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Georgetown professor Michael Dyson says millennials need to raise awareness of voter suppression

Paula Lobo/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Former U.S. Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson, Harvard fellow Tiffany Cross and author and Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson explained why voter suppression affects black communities more often and the ways in which misinformation can make it worse during a panel discussion on Thursday.

The panel spoke about voter suppression with ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts as part of ABC News' Black History Month Speaker Series.

During their discussion, Dyson acknowledged that it can be difficult for the everyday person to differentiate fake and real political news, and noted how disinformation can influence people not to vote or make decisions under false pretenses. With so much misinformation out there, he said that "people who work everyday" don't have "the ability to adjudicate competing claims of what's true and not true because they're trying to work."

"What we can do is energize the millennials and those [who are] younger," Dyson said. "Instead of talking about who did what and who wore what, imagine if we had Instagram influences out here talking about [voter suppression]. That would make a huge difference in the consciousness of those who are on the rise."

Johnson, meanwhile, spoke about the national threat that voter suppression poses, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity.

"When you're dealing with elections at the national level, the result really does dance on the head of a pin," Johnson said. "The presidential election is decided in just a few states; in a few key swing districts in those states. If you're a foreign actor -- a foreign influence -- it would be relatively easy to target key places in those states that could have the effect of altering the outcome of the election."

When asked if the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. government is making progress in protecting elections from foreign interference, Johnson said, "We don't have a handle on it" and that "government security agencies should not be in the business of regulating political debate."

"It is incumbent upon internet service providers [and] social media providers to do a better job of policing their own terms of use in terms of its content, in terms of its attribution," Johnson said. "The American public should become more skeptical about what they consume."

"As long as we're talking about international election interference, we also have to keep in mind domestic election interference, and together, these two can really destroy our democracy," Cross said.

Cross also spoke about the ways in which social media can help people feel heard.

"If the only time I saw outrage about the murder of Sandra Bland or Tamir Rice or Trayvon Martin was with media or a meme on Facebook or a GIF on Instagram, then yes, that is a voice that is giving me a voice," Cross said. "I felt left out because I did not see that in the mainstream media."

Although it's traditionally black communities that are targeted victims of voter suppression, Cross said they aren't the only ones that fall victim to voter suppression.

"This is something that affects the Latinx community [and] the Native American community" as well, she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Warren reverses central stance on PAC support: ‘That’s how it has to be’

David Becker/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Despite grounding her campaign message in the fight against the influence of big money in politics, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has not discouraged a new super PAC created this week from boosting her message around the country.

Warren has criticized other candidates for accepting PAC support, and continued to do so even as a new PAC called “Persist” threw its support behind her. Warren has indicated that she will not disavow or reject its support unless all the other candidates do the same.

“So here’s where I stand, if all of the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in. I’ll lead the charge. But that’s how it has to be. It can’t be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only one or two don’t,” Warren told reporters on Thursday morning at a campaign stop in Las Vegas.

Warren similarly stood by the support of the new super PAC on Wednesday night, fresh off the debate stage and argued that PAC support was furthering the gender divide in the 2020 primary.

"I asked on this stage 10 days ago and no takers, not a Democrat would stand up. And I understand how eventually, women looked around and said, 'Wait, let's get this straight, all the guys on this stage have got PACs working for them. The only ones who don't are Amy [Klobuchar] and Elizabeth [Warren]," and they put together a PAC," Warren told ABC News, referring to the three women who are directors of the Persist PAC.

The only candidates who didn’t have super PAC support ahead of the New Hampshire primary were the two women in the race, Warren and Klobuchar, a Minnesota senator, and both have since seen PACs pop up to support them.

Warren’s reversal on super PAC help comes on the heels of her lackluster finishes in the first two presidential contests and a drop in national polls. She has since seen a much-needed fundraising boost from her performance in the debate Wednesday night, but still faces strong competition from opponents like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Buttigieg, who pulled victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Previously, Warren has issued strong criticism of candidates who switched stances during similarly difficult points during the race.

When Biden reversed his stance on accepting PAC support back in October, Warren said, “It’s disappointing that any Democratic candidate would reverse course and endorse the use of unlimited contributions from the wealthy to run against fellow Democrats.”

The former vice president, like Warren, had previously said that he would reject any help from a super PAC but dropped his opposition in October after his fundraising numbers fell well short of his Democratic opponents.

Warren’s own campaign website pledges that the Massachusetts senator “rejects the help of Super PACs and would disavow any Super PAC” — a statement that was still on her website as of Thursday afternoon.

“We’ve got to overturn Citizens United because our democracy is not for sale,” the campaign website states. “In the meantime, Democrats should show some moral backbone by refusing their own Super PACs in the 2020 primary.”

The new super PAC backing Warren, “Persist,” was launched earlier this week by a group of progressive women. They filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday afternoon and released an ad the same night.

The PAC’s name echoes one of Warren's taglines. "Nevertheless, she persisted" has long been a core mantra for the campaign's brand, following a contentious exchange with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor in 2017.

The PAC is putting seven figures behind pro-Warren ads leading up to Saturday’s caucuses and expects to run more ads in primary states to come.

Persist PAC is led by DC-based Democratic strategist Karin Johanson and Kim Rogers, the former political director of Heartland, a PAC started by former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack aimed at electing Democratic governors.

Also on the board is Kristine Kippins, who is separately the policy director for the Constitutional Accountability Center, work unaffiliated with the PAC's efforts; prior to, she served as counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The group hasn't filed donor disclosure records providing details on who's funding it, though the New York Times reported that EMILY’s List contributed $250,000 to both Klobuchar and Warren’s super PACs.

Throughout her presidential run, Warren has sought to distance herself from big-money groups, swearing off contributions from PACs and rejecting private high-dollar fundraisers. But the campaign cannot control outside groups' independent expenditures in support.

For their part, a spokesperson for the Persist PAC said they support Warren's goals to keep big money out of politics, but emphasized that it might not happen unless they play by the campaign rules that exist today.

"When you don't grow up rich, you learn how to work," narrated a female voice in the PAC's first ad, released late Tuesday night.

"When the system is broken, you step up to fix it," the narrator said as the ad featured a photo of Warren, hands with "Stop Kavanaugh" penned in ink on the palm. "That's why Obama picked her."

"It's why she'll take him on — and win," the narrator said, quickly intercutting a shot of President Donald Trump.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump rallies in Colorado amid West Coast campaign swing

Catilin O'Hara/Getty Images(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- President Donald Trump continues his West Coast swing Thursday with a campaign rally in Colorado on the heels of the feistiest Democratic debate of the primary and days away from the Nevada caucuses.

He spoke to a raucous crowd in Phoenix on Wednesday night, railing against his rivals -- several who were debating in Las Vegas at the time -- and is in Colorado to make his pitch to flip the state blue.

Trump’s Thursday night event at the Broadmoor World Arena comes is the second of his three campaign rallies in three separate states on three consecutive days. The West Coast swing is the biggest investment yet that the president has made in a week for his re-election.

While he took the opportunity to comment on Wednesday night's tense Democratic debate while on stage in Phoenix Wednesday, he also spent part of his Thursday mocking former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's debut debate performance, which received lackluster reviews from critics.

Quoting Bloomberg, who said he didn't think there was a chance of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., defeating Trump, the president tweeted, "Mini, there’s even less chance, especially after watching your debate performance last night, of you winning the Democrat nomination...But I hope you do!"

Trump focused his tweets and retweets on mocking Bloomberg Thursday, holding back from targeting the other Democrats, including front-runner Sanders.

The president's Colorado rally also comes weeks after vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory Gardner backed up the president in the Senate impeachment trial, offering a crucial Republican vote to acquit Trump of impeachment charges.

In Phoenix on Wednesday, Trump made a big show of praising Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, who also voted to acquit the president, introducing the senator to the crowd as "a tremendous person, a great fighter pilot, a lot of people don't know that she's a great fighter pilot and a warrior Senate."

"She helped us so much during the impeachment hoax, she didn't wobble one bit," Trump added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Pete Buttigieg's husband responds to critics, discusses historic nature of presidential campaign

Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For Chasten Buttigieg, it was a "culmination of experiences" that led him to fall for Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, in 2015. Unbeknownst to him at the time, his future husband would become a top-tier presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

"He made me feel so loved right away," Chasten Buttigieg, 30, told ABC News' Linsey Davis as part of the ABC News Live series "Running Mates."

He said that it was Pete Buttigieg's heart that made him fall "hard and fast."

Pete Buttigieg rides momentum from Iowa, despite criticism of his lack of experience

The two met on the dating app Hinge in the summer of 2015, Chasten Buttigieg said, before revealing what initially caught his attention on his husband's profile.

"I won't lie, it was the picture of him in the military," Chasten Buttigieg said with a smile and a laugh. "I'll tell the truth."

During a town hall in Sacramento, California, on Valentine's Day last week, Pete Buttigieg spoke openly about what made him fall in love with Chasten.

"First, I just saw these eyes, this smile, [that] I just had to see in person," Pete Buttigieg said. He recalled their first date in South Bend, during which the two first met for a beer. Then, it turned into dinner and eventually a baseball game and walk around town, he said.

"I didn't want it to end. And what I saw was somebody who is so alive to the way in which we can lift one another up, and you got to understand, I had been avoiding, I mean, actively avoiding love for a very long time," Pete Buttigieg said. "And [I] tiptoed out to see what it would be like, and met this extraordinary person who let me know what it meant to care about somebody else and lift them up, too, and reminds me every day of the opportunity by holding office even just by being a candidate to make sure others feel seen, and to make sure others know that they're important."

The two married three years after meeting at the then-Mayor's hometown. Chasten Buttigieg explained why he decided to take his husband's last name.

"I just want our kids to have the same last name, and this is probably going to sound really funny, but I really like the name Buttigieg," he said.

They were married for less than a year before Pete Buttigieg decided to run for president. As newlyweds, Chasten Buttigieg admits "there's no denying" their time apart has been hard on their marriage.

"But it is a sacrifice that's worth making because I have seen Peter go out there and change people's lives, saved people's lives because of the visibility of this campaign and because of the message that he's offering the American people. A message of hope and inclusion and belonging. … So I'm very proud to share him with the rest of the country," Chasten Buttigieg said.

Chasten Buttigieg was a middle school drama teacher before he decided to join his husband on the campaign trail full-time. He's now become a powerhouse player for the campaign, holding fundraisers of his own and amassing hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and Twitter in an effort to support his husband.

"I can connect with people," Chasten Buttigieg said. "As a person who came out in a country that made LGBTQ Americans feel disgusting and unwanted and unloved, I know what it's like to feel like this country doesn't stand for you."

To hear two men affirm their love for one another so openly in a presidential campaign is groundbreaking and historic. Pete Buttigieg is the first major openly gay candidate to launch a bid for the presidency, and with voting underway, he's currently leading the Democratic field in delegates.

"Iowa, you have shocked the nation," Pete Buttigieg said on the night of the Iowa caucuses earlier this month after declaring an early victory.

Pete Buttigieg also went on to finish second in the New Hampshire primary, which Sen. Bernie Sanders won.

At his side during both election night celebrations was Chasten Buttigieg, who could be seen beaming from the side of the stage, watching his husband deliver a speech to hundreds of supporters, and eventually making his way on stage to embrace the former mayor with a hug.

Pete Buttigieg says Democrats need to make sure 2020 looks nothing like 2016

Recently, Pete Buttigieg was the target of homophobic attacks from conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh, who speculated if a gay man could beat President Donald Trump.

"America's still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president," Limbaugh said.

Pete Buttigieg shot back at a CNN town hall in Nevada this week.

"The idea of the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump lecturing anybody on family values. I mean, I'm sorry, but one thing about my marriage is it's never involved me having to send hush money to a porn star after cheating on my spouse with him or her. So they want to debate family values? Let's debate family values. I'm ready," Pete Buttigieg said.

Chasten Buttigieg said he's "dealt with a multitude of Rush Limbaughs" over the course of his life and is more than confident that his husband "is ready to go toe-to-toe with this president."

"Pete can take on the likes of Rush Limbaugh. But I'm more worried about the kids. I'm more worried about the people in this country who are watching how we treat this candidacy, treat this campaign and the way we treat people who for so long have been attacked by people like Rush Limbaugh and this president," Chasten Buttigieg said.

"I think it is time for moral leadership to be restored to the White House," he continued. "So when you are ready to share that deepest truth about yourself, when you are ready to step out of the closet, you step out into something hopeful and inclusive and you look up to Washington and you see a president who cares about you and loves you."

Growing up in rural Michigan, Chasten Buttigieg's ascent to what could be the nation's first "first gentleman" was not always easy.

"I grew up in a pretty socially conservative place. … I went to a school where, you know, if you weren't on the football team or one of the jocks that, you know, you were picked on and bullied and belittled," he said.

Being gay made things even harder for him. When he came out to his family during the summer after his high school graduation, he ran away and became homeless.

"When I came out, I was certain that I'd lose everythingm," Chasten Buttigieg said. "I was so certain that I would be a disappointment to my family and my community and my church and my friends that rather than stick around and find out if I was going to be OK, I ran away from it. Sometimes I slept on my friend's couches and floors, and sometimes I felt like I was a burden even on my friends. And so, I would just sleep in the back of my car."

But Chasten Buttigieg says he's careful about telling his coming out story and what ensued to other people. His story, he said, is a lot different from other people's.

"I have a happy ending to that story. I got to go home. I got to go home to two loving parents who were terrified for me because they loved me. But they knew it was gonna be hard. And I'm very, very lucky. Not every kid has that story," he said.

It was his own experience that has shaped Chasten Buttigieg's work as an advocate for LGBTQ youth. Just this week he announced that he's visited close to 100 LGBTQ equality centers and homeless service providers, where he was able to share his story and listen to those of kids from all over the country,

Chasten Buttigieg says this election is not about policy. From homelessness to health care to the #MeToo movement, for him, it's personal.

Previously, Chasten Buttigieg has only briefly been able to talk about a time when he claims he was sexually assaulted as a teenager. He said that the person who took advantage of him was a friend of his friends and that he didn't think they'd believe him if he told them.

He told Davis that sharing a story like this "requires you to be so vulnerable," and that when it happened to him, in a way he "was terrified of feeling vulnerable and terrified of telling my friends and my family."

"I was young. I was 18. And I remember somehow feeling like my parents would be so disappointed in me and I don't know what it was about society that made me feel somehow that I had done something wrong," Chasten Buttigieg said. "And to feel such shame and guilt for somebody else taking advantage of me. And I'm so grateful for everyone who has spoken up because it made me feel less alone, too. As somebody who held on to that for a really long time, and unfortunately, that shaped me in a really negative way [with] trying to open up to love."

Chasten Buttigieg said he shared his story with his husband very early in their relationship. "It was the first time I really felt like someone got it, and understood how difficult maybe a touch on the shoulder could be for somebody who had that experience," he said.

Through the ups and down of the campaign trail, and the amount of time away from each other, Chasten Buttigieg said his husband never lets him forget how loved he is.

"He's really good at that. He is really good at taking the time to write out a little poem or a little letter, and he's also deeply reflective and he'll write a story that I'd completely forgotten about," Chasten Buttigieg said, giving an example. "'Do you remember that time we sat at a cafe in Paris and watched the world go by? And I know it's crazy out there right now. But, you know, when you're far away and you're missing me, you think of that moment.'"

Even if his husband doesn't go on to win the presidency in 2020, Chasten Buttigieg strongly believes that the campaign has made an impact nevertheless.

"I obviously want [him] to be president," Chasten Buttigieg said. "But if for some reason it doesn't work out, I will not for one moment hang my head in shame."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Michael Bloomberg's campaign spent more than $409 million through January

George Frey/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg poured more than $463 million into his campaign in just the first two months of his presidential bid, a new campaign disclosure shows.

From late November through the end of January, Bloomberg’s campaign reported spending more than $409 million, more than $220 million in just the month of January, according to the report filed to the Federal Election Commission.

As he pledged when he launched his campaign, the billionaire presidential hopeful has taken in no donation from others -- instead, he’s put more than $463 million of his own money into the contest.

According to a campaign aide, the campaign has hired more than 2,100 employees throughout the country and are still in the process of hiring more. A campaign break down of the disclosure report shows it spent over $7 million in payroll last month alone.

According to the campaign’s breakdown of the filing, it spent $126.5 million on television advertising and $45.5 million on online advertising during the month of January, but the campaign has poured millions more just in the first few weeks of February.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Bloomberg campaign has spent more than $427 million just on television, radio and online ads, according to data from ad analysis firm Kantar/CMAG, which covers more up-to-date ad spending information.

The campaign also paid its primary digital agency Hawkfish LLC about $13.7 million in January. The ad tech start-up was founded by Bloomberg and provides digital services for the campaign including content creation, ad placement and analytics, according to a campaign aide.

The former mayor’s wealth has been a frequent point of contention among his Democratic rivals as some have criticized him for using money to influence his way into the race.

On Tuesday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders accused Bloomberg of trying to “buy the presidency,” slamming him for not registering to be on the ballot in the early voting states.

“He said, ‘I don’t have to do that. I’m worth $60 billion. I have more wealth than the bottom 123 million Americans. I’ll buy the presidency,’’ Sanders said during a CNN town hall. “That offends me very much.”

Bloomberg has defended his spending, telling reporters after a rally in Tennessee, “I’m not trying to buy the election. We’ve been at this for 10 weeks, and the best way to communicate in 10 weeks is through something like mass media, through television and social media,” he said. “And the other people that running have been doing it for the last couple years, so maybe they don’t need to do it. But it’s a way for me to get out to this whole country.”

“First and foremost we ask, what is the price to save democracy from Donald Trump,” Bloomberg senior advisor Tim O’Brien told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Michael Bloomberg is doing this right now because he sees this as the culmination of his life's work. As we've said repeatedly, this big electoral machine we're building -- we're in 45 states and territories, 2100 people on the ground -- will be in the service of the party, or whoever the nominee is.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Bloomberg dismisses past comments as 'a joke.' NDA shows plaintiff barred from offering differing view

Mario Tama/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- During his debut on the Democratic debate stage in Nevada on Wednesday night, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was confronted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren about his alleged history of making crude and degrading comments toward women.

"I'd like to talk about who we're running against," Warren said. "A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg."

Under pressure, Bloomberg reverted to a well-worn line of defense, dismissing his past language as a “joke.”

“None of [the women] accused me of doing anything, other than, maybe, they didn't like a joke I told,” Bloomberg replied, echoing comments he made on “The View” last month, when he said, “Did I ever tell a bawdy joke? Yeah, sure, I did. And do I regret it? Yes, it's embarrassing, but, you know, that's the way I grew up.”

But for some women who might wish to speak publicly about that conduct, now that he’s running for President of the United States, the consequences could be deeply serious. As Bloomberg has downplayed the nature of the allegations against him and his company, those who leveled allegations against him who are subject to a confidentiality agreements could face potentially significant financial exposure if they decided to speak.

Several women have entered into strict non-disclosure agreements with Bloomberg’s company in connection to a slew of gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits, detailing decades worth of allegations that Bloomberg personally directed crude and sexist comments to women in his office.

One confidential settlement agreement negotiated by Bloomberg’s company and obtained by ABC News reveals, the plaintiff was asked to agree not to “in any way disparage” Bloomberg's company. If asked about the agreement, the person is advised to say “the parties reached an amicable resolution of this dispute … but should not comment further on their settlement.”

Bloomberg and his company have so far resisted calls – most notably from Sen. Warren – to release those women from those agreements. On Wednesday, Bloomberg even implied that the women subject to the privacy agreements wanted to continue to abide by them.

But ABC News has spoken with several women who expressed interest in telling their stories, but feared the prospect of retribution from the company, including significant financial losses for violating the terms of their confidentiality agreement by speaking out.

Donna Clancy, an attorney for three former employees who have sued both Bloomberg and his firm, said if the women were to break their NDAs, the "terms and conditions say that they would suffer the consequences."

In response to criticism, Bloomberg has defended his company and its culture.

“Not everybody’s happy, but we have an enviable record of treating people the same in terms of compensation and promotions and authority," Bloomberg told ABC in December. "And there will always be somebody that’s not happy, but we are, we do very well in terms of attracting men and women to come to work in the company, and the retention rate with both of them is good as I think any real company. So, I’m very proud of what we do."

Here is a breakdown of what we know:


  • Court records reviewed by ABC News indicate that at least 17 women have taken legal action against the company over the past three decades, with three of the cases specifically naming Bloomberg for his role in the company’s culture. None of the cases made it to trial – four were either dismissed or withdrawn, while five were settled out of court. Three cases remain active.
  • While many of the cases brought against Bloomberg’s company over the years have taken aim at other managers and executives, several of the early complaints alleged Bloomberg’s attitude and statements about women fostered a hostile work environment himself. Some were dismissed, while others were settled with no admission of wrongdoing.
  • In 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that polices workplace harassment and discrimination, brought a sweeping case alleging discrimination against pregnant woman and new mothers who worked at the firm. Sixty-seven women were prepared to join the case. The time period of the misconduct alleged in the lawsuit was between 2002 and 2007 while Bloomberg was mayor of New York City and not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, although he remained the majority owner of it. A court dismissed the case in 2011.

And here is a selection of crude comments attributed to Bloomberg:


  • One legal complaint filed in the 1990s claimed that Bloomberg told an employee who had just announced she was pregnant to "kill it." "He told me to 'kill it' in a serious monotone voice," the woman alleged in a lawsuit. "I asked 'What? What did you just say?' He looked at me and repeated in a deliberate manner 'kill it.'" Bloomberg has repeatedly denied that specific allegation, which arose in a discrimination lawsuit that was settled out of court.
  • Other quotes attributed to him in court filings include "I’d like to do that piece of meat" and "I would DO you in a second."
  • In another case, he is alleged to have told a female employee, regarding her boyfriend: "Keep him happy with a good [oral sex]."
  • At a 1996 dinner party, he is alleged to have announced to a table of colleagues, "I'd love nothing more in life than to have Sharon Stone sit on my face."

ABC News interviewed two lawyers who represented former clients who brought cases against Bloomberg. They said:

  • "The atmosphere was toxic and harassing," said Bonnie Josephs, a New York attorney who represented the woman who alleged that Bloomberg suggested she terminate her pregnancy. "It's his company, it’s his business. He frames the atmosphere. He has to be responsible for it. … If Mr. Bloomberg is running for president, I think the public needs to know what actually happened in this business.”
  • "We have investigated the company for the last four years, and the culture is such that women are not valued," said Clancy, an attorney for three former employees who have sued both Bloomberg and his firm. "In fact, they're objectified, based upon the complaints that I've filed on behalf of three plaintiffs and the history that's listed in those complaints."

This isn't the first time Bloomberg has faced scrutiny for his past conduct on the campaign trail- or the first time he has trivialized that conduct as “a joke.” While running for mayor of New York City in 2001, Bloomberg was asked about a 32-page gift booklet of his "wit and wisdom," compiled and given to him by friends and colleagues for birthday, that was full of crude and sexist comments Bloomberg had allegedly made.

“If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdales,” reads one comment in the book.

At the time, Bloomberg both denied making the comments in the book and dismissed them as "a bunch of gags" anyway.

"This was a book that was given to me as a joke 10 years ago at a party," Bloomberg later stated on the debate stage in 2001. "I probably never saw it after that. It's a bunch of Borscht Belt jokes that somebody had put together. It does not reflect my views back then, or now."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Pigeon protest group P.U.T.I.N releases birds wearing MAGA hats, Trump wigs

mkirarslan/iStock(LAS VEGAS) -- First, cowboy hats. Then, sombreros. Now? “Make America Great Again” hats and Donald Trump wigs.

Pigeons wearing MAGA hats and Donald Trump wigs have been released by a shadowy protest group calling themselves P.U.T.I.N. – Pigeons United to Interfere Now -- across the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, in an apparent protest of the arrival of the 2020 Democratic candidates for the ninth presidential debate held last night at the Paris Theater.

“P.U.T.I.N. have used their pigeons to launch a one of a kind aerial protest piece in response to the arrival of the 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls for their scheduled debate on 2/19 in Las Vegas,” said P.U.T.I.N’s founder, Coo Hand Luke, in a statement released on Feb. 18.

The timing also coincides with Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance in Las Vegas later today to deliver a planned speech at the Las Vegas Police Department headquarters.

Said P.U.T.I.N.: “The release date was also coordinated to serve as a gesture of support and loyalty to President Trump.”

The protest group also released a video along with their press release with the opening shot panning across an American flag stained with pigeon feces.

Nearly two dozen pigeons are then shown in a cage with MAGA hats on their heads and one single pigeon in the middle “adorned with a small, orange hairpiece, to commemorate that of their leader, President Donald J. Trump,” said P.U.T.I.N.

The final shots of the video show a hooded and masked man releasing the pigeons as they fly off into the wild.

The protest group said that they were “inspired by the 1970’s Cold War Operation, ‘Tacana,’ in which the CIA explored the use of pigeons equipped with tiny cameras to spy on Soviet sites of interest.”

Las Vegas has had a series of cases recently involving pigeons wearing a variety of headgear. In December, three pigeons donning miniature red cowboy hats, and nicknamed Cluck Norris, Coolamity Jane and Billy the Pidge, went viral after they were seen on the streets by many members of the public. Then, in January, several pigeons were spotted wearing miniature sombreros.

ABC News spoke to Coo Hand Luke from P.U.T.I.N. who shed some light on what the protest was about.

"As expected, more than half of our birds returned to their home last night," said Luke. "We removed any hats that were still in place. Many had already fallen off due to the fact that eyelash glue was used. The adhesive is not very strong. P.U.T.I.N is a satirical project and in protest to Trump. Our group had nothing to do with the cowboy hat project."

While the images may be funny to some, even in spite of P.U.T.I.N.'s reassurances, one charity in Las Vegas says this is no laughing matter.

“[We have] been informed of the group reportedly using eyelash glue to glue MAGA hats to pigeons and releasing them in downtown Las Vegas to make a political statement,” said Lofty Hopes, a charity promoting the humane treatment of pigeons in a statement on Facebook. “The statement that was made is one of animal cruelty … The hats impair the birds vision, leaving them more prone to predation, window strikes, [and] being hit by cars.”

Lofty Hopes have allegedly set traps in order to catch the hat-wearing animals in hopes that they will be able to remove the headgear before they are injured or killed. It is unclear if they have managed to catch any yet.

P.U.T.I.N. has not revealed whether there will be any other protests or stunts involving pigeons but assured that the pigeons are well cared for.

Said P.U.T.I.N.: “The project was the result of months of exhaustive research, logistical hurdles and pigeon care taking.”

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Trump ally Roger Stone gets 40 months in prison after sentencing firestorm

DNY59/iStock(WASHINGTON) --  Roger Stone, the longtime friend and former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, was sentenced to 40 months in prison Thursday at federal court in Washington amid speculation that Trump could potentially pardon him.

A few hours later, speaking at a "Hope for Prisoners" graduation ceremony in Las Vegas, Trump talked about the Stone case, saying, "I'm following this very closely and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion."

"I'd love to see it happen," he said, going on to suggest the Stone jury foreperson was "tainted," calling her an "anti-Trump activist."

But he added, "I'm not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States. I want the process to play out. I think that's the best thing to do."

President Trump on Roger Stone: “I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States. I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do because I’d love to see Roger exonerated.” https://t.co/qFZBamEpwY pic.twitter.com/zp0x8nc32R

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 20, 2020

Stone was also sentenced to 24 months probation and fined $20,000.

“Stone was prosecuted for covering up for the president,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson said. She called the actions of the Justice Department in the case "unprecedented," referring to the political drama over his case.

Stone's fate took on new significance last week when the career prosecutors who handled the case recommended a sentence of seven to nine years for Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering in November.

After Trump tweeted that recommendation was a "miscarriage of justice," Attorney General William Barr overruled the prosecutors and the Justice Department submitted a new recommendation calling on Judge Jackson to give Stone a much lighter sentence. Shortly after, in an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas, Barr warned Trump to stop tweeting and commenting on the case, saying he was making it "impossible" to do his job.

Sources have told ABC News that Barr, who has called the Stone prosecution "righteous," is seriously considering resigning.

Stone, 67, was convicted of misleading congressional investigators on several key elements of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including communications he had with the Trump campaign about the WikiLeaks dissemination of damaging documents stolen from Democrats.

Here is how the story unfolded:

1:05 p.m. Stone departs courthouse smiling but doesn't say anything

In a wild scene, Stone and his entourage depart the courthouse surrounded by shouting supporters and protesters.

Stone is smiling but says nothing before getting into a waiting SUV.

ABC News' Ali Dukakis was in the courtroom during the sentencing and files these notes:

One could see only Stone’s back as he stood silently with several of his lawyers as Jackson delivered her blistering rebuke of Stone and others who have alleged he was charged because of his political activity and support of President Trump.

“Stone was prosecuted for covering up for the president,” Jackson said.

When all was said and done, Stone attorney Bruce Rogow put a hand to Stone’s back in what appeared to be a gesture of emotional support that Stone played off as a signal to go back to the defense table.

There were no tears. His wife and daughter looked shell shocked, devoid of emotion not yet digesting the weight of the moment.

12:34 p.m. Judge Jackson sentences Stone to 40 months in prison

He was given 24 months probation as well, plus a $20,000 fine.

Before announcing the sentence, Jackson read lengthy prepared remarks -- during which Stone and three of his lawyers stood before her, hands clasped in front, with expressionless faces.

"This prosecution did not arise because Mr. Stone was being pursued by his political enemies," Jackson said, adding that the government's case came about because Stone "injected himself smack in the center of one of the most significant issues of the day."

She walked through the case, beginning with Stone's role as the Trump campaign's "contact point" to WikiLeaks, his contacts with senior aides to then-candidate Trump in the summer of 2016, and his misleading statements about Stone made to the House Intelligence Committee.

The narrative Jackson weaved followed the one presented by prosecutors at Stone's trial. She said at one point, "that is why he was indicted -- not because of his political activities."

"The notion that this case rises and falls on whether Russians colluded in the election ... is false," Jackson added.

"This is not mere equivocation, this is not the product of confusion ... the facts show these answers were clearly false," Jackson said of Stone's comments to the House Intelligence Committee.

Ticking through the rest of the counts Stone was found guilty of committing, Jackson continued to read directly from testimony presented at trial -- including from former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and Randy Credico, the witness Stone was accused of threatening.

"This effort to obstruct the investigation was deliberate, planned," Jackson said. "So that's what the defendant did."

Jackson then turned to other circumstances she must take into account -- Roger Stone's record. She noted that even the letters in support of Stone characterized him as a "bare-knuckled brawler" and a "dirty trickster."

"Those were the letters in support, mind you," she said.

Jackson lauded Stone for his support of family members and using his "voice and political acumen" to advocate for various social efforts such as same-sex marriage and Alzheimer awareness.

"It falls to me to sentence him [based on the merits of the case]," Jackson said.

"Nothing about this case was a joke. It wasn't a prank," Jackson said.

"The government's initial memorandum .. was submitted with an even-handed judgment," she said. "But I am concerned that 7-9 years ... would be greater than necessary."

She called the "actions of the Justice Department" in the past week "unprecedented."

Turning her attention to possible sentencing departures, Jackson said he is healthy and cited his extensive travel as evidence that he is not infirm, which appears to undercut some of what Stone's legal team suggested in their sentencing memorandum.

"He wasn't prosecuted for standing up to for the president," Jackson said.

"I cannot and will not sentence him based on the people he supports ... Roger Stone will not be sentenced for his reputation, or his personality, or his work," Jackson said. "The touchstone in this case is the offense."

"This is not campaign hijinks ... he lied to Congress," Jackson said.

Jackson took tremendous issue with statements made by Stone's lawyers: "So what?" she said.

"The truth still persists. The truth still matters ... if it goes unpunished ... everyone loses," Jackson said.

So while the defense can ask, who cares? Jackson hit back: "Congress cared. The Justice Department ... cared. The jury ... cared. The American people cared. I care."

Jackson then went into her guideline calculations.

11:23 a.m. Judge takes break in proceedings, Stone says he won't speak on his own behalf

"At this point I want to take a short break," Judge Jackson says.

It is not clear whether she will announce the sentence immediately upon reconvening.

After his defense counsel concluded an impassioned plea for a sentence with no incarceration, Roger Stone rises to say he chooses not to speak on his own behalf.

We are now in a 10-15 minute break.

11:16 a.m. Judge demands government explain sentencing recommendation confusion

The new government prosecutor on Stone's case takes to the lectern to "apologize to the court for any confusion" caused by the Justice Department's dual sentencing recommendation memorandums.

"This confusion was not caused by the original trial team," Crabb says. "There was nothing in bad faith about the prosecution team's recommendation."

Jackson interrupts to ask several questions about who ordered the new memorandum, why an additional memorandum was filed, and what caused any discrepancies in the two documents.

Crabb says the first memorandum was approved by the U.S. attorney.

"What I understand is, there was a miscommunication between the U.S. attorney's office and main Justice," Crabb says, referring back to comments Attorney General Barr made in his interview with ABC News.

Seemingly unsatisfied, Jackson asks Crabb to continue.

"This prosecution was - and this prosecution is - righteous," Crabb says. He then urges the court to impose a substantial term of incarceration.

Pressed by Jackson about how the second memorandum was crafted, Crabb says he could not "engage in a discussion about the internal deliberations."

He refuses to say whether he wrote the memorandum -- even though he signed it. Asked if he was ordered to write the second memoradum, Crabb again says he would not discuss it.

Seth Ginsburg, defense counsel for Stone, then takes the lectern to make his case for leniency, calling Judge Jackson's attention to Stone's age and family situation: "He just became a grandfather."

"Mr. Stone has many admirable qualities," Ginsburg adds.

11:04 a.m. Judge Jackson blasts Stone over his social media posts, including those about her

Another proposed sentence enhancement, another win for prosecutors.

Judge Jackson blasts Stone for his out-of-court conduct ahead of his trial, specifically social media posts that criticized the court, the judge, and the government prosecutors.

"It's important to note he didn't just fire off a few intemperate emails ... it wasn't accidental," Judge Jackson says. "He knew exactly what he was doing."

"This is intolerable for the administration of justice," Jackson says. "We had to waste considerable amount of time ... to get the defendant to comply with court orders."

"Therefore I'm going to add the two levels and we are now at a Level 27," Jackson concludes.

Judge Jackson then lists a few mitigating factors before turning to the sentencing grid, which dictates which sentence is appropriate after all sentence enhancements and downward departures are considered.

Both parties will now have an opportunity to speak.

10:55 a.m. Judges sides with defense on proposed sentence enhancement for obstructive conduct

On a third proposed sentence enhancement, Judge Jackson sides with defense counsel -- alleviating some pressure on Stone.

"I'm not going to add two more levels for that," Jackson says, after hearing arguments about a proposed enhancement for additional obstructive conduct.

She is now addressing an additional sentence enhancement -- specifically related to Stone's controversial social media postings about Judge Jackson herself.

10:43 a.m. Judge appears to side with government on seriousness of Stone's witness tampering

In a blow to Stone, Judge Jackson has twice sided with prosecutors, who have sought to invoke sentence level increases based on a statute accounting for physical threats.

After an exchange about the veracity of prosecutors' claims that Stone did, in fact, threaten his longtime associate, Randy Credico (and Credico's therapy dog, Bianca), Jackson sides with the government.

Justifying her decision to side with prosecutors, she recites several specific quotes -- many of which include expletives -- that reflect Stone's threats against Credico and his dog.

ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas points out that Judge Jackson is taking her time, asking both sides to clarify positions taken in their sentencing memorandums.

She is meticulously taking note of arguments made by both parties and asking for explanations where she perceives ambiguity.

10:24 a.m. Stone's defense lawyer pushes back on charge of witness tampering

Judge Jackson, reading from a piece of paper, ticks through the counts Stone was found guilty of at trial. She runs through an explanation of her sentencing process, interrupting herself briefly to ask a member of the audience to remove his or her sunglasses.

"For those who woke up last week and became persuaded that the guidelines are harsh," Jackson says.

A lawyer for Stone, Seth Ginsburg, then rises to make the case that Stone's conduct and words carried little weight, particularly those used in the charge of witness tampering.

"Even though the words on their face could be read as threatening," Ginsburg says, "it's our position is that the words themselves did not constitute a threat at all."

"Stone is known for using rough, hyperbolic language. Mr. Credico knew that. He knew that it was Stone being Stone. All bark and no bite," Ginsburg continues, referring to Randy Credico, a mercurial radio host, comedian and impressionist who was a key witness in the government’s case against Stone. Stone is accused of threatening him and his dog.

Reminded by Judge Jackson that she has the power to impose a sentence lower than called for in sentencing guidelines, Ginsburg shoots back: "Yes, and I hope you will!"

10:12 a.m. Judge Jackson addresses the Justice Department's sentencing recommendations

Judge Jackson addresses the sentencing memorandum controversy in perfunctory terms -- noting the existence of both the case prosecutors' original recommendation and the subsequent Justice Department recommendation of a much shorter sentence. She stops short of editorializing.

"I also received the government's supplemental memorandum," Jackson says. "I note that the initial memorandum has not been withdrawn."

Jackson goes on to explain additional materials filed as part of the case, including the slew of letters written on Stone's behalf by friends and supporters urging the judge to grant him leniency.

10:05 a.m. Court proceedings have begun

Attorneys for each side have introduced themselves.

“We are here this morning for Roger Stone’s sentencing,” Judge Jackson says.

8:45 a.m. Stone arrives amid protests outside courthouse

Stone arrived with his wife, lawyers and entourage at the federal courthouse. Known for his sometimes flashy attire, he wore a fedora and sunglasses, smiled but said nothing.

Protesters held up a large banner that said "#PardonRogerStone."

Overnight, despite Barr's warning not to comment on the case, President Trump at about 2 a.m. tweeted a clip of Fox News host Tucker Carlson calling the Stone case a “shocking insult to the American tradition of equal justice.” Trump pinned the tweet on his feed. 


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2020

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Trump taps US ambassador to Germany as acting director of national intelligence

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has officially designated Richard Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany, as the acting director of national intelligence, as Democrats claimed he was unqualified and chosen only for his loyalty.

Trump posted the announcement Wednesday evening on Twitter, and also thanked Joseph Maguire who has been serving as the acting DNI since Dan Coats resigned Aug. 15.

Grenell himself tweeted, "The President will announce the Nominee (not me) sometime soon."

Despite lawmakers expressing doubt that Grenell has the experience necessary to serve in the nation's top intelligence post, the White House asserted Thursday that he has "years of experience" working with the intelligence community.

"Today, the President designated United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as Acting Director of National Intelligence," White House press secretary Stephanie Grishman noted Thursday morning. "Ambassador Grenell was confirmed to his role as Ambassador by the Senate in April 2018, and he has years of experience working with our Intelligence Community in a number of additional positions, including as Special Envoy for Serbia-Kosovo Negotiations and as United States spokesman to the United Nations."

Grisham added Grenell "is committed to a non-political, non-partisan approach as head of the Intelligence Community" and President Trump "has every confidence that Ambassador Grenell will perform his new duties with distinction."

In a statement, Maguire thanked the president for the opportunity to serve in the temporary position.

"This has been the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am grateful for the tireless efforts and support of our intelligence professionals," according to the statement. "I am committed to leading the IC until Ambassador Grenell assumes the role, and look forward to the next challenge."

In his tweet, the president said Maguire may serve in another capacity within the administration.



....for the wonderful job he has done, and we look forward to working with him closely, perhaps in another capacity within the Administration!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2020


The 53-year-old is a staunch Trump supporter who has served as ambassador in Berlin since May 8, 2018. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 56-42 vote on April 26, 2018.

Grenell will become the first openly gay member of the Cabinet. The Michigan native is also a former spokesman at the United Nations and worked on the 2012 presidential campaign of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized Trump's selection, contending the president is "flouting the clear intent of Congress when it established the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2004."

“The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges," Warner, D-Va., wrote in a statement. "And at a time when the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice has been called into grave question, now more than ever our country needs a Senate-confirmed intelligence director who will provide the best intelligence and analysis, regardless of whether or not it’s expedient for the President who has appointed him."

While many Republican senators remained silent about the appointment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also issued a statement questioning Grenell's qualifications.

"Sadly, President Trump has once again put his political interests ahead of America’s national security interests by appointing an Acting Director of National Intelligence whose sole qualification is his absolute loyalty to the President."

"Once again, the President has shown his contempt for our Constitution’s system of checks and balances by sidestepping the Senate’s constitutional authority of confirmation with the installation of another Acting official that he knows cannot be confirmed even in a Republican-controlled Senate,” she said.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the law which created the post, specifies that "Any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise."

According to ABC News' records, on Sept. 14, 2019, Grenell joined the president at the White House for dinner with Fred and Cindy Warmbier, whose son Otto died shortly after being released from captivity in North Korea in June 2017.

Grenell received a master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and completed a bachelor degree at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, according to his biography posted on the State Department's website.

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Bloomberg seeks to regain footing after uneven debate debut

George Frey/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg on Thursday made light of his first appearance on a 2020 debate stage, joking about the reception he received from the other candidates after his uneven debut.

“So how was your night last night?” he said to the crowd of 600 at a rally held in an event space in Salt Lake City Utah.

Voting has already begun in the Beehive State, culminating on Super Tuesday in early March – when 16 states will hold primary contests.

Under fire from nearly all his primary challengers during the two-hour debate Wednesday night on everything from his political history and wealth to criticism he’s faced about workplace confidentiality agreements, Bloomberg compared the experience to being a Utah football fan “in Provo during the ‘Holy War’,” a reference to the intrastate college football rivalry between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.

Bloomberg did not touch on his own performance, and spent most of his appearance sharply criticizing President Donald Trump – calling him the “real winner” of the debate – and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who he argued would be unelectable in November.

“If we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base, like Senator Sanders, it will be a fatal error,” he said, warning against candidates with “pie in the sky promises and proposals that will bankrupt the country.” Bloomberg’s top aides downplayed his performance last night in Las Vegas, looking ahead to next week’s debate in South Carolina ahead of the primary there, where Bloomberg will be on the ballot.

“Many of them are professional politicians for decades, and many of them have been debating throughout the year,” Bloomberg aide Howard Wolfson told ABC News. “I think he was definitely better in the second half from the first.”

"He was just warming up tonight,” campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement following last night’s debate. “We fully expect Mike will continue to build on tonight’s performance when he appears on the stage in South Carolina next Tuesday."

Bloomberg may be less reliant on debate performances than the other candidates: The self-funding billionaire has spent more than $300 million on television and digital advertising since entering the race, according to his latest campaign filing.

“You've all heard the slogan ‘Mike will get it done,’ and if you haven't, I've wasted an awful lot of money here,” he said Thursday, noting his campaign slogan.

Appearing on ‘The View’ on Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, continued to keep the pressure on Bloomberg, attacking him for his spending and accusing him of using his money to “insulate himself” from criticism.

Progressives critical of Bloomberg’s performance continued to attack him on Thursday for a video he tweeted out from the debate, that appeared to edit and extend an exchange he had with other candidates.

Anyone? pic.twitter.com/xqhq5qFYVk

— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 20, 2020

“I’m the only one hear that’s ever started a business, is that fair?” Bloomberg asked, as the video pans to close-ups of the other candidates over the sound of crickets.

“It’s tongue in cheek. There we obviously no crickets on the debate stage,” spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement to ABC News about the edited and extended video clip.

Bloomberg will travel to California Thursday before returning to New York City, and has no additional public events scheduled before the next debate in Charleston, South Carolina next Tuesday.

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Man charged for allegedly threatening attorney of Ukraine whistleblower

BlakeDavidTaylor/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal prosecutors have indicted a Michigan man for allegedly sending an email threat to attorney Mark Zaid, who represented the intelligence community whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

According to an indictment unsealed this morning in the Eastern District of Michigan, Brittan Atkinson on Nov. 7 sent an email to Zaid reading, "All traitors must die miserable deaths. Those that represent traitors shall meet the same fate."

Zaid confirmed to ABC News Thursday that he received the email and said he only today learned of the indictment against Atkinson. The indictment was first reported by Seamus Hughes, the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University

According to the court docket, Atkinson has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sending threatening communications and a judge ordered he will remain detained through his next hearing on Feb. 24.

Prosecutors allege Atkinson also wrote in his email to Zaid, "Keep looking over your shoulder. We know who you are, where you live, and who you associate with. We are all strangers in a crowd to you."

Just yesterday, a Western New York man was arrested on charges that he threatened to kill Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. When questioned by U.S. Capitol Police, Salvatore Lippa allegedly said that he made the threatening calls to Schiff's and Schumer's offices because he was upset about the impeachment proceedings.

Lippa will appear in federal court in Rochester on Wednesday afternoon. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

"It's not appropriate for anyone to threaten another individual's life, regardless of political views. My job was to ensure the rule of law was followed in how whistleblowers are treated. That role should not be negatively weaponized by partisans. I hope this indictment sends a message to others that such behavior will not be tolerated by a civil society that is governed by law," Zaid said.

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Rep. Matt Gaetz defends Trump's actions, says Stone should be pardoned

US Congress(NEW YORK) -- Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a loyal Republican, joined the hosts of ABC’s The View Thursday, further defending President Donald Trump for his actions, including the long list of pardons the president handed out this week.

Gaetz, who was one of Trump’s most fervid defenders during the House impeachment inquiry and Senate trial, said his "pardon power" shouldn't be limited.

"Trump has pardoned 26 people, [former President Barack] Obama pardoned over 1700, [former President Bill] Clinton pardoned 459," he said, adding, "If you look at the original intent of the pardon power, it cannot be limited."

On Tuesday, Trump pardoned or commuted sentences for at least 11 individuals, some of whom were avid political defenders and allies of the president. Among the list of high-profile individuals are former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, who pleaded guilty to felony charges including tax fraud and lying to White House officials after the 9/11 attacks, and former Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- who attempted to sell the Senate seat left open when former President Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election for campaign money.

Blagojevich -- who was supposed to serve time until 2024 -- called himself a "Trump-ocrat" after being commuted on Tuesday.

At the same time The View hosts pressed Gaetz on his support of Trump, another long-time friend and adviser of the president, Roger Stone, is being sentenced in federal court. Stone has been charged with obstructing justice, witness tampering and five counts of lying to Congress.

His appearance comes amid a disagreement between line prosecutors and the Justice Department’s recommendation for lessening his sentencing -- four of the prosecutors who signed onto the sentencing memorandum withdrew from the case in protest, one of whom even resigned from the Justice Department. Trump also expressed sympathy for Stone on Tuesday, leading to questions about a possible pardon from the president.

When co-host Sunny Hostin asked Gaetz if he thinks Trump should pardon Stone, he said "I do."

"I would agree that Roger Stone should be pardoned. If for no other reason than people in this country like Peter Struck, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe ... have not faced consequences," he said.

He was also asked about Trump's recent designation of the ambassador to Germany -- Richard Grenell -- as acting director of national intelligence.

When host Joy Behar asked about Grenell and him potentially being a "yes man," Gaetz stood by the president's designation.

"If you look at the team he's assembled with people like [former National Security adviser] John Bolton, the president regularly surrounds himself with people who disagree with him," Gaetz said. "I think some of the most spirited discussions I've had have been with -- have been with [Sens.] Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, [and] myself and the president discussing foreign policy."

Grenell, the first openly gay member designated to a cabinet position, wouldn't have been allowed to serve in national intelligence 50 years ago, Gawtz pointed out.

"But just for a moment, I would like to take a second to reflect on the fact that this is a good thing in this country that we do not ban gay people from being able to patriotically serve in the intelligence community," he said, praising Trump for his decision.

Hostin then interrupted, saying, "Just transgendered people."

"Well we shouldn't be banning anybody based on who they are and who they love," Gaetz said. " That's not the kind of Republican I am, and it's not the kind of Republican the president is."

Gaetz also tore into the Democrats following Wednesday night’s fiery debate in Las Vegas, where former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg took the stage and faced attacks from the other Democratic candidates for the first time.

"It's fascinating right now that the Democratic party is likely not going to nominate a Democrat," he said. "They're either going to nominate a Socialist or someone who some time ago was a Republican."

He lashed out at former Vice President Joe Biden, who has recently been slipping in the polls.

"What state is he going to win?" Gaetz said about Joe Biden. "I mean, this is a man -- the fundamental premise of the Biden campaign is that he is electable, and he can't seem to win elections."

Bloomberg has received criticism for the unmatched amount of money he’s spent on his campaign thus far and Gaetz wrote off his campaign strategy, saying he still sees Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the front-runner.

"Michael Bloomberg spent nearly half a billion dollars and still finds himself with the bronze medal in that poll. This is Bernie Sanders' party," Gaetz said on Fox News' The Ingraham Angle.

Still, he said "none of them" can beat the president.

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Warren discusses fiery Nevada debate on "The View"

ABC(NEW YORK) -- On the heels of a fiery debate Wednesday night in Nevada, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appeared on ABC’s The View, the morning after the flying verbal volleys on stage.

Many of those shots came from Warren -- and Thursday on The View she addressed her feisty performance -- going after former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who in turn had testy moments between each other.

Her immediate jab at Bloomberg over how he allegedly has treated women in his employ set the tone for the entire debate, and coming off disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, it was clear that Warren viewed Wednesday’s debate as a make or break moment for her campaign.

“I'd like to talk about who we're running against. A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg,” Warren said during the debate to audible gasps in the debate hall, alluding to the slew of recent stories on the mistreatment of women in the workplace at Bloomberg’s companies.

Right off the top, Warren was asked about the shots fired at her many fellow Democrats -- and whether it was misdirected, when the eventual target is President Donald Trump.

"Look, the Democrats have to pick the person who has the best possible chance at beating Donald Trump. So this is about beating Donald Trump. It's about who's going to be able to do that. And yesterday mayor Bloomberg announced that everyone should drop out of the race except himself and Bernie Sanders, and they should decide who the nominee will be. Well, I take exception to that. I've been told to sit down and be quiet enough in my life. I'm ready to stay in this fight," she said.

Part of that job, she said, was to shed light on Bloomberg's records when it comes to women.

"The American people are not going to take kindly" to his comments about women, she said, adding that she feels he is a "risky candidate" to choose... "we need someone with rock solid values who has a history of getting change done. And who knows how to find. That's why I'm in this race."

Warren hit Bloomberg again on his lack of transparency and the danger that might pose to the Democratic party's bid against Trump.

"The Democrats should not appoint someone who has a history of embracing racially outrageous practices like stop and frisk and redlining," she told the show's hosts and added that she doesn't feel the party should nominate someone who has "been charged with discrimination against women, or with sexual harassment. And it's just shoveled some of his money to cover it up."

Warren also came at Bloomberg on Thursday morning for his past support of stop and frisk -- a controversial policing tactic that disproportionately impacted blacks and Latinos during his tenure as mayor. Bloomberg has since apologized for supporting the practice since entering the 2020 presidential race.

"I listened to his apology for stop and frisk. And I thought it was just wholly wrong," Warren said. "To suddenly years later, the days before he announced, that he wants to be president of the whole United States. He suddenly comes up with, Oh, I'm so sorry that I had a plan that inadvertently hurt people - you know that is just simply not good enough, it reveals his character. It reveals his understanding of race in America."

She called the timing of his apology and subsequent tour to black enclaves to seek to vocalize his contrition disingenuous.

"I am not a person of color... I have not been thrown across the hood of a car in my own neighborhood," Warren continued. "But I try to learn from the people who have - and it is clear that what Mayor Bloomberg has learned so far is that he can hire enough ads have enough money that he can insulate himself from any recognition of what his actions did to other human beings, and it was wrong, and he is not accounted for it."

Warren continued to rail at Bloomberg on issues of race, emphasizing as she has in recent days on his recently resurfaced comments from 2008, regarding the discriminatory housing practice of redlining.

Her pointed line of attack comes as Warren herself battles a slide from the top of the Democratic pack, limping out of the first two early state contests: a third place finish in Iowa, fourth in New Hampshire. Now, however, Warren has made it clear -- she's ready for a fresh fight.

She'll need it too -- a strong showing at the Nevada caucuses this weekend would help to reestablish her campaign and reengage her in the front-runner fray.

In what marks a complete shift from her debate strategy to this point, Warren consistently and aggressively attacked her rivals on topic after topic.

She also called her rivals out on health care -- one of her signature issues -- reducing Buttigieg's plan to a "slogan" and a "powerpoint," and Klobuchar's even further -- a post-it note.

In a sign that her performance may have resonated, at least with her supporters, Warren had the best fundraising hour of her entire campaign during the debate, including $425,000 raised in just half an hour at one point. Her campaign tweeted that they raised $2.8 million from Wednesday night's debate.

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Former Rep. Katie Hill breaks silence months after resigning from Congress: 'I made the right call'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former Rep. Katie Hill said she doesn't regret stepping down from her seat in Congress last year, but she does believe the fact that she was a bisexual woman played a huge part in "sensationalizing" the scandal.

"We haven't seen as many of the sex scandals with women," Hill told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday on Good Morning America.

The House Ethics Committee announced in October 2019 that it would investigate Hill for allegedly having a sexual relationship with one of her congressional staffers -- an allegation she continued to deny to Stephanopoulos. The alleged relationship would have been a violation of House rules that were established in February 2018 following the #MeToo movement.

Hill has admitted to -- and apologized for -- having a relationship with a campaign staffer when she was running for Congress in 2018. That relationship was not covered by House rules since Hill was not a member of Congress at the time.

'Biggest mistake': Hill on not setting boundaries during her 2018 campaign

During the interview, Hill told Stephanopoulos it was "absolutely" her biggest mistake to have a relationship with a campaign staffer.

Even though she had no political experience when she began running for Congress, she said she should have set employer-employee boundaries.

"You're truly in the trenches with these -- this very small team," she said. "Where I think I made the biggest mistake was not setting those boundaries from the very beginning."

It was non-consensual cyber exploitation: Hill on the leaked nude photos of her

Along with the relationship allegations, nude photos of her were published online without her consent. At the time, Hill claimed that her "abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate" her was behind it, and referred to the incident as "revenge porn."

Now, she tells Stephanopoulos that there is a problem with the term "revenge porn," but still believes her ex-husband was behind the initial photo leak.

"It implies A) that there's something to be taking revenge for, right?" Hill said. "That the woman maybe did something wrong in the first place. And pornography also could imply that -- or could imply that it was -- it was consensual, and it's not."

Representatives for Kenny Heslep, Hill's estranged husband, told ABC News he denies the allegations.

"Ms. Hill has made no allegations of abuse in her petition for dissolution," Heslep's lawyers told ABC News, saying he is asking for privacy during this moment. "Mr. Heslep denies any allegations of abuse or wrongdoing outright. The parties are currently in the process of negotiating an amicable settlement."

Hill's father, Mike Hill, released a public statement to defend his daughter last October. He called Heslep "evil" and said he hoped Hill would seek legal ramifications, citing California's Penal Code 647(j)(4), which outlaws distributing intimate images that would knowingly cause harm.

'I made the right call': Hill on stepping down from Congress

Hill announced her resignation less than a week after the initial investigation was announced. One of Hill's last actions as a member of Congress was to vote in favor of the impeachment inquiry resolution into President Donald Trump.

"I strongly feel that I made the right call in stepping down, for several reasons," Hill said. "One of which is that I -- I did not want to be a liability to my colleagues."

Outgoing Rep. Katie Hill: "The mistakes I made and the people I've hurt that led to this moment will haunt me for the rest of my life and I have to come to terms with that. Ever since those images first came out, I've barely left my bed." https://t.co/7YcEFnFAdz pic.twitter.com/gia8xyb4gc

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 31, 2019

Hill's election was historic. She was one of the first openly bisexual members of Congress, and she was a leader among the freshman class of Democrats.

Just before Hill's last speech on the House floor on Oct. 31, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Hill an "outstanding young public servant" and told reporters that "Hill's decision to resign is her decision."

Hill represented California's 25th district, and her old seat is now being fought for in a highly-anticipated election.

Katie Hill: "I came here to give a voice to the unheard in the halls of power. I wanted to show young people, queer people, working people, imperfect people that they belong here because this is the people's House. I fell short of that and I'm sorry." https://t.co/7YcEFnFAdz pic.twitter.com/zZHb7ULd4I

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 31, 2019

Since stepping down from her role in Congress, she hasn't stopped being a public figure. Hill has launched a group called HER Time, which supports female candidates who want to run for political offices.

After Hill announced her resignation, she told the public that she had considered committing suicide. In her interview with Stephanopoulos, she said that it was her family, and the young women who looked up to her, that pulled her out of those dark moments.

"If the ultimate outcome was that this destroyed me, and I committed suicide, then what does that, what does that tell them?" Hill said. "And that can't -- that couldn't be my final story."

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John Bolton defends decision not to share Ukraine information ahead of book release

Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- President Donald Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton defended his decision not to share what information he may know about the president's personal involvement in activities in Ukraine until after his book is published, ultimately claiming his testimony would have been insignificant.

"People can argue about what I should have said and what I should have done," Bolton said Wednesday at Vanderbilt University, during his second public appearance of the week. "I will bet you a dollar right here and now my testimony would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome."

"I sleep at night because I have followed my conscience," he continued.

Bolton appeared alongside his predecessor, President Barack Obama's national security advisor Susan Rice, who questioned his decision to remain silent despite not being subpoenaed to testify in the Senate impeachment trial.

"It's inconceivable to me that if I had firsthand knowledge of a gross abuse of presidential power, that I would withhold my testimony," Rice stated to a round of applause. "I would feel like I was shamefully violating my oath that I took to support and defend the Constitution."

Democrats were eager to hear from Bolton during the Senate impeachment trial after multiple witnesses painted him as someone both aware of and opposed to the president's efforts in Ukraine. Senate Republicans ultimately defeated Their efforts, an outcome Bolton admitted Wednesday night that he did not expect.

But Bolton also harshly criticized the process, saying the House had "committed impeachment malpractice."

"The process drove Republicans who might have voted for impeachment away from the president because it was so partisan," Bolton said.

In his upcoming book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, Bolton makes at least two explosive allegations about Trump, according to excerpts of the manuscript obtained and released by the New York Times: that Trump personally tied aid to Ukraine with investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and that Trump tasked Bolton with setting up a meeting between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney.

Despite a repeated stated desire to do so, Bolton has refrained from sharing his knowledge on impeachment-related matters while his book goes through a pre-publication security review for classified information with the White House National Security Council. Wednesday night, he warned of an "implied threat of criminal prosecution" if he were to "just spill [his] guts."

Rice questioned this reasoning, noting she had experienced her fair share "of trepidation about going through the clearance process at the White House" with her own book.

"I can't say that at any point, the fact of being in the pre-clearance process caused me to refuse to share information with Congress and the public that I thought was of national import," Rice continued. "I just don't understand using the fact of the pre-clearance process as a reason not to be forthcoming."

Bolton on Monday night had accused the Trump administration of "censorship" in its review process while speaking at Duke University, which was his first public remarks since the conclusion of Trump's impeachment trial.

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