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Former Obama Staffers Call on Elizabeth Warren to Run for President

Former Obama Staffers Call on Elizabeth Warren to Run for President

Ann Heisenfelt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Many former President Obama employees have already signed on to help Hillary Clinton in her campaign before the likely campaign. And you can expect many more to join if or when she decides to run. But not everyone is ready for Hillary. On Friday, in an open letter, a group of more than 300 campaign staffers for Obama are calling for Elizabeth Warren to get in the Democratic primary. This is the latest move this week to try and urge the Massachusetts senator into the race. Warren has said repeatedly she is not running, but has always been careful to note it in the present tense. In Friday’s letter, the group writes: “We believed in an unlikely candidate who no one thought had a chance. We worked for him -- and against all odds, we won in Iowa. We organized like no campaign had organized before -- and won the Democratic primary. We built a movement -- and the country elected the first-ever African American president. We know that the improbable is far from impossible.” The letter does not mention Clinton at all, but says they are “joining with the thousands of Americans who are calling on Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016.”

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Behind the Scenes at The CIA: Inside World’s Most Famous Spy Building

Behind the Scenes at The CIA: Inside World’s Most Famous Spy Building

Alex Wong/Getty Images(LANGLEY, Va.) -- The podium with the blue curtain behind it and rows of chairs for reporters looked pretty standard, but it was the location for the press conference that was a first.Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan had chosen the lobby of the CIA’s Old Headquarters Building in suburban Northern Virginia -- “Langley” as it’s commonly known -- as the place where he would push back on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s critical report of the CIA’s detention program.And he would do so on live television surrounded by the agency's top officials -- some of whose faces could not be shown on television.The wide lobby of white marble with its iconic large seal of the CIA on its floor is often used in movies to represent the CIA. But the reality is that most filmmakers and TV crews are never allowed into one of the hardest places to get into in the United States.The CIA has held press conferences in the past, but only once on television, and never live. And because of the interest, the news conference was carried live not only on domestic news channels, but internationally as well.Thursday's news conference was a unique situation for reporters used to constantly accessing their phones and email while in the field. Like all visitors to the building, reporters were told not to bring their smartphones and any other communication devices. The only exception would be digital recorders for transcription purposes.Behind the last of seven rows reserved for senior CIA officials and about 30 national security reporters were some still photographers and the network pool camera feeding its signal to a satellite truck parked in front of the headquarters building.The cameraman had strict instructions to keep the camera locked on the raised podium placed beyond the large CIA seal. That was done for security purposes to protect the identities of some of the CIA officials in the room.The reporters on hand saw Brennan walk briskly into the lobby adorned with Poinsettias and holiday wreaths to begin the news conference. The viewers on hand saw him enter the frame as he placed his papers on the podium to begin his remarks.Brennan began his remarks with a description of how his agency's detention and interrogation program program was launched.“It was 8:46 am on the morning of September 11th, 2001, when the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City was struck by an aircraft commandeered by al Qaeda terrorists” said Brennan.For the next five minutes he recounted where he was that day at CIA headquarters as the agency soon began a mission to prevent future attacks.He wanted to make the case that the CIA agreed with the report that mistakes had been made early on during the detention program, but that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on some of its detainees had also produced useful intelligence.Before he took questions, he made a closing reference to the memorial of 111 stars etched on one of the lobby’s walls. Each star represents a CIA officer killed in the line of duty.“These stars are a testament to our history and our spirit, and a consistent reminder of the women and men who make sacrifices daily so that they can help keep their fellow Americans safe and our country strong,” said Brennan.In his answers to questions that followed, Brennan labeled some of the techniques used by interrogators as “abhorrent” and “certainly regrettable”. He also stressed that it was “unknowable” if the useful intelligence gained through harsh interrogations could have also been obtained through different methods.But he also made the point that some of that intelligence “that they provided was used” in combination with other information to find Osama bin Laden years later.After 45 minutes, it was all over. Television reporters rushed outside for another first: the chance to record on-camera stand-ups in front of the building's main entrance. And still photographers submitted pictures taken with their digital cameras for review. Any pictures outside of the agreed-upon parameters were deleted.Also unknowable is if Thursday's unprecedented live news conference will open the door for similar events in the future.

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Bachmann Retiring, But Says ‘I’m Not Going to Go Home and Put a Sock in My Mouth’

Bachmann Retiring, But Says ‘I’m Not Going to Go Home and Put a Sock in My Mouth’

Steve Pope/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Michele Bachmann may have cast her final vote in Congress on Thursday, but she is already gearing up for her next political venture.In one of her last interviews as a member of Congress, the Minnesota Republican told The Fine Print that she plans to be back up on the political stage come 2016.“I will be involved in 2016 one way or another,” Bachmann said. “I'm not going to go home and put a sock in my mouth; I'm going to continue to be involved in the national stage.”And though Bachmann said she’s not running for president “right now,” she’s leaving the door open.“I am not putting together any team, and I'm not working towards that,” she said. “I'm going to be a part of this debate in one way or another, and I'm going to be helping whoever the people choose to be the nominee.”When Bachmann first arrived in Congress in 2007, she was a political no-name. But by 2010, she had become arguably one of the most well-known conservative Republicans in Congress. She jumped into the 2012 presidential race, winning the Iowa straw poll before her candidacy quickly faltered.“I came here as a nobody from nowhere,” she said. “I'm not a big politician…and I decided that I was gonna roll the dice and give it everything that I had and contend for the issues that matter, and that's what I did. The only reason why I ran as president of the United States was because of Obamacare. I knew that Obamacare could literally be a final chapter for our country.”After her failed presidential campaign, Bachmann came back to Congress and turned her focus to national security issues as a member of the House Intelligence Committee. In so doing, Bachmann said she came to realize that the president’s foreign policy has had “devastating” consequences for the country.Asked if Obama is to blame for the rise of ISIS, Bachmann replied, “Straight out? Yes, I would say that he is.”“The president foolishly decided to keep his own campaign promise that he would pull the American troops out of Iraq whole sale just like that,” she continued. “We've all seen the video President Bush, who said if we pull troops out rapidly we're going to see a complete denigration of Iraq, and we're going to see the rise of radical elements. That's exactly what's happened.”Bachmann also decried the president’s recent executive action to defer deportation for some 5 million undocumented immigrants. “It's almost like he's tone deaf, and even after the election he doubled down on his very unpopular agenda,” she said.Though the president’s executive action stands going into the next session of Congress, Bachmann said the outcome of November’s election should be proof to political leaders that the American people stand in opposition.“This can't be about politicians…this has to be about normal people who are saying look , I'm not for amnesty, I'm not for granting millions and millions of illegal work permits to people who've broken our laws,” Bachmann said. “And the president cannot just make up a law, because it will help him politically or help his party, that's wrong.”In measuring the impact of the tea party, Bachmann said the conservative movement has been “wildly successful” and that the supposed rift between the tea party and establishment wings of the Republican Party has been “overblown and overhyped in the media.”“There’s tremendous unity now in the Republican Party,” Bachmann said. “I think if you're a fly on the wall in the Democrats conference meetings right now, I think that's where you might see a few schisms.”But despite her talk of Republican unity, this so-called “godmother” of the tea party has also at times taken pride in being the thorn in the side of Congressional leadership.“I've been joking lately that I don't know who's happier to see me leave Congress, Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner,” Bachmann said humorously.For more of the interview with Bachmann, including what she’s going to miss about being a member of Congress, check out this episode of The Fine Print.

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Here’s What Happened When 100 Black Staffers, Lawmakers Staged Capitol Hill Walkout

Here’s What Happened When 100 Black Staffers, Lawmakers Staged Capitol Hill Walkout

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Over 100 black congressional staffers and several black lawmakers staged a walkout at the Capitol Thursday afternoon, leading a silent protest on the steps of the Capitol over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York, both black men, at the hands of white police officers.Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Marc Veasey, D-Texas, were among the lawmakers participating in the walkout. Senate Chaplain Barry Black led the group in prayer, saying they were working as a “voice for the voiceless.”“Today as people throughout the nation protest for justice in our lands, forgive us when we have failed to lift our voices for those who couldn't speak or breathe for themselves,” Black said. “May we not forget that in our national history, injustice has often been maintained because good people failed to promptly act. Forgive oh God, our culpability in contributing to our national pathology as you keep us aware of our own capacity to be instruments of injustice.”After the prayer, the group stood on the steps of the Capitol, raising their hands in a gesture that has become symbolic of the Ferguson refrain –- hands up, don’t shoot.

 

100+ black congressional staffers, several lawmakers stage walkout at US Capitol to protest Garner, Brown cases. pic.twitter.com/WKghW7dveR

— ABC News (@ABC) December 11, 2014

 

 

Dozens of staffers gather on Capitol steps to protest police brutality #BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/R6OaNT3ZDe

— THE CBC (@OfficialCBC) December 11, 2014

 

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These May Be The Most Emotional Moments In Congress All Year

These May Be The Most Emotional Moments In Congress All Year

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Congressional farewell speeches are somewhat like Academy Award acceptance speeches. The speakers laugh, cry, reflect on their work and thank their friends and family for their support.Members of the 113th Congress said goodbye to their jobs through speeches on the House and Senate floors Thursday and in recent days. But some speeches were more emotional than others.Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, openly wept and even pulled out a handkerchief on the Senate floor while saying thank you to his wife.“She has been incredible. She has allowed me to do my public service, to fly those 20 hours every weekend to and from Alaska. She has taken care of Jacob when I couldn’t. I love her dearly. Thank you,” Begich said of his wife, Deborah Bonito, and son while wiping away tears.Begich wasn’t the only crier. A lot of congressmen fought back tears when it came time to thank their spouses, families and staff.Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is retiring two years early while fighting a recurrence of prostate cancer, got teary when thanking his family and staff, mentioning in particular his former Chief of Staff Mark Schwartz, who passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease last year.Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., got choked up after thanking the “love of my life,” and admitted,“Maybe this is going to be harder than I imagined.” Turned out it was. He also was emotional after thanking his longtime Deputy Chief of Staff, Anne Belser: “I said I wasn’t going to do this.”Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., confessed he has a problem with controlling his emotions, joking that he shares the issue with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.“I did not want to do this. I did not want to give this speech not because I have any regrets, I just have this problem," said McKeon. “Thankfully the speaker has it a lot worse than I do and he gets all the attention, but I have the same problem.”McKeon later tweeted about his farewell speech, poking fun at himself.

 

After 22 years in Congress, here's my farewell to the House and the troops. Forgive me, I had something in my eye. https://t.co/GmYJt1ooWR

— Buck McKeon (@BuckMcKeon) December 5, 2014

 

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Obama Administration Urging Democrats to Pass $1.1 Billion Spending Bill

Obama Administration Urging Democrats to Pass $1.1 Billion Spending Bill

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is utilizing a political full-court press Thursday afternoon, calling on Democrats to pass the $1.1 billion spending bill known as the CRomnibus.The bill must be signed by midnight Thursday night in order to avoid a shutdown. However, the CRomnibus contains a number of amendments that have both sides balking. As such, President Obama, Vice President Biden, Cabinet members and other senior administration officials have been making calls to Democrats on Capitol Hill urging them to pass the bill.Nonetheless, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is calling on Democratic lawmakers to use what leverage they have to oppose amendments that would dismantle Wall Street regulation and end campaign finance reform. Conservatives, on the other hand, don't feel that the measure does enough to stop President Obama's executive order on immigration.House Speaker John Boehner said in a Thursday press conference that "if we don't get finished today, we're going to be here until Christmas. You all know how this process works."Earlier Thursday, the House passed a procedural vote to advance debate on the bill. Still, it appears there may not be enough votes to pass the bill through the House. Even if the bill does pass the House, it's not clear whether the Senate would take up a vote prior to the midnight deadline. Lawmakers could still pass a short-term continuing resolution in the hopes of buying the Senate time to pass the $1.1 billion CRomnibus.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., criticized provisions of the spending bill that she says favor Wall Street interests.“A vote for this bill is a vote for future taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street,” Warren said in a feisty speech. “Why in the last minute as you head out the door and a spending bill must be passed are you making it a priority to do Wall Street’s bidding? Who do you work for: Wall Street or the American people?”Warren, who is often mentioned as a potential 2016 Democratic presidential contender, added, “It is time for all of us to stand up and fight.”Meanwhile, the Obama administration has alerted all federal agencies to dust off their contingency plans for a government shutdown “out of an abundance of caution,” an Office of Management and Budget official tells ABC News.On a conference call this afternoon, the Office of Management and Budget asked agencies to “take steps to prepare for all contingencies, including a potential lapse in funding.”But the official suggested that the administration still sees that scenario as unlikely, noting both the omnibus legislation before Congress and various shorter-term back-up plans.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein Is Fact-Checking the CIA Torture Report

Sen. Dianne Feinstein Is Fact-Checking the CIA Torture Report

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairperson of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, has been sending out fact-checking emails, responding to critics of the Senate's report on CIA interrogation methods.Her latest fact-check, sent out on Thursday morning, shortly before CIA Director John Brennan held a press conference regarding the torture report, makes clear that no senators were briefed on the techniques used by CIA operatives prior to their approval. Further, she says, the full Intelligence Committee was not briefed until hours before then-President George W. Bush acknowledged the program publicly.Feinstein also claims that "when senators were finally briefed on the issue, they were provided extensive inaccurate information and were repeatedly stonewalled by the CIA, which refused to provide documents or answers to questions."The email also included a timeline of the briefings received and concerns voiced by senators. According to Feinstein, the CIA began using "enhanced interrogation techniques" in August 2002. The first briefings, for just the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were held the following month, and the full Intelligence Committee was not briefed until September 2006 -- four years later. Feinstein also notes that a bill to ban such techniques was proposed and adopted by the conference committee, the House and the Senate in 2007 -- only to be vetoed by President Bush. The full Senate report, released Tuesday, detailed techniques that equated to torture and the lack of proof that such actions definitively improved national security.

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Obama Backs DC Vote to Legalize Marijuana

Obama Backs DC Vote to Legalize Marijuana

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama supports legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in the nation's capital as approved by Washington, D.C. voters in a November referendum, the White House says.But he also reluctantly supports and would sign a government funding bill that includes a rider blocking the measure, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday. Congressional negotiators have quietly tucked into a $1.1 trillion spending deal a provision prohibiting the district from spending money to enact the new policy."We do not believe that Congress should spend a lot of time interfering with the ability of the citizens of the District of Columbia to make decisions related to how they should govern their community," Earnest told ABC News' Jonathan Karl.But despite the concerns, "the president supports the passage of this compromise proposal and would sign it if it arrives on his desk."D.C. voters approved a referendum in November, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, to legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces of pot or up to three plants for personal use.District leaders have protested the anti-marijuana rider as anti-democratic interference, since residents of the capital city do not have voting representation in Congress.Members of Congress supportive of the provision say they are acting to uphold federal law, which still bans the use, possession and sale of marijuana.

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CIA Director John Brennan Defends Agency After Torture Report

CIA Director John Brennan Defends Agency After Torture Report

The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) -- Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan on Thursday addressed the revelations contained in a comprehensive report released this week about the agency’s use of enhanced interrogation methods from 2002 to 2009.The report, written over five years by the Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the CIA of using unauthorized interrogation techniques to extract information from detainees, including using power drills, mock executions, forced-feeding and threats against their families.In his opening remarks at an unusual live news conference Thursday afternoon, Brennan said the United States looked to the CIA to provide guidance on how to deal with al Qaeda in the chaotic days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.“As has been the case throughout its then-54 year history, CIA was looked to for answers,” he said. “Not only to the questions on the threats we faced but also to questions about what we were going to do to stop future attacks.”Brennan said that the agency was ill-prepared for the task it was given, calling the interrogation program “uncharted territory” and adding that the agency had little experience housing and interrogating detainees.

[ CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF BRENNAN'S SPEECH ]

The study asserted the torture methods did not yield information from detainees that could not have been acquired in other ways, and that the CIA misled the Bush administration about what exactly the enhanced interrogation program was.Brennan said the question of whether enhanced interrogation techniques led to actionable intelligence was “unknowable.”“Let me be clear: We have not concluded that it was the EITs within that program that allowed us to obtain useful information from the detainees subjected to them,” he said.He called some of those techniques "abhorrent."Brennan also revealed his belief that “the use of coercive methods has a strong prospect for resulting in false information because if somebody’s been subjected to coercive techniques, they may say something to have those techniques stopped.”Most of the Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee signed on to a minority report that disputed many of the majority’s conclusions, saying that enhanced interrogation techniques did, in fact, lead to actionable intelligence in key terrorism cases like the capture of the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.Brennan would not say whether he agreed with the Obama administration’s decision to make a summary of the full Senate report public. When pressed to share his belief in the interest of transparency, Brennan responded that the level of transparency in the past few days has been “over the top.”Brennan’s defense Thursday was a reversal from comments he made at his confirmation hearing in 2013 after reading a version of the report that had not yet been released to the public. At the time, he questioned the efficacy of the CIA’s torture methods.“Reading this report from the Committee raises serious questions about the information that I was given at the time, and the impression I had at the time,” he said. “Now I have to determine, based on that information, as well as what CIA says, what the truth is.”Brennan, who has had a long CIA career, acknowledged on Thursday that as deputy executive director of the agency at the time the interrogation techniques were implemented, he was aware of the program and had “some visibility” into its specifics. But, he also made clear he did not have any management oversight responsibilities related to the program.In defending the CIA’s interrogation program, Brennan has joined former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, who wrote a 2,500-word rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal this week.Throughout the news conference, Brennan portrayed the CIA as a group of professionals who tried to meet a difficult task as best they could, with little guidance from the White House or Pentagon. Brennan said the Senate committee should have interviewed CIA officers who worked in these programs because, he said, simply reviewing documents was not enough.“I wish the committee took the opportunity to ask CIA officers who were involved in the program at the time, ‘what were you thinking? What did you consider?’” Brennan said. “This was a workforce that was trying to do the right thing.”Brennan defended the use of interrogation overall -- not enhanced techniques specifically -- when saying that some detainees who had been subjected to torture provided useful information related to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. However, he clarified that he did not know whether there was a direct correlation between that information and the use of EITs.With his agency facing intense scrutiny, Brennan emphasized that the CIA “is determined to look forward.”

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‘Santa Claus’ Votes to Avert Government Shutdown — For Now

‘Santa Claus’ Votes to Avert Government Shutdown — For Now

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- He’s not out of the woods yet, but House Speaker John Boehner may have received the ultimate present from Santa on Thursday as lawmakers pressed forward on a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill.The House voted 214-212 -- narrowly averting catastrophe to pass a procedural vote to advance to debate on the bill, popularly known as the Cromnibus.And, the star of it all may have been Michigan GOP Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, a former Santa impersonator and reindeer farmer who cast the deciding ballot after flipping his vote to push Republicans over the top.Here’s how it went down: As the time clicked off the clock, Republicans were joined by just one Democrat, Rep. John Dingell, who then flipped his vote to "no," leaving Boehner a few votes short of a simple majority.

Boehner, R-Ohio, warned reporters earlier Thursday at a news conference: “If we don’t get finished today, we’re going to be here until Christmas."At the last moment, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., changed his vote from "no" to "yes," creating a tied vote and prompting some boos from Democrats.Finally, Bentivolio, who lost his bid for re-election in November, changed his vote to break the tie, eliciting more jeers from those opposing the measure.Democrats had hoped to bring the vote down in order to pressure Republicans to strip out two controversial provisions in the bill, including a rider that would amend Dodd-Frank and another provision that would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to allow individual donors to contribute to national political party committee accounts at much higher levels than what the law currently permits.President Obama is urgently trying to use his muscle to encourage Democrats to vote yes, releasing a statement of administration policy urging passage through the House. Not a single House Democrat supported the procedural vote on Thursday.“The Administration appreciates the bipartisan effort to include full-year appropriations legislation for most Government functions that allows for planning and provides certainty, while making progress toward appropriately investing in economic growth and opportunity, and adequately funding national security requirements,” the statement read.Even if the House approves the Cromnibus Thursday afternoon, the Senate must consider the bill next.

It’s highly unlikely the Senate would take this up before the midnight deadline. There are deep reservations in the Senate -- among liberals and conservatives alike -- so there is still uncertainty surrounding this bill.

Government funding runs out at midnight, so lawmakers may pass a short-term continuing resolution to buy senators enough time to send the bill onto the White House.

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Poll: NJ Voters Don’t Want Christie to Run for President

Poll: NJ Voters Don’t Want Christie to Run for President

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New Jersey voters don't want their governor to run for the White House, a new Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday finds.Among those surveyed, 53 to 40 percent say that Chris Christie would not make a good president. Fifty to 44 percent of voters don’t even want to see him run and, if he does, Christie should resign from office, say 62 to 32 percent of voters.The survey also asks quite a unique question: Are American voters ready for a “Jersey Guy” president like Christie? Garden State voters say no, 49 to 43 percent. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has more support in the state, beating Christie in a hypothetical match up, 50 to 39 percent.“Even Jersey guys, actually Jersey girls, don’t think the nation will go for a Jersey guy like Gov. Christopher Christie,” Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said. “Besides that, we’d sooner vote for the girl from New York, Hillary Clinton. She beats all the probable Republican candidates, including the governor. He does better than the other Republicans but he still loses his home state,” Carroll added.

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Is Government Headed for Another Shutdown?

Is Government Headed for Another Shutdown?

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — It's like October 2013 all over again.Unless Congress passes a bill to authorize funding for government agencies by midnight Thursday, the nation would be faced with another potentially catastrophic shutdown.Unlike the partial shutdown from 14 months ago instigated by Republicans over the Affordable Care Act, this time it's mainly Democrats who want to sabotage the $1.1 trillion spending bill.What's got Democrats in a tizzy are provisions tacked onto the legislation that would gut the Dodd-Frank law on banking regulations that they claim would put the nation back in the precarious position of September 2008 that almost sank the world's financial institutions.On top of that, Democrats are upset with new rules that would allow wealthy donors to contribute ten times the current limit of $32,000 to political parties.House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called that provision "destructive" to both the middle class and democracy in general.Adding to the crisis is anywhere from 40 to 60 Tea Party-leaning Republicans who are unhappy that the spending bill doesn't withhold funds from the Department of Homeland Security in opposition to President Obama's executive action on immigration reform.House Speaker John Boehner, who vowed previously that there would be no government shutdown, has his work cut out for him Thursday.

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Cheney Delivers Blistering Assessment of Report on CIA Interrogations

Cheney Delivers Blistering Assessment of Report on CIA Interrogations

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney continued his assault on the critical review of the CIA’s interrogation program, saying the report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is “full of crap.”

Cheney, who used the word “hooey” when interviewed by The New York Times before the report’s release, told the Fox News Channel Wednesday that partisan Democrats have “thrown the professionals under the bus” by claiming the CIA received no worthy intelligence from controversial interrogation methods following the 9/11 attacks.An ardent defender of the program that he helped oversee, Cheney seemed to suggest that Democrats wanted to coddle “the murderers of 3,000 people on 9/11.”While the report detailed the harsh treatment 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed underwent while in CIA custody, Cheney asked incredulously, "What are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks? "Cheney also disputed allegations that then-President George W. Bush was somehow left out of the loop about CIA practices, claiming, “He knew everything he needed to know and wanted to know about the program. He did know certainly the techniques. He did discuss the techniques.”

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Benghazi Hearings Not Over, Hillary Clinton Could Be Called

Benghazi Hearings Not Over, Hillary Clinton Could Be Called

State Dept photo(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said on Wednesday that he intends to hold more hearings on the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in the coming months."We should not move on until there is a complete understanding of why requests for additional security were denied, by whom they were denied, and why an ambassador trusted to represent us in a dangerous land wasn't trusted to know what security he needed to do his job," Gowdy said at a hearing Wednesday. "There are those on both sides of the aisle who have concluded that all questions have been answered; there is nothing left to do, no more witnesses to talk to, no more documents to review," Gowdy added. "It is worth noting that some of those very same folks did not think that Benghazi should have been looked at in the first place."Gowdy also told ABC News Wednesday that Hillary Clinton "is a witness that we would still like to talk to." The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is chaired by Gowdy, is scheduled to expire when Congress ends in January. But the House is expected to reauthorize it for another term. Gowdy said he planned on holding hearings in January, February and March. 

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California Sen. Barbara Boxer Calls for Toy Guns to Be Painted Bright Colors

California Sen. Barbara Boxer Calls for Toy Guns to Be Painted Bright Colors

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, urging him to review a California law that would mandate all toy guns be painted a bright color to ensure they are not confused for actual weapons.The death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last month is just the most recent example of what can happen when a police officer mistakes a play weapon for a real firearm, Boxer wrote. In the November shooting, police mistook a toy airsoft gun that Rice was playing with for a real gun. Some reports indicated that the orange safety tip meant to identify the gun as a toy had been removed."We don't need another child's death to remind us that we need to change the current laws regulating imitation firearms," Boxer urged. She proposed that toy guns be painted white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright pink or bright purple.The California law was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September.

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CIA Also Blamed for $40 Million Cost of Torture Report

CIA Also Blamed for $40 Million Cost of Torture Report

The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) -- It’s not only the contents of the Senate’s CIA report that are causing controversy. It’s also the cost.The five-year review, which examined more than six million CIA documents, came with a price tag of $40 million. That eye-popping figure, costly even by Washington standards, has been seized upon by Republican critics of the report.But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Select Intelligence Committee, says the vast majority of the cost is attributed to the CIA, which insisted on renting a separate building for the review.“Rather than provide documents for the committee to review in its own secure Senate office, as is standard practice, the CIA insisted on establishing a separate leased facility and a stand-alone computer network for committee use,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement Wednesday. “The CIA hired teams of contractors to review every document, multiple times, to ensure they were relevant and not potentially subject to a claim of executive privilege. Only after those costly reviews were the documents then provided to committee staff.”Feinstein said the CIA insisted on hiring outside contractors to review every document, often multiple times. She said she wrote several letters to the CIA over the years, raising questions about the cost.The unusual arrangement of working in a separate facility, rather than at CIA headquarters or in a secure room on Capitol Hill, led to the allegations that the CIA was spying on Senate computers. Feinstein accused the CIA of obscuring the committee’s investigation and gaining access to Senate computers, which led CIA Director John Brennan to apologize.Intelligence officials told ABC News on Wednesday that the agency had to work in a separate facility to "ensure the secure exchange" of materials. Six to 12 workers were hired by the CIA to deal with requests related to the Senate inquiry.

“The committee’s demands of CIA in this investigation were unprecedented and the accommodation by CIA was unprecedented,” a CIA spokesman said in a statement. “The agency was forced to devote thousands and thousands of man hours and extensive resources responding to Committee requests related to this investigation over more than a five-year period.”

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Obama: ‘I’m the Big Elf. I’m Like Will Ferrell’

Obama: ‘I’m the Big Elf. I’m Like Will Ferrell’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Toting two giant bags of toys, President Obama had a simple holiday message as he arrived to sort gifts at the Marines Corps’ Toys for Tots event on Wednesday: “Ho, ho, ho.”“That's a pretty serious ‘Ho ho ho,’” the first lady remarked, before introducing the special “helper” she brought along this year.“I don't know how good he'll be with sorting. He doesn't usually deal in shopping in any kind of way,” Michelle Obama said of her husband. “But we'll watch him closely to see if he can figure out which ones are zero-to-two or unisex. It gets really complicated, so watch him because he could really make your work harder.”The president was confident he was up to the task. “I'm the big elf. I'm like Will Ferrell,” he said.“I'm positive that girl’s zero-to-two, that's perfect for the Call of Duty video game,” he joked to the first lady. “See, she didn't even get the joke. She wasn't listening to me.”After thanking the Marine Corps for organizing Toys for Tots, which has given away more than 469 million toys to more than 216 million children since its inception, the president took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and got to work sorting toys for little girls and boys.

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Support for Elizabeth Warren over Hillary Clinton Reveals Progressive Family Feud

Support for Elizabeth Warren over Hillary Clinton Reveals Progressive Family Feud

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren may be saying no to 2016, but that is not stopping her supporters.Members of the liberal group MoveOn have voted to draft the Massachusetts senator, with 81.3 percent of those who voted casting the ballot in support of a draft effort.

MoveOn -- joined by Democracy or America -- said it will launch their “Run Warren Run” draft effort, which includes spending $1 million in the first phase of the launch and setting up offices in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as assembling a "national volunteer army" on behalf of Warren. They are planning on holding their first event in Iowa next week.But Democracy for America’s support shows a schism within the group. They released a statement after MoveOn’s vote reiterating they would help their fellow liberals in the draft Warren effort, but Howard Dean -- who started the group -- wrote an op-ed Wednesday stressing his support for Hillary Clinton.

Neither Clinton nor Warren have said they are running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Warren has repeatedly said she’s not running and Clinton has said she’s still deciding."Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person in the United States to serve as president. If she runs, I will support her,” Dean, a former Vermont governor and presidential candidate, wrote in Politico. “We need a mature, seasoned, thoughtful leader at a time when maturity and thoughtfulness are increasingly rare commodities in Washington, D.C. If I have the opportunity, I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton for president.”Dean founded DFA and, according to the group, still serves in a strategic advisory role. He originally left the DFA to lead the Democratic National Committee in 2005 and then Dean’s brother Jim took over DFA and still serves as chairman of the group.Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, said in a statement they “respect” Dean’s “early support” and believe Clinton “would make a fantastic president and, should she win the nomination, DFA members will work non-stop to help her make history by becoming our nation's first woman president.” But they are still endorsing Warren.Chamberlain cited their supporters backing of Warren in a recent member survey and added, “We've said from the very beginning of our discussions of 2016 that one of DFA's top priorities will be ensuring that the battle for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation. Our members clearly agree with that priority…and aren't ready to follow the governor's lead in making an early endorsement of Clinton."Chamberlain said later on Wednesday they will ask members to ratify their decision to join the draft Warren effort.“Senator Warren's record of standing up to Wall Street and the big banks in the fight against income inequality is inspiring Americans and progressive activists nationwide,” Chamberlain said.MoveOn’s executive director of political action said in a statement after their vote that their members have “spoken clearly” and beginning Wednesday they are “throwing our full weight behind this Run Warren Run campaign to show Senator Warren she has the support of millions of Americans across the country.”It’s their first presidential draft campaign in their 16-year history and said their “team-based organizing strategy” is “inspired” by President Obama's successful "grassroots campaigns." They’ve already launched a “Run Warren Run” website and video portraying Warren as a fighter for the middle class.When MoveOn announced their vote Tuesday and DFA expressed support of the effort, Warren’s press secretary Lacey Rose said, "As Senator Warren has said many times, she is not running for president." Warren has said the same repeatedly herself, but she’s always been careful to phrase it in the present tense.

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CIA Torture Report: White House Mum on Whether Methods Saved Lives

CIA Torture Report: White House Mum on Whether Methods Saved Lives

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has condemned what he calls "torture" of detainees by CIA interrogators at black sites overseas in the dark days after 9/11.But the White House is not taking a position on whether any of the information gleaned from those sessions -- putting questions on the propriety of the tactics aside -- actually helped to save lives.The administration also refuses to say whether Obama shares the view of his own CIA director, John Brennan, who said on Tuesday that intelligence gained from enhanced interrogation techniques did in fact help to "thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives.""The most important question is: Should we have done it? And the answer to that question is no," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC News' Jonathan Karl on Wednesday."The president does not believe that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques was good for our national security. He does not believe that it was good for our moral authority. In fact, he believes that it undermined our moral authority, and that is why he banned them," Earnest said.Under repeated questioning, Earnest refused to answer whether those interrogations ultimately saved lives as current and former CIA officials allege. He did say the White House believes the tactics were "not worth it."

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Campaign Finance Reform’s Death Knell Hidden in Spending Bill

Campaign Finance Reform’s Death Knell Hidden in Spending Bill

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Campaign finance reform has long been on life support, but on Wednesday it can be declared nearly dead.A proposal tucked deep inside the massive spending bill to keep the government running is a boon for political parties. It’s squirreled away on page 1,599 of the 1,603-page bill released late Tuesday night.Under current regulations, a donor can give $32,400 to the Democratic or Republican National Committee. Soon, they will be able to give a total of $324,000 -- 10 times the current limit.In a two-year election cycle, a married couple could contribute $1.3 million to the various party committees. This financing will help parties raise money for their political conventions.House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, defended the proposal as “bipartisan.” He said it would allow political conventions to be financed privately, rather than through taxpayer funding.“The Congress was very concerned about tax payer funding of political activities,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday.The change effectively guts most of what is left of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, a 2002 law that put tight caps on political contributions.Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has long advocated for the change, but his aides say he didn’t push for this proposal that has so far had no debate in Congress.The political parties have gradually lost their grip on power, particularly with the flood of outside contributions allowing wealthy donors to create multi-million dollar political action committees that can help campaigns far more than the parties.Campaign finance advocates questioned the transparency and the motive behind the proposal.“Increasing these limits would only enable more dollars to pour into a system already flooded with cash and would encourage higher independent expenditures in the money arms race to counter them,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of the advocacy group, Public Citizen. “This embarrassing deal sacrifices the interests of everyday Americans who want clean elections while elevating the concerns of politicians who want to raise more money.”There is a good chance President Obama will sign the bill given it is tied to the spending bill, but it’s a major change in the blurred lines of money and politics.

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