other side of the aisle that have not yet said how they are going to vote will think about the circumstances that we’re in today and feel like that they can support a highly qualified Secretary of State…,” Corker went on.

Last year, Pompeo had little trouble clinching the confirmation to be the director of the CIA. He received a favorable recommendation from the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, and he was confirmed by the full Senate in a 66-32 vote.

At the time, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Tim Kaine of Virginia – both Democrats who sit on the Foreign Relations panel – voted in favor of his nomination. This time around, they’re voting no.

What happens after the panel vote?

Even if Pompeo receives an unfavorable recommendation, it’s not game over for him.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can still bring his nomination to the floor for a vote before the full Senate, where Republicans have a one-seat advantage over Democrats.

However, with Paul opposing the nomination and GOP Sen. John McCain, battling brain cancer at home in Arizona, Republicans, it seems, would need at least one Democrat to vote with them in order to secure Pompeo’s confirmation.

On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a vulnerable Democrat facing an uphill Midterm election battle, announced she will vote to confirm Pompeo.

In a statement, Heitkamp said Pompeo “demonstrated during this nomination process and during our meeting in March that he is committed to empowering the diplomats at the State Department so they can do their jobs in advancing American interests.”

As long as no other Republican defects, and with Heitkamp’s vote secured, Pompeo could become the next head of the State Department.

Last year, the votes against Rex Tillerson, 56-43, made Senate history when he was confirmed as secretary of state.

It’s possible Pompeo will beat that record.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Donald Trump has expanded his legal team and hired an old friend, former New York city Mayor Rudy Giuliani, ABC News has confirmed — a move which comes on the heels of shake-ups on the president's legal team.

In a statement, President Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow confirmed the hiring along with two other attorneys.

“Rudy is great. He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country,” President Trump said in a statement released by his attorneys.

‘It is an honor to be a part of such an important legal team, and I look forward to not only working with the President but with Jay, Ty, and their colleagues,” Giuliani said in a statement.

The Washington Post first reported the Giuliani hire.

Giuliani was a top surrogate for the President during the 2016 campaign, often seen by his side at multiple campaign rallies.

"I'm sick and tired of the defamation of Donald Trump by the media and by the Clinton campaign,” a fiery Giuliani said during the 2016 Republican Convention. “I am sick and tired of it! This is a good man!”

For the last several months, the Trump legal team has been in active negotiations with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team working toward a potential interview, which would include either a face-to-face interview with parameters, a written questionnaire or some mix of both, sources have told ABC News.

The last reported meeting the Trump team had with the special counsel's office was on the same day that FBI agents in New York raided the home, office, and hotel of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. Sources told ABC News it was after the Cohen said that the President has since been “less inclined” to sit down for an interview with Mueller’s team.

Giuliani enters the arena after the president’s lead attorney John Dowd abruptly resigned in March. Sources told ABC News at the time that Dowd resigned in part because he felt the president was not taking his advice.

The Trump legal team on Thursday also announced the hiring of Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin.

According to a statement released by the team: “Jane and Marty are highly respected former federal prosecutors with decades of experience. They have a nationwide practice and reputation for excellence and integrity.”

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Karl Moor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal prosecutors in Washington have been asked by the Justice Department’s inspector general to determine whether the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, should be charged for allegedly “lacking candor” on multiple occasions with internal investigators and with then-FBI director James Comey, according to a source familiar with the matter.

In a report made public by lawmakers last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that McCabe repeatedly misled investigators looking into how sensitive investigative information ended up on in a national newspaper in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

Horowitz’s office then referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, indicating Horowitz believes McCabe committed a federal crime with his actions. It’s unclear exactly when the referral was made.

McCabe has become a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, who allege that McCabe's time at the top of the FBI was emblematic of political bias in the FBI's law enforcement work.

McCabe's lawyers issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying they're confident no charges would be filed.

"We were advised of the referral within the past few weeks. Although we believe the referral is unjustified, the standard for an IG referral is very low. We have already met with staff members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute,” the statement said.

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article that questioned whether McCabe was hampering the federal probe of the Clinton Foundation.

Ahead of the story's publication, McCabe authorized an FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to speak with the newspaper about the probe and his own efforts to keep it moving forward, including the contents of a phone call months earlier about the matter with a senior Justice Department official, the report released Friday said.

“Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing … that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” according to the report.

Meanwhile, McCabe, first head of the FBI field office in New York and then in Washington, told the inspector general’s office that after the Wall Street Journal report was published, “they each received calls from McCabe admonishing them for leaks contained in the” article, the report said. “At no time did McCabe disclose to either of them that McCabe had authorized [an FBI attorney] to disclose information … to the WSJ reporter.”

The day after the article’s publication, McCabe spoke face-to-face with Comey, who expressed concern about information contained in the news article, according to the inspector general's report. According to what McCabe later told the internal investigator, he informed Comey that he had authorized the FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to disclose details about his previous phone call with a senior Justice Department official. Comey disputed that version telling investigators he was “very concerned” that the article included “sensitive FBI information,” and that McCabe “definitely did not tell me that he authorized” the disclosure, according to the report.

Asked on CNN Thursday afternoon how he felt about McCabe lying to him and other investigators, according to the report, Comey answered: "Conflicted. I like him very much as a person but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn't do," Comey said.

Saying "I'm not the judge in the case," Comey added, "I think it's accountability mechanisms working and they should work because it's not acceptable in the FBI, the Justice Department for people to lack candor. It’s something we take really seriously."

Thursday evening Trump tweeted, "James Comey just threw Andrew McCabe “under the bus.” Inspector General’s Report on McCabe is a disaster for both of them! Getting a little (lot) of their own medicine?"

The inspector general began investigating McCabe in August 2017, after the FBI’s Inspection Division told the inspector general’s office that the deputy director may have lacked candor when questioned about his role in disclosing sensitive information to a reporter.

In its report released Friday, the inspector general’s office said McCabe “lacked candor” in July 2017 when he told investigators – under oath – “that he was not aware of [the FBI attorney] having been authorized to speak to reporters around October 30,” and he “lacked candor” again four months later when he acknowledged authorizing the disclosure but “stated that he told Comey on October 31, 2016, that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ.”

Representatives for McCabe noted that two business days after speaking with investigators in July 2017, McCabe contacted the inspector general’s office “and corrected his prior statements.”

“Mr. McCabe thought further about his discussion with the OIG investigators and realized that he needed to correct the record,” they said in a “factsheet” distributed to reported.

Nevertheless, the inspector general also concluded that McCabe “lacked candor” in May 2017 when interviewed by officials from the FBI’s Inspection Division. He told them he had not authorized the disclosure to the Wall Street Journal and did not know who did, the report said.

The representatives for McCabe said the inspector general’s “account of Mr. McCabe’s interactions with the … investigators is incomplete and misleading.”

“Mr. McCabe never deliberately misled Inspection Division (INSD) investigators,” the “factsheet” said. “[W]hen Mr. McCabe turned back to the draft statement they prepared for him several months later, he declined to sign it and instead contacted INSD to correct the inaccurate facts about his relationship to the WSJ article.”

Beyond the accuracy of McCabe’s statements to investigators, the inspector general’s report released Friday also took sharp issue with McCabe’s move to authorize the media disclosure in the first place.

“[W]e concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the [Clinton Foundation] Investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior Department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception,” the report said.

“We therefore concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in this manner violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.”

But representatives for McCabe said he “had full authority to authorize sharing information with the media” as deputy director.

“Their interaction with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was not done in secret: it took place over the course of several days and others knew of it, including Director Comey. It was done to protect the institutional reputation of the FBI as a non-political and professional investigative agency, and therefore was squarely within the public interest exception to the FBI’s prohibition on sharing sensitive material,” a “factsheet” from McCabe’s representatives said.

In 2015, while McCabe was head of the FBI's Washington Field Office, his wife ran for state senate in Virginia as a Democrat. She lost the election in November 2015, and three months later McCabe became deputy director, giving him an oversight role in the investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. After the Wall Street Journal story was published in October 2016, McCabe recused himself from the Clinton matter.

McCabe first joined the FBI in 1996, investigating organized crime cases in New York. Over the next several years, he shifted his focus to rooting out international terrorists, and in 2012 he became the head of the FBI's counterterrorism division at headquarters in Washington.

In October 2013, McCabe took over the FBI's entire national security branch, and the next year he moved to become the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office.

McCabe stepped down as deputy director in January, and he was fired by Sessions in May.

“The rush to judgment – and the rush to terminate Mr. McCabe – were unprecedented, unseemly, and cruel,” Michael Bromwich, an attorney for McCabe, said in a statement. “His treatment was far more harsh and far less fair than he deserved, and his reward for the loyalty he showed to his country over the course of his career was a truncated form of administrative due process, including the lack of any right to appeal outside the Department of Justice.”

The U.S. attorney’s office and a spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment for this article.



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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As House Republicans prepare to select their next speaker, two key Freedom Caucus members told ABC News they want their conservative group to have a seat at the leadership table.

“We need to be more involved in the process. I am for somebody from the Freedom Caucus either being Speaker of the House, House Majority Leader, or Majority Whip or else the culture is not going to change," Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said he thinks Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is ready to be speaker, but warned, “If you got the same old people doing the same old jobs, you don’t get any new ideas and that’s why the American people turn to the other party for new ideas. We’ve got to have those ideas. We’re much younger and much more in touch with the American people than the Democrats are.”

Blum, however, cautioned that Freedom Caucus members are unwilling to make concessions to gain prominent leadership positions.

“If you say I want to be in House leadership, then you’ve got to get on the team. Get on the team is French for ‘hand in your voting card to leadership,’” he said.

Blum, who co-stars with Buck in a new Facebook video series called "The Swamp," outlined changes he would like to see Washington embrace.

“We should have term limits. We should have a life-time ban on lobbying. We should cut our pay every year that we don’t balance the budget. We should get rid of this 87-million dollar slush fund for sexual harassment,” he said, referring to the fund used to pay out millions of taxpayer dollars to privately settle workplace claims filed by Hill staffers.

Asked whether they think President Donald Trump is fulfilling his campaign promise to “drain the swamp," Buck and Blum agreed that progress is being made.

“Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos- all those folks are helping to drain the swamp and the fact that they are being attacked means that they’re doing a good job,” said Buck.

Buck and Blum were cautiously optimistic about midterm elections come November. When Bruce asked if Republicans can hold onto the House in the fall, Blum said, “I do, but I think it’s going to be very close. Six, seven months is a lifetime in politics, but let’s see where we are in seven months.”

Blum was more partisan in his response. “It is never good to drain the swamp by electing Democrats.”

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal prosecutors in Washington have been asked by the Justice Department’s inspector general to determine whether the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, should be charged for allegedly “lacking candor” on multiple occasions with internal investigators and with then-FBI director James Comey, according to a source familiar with the matter.

In a report made public by lawmakers last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that McCabe repeatedly misled investigators looking into how sensitive investigative information ended up on in a national newspaper in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

Horowitz’s office then referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, indicating Horowitz believes McCabe committed a federal crime with his actions. It’s unclear exactly when the referral was made.

McCabe has become a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, who allege that McCabe's time at the top of the FBI was emblematic of political bias in the FBI's law enforcement work.

McCabe's lawyers issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying they're confident no charges would be filed.

"We were advised of the referral within the past few weeks. Although we believe the referral is unjustified, the standard for an IG referral is very low. We have already met with staff members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute,” the statement said.

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article that questioned whether McCabe was hampering the federal probe of the Clinton Foundation.

Ahead of the story's publication, McCabe authorized an FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to speak with the newspaper about the probe and his own efforts to keep it moving forward, including the contents of a phone call months earlier about the matter with a senior Justice Department official, the report released Friday said.

“Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing … that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” according to the report.

Meanwhile, McCabe, first head of the FBI field office in New York and then in Washington, told the inspector general’s office that after the Wall Street Journal report was published, “they each received calls from McCabe admonishing them for leaks contained in the” article, the report said. “At no time did McCabe disclose to either of them that McCabe had authorized [an FBI attorney] to disclose information … to the WSJ reporter.”

The day after the article’s publication, McCabe spoke face-to-face with Comey, who expressed concern about information contained in the news article, according to the inspector general's report. According to what McCabe later told the internal investigator, he informed Comey that he had authorized the FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to disclose details about his previous phone call with a senior Justice Department official. Comey disputed that version telling investigators he was “very concerned” that the article included “sensitive FBI information,” and that McCabe “definitely did not tell me that he authorized” the disclosure, according to the report.

The inspector general began investigating McCabe in August 2017, after the FBI’s Inspection Division told the inspector general’s office that the deputy director may have lacked candor when questioned about his role in disclosing sensitive information to a reporter.

In its report released Friday, the inspector general’s office said McCabe “lacked candor” in July 2017 when he told investigators – under oath – “that he was not aware of [the FBI attorney] having been authorized to speak to reporters around October 30,” and he “lacked candor” again four months later when he acknowledged authorizing the disclosure but “stated that he told Comey on October 31, 2016, that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ.”

Representatives for McCabe noted that two business days after speaking with investigators in July 2017, McCabe contacted the inspector general’s office “and corrected his prior statements.” “Mr. McCabe thought further about his discussion with the OIG investigators and realized that he needed to correct the record,” they said in a “factsheet” distributed to reported.

Nevertheless, the inspector general also concluded that McCabe “lacked candor” in May 2017 when interviewed by officials from the FBI’s Inspection Division. He told them he had not authorized the disclosure to the Wall Street Journal and did not know who did, the report said.

The representatives for McCabe said the inspector general’s “account of Mr. McCabe’s interactions with the … investigators is incomplete and misleading.”

“Mr. McCabe never deliberately misled Inspection Division (INSD) investigators,” the “factsheet” said. “[W]hen Mr. McCabe turned back to the draft statement they prepared for him several months later, he declined to sign it and instead contacted INSD to correct the inaccurate facts about his relationship to the WSJ article.”

Beyond the accuracy of McCabe’s statements to investigators, the inspector general’s report released Friday also took sharp issue with McCabe’s move to authorize the media disclosure in the first place.

“[W]e concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the [Clinton Foundation] Investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior Department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception,” the report said.

“We therefore concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in this manner violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.”

But representatives for McCabe said he “had full authority to authorize sharing information with the media” as deputy director.

“Their interaction with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was not done in secret: it took place over the course of several days and others knew of it, including Director Comey. It was done to protect the institutional reputation of the FBI as a non-political and professional investigative agency, and therefore was squarely within the public interest exception to the FBI’s prohibition on sharing sensitive material,” a “factsheet” from McCabe’s representatives said.

In 2015, while McCabe was head of the FBI's Washington Field Office, his wife ran for state senate in Virginia as a Democrat. She lost the election in November 2015, and three months later McCabe became deputy director, giving him an oversight role in the investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. After the Wall Street Journal story was published in October 2016, McCabe recused himself from the Clinton matter.

McCabe first joined the FBI in 1996, investigating organized crime cases in New York. Over the next several years, he shifted his focus to rooting out international terrorists, and in 2012 he became the head of the FBI's counterterrorism division at headquarters in Washington.

In October 2013, McCabe took over the FBI's entire national security branch, and the next year he moved to become the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office. McCabe stepped down as deputy director in January, and he was fired by Sessions in May.

“The rush to judgment – and the rush to terminate Mr. McCabe – were unprecedented, unseemly, and cruel,” Michael Bromwich, an attorney for McCabe, said in a statement. “His treatment was far more harsh and far less fair than he deserved, and his reward for the loyalty he showed to his country over the course of his career was a truncated form of administrative due process, including the lack of any right to appeal outside the Department of Justice.”

The U.S. attorney’s office and a spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment for this article.



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Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Pittsburgh’s police department found itself in the spotlight Thursday because of a few key words in an email from a head detective: President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller and riot gear.

The email, sent Wednesday by Major Crimes Commander Victor Joseph, asked detectives who wear plain clothes to bring uniforms and “riot gear” to work in case President Donald Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller and detectives are needed to help monitor possible protests. The email was reported by WTAE and confirmed by Pittsburgh’s mayor.

The email

“We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District,” the email from Joseph begins.

“There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller. This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing,” Joseph wrote. Because of this, “all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice,” he wrote.

The measures were precautionary, Joseph wrote. “We may be needed to assist in the event that there is a large scale protest,” he said in the email.

The department, backed by the mayor’s office, said it has no inside knowledge of whether the president might fire special counsel Robert Mueller. But social media filled with questions on specifically what protest — and on what day — the Pittsburgh police were preparing for.

“We receive information regularly about potential events and/or threats, assess the credibility of the information and plan for a potential event. In this case, we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President’s decision-making process,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich clarified in a statement.

The department also emphasized that it “receives information daily that we evaluate and prepare for if the event should occur,” including anything from extreme weather to protests.

“Often the events we prepare for do not occur. However, through an abundance of caution, we attempt to adequately prepare for an appropriate response,” the statement said.

Though the department didn’t cite a specific protest, the progressive organization MoveOn.org does have plans for nationwide demonstrations in the event the president fires Mueller. In a statement, a campaign director said MoveOn has “laid the groundwork for more than 900 non-violent and lawful protests nationwide, including one planned in the Pittsburgh area.”

More than 350,000 Americans are signed up to participate across the country, according to MoveOn.org.

In his statement, campaign director David Sievers also emphasized that the protests would be nonviolent. “We hope such protests are never triggered, but if they ever are, police everywhere have an obligation to respect Americans’ right to peacefully protest,” he said.

The social media circulation


On social media, news quickly circulated that a commander with the city’s police force was calling for riot gear, citing a “belief” that Trump would soon fire the special counsel leading the investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign and potential involvement with Russia.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto responded from his own Twitter and called for an end to the “conspiracies.”


“This is an internal email from a Commander to his plainclothes Detectives. It doesn’t claim to know what the President will do. It doesn’t say people can’t lawfully assemble. It says you may be needed to help, bring your uniform,” he tweeted.

The mayor, who runs his own Twitter account, had a little fun with his responses to various Twitter users alleging different backstories. One said Peduto was trying to scare his constituents into thinking Trump was firing Mueller.

Communications director for the mayor, Timothy McNulty, described the directions in the email as “fairly normal operating procedure.”

“I don't have every last police memo that was issued but I know for a fact that detectives work protests wearing uniforms, it's very common,” McNulty said.

Tension surrounding the investigation


The email came in the midst of building tensions in the investigation — which the president has repeatedly called a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”

Last week, the residences and office of the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was raided by the FBI. The president called it "an attack on our country, in a true sense” and said the situation was “now on a whole new level of unfairness.”

But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thwarted a bipartisan measure to protect Mueller's job. It would not be necessary, McConnell said, because Trump would not fire Mueller.

A day later, the president responded to questions about Mueller and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation. "They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months. And they’re still here," Trump said during a press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.



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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two Senate Republicans, both of whom are leaving the Senate after their current terms, said they would not necessarily back President Donald Trump for re-election in 2020, with one of them speculating that he may not even seek the Oval Office again.

“I have no idea who's going to run for president in 2020, and I'm not about to say who I will support for that, so we have no idea who's going to run. Whether the president runs again or not is questionable, candidly,” Sen. Bob Corker, who is retiring from the Senate this year, said on CNN.

The president announced in February that he would run for a second term, and has already named his 2016 digital strategist Brad Parscale as his campaign manager.

Corker added during the interview that he would like to see who else is included in the field of 2020 Republican candidates before making a decision on whom to endorse.

The Tennessee senator, who also chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has had a complex relationship with Trump. He had previously questioned the president’s fitness for office, which led to Trump calling him names on Twitter, but eventually the two men reconciled.

He has been asked several times in recent days if he would support the president for re-election.

Just on Wednesday, he said his position changes by the hour and that many of his colleagues are likewise conflicted.

“Any Republican senator that hasn't been conflicted over this presidency is either comatose or is pretty useless in their blindness,” Corker said during a breakfast with reporters on Wednesday.

Sen. Ron Johnson, also appearing on CNN on Thursday, chastised an anchor for asking if he would support the current Republican president for re-election, calling it a “gotcha question.”

"It could be a completely different world by 2020. We have a 2018 election first," Johnson said. Johnson, who was re-elected to his seat in 2016, has said that he will not seek re-election again.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images(KEY WEST, Fla.) -- Fresh off his two-day summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Donald Trump made a short jaunt to Key West, Fla., on Thursday for a briefing on the military's efforts to counter smuggling of illegal drugs.

The president visited the Joint Interagency Task Force-South for an update with members of NORTHCOM and SOUTHCOM on drug interdiction efforts, a key issue pushed by the president dating back to his campaign promise to stop drugs from "pouring" into the U.S.

"You have done really an incredible job," Trump said to interagency members during their meeting, adding theirs is "a thankless job in many ways."

The visit comes as the president ratchets up his immigration rhetoric following his recent order to deploy the National Guard to assist in patrol efforts at the southern border.

Just prior to his departure from his private Mar-a-Lago club where he's expected to spend the rest of the weekend, the president slammed California again in a tweet over its 'sanctuary city' policies and said the federal government would not pay the state for the National Guard's mission.

Trump's tweet appeared to contradict an exchange Wednesday evening between Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen where the two indicated an agreement was reached between the state and federal government on funding and the role National Guard troops would play at the southern border.

"This order from the Governor, in his capacity as the commander-in-chief of the California National Guard, is being issued after securing the federal government’s commitment to fund the mission," Brown's office said in a press release.

During his briefing at the task force, Trump again targeted California, saying "there's a little bit of a revolution going on" with counties who are pushing back on the state's sanctuary laws.

“If you look at what’s happening in California with sanctuary cities — people are really going the opposite way," Trump said. "They don’t want sanctuary cities. There’s a little bit of a revolution going on in California.”



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Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The Robin Hood Foundation(ST. LOUIS) -- A St. Louis judge denied Gov. Eric Greitens’ motion to dismiss an invasion of privacy case, meaning the May 14 felony trial will go forward against the embattled Missouri Republican.

Adding to his legal troubles, Greitens could learn on Friday if he will face additional criminal charges after allegations he improperly obtained a donor list for political fundraising during his run for governor.

The controversy around Greitens, once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, has consumed Missouri politics, including the state’s highly competitive Senate race.

Both Senate candidates -- incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP opponent, Attorney General Josh Hawley -- have called on Greitens to resign from office. The Republican leaders in both chambers of the state house have also called on him to step down.

Greitens’ legal team alleged St. Louis County Attorney Kim Gardner withheld evidence and asked for dismissal, which the judge rejected in his ruling on Thursday.

The governor faces felony charges for invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a partially or fully nude photo and "subsequently transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer."

Greitens said he is innocent.

"A court of law and a jury of my peers will let every person in Missouri know the truth and prove my innocence," Greitens said in a statement last week.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.


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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, has withdrawn lawsuits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over the publishing of a controversial dossier compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

Cohen filed the lawsuits earlier this year — one in federal court against the private investigative firm and the other in state court against the popular media website.

Late Wednesday night, Cohen’s attorney filed to dismiss both.

"The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one," Cohen's attorney, David Schwartz, said in a statement to ABC News on Thursday.

Schwartz said Cohen still believes BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS defamed him “but given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits.”

Both Fusion GPS and Buzzfeed welcomed the decision.

“We welcome, though are not surprised, that Michael Cohen opted to withdraw this meritless complaint rather than face a discovery process that would have forced him to defend his reputation and address the allegations of the Steele dossier under penalty of perjury,” a spokesperson for Fusion GPS told ABC News, adding, “With his decision, it appears that Mr. Cohen can now focus on his many other legal travails.”

BuzzFeed said the lawsuit had never been about the "merits" of publishing the dossier.

“The lawsuits against BuzzFeed over the Steele dossier have never been about the merits of our decision to publish it,” a BuzzFeed’s spokesperson wrote in a statement Thursday morning on Twitter. “Today’s news suggests that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer no longer thinks an attack on the free press is worth his time.”

Cohen claimed in both lawsuits that the so-called Steele dossier’s unconfirmed allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents contained “false and defamatory” assertions that resulted in “harm to his personal and professional reputation, current business interests, and the impairment of business opportunities.”

Steele gave his dossier to Fusion GPS and it was later published in its entirety by BuzzFeed.

In his statement Thursday morning, the Buzzfeed spokesperson repeated the company’s claim that the dossier’s “interest to the public is, and always has been, obvious.”

According to Cohen’s initial complaint, Fusion GPS, co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, “recklessly placed [the dossier] beyond their control and allowed it to fall into the hands of media devoted to breaking news on the hottest subject of the day: the Trump candidacy.”

One specific claim in the dossier that Cohen has vehemently denied is an anecdote about Cohen having traveled to Prague in 2016 to meet a Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last week, McClatchy reported that the special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence indicating that Cohen did, in fact, travel to Prague.

ABC News has not independently verified McClatchy’s reporting. Cohen reacted to McClatchy’s report on Twitter, calling it a “bad story” and again insisting that he’s never been to Prague.

The sudden withdrawal of these suits comes amid ramped up legal pressure surrounding Cohen.

Last week, Cohen’s home and office were raided by federal investigators seeking to obtain documents connected with certain work on behalf of Trump and in Cohen's own business dealings.

Cohen is also under the scope of a lawsuit in California involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit against Trump in March arguing that a “hush” agreement she signed is invalid because Trump never signed it. Cohen arranged the $130,000 payment to Daniels from his own funds in order to keep her from going public with the story of an alleged one-night stand with Donald Trump. Records of that arrangement were scooped up in last week's raids, according to people briefed on the case.

Strategically, Cohen’s decision to drop these suits may reflect a growing concern that a civil lawsuit could expose him to discovery – a process that would require him to share files and correspondence that he may not want BuzzFeed or anyone else to see. With it now clear that the FBI is looming, that may be even less appealing to Cohen and his lawyers.

Dropping the suits may also alleviate the mounting financial cost of Cohen’s aforementioned legal exploits.



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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives at a federal courthouse later Thursday for a hearing to dismiss his case, as well as to suppress evidence seized by federal agents, one thing will not change: the ankle bracelet he has been wearing since he was indicted in late October as part of a strict, court-imposed home confinement.

The 69-year-old Manafort has repeatedly -- and unsuccessfully -- sought to provide the court with enough property, cash and other assets to meet the $10 million bail amount set by federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson in his case involving felony charges of money laundering, false statements, conspiracy and failure to register as a foreign agent.

Each time, the judge has rejected his proposals, as the case against him centers largely around his complex finances and alleged bank fraud related to a mortgage on one of his properties that he sought to offer as partial backing for his bail. The bank fraud charges are now included in a separate indictment in a federal court in Virginia.

Jackson has expressed irritation in multiple proceedings, particularly on the issue of bail, as lawyers for each side have fought over the real, unencumbered value of Manafort’s many properties.

The twists and turns of this bail saga have included odd movie references -- Manafort isn’t a “Jason Bourne” figure, though he has multiple passports, his lawyer has argued -- the real estate website Zillow, and a healthy dose of sarcasm and frustration.

At one point in his nearly six-month-long quest to shed his GPS ankle device and other restrictions, such as on his travel, Manafort had his physician write a letter to the judge pleading for leniency, saying the defendant’s health was at stake, according to the judge.

"While he's subject to home confinement, he's not confined to his couch, and I believe he has plenty of opportunity to exercise," the judge sarcastically said in a January status hearing.

Manafort’s permanent residence, he has said, is in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

In a February proceeding, the judge blasted Manafort attorney Kevin Downing for trying to offer a home value printed off Zillow.

"Zillow is actually considered to be pretty accurate, your honor," said Downing, a former Justice Department lawyer.

Jackson shot back, "If you had to sell it tomorrow or insure it tomorrow or refinance it tomorrow, you would get an appraisal. You wouldn't print out a page from Zillow."

The judge has repeatedly rejected a number of properties the veteran political strategist has offered to back his $10 million bail, most recently last week refusing to accept his condo in Alexandria, Virginia, as it’s already being used to back yet another home’s mortgage, and his flat in New York City, which is part of the tax and bank fraud case in Virginia.

Neither property would be unencumbered to back his bond, should the court decide to revoke bail and seize his properties, the judge said.

Complicating the Manafort financial picture could also be the fact that prosecutors, who are part of special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign, seized accounts at three different banks, according to recently revealed court documents filed by Mueller's team after Manafort’s attorneys complained that the government was not being forthcoming about warrants it had obtained against their client.

No charges against Manafort so far have included his time or work on the Trump campaign.

The public should learn more about Manafort’s bail soon, as both sides in the case agreed this week to have the transcripts of two private discussions with the judge released with limited redactions concerning personal information. One proceeding in February was entirely about Manafort’s bail.

Manafort’s jury trial before Jackson is set to begin on Sept. 17; his trial in a federal court in Virginia is on track to start in just three months. Manafort could potentially spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted in either case. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

But there are signs that the veteran lobbyists could finally have his bail conditions relaxed. While she denied his latest request, the judge offered a virtual asset road map in which the court highlighted a list of five specific residences owned by the defendant it would accept, along with a combination of cash and marketable securities.

It was as if the judge wanted to write the bail package herself, and at this rate, perhaps it would be faster if she did.

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Zach Gibson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two prominent House Republicans met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week over the pace of DOJ document production to Congress, the latest example of friction between congressional Republicans and senior Justice Department officials.

Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio -- members of the House Freedom Caucus and the House Oversight Committee, and allies of President Donald Trump -- met with Rosenstein on Monday to express concern over the "slow pace" and "excessive redactions" of documents turned over to Congress, according to an aide.

The meeting, first reported by the Washington Post, comes as the GOP chairmen of the House Oversight, Intelligence and Judiciary committees have demanded that DOJ turn over copies of James Comey's memos detailing his encounters with Trump to Congress.

Republicans on all three committees are investigating the FBI's handling of the Clinton and Trump-Russia investigations, and have been sharply critical of the pace of DOJ's document production to Congress.

Rosenstein, in a letter to the chairmen earlier this week, asked for a few more days to comply with the request for both unredacted and declassified copies of Comey's memos, citing concerns about releasing any documents related to ongoing investigations or that may contain classified information.

"None of us would want the FBI to release sensitive government records without careful and appropriate review," Rosenstein wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by ABC News.

The meetings with Rosenstein and related DOJ document requests come as Trump expressed frustration with the Russia investigation, the recent FBI raid on his personal lawyer Michael Cohen's home and office, and the ongoing legal proceedings in New York.

On Wednesday, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told him that he plans to issue a subpoena to force DOJ to turn over the memos.

Citing DOJ regulations preventing the department from turning over materials related to an ongoing criminal investigation to Congress, Nadler accused Republicans of attempting to discredit Rosenstein, who supervises special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

"If House Republicans refuse any accommodation short of the Department of Justice handing over custody of these documents -- which it cannot do -- I fear the majority will have manufactured an excuse to hold the deputy attorney general in contempt of Congress," he wrote. "If they succeed in tarnishing the deputy attorney general, perhaps they will have given President Trump the pretext he has sought to replace Mr. Rosenstein with someone willing to do his bidding and end the special counsel’s investigation."

Asked about the possible firing of Rosenstein or Mueller on Wednesday, Trump dismissed the speculation.

"They've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last four five months, but they're still here," Trump said.

A spokesperson for Goodlatte did not return a request for comment.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- President Donald Trump, who is preparing for a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks, said Wednesday that while he will remain "flexible," if he feels the meeting will not be "fruitful" he will leave.

"We’ve never been in a position like this with that regime, whether it’s father grandfather or son," Trump said. "I hope to have a very successful meeting. I few don’t think it will be successful, we won’t have it. If it’s a meeting I don’t think will be fruitful I won't go. If when I’m there, and I don’t think it’s fruitful, I will leave.

"We'll remain flexible here. I’ve gotten it to this point," the president said.

Trump made the comments in a joint press conference with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., at the end of a two-day summit between the leaders.

Asked whether the release of three Americans held prisoner by North Korea is a necessary concession ahead of any summit with Kim, Trump did not reply directly but said his administration is currently working to get the Americans freed.

"We're fighting very diligently to get the three American citizens back," Trump said. "There's a chance of having good dialogue. We'll keep you informed. We are in there and we're working very hard on that. We have come a long way with North Korea."

Trump declared that on North Korea, he will not repeat the mistakes of previous administrations and will “continue a campaign of maximum pressure until North Korea denuclearizes.”

“Hopefully that meeting will be a great success and we're looking forward to it. It will be a tremendous thing for North Korea and a tremendous thing for the world. We will be doing everything possible to make it a worldwide success,” Trump said.

Conversations between Trump and Abe have focused on trade and working towards denuclearizing North Korea. On Wednesday morning, Trump confirmed in a tweet that his nominee for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, took a secret trip to North Korea over Easter weekend to meet with Kim and begin laying the groundwork for the upcoming summit.

“I think Mike Pompeo will go down as one of the great secretaries of state. And, by the way, he just left North Korea. Had a great meeting with Kim Jong Un, and got along with him really well, really great,” Trump said to reporters during a working lunch with Abe and advisers.

Trump began the Wednesday evening press conference by offering his condolences to the Bush family. First Lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at her home in Houston, Texas.

“Melania and I send our prayers to Barbara’s husband of 73 years – I’ll never beat that record,” Trump said.

Trump and Abe -- both golf enthusiasts -- played a round at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach Wednesday afternoon.

“Prime Minister @AbeShinzo of Japan and myself this morning building an even deeper and better relationship while playing a quick round of golf at Trump International Golf Club,” tweeted Trump.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- President Donald Trump didn't directly answer on Wednesday when asked whether he's determined it's not worth the political fallout to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein but he noted that both men are still in their jobs.

"They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last four, five months, but they’re still here," Trump said in response to a reporter's question on the topic during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday.

Trump has publicly voiced his frustrations with Mueller and Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's investigation, which Trump has repeatedly described as a "witch hunt." Trump has previously said that many people have advised him that he should fire Mueller.

"I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens," Trump said last week when asked about whether he would consider firing Mueller. "But I think it's really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, 'You should fire him.'"

The president Wednesday again denied broadly that there was any collusion between his campaign and the Russians, which is one of the questions that Mueller's team is investigating.

"There's no collusion," Trump said, going on to dismiss the notion as a Democrat-created hoax.

"This was a really a hoax created largely by the Democrats as a way of softening the blow of a loss which is a loss that frankly, they shouldn't have had from the standpoint that it's very easy for them," Trump said. "They have a tremendous advantage in the electoral college in is what it is and this is where it came from."

Even as he sought to discredit the basis for an investigation, the president made a point to insist that his cooperation has been complete and comprehensive.

"As far as the investigation, nobody has ever been as transparent as I have. I have instructed our lawyers: Be totally transparent," Trump said. "We have given them 1.4 million pages of documents, and haven’t used – as I know of for the most part – presidential powers or privilege.

The president also expressed his hope that "we’re coming to the end" of the investigation. "We want to get the investigation over with, done with. Put it behind us," Trump said.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic co-sponsor of White House-backed prison reform legislation is threatening to walk away from the effort after legislative attempts to attach a concealed carry expansion to the bill, multiple sources familiar with the draft legislation tell ABC News.

“We will walk away [and] have no problem doing so," a source close to House Judiciary Democrats' strategy said. "We're saying put up or shut up. Prove you're serious."

The Prison Reform and Redemption Act, which Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries' is co-sponsoring along with Republican Rep. Doug Collins, has the support of the White House in an effort that has been led by the president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

But an apparent attempt to tack on an expansion of concealed carry to the bill now has Jeffries reconsidering his position. The draft language is not public and ABC News has not reviewed updates to the bill.

“They’re full of it," a person close to Jeffries said in reference to House Republicans. "We will only support a bill that ensures that currently incarcerated individuals are job ready upon release and respect and protects the dignity of women. This bill fails to meet that standard and is loaded with poison pills. In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting when a country is moving toward gun safety, they try to expand concealed carry, which is a nonstarter."

"This bill fails to meet that standard and is loaded with poison pills. In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting when a country is moving toward gun safety, they try to expand concealed carry, which is a nonstarter," the source said.

Kushner was on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning for a meeting on the legislation and had expected to meet with Jeffries along with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Collins, among members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, according to a list of expected participants provided by the White House.

Jeffries, however, did not attend the meeting. His office declined to comment on his absence.

But a White House official said that Kushner and Jeffries now plan to have a call on Thursday to go over the language of the legislation. The official also would not elaborate on Jeffries' absence from the meeting earlier in the day.

The White House also did not elaborate on the addition of the concealed carry element to the legislation and did not take a position on the change.

Mark Holden, who leads a Koch brothers-backed prison reform group and has worked in close partnership with Kushner's team on the issue, says he hasn't heard from anyone who favors the change either at the White House or among conservative groups collaborating on the issue.

"We’ve been talking for months about a clean prison reform, this is not a clean reform bill," Holden said.

Democratic prison reform advocate Van Jones was at the meeting with Kushner this morning. While his group #Cut50 remains engaged in the process, Jones has described the concealed carry addition to the legislation as being "bird poop in the cool aid" and of serious concern.

"We believe strongly that we should be at the table helping negotiate, but there are some things need to be changed," #cut 50 co-founder Jessica Jackson Sloan said.

Jeffries continues to view Kushner, as well as his Republican co-sponsor Rep. Collins, as serious partners in the legislative effort to address prison reform, a person familiar with the effort said and added that the reason for the current impasse appears to be other Congressional Republicans who have since gotten involved in the effort.

Rep. Jeffries' office declined to comment for this story. Rep. Collins office did not respond to a request for comment.

The Collins-Jeffries bill had been on track to be considered at the committee level in the House this month.



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