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  • ABC(WASHINGTON) -- Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald -- who has prosecuted high-profile cases taking on terrorists, mobsters, drug dealers and political corruption -- is representing former FBI Director James Comey.Fitzgerald has been "part of Mr. Comey's legal team since May 2017," Fitzgerald said in a statement to ABC News.President Donald Trump fired Comey as FBI director on May 9, 2017.Fitzgerald and Comey are longtime friends and both worked together in the 1990s as federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Appointed by George W. Bush to be U.S. attorney in Chicago in 2001, Fitzgerald became the longest-serving U.S. attorney in the history of that district.In 2003, then-Deputy Attorney General Comey tapped Fitzgerald to investigate the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity. That investigation led to the prosecution and conviction of Lewis “Scooter” Libby for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements.After spending more than 10 years as a convicted liar in a leak investigation, Libby was granted a full pardon by President Trump on April 13. That same day, Trump tweeted that “Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR....He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted.”As a federal prosecutor in New York, Fitzgerald took on mobsters such as John Gambino and served as lead attorney in United States v. Usama bin Laden, et al., in which multiple defendants were convicted for their roles in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.He also worked on the World Trade Center bombing prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. As U.S. attorney, he took down Illinois Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges.More recently, in private practice, he was retained by Michigan State University in the wake of sexual abuse allegations involving Dr. Larry Nassar to help the university conduct an internal review while facilitating cooperation with law enforcement agencies investigating the matter.Fitzgerald is a partner at the powerhouse law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom., where he has practiced law since leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2012.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Republican Debbie Lesko is the projected winner of Arizona's special election Tuesday in a contest both parties were watching as a barometer of political strength before the November midterm elections.But Democrat Hiral Tipirneni performed strongly, which bolsters the party's argument that enthusiasm remains high for its candidates and helps reinforce the argument that a so-called blue wave is coming this fall.Lesko had 52.43 percent of the vote, compared to Tipirneni's 47.22 percent, with 94 percent of precincts reporting. But both Democrats and Republicans will dissect the details of the contest -- specifically, the final margin between the two candidates.Arizona has a competitive Senate race this fall, and how independents broke in Tuesday's contest, along with how many Republicans crossed over to vote for Tipirneni, will be pored over for any indication of how voters may go in November.The early returns also indicated that the Democrats' record of overperformance in special elections continues, although the large number of white, older, Republican-leaning voters in the district, which is a popular one for retirees, made it tough for Tipirneni to prevail.Even with the numbers against her, Republicans spent heavy and hard in this contest to secure the win.Unlike the March special election in Pennsylvania, where there was a strong suburban population, the 8th Congressional District in Arizona has a history of being reliably red. Former Rep. Trent Franks, in his three times on the ballot, won with more than 25 percent of the vote.Lesko’s victory only gives her the seat for the remainder of this year.Both she and Tipirneni are expected to run again. First, each of them has to get through the Aug. 28 primary for the right to compete in November.Tipirneni touted her strong showing in the race and vowed to fight on."In a seat that President Trump won by more than 20 points, and outside groups spent more than a million dollars to try and silence us. Tonight, we showed them that Arizona's West Valley has something to say," she said in a statement. "It's because the hard work of my staff, volunteers and supporters that the race is still too close to call. Regardless of the outcome, we are taking this to November."And Trump tweeted his congratulations to Lesko Wednesday morning.In Tuesday's contest, which was triggered by Frank's resignation from Congress last year, Tipirneni outpaced Lesko in campaign fundraising by over $100,000, but outside groups invested heavily in the Republican.The Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) and the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) poured over $1.3 million into the race from primary to Election Day, according to FEC filings, while Democratic outside groups spent just over $300,000.“Debbie is a strong conservative whose values truly reflect those of the voters in Arizona’s 8th District,” NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement Tuesday night. “The NRCC was proud to support her, and our targeted and early investments proved to be a difference maker in the race.”One GOP strategist called the Republican spending in the race an “education campaign” to remind voters that the special election was taking place.Trump carried Arizona's 8th Congressional District, which lies to the northwest of Phoenix and was once the home base for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, by 21 points in the 2016 presidential election. The population in the district is older than most, with a median age of 43, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.The average median age for congressional districts in Arizona is 38, and the 8th Congressional District is the second oldest in a state with a significant retiree population.Republicans will face tough contests in much less demographically favorable districts come November and still face two more special elections in the coming months.There will be a speci
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In its final oral argument of the term, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear one of the most highly anticipated cases of the Trump presidency: the travel ban.After two failed attempts by the administration to bar immigration to the United States from certain foreign countries, Trump signed a presidential proclamation on Sept. 24 last year that indefinitely restricted most travel from the majority-Muslim countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen -- linking the restrictions to those countries' purported vetting deficiencies.Kate Shaw, ABC News Supreme Court contributor and a professor at Cardozo Law School, breaks down the case.What’s at issue in this case?This case involves a challenge to the Trump administration’s most recent attempt to restrict entry into the U.S. by individuals from particular countries, most of which are Muslim-majority.This is the third such attempt by the Trump administration. The first so-called travel ban, an executive order issued one week after Trump's inauguration, purported to immediately suspend for 90 days admission into the country by individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. It also halted refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees. The order contained an exception for members of religious minorities. And, since the ban primarily applied to Muslim countries, most exempted individuals by definition would be non-Muslims.Chaos in the country's airports immediately ensued, and a number of federal courts swiftly enjoined the order nationwide. After losing in the Ninth Circuit, the administration decided to abandon further efforts to defend the order, and instead withdrew and replaced it with an order that differed slightly from the first, but whose reach and effects were similar. The second order also faced successful challenges in a number of lower courts, but in June 2017, the Supreme Court allowed it to go partially into effect. After the order expired by its own terms, the Trump administration replaced it with the proclamation under review in this case.This proclamation, issued in September 2017, for the first time includes two non-Muslim-majority countries -- North Korea and Venezuela -- and explicitly links the list of covered countries to perceived weaknesses in those countries' vetting capabilities. It also differs from the first two orders in that it has no expiration date. The president's authority to issue this proclamation, under both the Constitution and federal statutes, is what's at issue here.Who are the plaintiffs?The plaintiffs in this case are the state of Hawaii and several private individuals. Hawaii bases its claims of injury on its state university system, arguing that the proclamation has an adverse impact on both current and prospective scholars who might wish to affiliate with the university system. The individual plaintiffs argue that they have been prevented from reuniting with close relatives who have applied for visas from one of the covered countries.The plaintiffs, who accuse the administration of offering a "breathtakingly vast conception" of executive power, argue that the proclamation violates several different provisions of the immigration statutes, and also that it contravenes the Constitution’s establishment clause by singling out Muslims for disfavored treatment. In this final argument, they rely heavily on statements and tweets by the president, from both the campaign and over the course of the administration, which they argue supply evidence of unconstitutional bias. They are joined by a number of amicus briefs, filed by entities ranging from former high-ranking government officials of both parties to private colleges to Khizr Khan to the libertarian Cato Institute.What about the Trump administration’s arguments?The government defends the president's authority to issue the proclamation, contending t
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  • Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hours after President Donald Trump suggested his embattled nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, should step aside, the White House is now saying the president will fight for him."The president will be defending him," White House Director for Legislative Affairs Marc Short told ABC News just moments after Jackson emerged from a late afternoon meeting with Trump at the White House.A White House official added that Jackson will not be withdrawing his name from consideration.Those comments came after the president said Jackson, his White House physician and hand-picked nominee to head the VA should withdraw his name from consideration."I wouldn't – if I were him, actually in many ways I'd love to be him, but the fact is I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't do it," Trump said in the East Room of the White House during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron."What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country? I really don't think personally he should do it, but it's totally his. I would stand behind him. Totally his decision," Trump said.The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is reviewing what it calls "serious allegations" surrounding Jackson that include claims he created a hostile work environment and improperly dispensed medication as a White House physician, congressional and administration sources tell ABC News.The sources said the medication in question is the prescription sleep aid Ambien.Committee leaders announced Tuesday that they had postponed Wednesday's confirmation hearing while they reviewed the allegations.As part of its defense of Jackson, the administration has just released official copies of 2012 and 2013 "command climate assessments" for the White House Medical Unit as well as signed performance reviews of Jackson by Presidents Obama and Trump. “Dr. Jackson is a great doctor + leader – ‘ 2-star material,” President Trump wrote in his own handwriting in a 2017 fitness report and counseling record.The administration says that the claims against Jackson of a hostile work environment result from a personal feud Jackson had with another doctor in the White House Medical Unit -- a dynamic which was ultimately resolved and morale improved, according to one of the assessments.“Dr. Jackson’s record as a White House physician is impeccable," a senior administration official said. "He has improved unit morale, received glowing reviews and promotions under Republican and Democrat presidents, and has been given a clean vet from the FBI. He has never even been the subject of an Inspector General review and he will certainly not be railroaded by a bitter ex-colleague who was removed from his job.”Earlier this afternoon, just moments before the president suggests he not go through with the confirmation process, ABC News spotted Jackson on Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers about his nomination. He ignored questions about the allegations and said, "I'm looking forward to re-scheduling the hearing and getting the process moving."Asked whether the hearing would be rescheduled he said, "That's going to be up to the committee."President Trump praised Jackson as "a fine man" and a "great doctor, great everything," but said wouldn't want Jackson to go through a politically damaging nomination process."I don't want to put a man through who's not a political person. I don't want to put a man through a process like this," Trump said. "It's too ugly and too disgusting. So we'll see what happens. He'll make a decision."Trump also addressed concerns that Jackson, who is currently the president's personal White House physician, lacks the overall management qualifications to head the second largest agency in the federal government, saying simply "there's an experience problem."In a letter to Trump, the top Republican and Democrat on the
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  • White House Travel Pool(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted their first state dinner Tuesday evening in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron.The first couple greeted Macron and his wife on the steps of the White House North Portico, with the couples exchanging a round of cheek kisses before posing for photos. While President Trump wore a tuxedo, first lady Melania Trump donned a full-length black Chantilly lace Chanel Haute Couture gown, hand painted with silver and embroidered with crystal and sequins, according to her spokeswoman.Joining the main guests of honor, Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, is an exclusive list of 130 guests, who will be seated across 13 candlelit tables of 10 in the State Dining Room. Among the attendees are Apple CEO Tim Cook, who brought as his guest former Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, statesman Henry Kissinger, Chief Justice John Roberts, media mogul Rubert Murdoch, managing director of the IMF Christine Lagarde, two Olympic gold medalists, Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH group which owns Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Dior, and the president's daughter and son-in-law Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.Presidents Trump and Macron toasted to their friendship and the broader alliance between France and U.S. at the dinner.“May our friendship grow even deeper, may our kinship grow even stronger, and may our sacred liberty never die,” said President Trump, who declared the evening a celebration "of the nearly two-and-a-half centuries of friendship between two countries."President Macron, in turn, echoed the warm sentiment expressed by President Trump and made a joke at Great Britain’s expense in noting the deep ties between the U.S. and France.“This White House so full of history, that the British burned down in 1815, and I say this in the most amicable way, and that James Monroe then had the brilliant idea of decorating in French furniture, a man of taste, in fact, he was a former ambassador to Paris,” President Macron said.Melania Trump has personally overseen the planning for the evening, which has been decorated in a crème and gold color scheme and draws from American and French influences. Twelve hundred branches of cherry blossom, 2,500 stems of white sweet peas and nearly 1,000 stems of white lilac adorn the White House, while the Washington National Opera is providing musical entertainment for the evening. Dinner will be served in the formal State Dining Room on settings of Clinton and Bush china, as well as silver from the White House collection, from Tiffany & Co., and S. Kirk & Sons.The menu has been planned to “showcase of the best of America’s cuisines and traditions, with nuances of French influences,” according to the White House, and will be prepared by White House executive chef Christeta Comerford.The first course is a salad of greens from the White House kitchen garden and will feature a goat cheese gateau, tomato jam and biscuit crumbles. The main course will be a rack of lamb and jambalaya. For dessert, there's a nectarine tart and ice cream.Wines for the evening were carefully selected for the evening to both “complement the menu and embody the historic friendship between the United States and France.”The dinner capped a larger itinerary of ceremonial events in Macron’s honor on Tuesday. Macron was welcomed to the White House this morning with a traditional military arrival ceremony involving 500 members of the military, and complete with a 21-gun salute, cannon-firings and patriotic music.
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  • Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office has rebuffed two attempts by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to argue that evidence seized last summer by FBI agents from his home and nearby storage locker was unlawfully obtained.In a filing late Monday night, Mueller’s team rejected Manafort’s claims that search warrants used to raid his home were “unconstitutionally overbroad,” arguing that evidence seized during both searches should, in fact, be permissible for use in an upcoming trial against Manafort.In May, initial access to the storage locker was gained after an employee of Manafort’s, who was listed as the occupant of the lease, willingly allowed investigators to enter the unit. Prosecutors obtained a warrant the next day.Then in July, federal agents executed a search warrant and seized documents and records from Manafort’s home during an early morning raid when they awoke a sleeping Manafort and his wife by knocking on their bedroom door.Manafort was listed as one of the people allowed to access the unit, alongside former campaign-aide Rick Gates and the unnamed Manafort employee.Gates pleaded guilty to two felony charges in February and admitted to helping Manafort syphon millions of dollars into overseas accounts. As part of his deal, Gates is now cooperating with the Mueller probe.Among other pieces of evidence seized during the searches of Manafort’s home and storage locker were digital materials from iPods and iPads, receipts, documents and several binders from a box labeled “Ukraine Binders”, according to the court filing.Manafort’s dealings with Ukraine and Ukrainian business associates have served as the basis for many of the charges leveled against him, including tax fraud, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent and conspiring against the United States. Prosecutors have alleged that Manafort was acting as a lobbyist for the government in Ukraine without registering to do such work.Manafort is the most senior Trump campaign adviser to face charges from the special prosecutor, though none of the charges brought against Manafort have been linked directly to his time with the Trump campaign.In court last week Manafort’s team argued that charges related to his political dealings in Ukraine are beyond Mueller’s mandate.But federal prosecutors argued that Manafort’s Ukrainian business ties fall within the special counsel’s purview, as he could have used those ties as a “back-channel” to contacts in Russia.Despite Gates’ guilty plea, Manafort has maintained his innocence in the special counsel’s probe, which includes cases in federal courts in DC as well as in Virginia, where Manafort faces another 18-count indictment.Manafort remains under house arrest, wearing two ankle braclets, while his legal team continues to negotiate collateral on his $10 million dollar bail. The courts have rejected the use of several of Manafort’s properties largely because some of the charges against him involve bank fraud related to a mortgage on one of his properties.Manafort will next appear in federal court in Virginia on Friday, May 4.
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