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Why Top Democrat Said AG Nomination Is ‘in the Back of the Bus’

Why Top Democrat Said AG Nomination Is ‘in the Back of the Bus’

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, accused Senate Republicans on Wednesday of placing Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general “in the back of the bus."“Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” Durbin, of Illinois, said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. “That is unfair. It is unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate. This woman deserves fairness.”Durbin called Lynch’s nomination a “civil rights milestone.”President Obama nominated Lynch in November to lead the Department of Justice, but her confirmation has stalled in the Senate. Democrats have pointed out her confirmation process is the longest of any attorney general in recent history.A Republican Senate aide called Durbin’s statement “irresponsible.”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has delayed a confirmation vote on Lynch until the Senate passes an anti-human trafficking bill. Senate Democrats oppose the trafficking measure because it includes a provision that places a restriction on funds for abortions.“The Lynch nomination is next on the schedule. The only thing holding up that vote is the Democrats’ filibuster of a bill that would help prevent kids from being sold into sex slavery. The sooner they allow the Senate to pass that bipartisan bill, the sooner the Senate can move to the Lynch nomination,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said on Wednesday.“I can’t decide which is more shameless: Sen. Durbin filibustering a sex trafficking bill he cosponsors at the behest of the abortion lobby, or him injecting race into the debate to distract from it,” another Senate Republican aide said.

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NCAA March Madness 2015: The Evolution of Obama’s NCAA Picks

NCAA March Madness 2015: The Evolution of Obama’s NCAA Picks

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama's NCAA bracket is finally out -- and the president has sided with most sports analysts in predicting Kentucky, the top-ranked team in the country, to run the table for a perfect season and an NCAA title.As is his annual custom, the president spent a portion of his afternoon on Tuesday with ESPN's Andy Katz, filling out a March Madness tournament bracket at the White House.It's an annual opportunity for Obama to talk basketball and show off his knowledge of the college field. If George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 because voters would rather sit with him for a beer, then Obama may owe part of his success to the apparent enjoyability of talking basketball with him.The NCAA tournament is an unpredictable thing, and even the president is subject to its vagaries. Despite is widely recognized knowledge of the game, Obama has enjoyed (or not enjoyed) varying success since his first presidential bracket in 2009.In that year, the president picked the University of North Carolina, a top-seeded team, to win the tournament--and he was right, despite missing three of that year's Final Four.The president has only picked the NCAA's ultimate winner once, when he concurred with popular opinion and predicted North Carolina's widely anticipated championship run in 2009. This year, the president has once again picked the top teams to advance. His final four, as presented to Katz, are:

Kentucky (No. 1 seed) Arizona (No. 2 seed) Villanova (No.1 seed) Duke (No. 1 seed)

So what does this say about how Obama has changed over time should we are to take his sports predictions as indications of his temperament?Obama's 2015 bracket marks a return to his conservative style of NCAA picks. As usual, he has selected few upsets -- his notable exception being Buffalo, a 12-seed, to upset No. 5 West Virginia in the opening round -- and has placed three No. 1 seeds in his Final Four.Obama loosened up a bit in 2013, picking No. 3 seed Florida for the Final Four. The president picked his riskiest bracket in 2014, predicting that No. 4 Louisville and Michigan State both reach the Final Four. Neither team made it, and those picks worked about as well for the president did during the 2014 midterms.So after a brief flirtation with risky picks, Obama has reverted to his pragmatic style of selecting few upsets and predicting the top-ranked teams to make the Final Four.

Obama's lone correct NCAA championship prediction came in 2009, when he picked a powerhouse UNC team to win it pic.twitter.com/jMEA2KAzDY

— Chris Good (@c_good) March 18, 2015

Cautious in 2010, Obama missed Butler's run to the title game vs. Duke, picking only 1 of 3 Final Four correct (KY) pic.twitter.com/08UNanoJYD

— Chris Good (@c_good) March 18, 2015

Obama picked ALL 1-seeds to the Final Four in 2011, a bad year to do so: VCU and Butler made deep runs to the FF pic.twitter.com/497KgJKZUd

— Chris Good (@c_good) March 18, 2015

It was 1s and 2s again for Obama in '12. Played it safe, just like he did by running against Romney's biz record. pic.twitter.com/y4ZUNVhp4M

— Chris Good (@c_good) March 18, 2015

His wildest bracket, 2014 saw Obama put two 4-seeds in the Final Four. Unfortunately, neither made it. pic.twitter.com/H36bOQiqgI

— Chris Good (@c_good) March 18, 2015

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March Madness: Paul Ryan, GOP Lawmakers Pick 2015 NCAA Brackets

March Madness: Paul Ryan, GOP Lawmakers Pick 2015 NCAA Brackets

ABC News / Yahoo(WASHINGTON) — In Washington, even sports are political.Should you need any proof, look no further than the NCAA March Madness tournament. Not only has President Obama made it a tradition to pick his brackets with ESPN, but this year, ABC News joined forces with ESPN to get an unofficial Republican response.Former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan was among the Republicans who took part. The Wisconsin Republican picked his home state’s Badgers to go all the way in the tournament, with their final matchup predicted against Gonzaga University.“I’m going with Wisconsin, I think Bo Ryan has got this team at a really good place,” Ryan told Power Players, putting his political capital behind the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach.“We have depth; we got people coming off the bench who are sinking threes you know 10 seconds into the game, so I think we've got a deep team, a very well-coached team, and a team that is very gelled,” Ryan continued.Though Ryan’s choice may be politically correct -- and one he joked he has to make no matter how the team is playing -- he said his confidence in the Badgers this year is “sincere” and goes well beyond politics.“Honestly, we really have a decent chance at it,” Ryan said, also noting that he is particularly married to Wisconsin’s success in the tournament because of a major life event that coincided with the Badgers' former NCAA successes.“I got engaged at half-time the second to the last time we were in the final four, so Wisconsin making the tournament is something special in our family,” he said.Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr said he’s “striving for history” with his bet on the University of Kentucky Wildcats capturing the national championship. Like Ryan, Barr’s choice was politically safe, considering that the congressman hails from the same district as the university.“We're all united, Democrats and Republicans in 6th Congressional District for our love of college basketball,” Barr said. “This is an exciting time to be a wildcat, and we're looking for the 9th national championship, 40 and 0, the pursuit of perfection, we're going to do it.”Washington Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, for her part, will be in the unique position of cheering for two schools her district. But in the end, she is putting particular faith in one school: Gonzaga University.“Gonzaga Bulldogs, here the number two seed, and the Eastern Washington University, definitely have to keep an eye on both of those teams,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I'm hopeful this is the year Gonzaga goes to the final four.”If Ryan’s prediction of the final matchup between Wisconsin and Gonzaga were to hold up, it’s conceivable that he and McMorris Rodgers might exchange some friendly trash talk -- something that Ryan said is common on the Hill during the NCAA tournament. “We all kind of text or call each other and then just trash talk a little bit,” he said.“There are bets, my guess in Andy Barr … he and I will do a bet on the UK and Wisconsin would be my guess,” Ryan said.And like all other workplaces across America that will struggle to keep their sports-loving employees properly employed throughout the whirlwind tournament, Ryan confirmed that Capitol Hill is no different than anywhere else.“That's what smartphones are for,” Ryan joked. “You can bring your iPad on the [House] floor, they let you do that now.”Though Ryan isn’t holding his breath that all his bracket picks will be correct -- pointing out that he only has a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of doing so -- you can check out his bracket predictions in this episode of Power Players.

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Presidential Debates: Introducing the Group Trying to Change the Rules

Presidential Debates: Introducing the Group Trying to Change the Rules

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Much like America’s political system, presidential debates are dominated by the major parties and their candidates.But a new “change the rule” lobbying campaign is underway to make it easier for third party candidates to join the debates in 2016 by changing how they can qualify.Since 1988, the Commission on Presidential Debates -- founded by the Republican and Democratic parties -- has organized presidential and vice presidential debates. According to the commission’s rules, candidates must poll higher than 15 percent in numerous polls prior to the debates in order to appear.Instead, the campaign proposes a ballot contest: A third party candidate would have to get access to ballots in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes, giving them a mathematical shot at the presidency.If more than one candidate meets this threshold, whoever gathered the most signatures as part of the access process would participate in the fall debates -- a crucial and highly visible platform.While presidential candidates -- 417 were registered with the Federal Election Commission in 2012 -- aren’t obligated to participate in debates in order to run, the televised contests are crucial to candidate visibility.“Without that kind of exposure, you’re not considered a credible candidate,” said Christine Todd-Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, who supports the initiative.In 2012, Whitman was a supporter of Americans Elect, a failed multimillion-dollar initiative to cultivate a national support for a third-party candidate funded by New York investor Peter Ackerman, who is also funding the “Change the Rule” campaign.“We weren’t able to field a candidate, and the inability to get on television is such a hurdle [to third party candidates],” she said.Whitman and other supporters say the current rule sets the bar too high for candidates outside the two major parties. Only one candidate -- Ross Perot in 1992 -- has met the standard since the CPD’s founding (which was also the last time a Bush faced a Clinton in a debate).But the American political landscape has changed over the last 23 years. A 2014 Gallup survey found that 42 percent of Americans identify with neither party, but as political independents -- a record high.“It’s not my line, but the fastest-growing party in America is no party,” said former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a supporter of the initiative who last ran for Senate in 2006 as an independent after losing the Democratic primary.“I grew up in the two party system and believe it did a good job of coalescing minority groups of opinion,” he said. “But it’s ceased to do that. The parties have become increasingly homogenous.”Lieberman added that along with speaking to independents, a third party candidate on the debate stage could also help shape the agenda, similar to how Perot made balancing the budget a focal point of the 1992 race.A spokesperson for the CPD, which reviews its debate policy between election cycles, said that the ballot signatures idea has been considered in the past, and that a prior review concluded it was “not the same measure of strength of a campaign” as public support.But one CPD board member, Dorothy Ridings, expects to discuss the initiative at the CPD’s April 1 hearing.The issue at hand, Ridings said, is “wanting to make sure debates take place -- you don’t want to have 27 people on stage -- and making sure the American public gets to hear from the likely candidates.”“There is no right and wrong policy,” she added.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Secret Service Director Says Latest Scandal Is His ‘First Test’

Secret Service Director Says Latest Scandal Is His ‘First Test’

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told members of the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday that a recent car accident involving two allegedly inebriated agents is his "first test" as he tries to chart a new course for the service.Clancy also expressed concern that he learned about the allegations five days after initial reports that Mark Connolly and George Ogilvie crashed into the White House grounds. Both have since been reassigned pending a further investigation."I should have been informed...and there will be accountability," Clancy said after intense questioning from lawmakers. "I'm frustrated. I'm very frustrated that we didn't know about this until Monday."As soon as he and his staff found out about the allegations -- through an "anonymous email" -- Clancy says he held a meeting to discuss why there was such a delay."We had a good stern talk about that," he said. "There's no excuse for this information to not come up the chain." Many consider the episode the first major test for Clancy, a Secret Service veteran who assumed the top post last month.  In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas three weeks ago, Clancy vowed to chart a new course for the Secret Service.“We have not received an unfair rap,” he conceded. “I think when you fail, and we have failed, we own it. Now, it’s up to us to correct it.”Last September, an Iraq war vet with a small knife in his pocket jumped the White House’s perimeter fence and made it deep inside the executive mansion. That incident came more than two years after the Secret Service was shaken by the 2012 prostitution scandal involving staffers in Cartagena, Colombia.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Letter to White House Returns Presumptive Positive for Cyanide

Letter to White House Returns Presumptive Positive for Cyanide

Vacclav/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Secret Service was trying to determine Tuesday night whether a letter sent to the White House contained cyanide.The letter returned a presumptive positive for cyanide, but it was being tested again to confirm the result, the Secret Service said Tuesday night.The letter was received Monday at the White House Mail Screening Center, which is at a separate location from the White House, and after initial biological testing came up negative, chemical testing came up positive for cyanide.The sample was transported to another facility to confirm the results, the Secret Service said.

Sources familiar with the case say that the substance was inside a plastic Ziploc-like bag inside an envelope. The sender is believed to be someone known to the Secret Service and charges are possible, depending on whether the material was indeed hazardous, the sources said.

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Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Team Takes Shape

Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Team Takes Shape

Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton has not yet officially announced her presidential campaign, but the wheels are ready to be swiftly in motion when she does. Over the past few months, Clinton’s been steadily building a team of advisers, strategists and staffers for her likely campaign, with most of the top spots already filled.A major focus over the past few weeks has been to build up Clinton’s communication team. The handling of the email controversy served as a signal to many in her inner circle that a more robust communications team was much needed –- and fast.In the coming weeks the following people will be in place to manage communications for her campaign, sources familiar with the moves tell ABC News:- Jennifer Palmieri, the current director of communications at the White House, will take on the top role as communications director. Palmieri’s last day at the White House is Friday. She starts working for the Clinton team on Monday.- Kristina Schake will serve as the deputy communications director. Schake was formerly Michelle Obama's communications director. She has already started advising Clinton.- Brian Fallon will be Clinton’s press secretary, with deputy Jesse Ferguson. Fallon is the current spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Holder. Ferguson goes to the Clinton team from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where he was spokesperson.Clinton’s current spokesman Nick Merrill will remain on the Clinton team as a spokesman.In addition, John Podesta, a longtime counselor to Obama, and Robby Mook, a top Democratic operative, have already been brought on board Team Clinton in senior roles: Podesta as campaign chairman and Mook as campaign manager. Former Obama operatives, Joel Benenson and Jim Margolis, have also been advising Clinton, Benenson as chief pollster and Margolis as media strategist.The Clinton campaign, when it comes, will be based in Brooklyn, N.Y. And the official announcement is expected in April.Despite all this, Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill, still insists Clinton has not yet made a decision about running.“She is currently ‘testing the waters’ as the Federal Elections Commission calls it,” Merrill said in a statement to ABC News. “Like anyone considering running for office, she has the support of many individuals who have agreed to volunteer their time to help her make this decision.”According to campaign finance experts, presumptive candidates are allowed to take in donations during the “testing the waters” phase. Clinton’s spokesman would not comment on whether Clinton has started to do that yet.

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Latest Biden Gaffe Is St. Patrick’s Day ‘Orange’ Joke

Latest Biden Gaffe Is St. Patrick’s Day ‘Orange’ Joke

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden slipped up on Tuesday while meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny for St. Patrick's Day."If you are wearing orange, you aren't welcome," Biden said in front of the international press. BBC News reports that the Vice President later said he was "only joking."The comment was called a "slur" by Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party's William McCrea. "Whether they were intended as a joke or not," he said in a statement, "the comments are a slur on those who would be known as 'orange' i.e. Protestants.'" McCrea points out that the term "is much wider than anyone who is a member of the Orange Order. It has traditionally been used to define people from the Protestant faith." "When Northern Ireland is making such an effort to make St. Patrick's Day an inclusive celebration, Joe Biden's comments were disgraceful and careless," he declared.

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State Department: No Record of Hillary Clinton Signing ‘Separation Statement’

State Department: No Record of Hillary Clinton Signing ‘Separation Statement’

State Dept photo(WASHINGTON) -- State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that there is no record of Hillary Clinton having signed a "Separation Statement" upon leaving her post as secretary of state in 2013, a form that critics claim could have found her guilty of a crime, had she signed it."We are fairly certain she did not sign the document," Psaki said at Tuesday's press briefing. She noted that there was also no record of any of Clinton's predecessors signing the OF-109 form either.Secretaries are not "required" to sign the document, Psaki added.The form declares that the signee "in connection with my separation from employment in the Department of State of the United States Information Agency" has "surrendered to responsible officials all unclassified documents and papers relating to the official business of the Government acquired by me while in the employ of the Department or USIA."Clinton has been under fire in recent weeks after it was reported that she exclusively used her personal email account for work while secretary of state. Detractors have questioned whether she turned over all pertinent emails.

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State Department Email, Internet Systems Running After Security Upgrade

State Department Email, Internet Systems Running After Security Upgrade

State Dept photo(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that its Internet and email service is back up and running after a nearly four-day outage.Since Friday afternoon, the State Department's unclassified email network was taken down for the implementation of improvements. ABC News reported on Friday that the improvements were being put in place to help repair the system after a suspected Russian attack in October 2014.The outage, however, included both email and Internet access at all U.S. embassies and posts overseas. Emails could be sent internally, but not to anyone outside the system. Department employees were also unable to open web browsers.On Tuesday morning, finally, the department said that its "scheduled worldwide network security upgrade activities" had concluded, and that email was fully restored.

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Embattled Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns

Embattled Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Embattled Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock has announced Tuesday that he is resigning, ending a tumultuous period where the four-term lawmaker has faced incredible scrutiny over his congressional office and campaign expenditures, ABC News has confirmed."Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31," Schock, 33, wrote in a statement.Schock wrote that “constant questions” over the past six weeks “have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself.”“I have always sought to do what's best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve," he added.Schock did not notify House Republican leaders prior to his decision to resign, catching the GOP leadership off-guard, according to a senior GOP leadership aide.“With this decision, Rep. Schock has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first," House Speaker John Boehner wrote in a brief statement. "I appreciate Aaron’s years of service, and I wish him well in the future."In Illinois, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner said it was "a sad day for the people of Illinois and the 18th District" in a statement after Schock's announcement.Schock came under fire last month for his spending on office décor, which bore a striking resemblance to the one featured in the popular PBS British drama series, Downton Abbey, as well as eyebrow-raising travel spending.He has hired a team of lawyers from the Washington, D.C., firm Jones Day, as well as communications operatives Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh -- both veteran congressional aides -- to help him respond to his recent troubles.The Office of Congressional Ethics had reportedly launched an investigation into Schock's spending habits, although that probe will end once Schock's resignation is official.Schock was already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting contributions for an independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 per donor, in violation of federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct. That investigation will also end on March 31st once the resignation takes effect, although Schock could still potentially face a criminal inquiry.

 A Schock spokesperson confirms that Schock has repaid all money he’s received during his congressional career from expensing mileage.“In an effort to remove any questions and out of an abundance of caution, Congressman Schock has reimbursed all monies received for official mileage since his election to Congress,” a Schock aide wrote in an email.

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Senate Democrats Filibuster Human Trafficking Bill

Senate Democrats Filibuster Human Trafficking Bill

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A human trafficking bill once considered to be a legislative slam dunk is now ensnared in a political fight that looks unlikely to be resolved any time soon.On Tuesday morning, Senate Democrats filibustered a bill to aid victims of human trafficking due to abortion restrictions included in the measure.The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, which establishes a fund for victims of human trafficking, has garnered bipartisan support. But Senate Democrats objected to moving forward with the bill due to a provision that would subject it to the Hyde amendment, which prohibits the use of taxpayer funds on abortions.The Senate failed to move forward on the bill with a vote of 55-43 Tuesday morning. Sixty votes were needed to advance the measure.  Four Democrats voted for cloture -- Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V. Two Republicans and potential presidential contenders were not present for the vote -- Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also voted against the bill in a procedural move that allows him to bring it up for a vote in the future.Republicans have criticized Democrats for standing in the way of passing legislation that would help women and children who have been subjected to trafficking.“Democrats filibustering help for terrified children and abused women would represent a new low,” McConnell, R-Ky., said ahead of the vote.Over the weekend, McConnell threatened to delay a vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general until the Senate moves forward on the trafficking bill. The move angered Senate Democrats who are insisting a vote be held this week, four months after Lynch was nominated to the top post at the Department of Justice.“It's now been 129 days since her nomination was announced,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a news conference. “What's the excuse that the hard right members of the Republican party have for not wanting to vote on her? Well first it was the president's executive action. Now it's the trafficking bill. What do those two things have in common? They have nothing to do, absolutely nothing to do with Loretta Lynch. That's about the only thing they have in common.”Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in on the fight Monday, tweeting that Republicans are leading a “congressional trifecta against women.”

Congressional trifecta against women today: 1) Blocking great nominee, 1st African American woman AG, for longer than any AG in 30 years…

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 16, 2015

...2) Playing politics with trafficking victims… 3) Threatening women's health & rights.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 16, 2015

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Boehner Demands Hillary Clinton Turn over Email Server to Third Party

Boehner Demands Hillary Clinton Turn over Email Server to Third Party

Caleb Smith / Office of the Speaker(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday demanded Hillary Clinton turn over her private email server to a third party administration but stopped short of directing House Republicans to subpoena the former secretary of State’s records. “The way forward is for the secretary to turn over all of her emails that pertain to the public,” Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted during a news conference on Capitol Hill. “But some neutral third party's gonna have to make some decision about what documents are 'personal' and which ones are public record. And thus far she's been unwilling to do this.”  Boehner said he believes that turning the server over to an independent party “is the fairest way” to ensure all public documents are turned over, particularly in regard to the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.“The American people deserve all the facts about what happened in Benghazi,” Boehner said. “That's why it's so important for Secretary Clinton to turn over her personal server to a neutral third party.”Boehner said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue examining Federal Open Records law, but he indicated it is premature to subpoena the records from Clinton.“Nothing has changed,” Boehner said. “The Benghazi committee is the committee that found this personal email usage and the Benghazi committee is focused on getting the facts about what happened with regard to Benghazi.”“We have rigorous oversight activities of both the Benghazi committee and the Government Reform Committee, and I don’t think there's any changes that need to be made,” he added.

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Secret Service Chief ‘Frustrated’ by Latest Incident, Concedes It’s His ‘First Test’

Secret Service Chief ‘Frustrated’ by Latest Incident, Concedes It’s His ‘First Test’

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The new head of the Secret Service conceded Tuesday that the latest allegations of misconduct within his agency are his "first test" as he tries to chart a new course for the service.Speaking before a House panel, director Joseph Clancy also expressed concern that he learned about the allegations five days after initial reports that two senior-level Secret Service agents were "inebriated" and crashed into the White House grounds."I should have been informed ... and there will be accountability," Clancy said after intense questioning from members of the House Appropriations Committee. "I'm frustrated. I'm very frustrated that we didn't know about this until Monday."As soon as he and his staff found out about the allegations -- through an "anonymous email" -- Clancy says he held a meeting discuss why there was such a delay."We had a good stern talk about that," he said. "There's no excuse for this information to not come up the chain," he said.Nevertheless, he said he has "been impressed" by those within his ranks, despite recent scandals like the one that erupted last week, after two senior agents on President Obama’s protective detail allegedly drove a government vehicle under the influence of alcohol and collided with a White House barricade before leaving the scene, administration and Capitol Hill sources told ABC News.The agents, Mark Connolly and George Ogilvie, have been reassigned while the investigation is pending, according to the Secret Service.The March 4 incident took place at the southeast entrance to the White House complex at 15th Street and E Street in downtown Washington, D.C.  No one was charged and no police reports were filed.In particular, ABC News learned the agents drove through crime scene tape that was set up at that location from an earlier investigation of a suspicious package. The vehicle collided with an orange plastic barrel but sustained no damage, sources said. Multiple sources insisted there was no "crash," but that the behavior was suspicious enough to raise concerns of uniformed officers on the scene."Apparently two agents who have supervisory roles had been at a retirement party, and they left that party and went to the White House in a vehicle, in a Secret Service vehicle, and when they got to the entrance of the White House, they apparently flashed their badges or whatever, and it was obvious that...to the guards that were there, that they may have been a bit impaired," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, told ABC News."They went on to go through what was then an active crime scene investigation," Cummings said.When uniformed officers confronted the agents, a supervisor ordered them to let the agents go without charge, government sources said. House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told ABC News unlike the agents in the car, the supervisor is still on the job and has not been reassigned pending the investigation.

Many consider the episode the first major test for Clancy, a Secret Service veteran who assumed the post last month.  In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas three weeks ago, Clancy vowed to chart a new course for the Secret Service.“We have not received an unfair rap,” he conceded. “I think when you fail, and we have failed, we own it. Now, it’s up to us to correct it.”In September, a man with a small knife in his pocket jumped the White House’s perimeter fence and made it deep inside the presidential building. That incident came more than two years after the Secret Service was shaken by the 2012 prostitution scandal out of Cartagena, Colombia.At the time those scandals and others unfolded, Clancy was the head of security for Comcast, having left the government in 2011 after 27 years with the Secret Service. He was “shocked” by those incidents, he said.Then, last month, a small drone flew over the fence and crashed on the White House grounds, prompting a pre-dawn security scare. President Obama was in India at the time, and although the incident turned out to be a recreational flight gone awry, Clancy said he's “certainly concerned” about the threat a drone like that could pose. The newly-appointed Secret Service director was with President Obama in India at the time, and said the president “was very concerned, as he should be” about the breach."He wanted to know what happened," and he "had very specific questions," Clancy recalled. "But he has faith in the work that we’re doing."In retrospect, Clancy said, the poor judgment in Cartagena and the failures at the White House five months ago came down to one thing: “Just a lack of self-discipline.” He dismissed suggestions the high-profile scandals were the product of a culture within the Secret Service that condones poor behavior. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Obama’s Enormous Watch Has Everyone Talking

President Obama’s Enormous Watch Has Everyone Talking

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — File this under the “presidents-they’re-just-like-us” category.By the looks of the clunky electronic watch he’s been sporting, it seems even President Obama has been caught up in the craze over fitness trackers.

 

President O'bama is ready for St. Patrick's Day. pic.twitter.com/ngf50W4Ntu

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 17, 2015

 

Obama’s a workout fanatic and prides himself on his high-tech presidency, so it only seems natural that he would want to test drive the latest gadgets.“I don’t have a Fitbit yet, but I work out hard,” Obama told Re/code in a recent interview. “Word is these Apple Watches might be a good companion for my workouts. So I’m gonna see, I’m gonna test it out.”

It’s unclear from the photos which brand the president decided to test drive. But it seems that, for now, his regular timepiece, a Jorg Grey 6500 Chronograph, according to Watchalyzer, is taking a back seat.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

St. Patrick’s Day and What the Obamas Do to Celebrate

St. Patrick’s Day and What the Obamas Do to Celebrate

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is quite festive when it comes to holidays -- decking the halls for Christmas, hosting the traditional Easter egg hunts, and turning spooky for Halloween.Tuesday is St. Patrick’s Day, and the Obamas are going green.

Here are seven ways the first family is celebrating the Irish holiday, and how they have in the past, including old presidential traditions and new ones they've introduced:Host the Irish Prime MinisterIt’s a tradition that the two leaders spend this holiday together, and for the fifth time since elected in 2011, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny will travel to the White House on St. Patrick’s Day. Another tradition that dates back to Truman’s presidency is the Shamrock Ceremony, during which the Irish prime minister gives the U.S. president a bowl of shamrocks as a gift.Dye the White House Fountains GreenThe Obamas decided to add their own touch to the White House St. Patty’s Day traditions. Inspired by Illinois, the state where President Obama served as senator, first lady Michelle Obama first requested in 2009 that the White House fountain be dyed green, similar to Chicago's tradition of dying the Chicago River green.  Accordingly, the fountain on the South Lawn of the White House was dyed green at 5 a.m. Tuesday.Have a BeerIt’s unknown whether President Obama, who has Irish roots on his mother’s side, will enjoy a pint of Ireland’s most famous brew. But in 2012, he enjoyed a Guinness at a Washington pub called the Dubliner. The White House is also known to brew its own beer, and served the honey ale to guests on St. Patrick’s Day 2011.Traditional Irish foodTo go with the beer, the holiday wouldn’t be complete without some traditional Irish food. This year's menu of what the White House is serving will be released later Tuesday, though in 2009, the White House went as far as serving green champagne to its guests at the St. Patrick’s Day reception.Wear GreenEvery year, people around the globe celebrate St. Patrick’s Day while decked out in green, including the Obamas. The president sports a green tie every year as part of a political tradition for male politicians, and the first lady has gone all-out in past years on St. Patrick’s Day. Whether it’s her green boots or green dresses, or her green eye shadow and earrings, Mrs. Obama always lives up to her stature as a fashion icon.Turn the East Room GreenThe White House St. Patrick’s Day reception takes place at the East Room every year. The room is immersed in a soft green light as the final touch.Listen to Irish MusicThe White House St. Patrick’s reception is often accompanied by live Irish music performances. There have been a series of musicians and singers in the past years, including The MollyHawks, a Washington, D.C.-based duo who performed at the White House in 2012, and Irish singer Glen Hansard, who performed the year before.The morning of St. Patrick's Day in 2009, Chicago’s Shannon Rovers, a Irish bagpipe group, played the pipes in front of the White House before their performance at the St. Patrick’s reception later that night. It was the first time the group has been invited to play at the White House.

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Fewer than Four in 10 Favor Either Major Party

Fewer than Four in 10 Favor Either Major Party

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Just two months into the new Congress and the public already doesn't like what it's seeing from the new Republican majority.A Gallup poll says that although just 39 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Democrats, fewer than that -- 37 percent -- approve of what GOP lawmakers are doing.To get an idea of the dissatisfaction that now exists, Gallup says that this is the first time in 23 years that favorability for both major parties has dipped below the 40 percent threshold.In the poll of more than 1,000 adults taken earlier in March, 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Republicans while 51 percent say the same about Democrats.Gallup believes that constant disagreements between the White House and Congress are responsible for this development.Since 2010, neither party has had a majority of Americans viewing them favorably.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mitt Romney to Fight Evander Holyfield in Charity Bout

Mitt Romney to Fight Evander Holyfield in Charity Bout

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- He's not going to run for president for a third time, but Mitt Romney is still in for a bruising fight, but this time it could actually hurt. The former GOP presidential nominee is set to box former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. Yes, you read that right. The bout is scheduled for May and the two will get in the ring to raise money for charity, an aide to Romney confirms to ABC News. The Salt Lake City Tribune first reported the news of the fight, and in an interview, Romney told them: "It will either be a very short fight, or I will be knocked unconscious." "It won't be much of a fight. We'll both suit up and get in the ring and spar around a little bit," Romney said. The match, scheduled for May 15, is part of a several-bout evening in Salt Lake City to raise money for Charity Vision, a group the Romney family has been active with. They traveled with the group last year to Peru, and the 68-year-old former Massachusetts governor just returned from a trip to India with the group. The charity donates medical equipment to doctors and facilities in poverty-stricken areas around the world to aid with the eye surgeries. One of Romney's sons, Josh, described the evening to the Tribune as a "black-tie event" and said the fundraiser will be "patterned after a 1920s-style event." "We just thought it would be a lot better to provide this kind of entertainment rather than just have dinner and listen to speakers," the elder Romney said.

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Death Master File Under Review by Congress

Death Master File Under Review by Congress

zimmytws/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Congress is now taking a closer look at the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which has incorrectly paid federal benefits to dead people and listed living people as dead. It is estimated that the discrepancies cost U.S. taxpayers $125 billion last year.Senator Tom Carper, D-DE, said on Monday he is introducing legislation to help clear up some of the mistakes that are costing taxpayers billions.“We just can't afford making $125 billion dollars in improper payments like we've apparently made last fiscal year,” he said. Alabama resident Judy Rivers, who testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Monday, told the committee she first learned of her incorrect status while visiting a bank.“The information they receive is directly from the Social Security Administration and that I was listed as dead in 2008,” she said. “Without a Social Security number you can do nothing in the United States,” she said.Rivers said without a working or credible Social Security number, her life was destroyed.“I could never have imagined I would reach the point of hopelessness, homelessness, financial destitution, loss of reputation and credibility, unable to find a job, an apartment, a student loan or even buy a cell phone,” she told the committee.

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Vice President Biden Touts Funding for Rape Kit Testing

Vice President Biden Touts Funding for Rape Kit Testing

Pete Souza / The White House(PIKESVILLE, Md.) -- Vice President Joe Biden highlighted the Obama administration’s new initiative to reduce the nationwide backlog of rape kit processing while visiting the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Lab on Monday.The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative would accelerate testing of the estimated 400,000 rape kits that have been backlogged in law enforcement storage rooms and crime labs across the country. “Testing rape kits should be an absolute priority for the United States of America.  It works, it matters, it brings closure; it brings justice,” said Biden.Biden added that being able to catch up on the backlog and test the rape kits would result in additional crimes being solved.“Based on statistical analysis, we could probably, just by doing that and matching them to existing DNA database, solve 50 percent of the rapes that are now unsolved,” he said. The Obama administration has secured $41 million for the rape kit initiative to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices take action to reduce the backlog of kits. The Department of Justice is accepting applications for the grant through May 7.

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