Home » Archives by category » Political News (Page 8)

Ash Carter vs. Loretta Lynch: Why One Nominee Sailed Through But Other Is Stuck

Ash Carter vs. Loretta Lynch: Why One Nominee Sailed Through But Other Is Stuck

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Ash Carter sailed through his confirmation process to become the next secretary of Defense, but there’s one Cabinet nominee whose confirmation is moving forward at a much slower pace in the Senate -- Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s pick to be the next attorney general.Obama nominated Lynch to succeed current Attorney General Eric Holder on Nov. 8, 2014 -- just over three months ago. Carter, on the other hand, was nominated nearly a month later, on Dec. 5, 2014, and was confirmed on Thursday -- a process that took less than 70 days.Here’s a look at why Lynch’s nomination is tangled in the Senate while Carter swiftly gained confirmation:WHAT’S THE HOLD UP ON LORETTA LYNCH?First, Senate Democrats agreed to not process Lynch’s nomination, which was announced mere days after the GOP netted enough seats to win the majority, until the New Year when Republicans would take control.But the biggest hurdle to Lynch’s confirmation process is based on Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which Republicans adamantly oppose and currently are trying to thwart by tying it to a measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security past a Feb. 27 deadline.Republicans are using Lynch’s confirmation as a tool to raise their displeasure with the president’s immigration plan. Lynch’s confirmation hearing, which was held over two weeks ago, focused less on her qualifications and more on where she stands on Obama’s recent immigration actions. Senators grilled her on whether she thinks undocumented immigrants in the U.S. have a right to work or a right to citizenship.Lynch told the committee she believes the administration’s executive actions are legal based on her review of an opinion from the Department of Justice analyzing whether the president has legal authority to take these actions.Republicans also used the confirmation hearing to take aim at current Attorney General Holder, who has maintained a contentious relationship with congressional Republicans throughout his time leading the Department of Justice.At one point, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked Lynch, “You’re not Eric Holder, are you?”"No, I'm not," Lynch assured Cornyn with a smile. “I will be myself. I will be Loretta Lynch [if confirmed.]"WHY DID THE SENATE CONFIRM ASH CARTER SO QUICKLY?Carter’s nomination to lead the Department of Defense, on the other hand, was far less controversial as he coasted through the confirmation process. His confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee was held on Feb. 4, and he was confirmed by the full Senate eight days later.Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed early praise for Carter shortly after Obama had announced his nomination -- signaling the ease with which he’d likely be confirmed."He’s not controversial,” McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC News at the time. "He’s qualified and he’s the last man standing, but he’s been around long enough to know he will have little or no voice in the crucial decisions on national security.”Carter’s confirmation also comes at a time when the U.S. military’s involvement abroad is a huge concern for Congress. During his confirmation hearing, senators questioned Carter on everything from providing lethal aid to the Ukrainian military to the president’s strategy on the war against ISIS.Just this week, Obama asked Congress to authorize the use of force against ISIS -- a debate that will dominate Congress in the months to come.WHERE DOES LYNCH’S NOMINATION STAND NOW?Lynch’s nomination is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is weeks away from even hitting the Senate floor for a full voteOn Thursday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delayed a committee vote on her nomination after several requests from Republican senators to hold over the nomination as they had more questions for her to answer. According to committee rules, any one senator can ask to delay business for one week, and Grassley, R-Iowa, honored that request.Since the Senate will be on recess next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee won’t have the chance to vote on her nomination until the last week of February, meaning a vote on her nomination by the full Senate won’t occur until March.Some Republicans on the committee, like Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., have already said they will oppose her nomination, but two Republican committee members -- Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah -- have indicated they will support her nomination.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House Says FBI Has Opened Inquiry into ‘Brutal and Outrageous’ UNC Shooting

White House Says FBI Has Opened Inquiry into ‘Brutal and Outrageous’ UNC Shooting

Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House released a statement on Friday regarding the fatal shooting of three Muslim students at the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus on Tuesday, noting that an FBI inquiry has been opened in connection with the "brutal and outrageous murders.""In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated," the White House said. That investigation is expected to include whether hate crime laws were broken. "No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship," the statement released on the president's behalf read. "Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims' loved ones."Obama quoted one of the victims, Yusor Mohammad, 21, saying that in America "it doesn't matter where you come from...there's so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions -- but here, we're all one." Also killed in the shooting were Mohammad's husband Deah Barakat, 23, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.Yuson had recently graduated from North Carolina State University and Razan was a sophomore at the same school, while Deah Barakat was a dental student at the University of North Carolina.Obama is in California for a White House summit on cybersecurity.

Attorney General Eric Holder said that "like all Americans, I was shocked and saddened by this week's heinous murders of three young people in Chapel Hill, North Carolina." "In addition to the ongoing local investigation, I have made available the full resources of the Department of Justice to help ensure that justice will be served in this case," Holder said in a statement. "The Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI, along with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of North Carolina, have opened a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether any federal laws, including hate crime laws, were violated."Also on Friday, Jordanian Ambassador to the United States Dr. Alia Bouran traveled to North Carolina to meet with the families of the three victims. On Thursday, Jordan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement confirming that both Mohammad sisters had held dual citizenship in the United States and Jordan.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

3-D Printed Bust of President Obama Displayed at National Portrait Gallery

3-D Printed Bust of President Obama Displayed at National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery(WASHINGTON) -- A 3-D printed bust of President Obama will be on display at the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery beginning on Friday.According to the Smithsonian, Obama last year became the first U.S. president to be scanned using 3-D technology. The data was later processed to create "high-resolution models" which were 3-D printed. The bust is scheduled to be on display through the weekend, leading up to President's Day. The White House released behind-the-scenes video of the scanning in December.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber Announces Resignation Amid Conflict of Interest Scandal

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber Announces Resignation Amid Conflict of Interest ScandalPhoto by Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced on Friday that he will resign his position after having been the subject of a conflict-of-interest scandal involving his fiancée.Kitzhaber, a Democrat, was...

The Many Problems of “Downton” Office Congressman Aaron Schock

The Many Problems of “Downton” Office Congressman Aaron Schock

Photo by David Giesbrecht/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Aaron Schock has had a rough couple of weeks.It all started when a Washington Post reporter was given an impromptu tour of Schock’s D.C. office by the congressman’s interior decorator, who told him all about the office’s elaborate Downton Abbey-inspired décor. When the article ran on Feb. 2, Schock and his unusual office began to receive some unwanted attention.Had the congressman improperly used his campaign funds to furnish his office? Did he pay his interior decorator, a constituent of his, for her service, or had he violated House rules by accepting it as a gift?Schock initially tried to brush off the controversy.“As Taylor Swift said, ‘haters are gonna hate,’” he joked to ABC News on Feb. 4, adding that he fully intended to personally pay his decorator once her work is completed.

Unfortunately for the 33-year-old Illinois Republican, the controversy was just getting started.On Feb. 4, the same day he spoke with ABC News, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Schock had violated House rules while setting up his new office.The next day, his communications director Benjamin Cole, who had initially tried to quash the Washington Post article, resigned after it emerged that he had posted racially insensitive comments on social media in previous years.Last Friday, it was revealed that in 2012, Schock sold his Peoria, Illinois, home to a major campaign donor for several times its assessed property value, which led CREW to file a second complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics.Schock is already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting contributions in March 2012 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. The Committee on Ethics continues to gather information necessary to complete its review.Things didn’t let up after the weekend. On Monday, USA Today reported that Schock is one of the top travel spenders in the House of Representatives, having spent more than $100,000 on travel in 2013 alone.

Adding to his growing reputation as a lavish spender was an article in Politico, which reported that he had spent thousands of dollars on tickets to the Super Bowl and the Country Music Awards and has spent more than $200,000 on legal services since 2011.Politico also reported that Schock employs a personal photographer and spent over $100,000 on two new cars for use in his district. According to Politico, his office said it has launched an internal review of thousands of dollars’ worth of reimbursements he’s received for use of the vehicles.Schock’s litany of woes got even stranger this week, when two men were arrested and charged with attempting to rob his Illinois home. Schock blamed the media coverage of his controversies, particularly a local newspaper, for advertising the fact that the home is vacant while he’s in Washington.The congressman's office did not respond to a request by ABC News for comment. Last week, he told ABC News that he looks forward to completing his office and opening it up to his residents of his district.“When it’s all finished,” Schock said, “I’ll be hosting thousands of constituents in my offices as I have the last four years.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

John Kitzhaber: The Curious Case of the Governor of Oregon

John Kitzhaber: The Curious Case of the Governor of Oregon

Office of the Governor(NEW YORK) -- It has been a very bad week for Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, facing calls for resignation from top state Democrats, editorial pages and petition writers, in light of a conflict-of-interest scandal involving plum jobs his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, got with groups who had business before the state, while she also worked as an unpaid adviser to him on energy and economic development. By Friday, he was nowhere to be seen.

Here’s a rundown of events from the past week:THURSDAY, FEB. 5: The Oregonian newspaper’s editorial page calls for Kitzhaber to resign, saying, “He can no longer lead Oregon effectively and should resign. His constituents deserve better.”Kitzhaber had defiantly insisted the week before he would not step down and denied there was any conflict of interest in Hayes’ various jobs: “We tried to separate her volunteer work as first lady from her paid work,” he said.FRIDAY, FEB. 6: Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum opens a criminal investigation into Kitzhaber and Hayes, saying in a statement the allegations about the way Kitzhaber handled Hayes’ contracts are “very serious, and troubling.”MONDAY,  FEB. 9: Kitzhaber sends a letter to Rosenblum, asking her to open a “full and independent factual review” of the issues surrounding him and Hayes. She tells him she has already opened the investigation.TUESDAY, FEB. 10: Kitzhaber calls Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, visiting Washington, D.C., for a conference, asking her to “come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone,” Brown said. Kitzhaber also meets with Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a meeting Courtney later says he left feeling certain the governor was going to resign.WEDNESDAY, FEB. 11: Brown returns to Oregon, which raises eyebrows among political observers because the Secretary of State is the second-in-line for the governorship. Brown says she met with Kitzhaber briefly, and that he asked her why she came back early from D.C., although he asked her to do so, which she said she found “strange.”Kitzhaber tells Brown he does not want to resign but “began a discussion about transition,” according to Brown.Later in the day, Kitzhaber releases a statement: “Let me be as clear as I was last week, that I have no intention of resigning as Governor of the state of Oregon. I was elected to do a job for the people of this great state and I intend to continue to do so.”THURSDAY,  FEB. 12: The Oregonian reports that Kitzhaber had, indeed, intended to resign Tuesday but changed his mind by Wednesday after meeting with McDermott and Hayes. Kitzhaber meets with Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek. At a news conference after the meeting, Courtney and Kotek call Kitzhaber “upset,” “defiant” and “struggling.” “This thing is evolving by the second,” Courtney says.Rosenblum, the attorney general, rules that Hayes must release emails from her personal accounts pertaining to government business. Hayes had claimed she is an honorary first lady and is not compelled to produce emails, and that she held no formal government position and had no government authority, the Oregonian wrote.TODAY: The Oregonian reports Kitzhaber’s whereabouts are not publicly known, and that the governor has “vanished from public view.”The governor’s office did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment.  

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Ebola Czar Quietly Retires from Role as West Africa Military Mission Wraps Up

Ebola Czar Quietly Retires from Role as West Africa Military Mission Wraps Up

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- He rarely appeared in public, and never once spoke from a major platform, but now Ebola Czar Ron Klain is quietly leaving from his role he held for less than four months.

The announcement came a day after President Obama announced the end of the military mission to fight Ebola in West Africa -- and effectively declared "mission accomplished" in curbing global spread of the latest outbreak. All but 100 of the 2,800 U.S. service members deployed to West Africa will be home by April 30, the president said Wednesday.

“While our troops are coming home, America's work is not done. Our mission is not complete,” Obama said. “For as long as Ebola simmers anywhere in the world, we will have some Ebola fighting heroes who are coming back home with the disease from time to time.”

Meanwhile, Obama bid farewell to the man who oversaw the effort, even if he came to it late, appointed amidst a firestorm of criticism.

"When I asked Ron Klain last fall to become the Administration's Ebola Response Coordinator, the apprehension and even fear of Ebola in the United States was at its peak. Likewise, there was more than a little skepticism from some corners at the selection of Ron to fulfill this function. But, the background noise notwithstanding, I chose Ron for a reason: I have known him to be nothing less than an effective, dedicated, and tireless manager and leader. And those traits have been on full display since October," President Obama said in a statement.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘Wasn’t 100 Percent Sober’ at State of the Union

Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘Wasn’t 100 Percent Sober’ at State of the Union

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be living up to her nickname, "Notorious," after she admitted that she wasn't "100 percent sober" at President Obama's State of the Union address this year.The Supreme Court justice said her imbibing may have been part of the reason why she was caught on camera apparently falling asleep at the televised address."The audience, for the most part is awake, because they’re bobbing up and down, and we sit there, stone-faced, sober judges. But we’re not, at least I wasn't, 100 percent sober," she said Thursday night during a talk at George Washington University, according to The Blaze.The 81-year-old said that she wasn't responsible for bringing the booze. Rather, it was another of the country's top judges."Before we went to the State of the Union, Justice Kennedy brought in...it was an Opus something or other, very fine California wine, and I vowed this year, just sparkling water, stay away from the wine," Ginsburg reportedly said. "But in the end, the dinner was so delicious, it needed wine."Cameras within the House chamber caught Ginsburg nodding off, and she was alerted to it by an eagle-eyed relative."So I got a call when I came home from one of my granddaughters and she said, 'Bubbe, you were sleeping at the State of the Union!'" Ginsburg said at Thursday night's talk.It wasn't the first time that Ginsburg, who is the subject of an online meme that dubbed her "Notorious RGB" -- a play on rapper The Notorious B.I.G.'s similar nickname -- was seen dozing off during the annual speech.She was caught nearly doubled over in 2014.And, speaking in 2013, she blamed "a very good California wine that Tony Kennedy brought" to a dinner before the 2012 State of the Union for that year's catnap, according to The Washington Post.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Lawmakers United in Changing Non-Violent Drug Sentencing

Lawmakers United in Changing Non-Violent Drug Sentencing

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Although Republicans and Democrats fight over most issues, a small group has reached a bipartisan agreement over sentencing Americans for non-violent drug offenses.The lawmakers Thursday introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act, legislation designed to modernize federal drug sentencing policies by giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing those convicted of non-violent drug offenses.The measure brought together such disparate political bedfellows as Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who've agreed on little before now.Cruz acknowledged this fact, adding, "We are all unified in saying common sense reforms need to be enacted to our criminal justice system."Durbin concurred, telling reporters, "We're talking about drug offenses that don't involve guns, don't involve gangs, don't involve violence but offenses that are wrong and should be treated as wrong but should be squared away with mandatory minimum sentences which reflect the reality of the situation."The measure is expected to have White House support as well.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US Commander in Afghanistan Wants to Slow Down Troop Reduction

US Commander in Afghanistan Wants to Slow Down Troop Reduction

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As much as the U.S. wants to extricate itself militarily from Afghanistan, the commander of American forces there is asking the White House if the de-escalation can be slowed down.With the U.S. having left a residual force of 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, the current strategy is to cut this level in half by the end of 2015.However, General John Campbell said during a Senate hearing Thursday that he wants to see how well Afghan security forces perform as the spring and summer approach, typically the times of year when the Taliban is most aggressive, before any drawdown occurs.Campbell says he thinks highly of the national army and police but this will essentially BE the first time they'll be on their own fighting the Taliban.While American soldiers now serve in training and advisory roles, Campbell feels that they're still needed in Afghanistan for support.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

GOP Slows Down Attorney General Nominee’s Confirmation

GOP Slows Down Attorney General Nominee’s Confirmation

Ramin Talaie/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A vote on the confirmation of New York prosecutor Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general is on the slow track now that the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee is putting off a vote on her nomination until later this month.Lynch, who would replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder if confirmed, has already undergone a round of hearings. However, some lawmakers want to quiz her handling of a money laundering prosecution of British banking giant HSBC in 2012, claiming the punishment of a fine was too lenient.Democrats, however, contend that it's a smokescreen and Republicans are dragging their feet about her nomination because of GOP opposition to President Obama's executive action on immigration reform.The two parties are fighting over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security with Republicans attempting to hold back money that would implement Obama's plan to temporarily legalize up to five million undocumented immigrants.Some Republicans have acknowledged support for Lynch but Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has pointed out that the confirmation process has been the longest for any nominee in three decades.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Talks Immigration in Los Angeles

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Talks Immigration in Los Angeles

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was in Los Angeles on Thursday to meet with city officials to discuss immigration.Johnson also participated in a forum, along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the community, to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's implementation efforts related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents plans. Johnson also called upon Congress to pass a full-year appropriations bill funding the department.

Johnson touted the deferred action programs that the Los Angeles Times says will allow up to five million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally the chance to stay and work without the fear of deportation. The government will start accepting applications for the program on Feb. 18.Johnson is expected to travel to Palo Alto on Friday, where he will participate in a White House summit on cybersecurity.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Oregon Secretary of State Calls Situation Involving Governor A ‘Bizarre and Unprecedented Situation’

Oregon Secretary of State Calls Situation Involving Governor A ‘Bizarre and Unprecedented Situation’

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. Photo by Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown issued a statement on Thursday regarding the "bizarre and unprecedented situation" involving Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, who is under pressure to resign his position in light of a conflict-of-interest controversy involving himself, his fiancee and two past campaign staffers.According to The Oregonian, the staffers allegedly arrange for Kitzhaber's fiancee to work jobs with groups who had business before the state. Kitzhaber's fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, was also acting as an unpaid energy advisor while she held jobs with a pair of nonprofits focusing on energy and jobs. On Thursday, Brown released a statement saying that she had received a call from Kitzhaber Tuesday asking her to return from a Secretaries of State conference in Washington. "He asked me to come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone," Brown says."I got on a plane [Wednesday] morning and arrived at 3:40 in the afternoon," she said. "I was escorted directly into a meeting with the Governor." She described the meeting as brief, saying that Kitzhaber "asked me why I came back early from Washington, D.C., which I found strange." She says that Kitzhaber then told her that he did not intend to resign.Brown says she "informed the governor that I am ready, and my staff will be ready, should he resign" but that "right now I am focused on doing my job for the people of Oregon."The Oregonian reported on Thursday that the Oregon Senate President and House Speaker -- both Democrats -- met with Kitzhaber on Thursday morning, telling him it was time to resign.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama to Announce Executive Order on Cybersecurity, Information Sharing Friday in California

Obama to Announce Executive Order on Cybersecurity, Information Sharing Friday in California

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is traveling to Silicon Valley for a Friday summit on cyber security at Stanford University.According to the White House, the summit will bring leaders from industry, tech companies, law enforcement and others together to boost collaboration and information sharing, as well as to explore partnerships to bolster American cybersecurity.Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to speak and introduce Obama on Friday. During the appearance, Obama will sign an executive order to "encourage and promote the sharing of cybersecurity threat information within the private sector and between the private sector and the federal government." Essentially, the White House hopes to set up a series of best practices so that companies interested in participating in information sharing will know how to do so.Among the corporations expected to announce a commitment to using the White House's new framework are Intel, Apple, Bank of America, AIG, QVC, Walgreens and Kaiser Permanente. Visa, Mastercard, Apple, Comerica Bank and U.S. Bank are also expected to announced on Friday that they will invest in new and more secure payment technologies.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Joe Biden Reveals Timeframe for 2016 Presidential Decision

Joe Biden Reveals Timeframe for 2016 Presidential Decision

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden is in no rush to decide whether he’ll run for president in 2016, telling reporters in Iowa Thursday he’ll make up his mind “at the end of the summer.”“That's a family personal decision that I'm going to make sometime at the end of the summer," Biden, who was on an official trip to the state, said during a classroom tour at the Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny.Asked by a reporter if he’s holding any meetings about a 2016 campaign while in Iowa, Biden noted he’s not engaging in any organizing for a presidential run on this trip.“I've been here a lot, I have a lot of friends. I'm going to see some of my friends [who] are still in the legislature and they're here today. But no I'm not doing any organization if that's what you mean," he added. "I met with old friends like Kevin McCarthy and the newest, youngest state rep who was just elected who worked on one of my campaigns early on." He said the trip was about connecting people with "specific job opportunities and training.”By establishing an end-of-summer timeframe for a decision, Biden, 72, is giving himself a little more time to make up his mind on a presidential run. Just last month, Biden referenced summer as a deadline for deciding.“Well, I don’t think you have to make up your mind until the summer,” Biden said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “I think this is wide open on both sides.”Biden has made no secret about considering a third run for the White House, and many have questioned whether he or other Democrats will challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is expected to make an announcement about her presidential intentions this spring.Earlier in the day, Biden offered a kernel of advice for any Democratic candidates running in the next election, saying they should run on the accomplishments of President Obama’s administration."Run, yes, run — on what we have done," Biden said at an event at Drake University. "Only what we have done. Stand for what we have done. Acknowledge what we have done. And be judged on what we have done, if we have any chance for resurgence — continued resurgence — in 2016."He added: "Some say that would amount to a third term of the president. I call it sticking with what works."

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama Signs Suicide Prevention for Veterans Act Into Law

Obama Signs Suicide Prevention for Veterans Act Into Law

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Thursday signed into law the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. The bill is named for a 28-year-old Marine sergeant from Texas, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who suffered from PTSD and committed suicide in 2011. "Today, we honor a young man who isn't here, but should be here," Obama said. "He suffered physical injuries that healed, and he suffered invisible wounds that stayed with him."The measure, aimed at preventing suicides among veterans, was unanimously passed in both the House and the Senate. The signing ceremony was attended by first lady Michelle Obama, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, among others.

World News Videos | ABC World News

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DHS Inspector General Focusing on $500,000 Green Card Program

DHS Inspector General Focusing on $500,000 Green Card Program

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is nearing completion of an investigation into an increasingly popular but controversial immigration program that provides a visa and possibly a Green Card to foreign nationals who invest $500,000 or $1 million in an approved American business venture that creates jobs, agency insiders told ABC News.Career employees at the federal agency said that the investigation has focused on the way now-Deputy Secretary Alijandro N. Mayorkas ran the program, which has been under scrutiny for approving visas for foreign investors even when background checks raised suspicions about fraud, money laundering, even espionage.Mayorkas declined to discuss shortcomings in the program, known by its visa designation EB-5, highlighted in a recent ABC News investigation. That investigation found examples of visas being approved in spite of red flags from the FBI and its own fraud detection unit. In one case, an applicant that had been flagged under suspicion of profiting from commercial child pornography was still granted a visa.Following publication of the ABC News report, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he was “aware of the concerns” raised by ABC News “centering around security” and said the DHS “continually evaluate[s] whether more security should be provided for the program.”In response to specific concerns raised about the American businesses certified to recruit investors through the program, known as regional centers, Homeland Security officials said there was little they could do to address the problem. They said in a statement that the immigration agency “only has the authority to terminate a regional center if there is evidence the center is no longer promoting economic growth -– not on the basis of national security concerns.”“This lack of discretion limits the ability of the Director or the Secretary to terminate a regional center in the event of suspected or even proven criminal activity,” the statement says, adding that the administration sought additional leeway from Congress to act on security concerns but did not receive it.Career employees inside the department, several of whom have been aware of interviews being conducted by investigators with the inspector general’s office, said they believe the report will focus on the impression that Mayorkas opened the door to politicians who sought to expedite visa approvals for foreign investors who had put money into projects in their home states or congressional districts. In an appearance before Congress in 2014, Mayorkas denied doing so, saying, “I will tell you that the allegations as they have been framed are unequivocally false.”Congressional critics of the visa program, however, have continued to voice concerns about the vulnerabilities it has created, especially the possibility raised in internal Homeland Security documents suggesting that the boutique immigration program could be exploited by terrorists.“It is shocking,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican. “Particularly when you have F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies that are saying national security could be compromised or is being compromised -- that's enough for us to be concerned.”Five different Homeland Security whistle-blowers spoke with ABC News for its original report about a range of cases where visas were approved despite numerous red flags. They said objections were often ignored because the immigration program is so popular within the Obama administration and with members of Congress from both parties. Known as the EB-5 visa program, foreigners who are willing to invest $500,000 in an American business can jump to the front of the line and obtain legal status to live in the U.S. for two years. If the investment is shown to create at least 10 jobs, the investors can receive a “Green Card” -- permanent residency.Some immigration groups have criticized the program as “nothing more than selling Green Cards.” Brent Wilkes, the executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the largest Hispanic civil rights groups in the U.S., said it “short circuits” the immigration process, allowing foreign nationals “with enough cash” to leap ahead of legitimate applicants who lack the means.Supporters call the program a “win-win” because as the investors accelerate through the immigration process, their overseas money helps spur job-creating projects in the U.S.“The American worker [is] able to get to work thanks to the capital investment coming through the program,” said Peter Joseph, the executive director of the Association to Invest in the U.S.A., a Washington, D.C. group that has advocated for the little-known immigration program.But an ABC News investigation found that in addition to reaching wealthy foreign investors, the program has become a magnet for those seeking to sidestep the scrutiny of the traditional immigration process. In one case, immigration officials pushed through a visa application from a Chinese investor in a Las Vegas hotel project despite an internal review that found the investor had previously been turned back at the border, and much of his visa application had likely been fabricated, immigration records show.

World News Videos | ABC World News

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Senate Confirms Ash Carter as Defense Secretary

Senate Confirms Ash Carter as Defense Secretary

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate confirmed Ash Carter as the next secretary of Defense with a vote of 93-5 on Thursday.Carter, who was nominated to the post in December, earned bipartisan support throughout his confirmation process.Carter, 60, is a veteran Pentagon official, recently serving as deputy secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2013. But he also has a unique background as a physicist and medieval historian by training. His aides once referred to him as the “600-pound brain in the room.”Carter will replace Chuck Hagel as secretary of Defense and will be President Obama’s fourth defense secretary in six years.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

2016 Democratic National Convention: Why Was Brooklyn Snubbed?

2016 Democratic National Convention: Why Was Brooklyn Snubbed?

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic National Convention will be in Philadelphia, not Columbus, Ohio, or the most talked about possibility: New York City, specifically Brooklyn.Philly may have been the leading favorite, but why did Brooklyn get snubbed? It turns out there are quite a few reasons.

In a conference call Thursday, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, said the decision was a “yearlong effort,” that is “primary a business decision” and the “decision was not easy,” adding “all the cities who initially bid were phenomenal American cities.”

She added that while “New York City put together a very strong bid,” Philadelphia’s bid was “unmatched” and that the committee wanted to “ensure a city could transport and house attendees seamlessly.”

In Brooklyn, delegates would have to be bussed in from hotels in New York City and in Philadelphia, Wasserman Schultz noted, there are 18,500 hotels just a “15-minute walk” from the convention site.

“Delegate experience was a very, very important thing for us,” she said.

A senior Democratic official tells ABC News Wasserman Schultz’s biggest concern was logistics, noting the security perimeter around the Barclay's Center is in a residential area, and the hotel problem.

Of course there are other issues too, ones the DNC may not want to discuss. As for whether the police shootings and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent rift with police had anything to do with the decision, as well as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s crackdown on political corruption, including former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, she answered no.“There were only three factors that we considered when deciding the strongest city and those were logistics, security, and resources,” she said. “Extraneous issues were not a factor whatsoever.”

A source from the mayor’s office notes the problems with the 2012 convention in Charlotte, North Carolina and the DNC was “looking for [the] simplest logistics in a smaller city,” as well as the advantage Philadelphia has with being a swing state. They also note the possibility that Hillary Clinton’s likely campaign would be headquartered in Brooklyn, saying the “DNC likely wanted to spread the wealth around.”Another official from the de Blasio administration said pitching Brooklyn was a risk and agreed it was likely logistics that did the bid in, specifically noting the large security perimeter needed to pull off a modern convention. It would require blocks fenced off with restricted access and possibly having residents displaced ahead of the convention.

In Philadelphia, the convention site is much more commercial, surrounded by parking lots and football and baseball stadiums.“Look, our bid was creative, different, unconventional -- and they wanted a simple, surer thing,” the official said.

Longtime New York City Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf says it was a culmination of reasons that turned the DNC away from the hipster mecca. Firstly, Pennsylvania is still a swing state.

“Pennsylvania is a state that could potentially vote Republican and has elected Republicans statewide in recent times. Democrats need to [be] more in tune with the heartland and Pennsylvania represents that,” Sheinkopf said.

“Being in Brooklyn and considering recent events in New York City, it would be seen as too far to the left, not far enough to the center, and it would be challenge for Democrats not to be seen that way,” Sheinkopf said.

De Blasio took a front and center role in the bid, even recruiting high profile and high dollar New York City celebrities and donors to put together what seemed like a convincing package.

Sheinkopf said it seemed like de Blasio was “acting on his own,” without much action from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo but in the end, with recent events like the police and corruption scandals, it “wouldn’t matter what the mayor or the governor would have done.”

De Blasio is close to the Clintons and a progressive champion but it still didn’t matter.

“The mayor was first and out front,” Sheinkopf said, noting it “would have been a great moment for his administration when in fact it will be seen as a non-starter.”

In a statement after the decision, de Blasio said Brooklyn “is America’s greatest urban success story, which would have made it a great backdrop to nominate the next President of the United States,” adding his thanks to the “thousands of New Yorkers who lent their time, energy and resources to support our effort.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House Welcomes Cease-fire Deal for Ukraine

White House Welcomes Cease-fire Deal for Ukraine

creisinger/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House welcomes the peace deal for Ukraine that was reached by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine in Belarus Thursday.The deal, which came after more than 15 hours of discussion, calls for a cease-fire starting Sunday, followed by a process of constitutional reform."The agreement represents a potentially significant step toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict and the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty consistent with the Minsk agreements from last September," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement."This agreement must now be followed by immediate, concrete steps to fulfill the commitments by all parties. The cease-fire must be implemented and honored. Heavy weapons must be withdrawn from the conflict zone, and Russia must end its support for the separatists and withdraw its soldiers and military equipment from eastern Ukraine," Earnest added.In a separate statement, Secretary of State John Kerry also welcomed the news, commending the efforts by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande to reach an agreement.Mirroring Earnest's remarks, Kerry said, "Actions will be what matter now."

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Advertise With Us

Would you like to advertise on East Idaho News? Fill out this form to contact a representative.
  • Full and Last
  • The name of your company, business or brand.