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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Democratic National Committee named the Russian government, the Trump campaign, Trump family members, WikiLeaks and others Friday in a sweeping lawsuit making a detailed case for collusion between the Russians and Trump campaign operatives.

“No one is above the law and the perpetrators of this attack must be held accountable,” Tom Perez, the DNC chairman said in a statement. “They successfully hacked the Democratic Party in 2016 and they will be back. We must prevent future attacks on our democracy, and that’s exactly what we’re doing today. This is not partisan, it’s patriotic.”

The DNC alleges a wide-ranging “Russia-Trump conspiracy” and relies on the same racketeering statutes have been employed in taking down the mob.

“The conspiracy constituted an act of previously unimaginable treachery: the campaign of the presidential nominee of a major party in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the Presidency,” the lawsuit alleges.

The defendants in the case include both Russian nationals and prominent figures in the Trump campaign, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his one-time campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Several of those named, like Manafort, have been charged by special counsel Robert Mueller. Democrats said they have written a first draft of what they undoubtedly hope criminal prosecutors will find.

The president is not named personally, but his campaign is one of the defendants.

“This is a sham lawsuit about a bogus Russian collusion claim filed by a desperate, dysfunctional, and nearly insolvent Democratic Party,” Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager, who in a statement described the lawsuit as a ploy to grab attention and raise money. “They’ve sunk to a new low to raise money, especially among small donors who have abandoned them,” he said.

Representatives for Trump Jr. have not responded to request for comment.

A spokesperson for Manafort declined to comment as did a spokesman for Kushner.

ABC News has reached out to the other individuals named in the suit for whom the network has contacts and many either declined to comment or did not immediately respond.

Scott Balber, an attorney for a billionaire Russian developer and his son, Aras and Emin Agalarov, both named in the suit, called it “plainly frivolous.”

“My clients had absolutely nothing to do with any alleged hacking of DNC computer networks or any effort to influence the US election,” Balber said. “The complaint appears to be nothing more than a publicity stunt.”

The Democratic party, which is seeking both financial damages and an admission of responsibility in the case, alleged widespread harm caused by the hack. That included disruption of the party’s activities during the height of the campaign, and also gave rise to “frightening and sometimes life-threatening harassment.”

“On July 23, 2016, multiple DNC employees received an email stating: ‘I hope all your children get raped and murdered. I hope your family knows nothing but suffering, torture, and death,’” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit opens the door to discovery and depositions of many of the central players from the Trump campaign who have been alleged to be involved in attempting to make maximum political use of hacked DNC emails.

The complaint alleges that the Russia federation along with WikiLeaks and senior Trump campaign officials worked to disseminate hacked material to disrupt the DNC’s efforts to campaign and ultimately undermine the American public’s ability to receive their message. The suit specifically names Roger Stone, a longtime partisan operative and close friend of Trump’s, as someone who knew about the Russian hack of the Clinton campaign chairman before the public.

Stone, who has not responded for calls seeking comment, denied that allegation directly in an interview with ABC News last week.

“I had no advance notice of the source or the content or the exact timing of the WikiLeaks disclosures,” he said. “I never received anything from Assange or WikiLeaks or the Russians or anyone else, including allegedly hacked e-mails and therefore never passed anything onto Donald Trump or the Trump campaign. Those are the facts.”

The DNC case appears to rely almost exclusively on publicly available information, painting a portrait of the extent of the connections between Russians and Trump associates.

"Russia hacked our democracy. This is not some tin hat conspiracy,” said Jane Kleeb, a DNC member and Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party.

The suit names the Russian intelligence services as a defendant. Cohen, Milstein, Sellers and Toll, the law firm handling the matter for the DNC has a background in suing foreign countries.

The DNC and its legal team have not been in touch with Mueller’s team, but sources with the party told ABC News they believe their civil case can proceed on a parallel track to the Special Counsel’s.

“I do believe this lawsuit has the potential for more discovery in terms of how they went about the hacking, about how they went spreading the information,” said Donna Brazile, who led the Democratic party in the latter stages of the 2016 campaign.

Brazile said she had urged Perez to file the case and was relieved that he moved forward with it, saying she wanted the courts to “make sure those involved in the hacking are brought to justice.”

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Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has been charged with felony computer tampering related to his alleged use of a donor list from his veterans’ charity for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign, according to the state's attorney general.

It’s the second felony charge the Missouri Republican is facing. Greitens also faces a felony charge related to accusations from his former mistress who alleges he bound her hands with tape, put a blindfold on her, took a partially nude photo of her and then threated to release the photo if she mentioned his name, according to a Missouri House committee report.

That charge is for invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a partially or fully nude photo and "subsequently transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer."

He faces a criminal trial on that charge on May 14.

Greitens’ attorneys had made a motion to get those charges dismissed but a judge ruled on Thursday that case can proceed.

The latest charge alleges Greitens obtained an electronic donor list without permission from The Mission Continues charity he founded and then used that list for political fundraising as he was preparing to run for the governorship.

Greitens started the organization in 2007 but left it in 2014, before he ran for governor.

The governor has denied all the allegations but he did pay a fine to the state ethics commission for not reporting the list as an in-kind contribution on campaign disclosure forms.

Friday night Greitens put out a statement lashing out at St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

"By now, everyone knows what this is: this prosecutor will use any charge she can to smear me. Thank goodness for the Constitution and our court system. In the United States of America, you’re innocent until proven guilty," the statement said. "In the United States of America, you get your day in court. And when I have my day in court, I will clear my name. People will know the truth."

Multiple elected officials in the state, including the GOP leaders in both chambers of the state legislature. Additionally both Senate candidates – incumbent Democratic Sen. Clarie McCaskill and her GOP opponent, Attorney General Josh Hawley – have called on Greitens to resign from office.

The controversy around Greitens, once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, has consumed Missouri politics.

On Tuesday, Greitens tweeted that he would not be resigning the governorship and said he will be proven innocent in court.

Hawley’s office announced Tuesday that his office may have found evidence of a felony by Greitens in an investigation involving the veterans charity. He turned it over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who has jurisdiction in the matter. It was her decision to charge Greitens.

Hawley said in a statement on Friday that his office is ready to assist as needed.

“St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner reviewed the evidence turned over to her by my office and determined that there is probable cause to file criminal charges against the Governor. The Office stands ready to assist the Circuit Attorney’s Office where appropriate and if needed. These are serious charges—and an important reminder that no one is above the law in Missouri. Like all criminal defendants, Governor Greitens is presumed innocent under the law until proven guilty,” he said.

The governor is fighting for his political life.

But a Missouri state house committee released a bombshell investigative report last week detailing an alleged nonconsensual sexual encounter with his former hairdresser.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but said it was consensual. He claims he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”

That bipartisan investigative committee – comprised of five Republicans and two Democrats – is expected to release a second report next week focused on the charity.

Statehouse officials have also said they could hold a special session after the regular legislative session ends in May to focus on the impeachment of the governor.

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Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, announced Friday that he will not vote to support the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state, officially closing the door on Pompeo’s chances of being favorably recommended out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ahead of a full Senate floor vote.

Coons, the last Democrat on the panel to announce his position, said in a statement that he was encouraged by Pompeo's commitment to the diplomatic corps that he laid out in his confirmation hearing but concluded that the current CIA director and former congressman would embolden rather than temper President Donald Trump's most bellicose instincts.

“I do not make this decision lightly or without reservations," Coons said in a statement. "I remain concerned that Director Pompeo will not challenge the President in critical moments. On vital decisions facing our country, Director Pompeo seems less concerned with rule of law and partnership with our allies and more inclined to emphasize unilateral action and the use of force."

Coons also said he was concerned with some of Pompeo's past statements made over his political career on "a range of issues."

Republicans on the 21-person committee hold a slim one-seat majority over Democrats. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also opposes Pompeo's nomination to be the nation’s top diplomat. That meant Pompeo needed the support of at least one Democrat on the committee to get the simple majority needed for a favorable recommendation.

But with Coons’ announcement, all ten Democrats on the committee have now announced that they would not support Pompeo.

Coons’ position is not a surprise. He had said as late as Thursday afternoon that he was “leaning against” Pompeo's nomination and he also voted against him to serve as CIA director last year.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Pompeo’s nomination Monday.

With the option of a favorable recommendation off the table, they can still report the nomination to the Senate floor with an unfavorable recommendation or simply take no action. And the full Senate will still vote on his confirmation, which is likely to succeed.

But the fact that Pompeo’s confirmation will not be referred favorably to the full Senate is an almost unprecedented rebuke from the committee of jurisdiction. The last time any cabinet-level nominee who was reported unfavorably by a committee but went on to be confirmed by the full Senate was 73 years ago when Henry Wallace was confirmed to be the secretary of commerce on March 1, 1945.

Past secretaries of state, including Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton have breezed through their respective confirmations, receiving strong tallies from both sides of the aisle.

While Pompeo will not receive the support of any of the ten Senate Foreign Committee Democrats, at least one member of the caucus has announced she will vote for him: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who is facing a tough re-election fight in a state that voted heavily for President Donald Trump in 2016.

If no other Republican besides Paul opposes Pompeo in the Senate floor vote, Heitkamp’s support means he will have just enough votes to be confirmed, including Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Most Democratic Senate candidates brought in strong fundraising hauls for the first quarter of 2018, the latest reports show, a positive sign for a party defending multiple seats and leaving some Republicans playing catch up in the race for campaign cash.

Democrats are defending more seats on the map in November than the GOP in their uphill battle to win control of the Senate. They need a treasure trove of dollars to defend their seats plus pick up the two they need to control the upper chamber.

Adding to the financial pressures are the number of seats the party is defending, meaning as the election gets closer, resources will get tighter and, if the candidates don’t have the cash to get themselves across the finish line, they may not be able to count on the party to bail them out.

But several Democratic contenders in competitive contests were in good financial shape in the first quarter of this year, especially those Democrats running for reelection in red states won by Donald Trump in 2016. There are, however, three quarters left to go.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and Montana Sen. Jon Tester all outraised their GOP rivals.

And two Democratic challengers – Beto O’Rourke in Texas and Jacky Rosen in Nevada – outraised the GOP incumbents they are challenging.

“Senate Democrats’ strong fundraising reflects the wave of grassroots support and enthusiasm that will help propel our campaigns to victory in November,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee, in a statement.

Republicans acknowledge the political climate across the country makes it tougher on them to fundraise.

“Most of the incumbents that are running are Democrats and normally incumbents have a much easier time raising money,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant. “They have some natural advantages in terms of fundraising that way. Secondly, it’s no secret that there’s a lot of enthusiasm on the Democratic side and I think that’s reflected in fundraising numbers.”

He added: “The Democrats are raising a lot of money but they’re going to need a lot of money.”

But other Democrats didn’t do as well as some of their brethren, falling behind in the money race, in seats the party will need to put in the win column in November.

In West Virginia, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was outraised by one of his GOP rivals – former coal industry executive Don Blankenship – by around half a million dollars. The other two Republican contenders haven't released their fundraising data.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown was outraised by GOP Rep. Jim Renacci by a little more than $1 million.

In Arizona, Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema was outraised by one of the Republican candidates – Martha McSally – by about $25,000.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson raised $3.2 million but his GOP rival, Gov. Rick Scott, entered the race on April 9 so he didn’t have to file a first-quarter fundraising report.

This could end up being a $100 million race given the state’s expensive media market and the fact Scott has the personal wealth to invest in the contest. He put $83 million of his own money into his two gubernatorial campaigns, according to local newspapers, meaning Democrats are going to need a lot of cash to stay competitive.

In other races, not all the fundraising information was available.

And not all Senate campaign data is available on the Federal Election Commission website at this time. Some campaigns have released their fundraising numbers and local media has reported on others.

Republicans have a two-vote advantage in the upper chamber. They are defending eight seats this year, while Democrats are defending 24 plus the two independents who caucus with them.

Here’s a look at where the numbers are at in some of key races that will decide which party controls the Senate.

Missouri: McCaskill outraised her GOP rival, state Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Hawley raised $1.29 million in the first quarter of 2018, the Kansas City Star reported, with $2.12 million cash on hand.

McCaskill, in contrast, raised $3.9 million and has $11.5 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.

Florida: Nelson raised $3.2 million and has $10.5 million cash on hand, according to his campaign. Scott did not have to file a report.

West Virginia: Manchin raised $949,000 in the first quarter and has $5.4 million in the bank, according to FEC reports.

GOP candidate Don Blankenship, raised $1.6 million and had $214,000 cash on hand. The other two GOP candidates haven't released their first quarter numbers.

Pennsylvania: Casey raised $2.2 million and has $10 million cash on hand, according to his campaign. And Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Lou Barletta, raised $1.26 million and has $1.63 million cash on hand, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

North Dakota: Heitkamp raised $1.6 million and $5.3 million cash on hand while her GOP rival Kevin Cramer raised $1.13 million and has $1.86 million cash on hand, according to a local newspaper.

Nevada: Heller reportedly raised about $1.1 million. Rosen raised $2.57 million and has $3.5 million cash on hand, according to her FEC report.

Indiana: Donnelly raised $1.6 million and $6.4 million cash on hand, according to his FEC report.

Republican Rep. Luke Messer raised $389,000 and has $1.867 million cash on hand while GOP Rep. Todd Rokita raised $426,000 and had $1.86 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.

Arizona: Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema raised $2.5 million and has $6.69 cash on hand, according to FEC reports.

Republican candidate Martha McSally raised $2.75 million and has $3.18 million cash on hand, according to her campaign.

Of the other two GOP primary candidates, former state Sen. Kelli Ward raised $467,000 for her campaign and KelliPAC, an independent super PAC supporting her, raised another $500,000, according to her campaign.

And Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio raised more than $500,000 with $250,000 cash on hand, according to a local news report.

Texas: Cruz raised $3.2 million across three fundraising committees and has $8.2 million cash on hand, according to the Texas Tribune.

O’Rourke raised $6.7 million and has around $8 million in the bank, according to his campaign.

Wisconsin: Baldwin raised $3.7 million and has $7.8 million cash on hand. And in the GOP primary, Kevin Nicholson raised $1 million and has $800,000.00 cash on hand, while state Sen. Leah Vukmir raised nearly $600,000 and had around $650,000 cash on hand, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Montana: Tester raised $2 million and had $6.8 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports. He easily outraised his four GOP rivals, none of whom raised over 500,000, according to their FEC reports.

Ohio: Brown raised $3.3 million and had $11.8 million cash on hand, according to local reports.

Renacci raised about $4.5 million through his various fundraising committees and had $4.2 million in the bank, according to a campaign statement.

Tennessee:
Former Gov. Phil Bredesen reported $3.2 million in the first quarter, which included a $1.4 million loan from himself. He has $1.7 million cash on hand, according to FEC reports.

GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn raised $2 million and has $6 million cash on hand, according to her FEC filings.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The Trump administration and California have reached an agreement that the state's National Guard will deploy only in support of the U.S. Border Patrol, according to a Homeland Security official, despite President Donald Trump complaining that the troops will "do nothing" and the federal government won't pay.

California National Guard troops will support the Border Patrol with radio communications, motor transport operations, training administration operations, paralegal administration, planning, intelligence analysis, and surveillance camera operations and will not be involved in law enforcement, according to DHS, as is similar for all the state Guard troops being deployed.

This specific mission was agreed to on Thursday, according to the DHS official.

This comes after Trump slammed California's Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, tweeting on Thursday that the federal government "will not be paying for Governor Brown's charade," even though a press release from Brown Wednesday night had said he secured "the federal government's commitment to fund the mission."

"Governor Jerry Brown announced he will deploy “up to 400 National Guard Troops” to do nothing. The crime rate in California is high enough, and the Federal Government will not be paying for Governor Brown’s charade. We need border security and action, not words!," tweeted Trump on Thursday.

The head of the National Guard, Gen. Joseph Lengyel, testified on Tuesday before the Senate Appropriations Committee that the National Guard's 2018 budget will not cover the costs for these troops, so the Department of Defense is looking within its own department for that funding.

The cost of Guardsmen at the southwest border is about the same as that of Guardsmen serving elsewhere in the state, he added.

On Thursday afternoon, the California National Guard tweeted that it had “received written confirmation from the Pentagon" that it will continue to fund the mission and personnel consistent with the order issued by Brown.

And followed up with, “In short, nothing has changed today.”

Brown's office re-tweeted the California National Guard's confirmation of funding.

And on Wednesday, DHS Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen thanked Brown and tweeted that the "final details" were being worked out.

National Guard support is intended to free up Border Patrol Agents so they can conduct law enforcement activities at the border, including more agents, investigators, and prosecutors, as part of a multi-layered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money, according to a DHS official.

The request for assistance that was signed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis a few weeks ago and authorizes states to deploy under what is known as Title 32 statues, according to DHS.

Guardsmen across all border states will not perform any federal, state, local or tribal enforcement functions and will not be employed in Border Patrol missions that place them in direct contact with personnel on the border nor will they be required to be armed to perform their assigned their CBP missions,” said Lieutenant General Daniel Hokanson on Monday.

While the Guardsmen won’t be required to be armed, it will be up the states on whether or not they will be armed for protection.

The California governor's office has not yet responded to request for comment on the latest development.

ABC News has also requested comment from the White House.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department on Thursday turned over to Congress declassified copies of former FBI director James Comey's memos - his contemporaneous notes about his conversations and encounters with President Donald Trump before he was fired last year.

The 15-page disclosure includes Comey's account of the briefing he gave Trump at Trump Tower about some of the allegations about his contacts with Russia, as well as his later meetings with Trump at the White House, during one in which Comey said that the president asked him for his loyalty and in another in which Comey says Trump told him: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”

Comey says he took that as the president wanting him to end the investigation into retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s fired former national security adviser.

Comey also said that then-chief of staff Reince Priebus asked him whether Flynn was under government surveillance and that Trump claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin told him Russia had "some of the most beautiful hookers in the world."

Trump, who has previously dismissed the memos as "fake," claimed on Thursday night that the memos exonerated him in the ongoing Russia investigation while criticizing Comey's conduct.

You can read the declassified and partially redacted memos HERE.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Embattled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump a week ago that he is not a target of the investigation of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, two sources close to Trump told ABC News.

Rosenstein on his own brought up the probe of Cohen to the president during that meeting, sources said.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the matter.

The president has repeatedly threatened both publicly and privately to fire Rosenstein, as he has also done with both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties to Trump associates.

However, on Wednesday, Trump seemed to take a different tack, responding to a reporter’s question about the fate of the three officials by saying “they're still here.”

“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months,” Trump said while in Florida. “And they’re still here. We want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us. And we have to get back to business.”

At the same time, as ABC News has reported, the president has been "less inclined" to sit down for an interview with Mueller since an FBI raid on Cohen's home, office and hotel room on April 9, according to sources.

Trump's legal team last met with Mueller's office about a potential Trump interview on the same day as the Cohen raid.

Now with longtime Trump friend and surrogate Rudy Giuliani's joining the Trump legal team, he will be part of all negotiations with Mueller's office going forward.

The former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor says his job is to help Mueller get “what he needs to wrap it up” and to “try to negotiate a way to get this over with."

Giuliani's joining comes after the Trump team searched for several weeks to fill a void left by the abrupt departure of the president's lead attorney, John Dowd. Dowd quit in part because he felt the President was taking less of his advice, sources told ABC News.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In newly released copies of memos written by James Comey, the former FBI Director describes what he says were Donald Trump's strenuous and repeated objections to claims that prostitutes visited his Moscow hotel room in 2013 as well as the president's "serious reservations" about his embattled National Security Adviser.

"There were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes," Comey recalled Trump saying in one of the memos.

ABC News obtained copies of the memos, which are partially redacted, on Thursday after the Justice Department turned over 15 pages of declassified material to Congress. Top House Republicans had requested the documents and threatened to subpoena for them. DOJ plans to transmit unredacted copies of the memos on Friday.

The memos, which emerged as a flash point in the ongoing Trump-Russia probe, detail Comey’s recollections of exchanges with the president about Russian campaign interference and the broader Russia investigation. They include notes of conversations about the Trump Tower briefing on the Russia allegations, on a private White House dinner, and on controversial meetings during which Comey says Trump asked for his loyalty and for him to end the Flynn investigation. Trump has denied making those requests.

Some of Comey's notes closely mirror the account of the interactions with Trump he has provided in congressional testimony, in his new book and in recent television interviews. But the newly released memos also feature previously unreported details and exchanges, including Trump's complaints about Gen. Michael Flynn's judgment. He expressed concern that Flynn, who served briefly as his National Security Adviser, did not alert him about a head of state's congratulatory call. (The name of the head of state is redacted in the memos released Thursday.)

Comey said Trump pointed to his head when describing Flynn, and said, "The guy has serious judgment issues."

"I did not comment at any point during this topic and there was no mention or acknowledgement of any FBI interest in or contact with General Flynn," Comey wrote.

In a meeting several days later, then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked Comey, "Do you have a FISA order on Michael Flynn?" according to Comey's memo. The question from Priebus came after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned the White House that Flynn was susceptible to blackmail regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Flynn later became one of the most senior Trump aides to cut a deal with prosecutors and agree to assist the Mueller investigation. He pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment late Thursday.

Other memos from Comey shed light on Trump's reactions to allegations, some of them salacious, in the so-called dossier –- an unverified, opposition-research document prepared by a former British intelligence officer, and paid for by Trump's political rivals.

One memo describes a meeting in which Comey says Trump remarked that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told him that Russia has "some of the most beautiful hookers in the world," without explaining when the conversation took place, according to Comey’s notes.

In a joint statement, Reps. Devin Nunes, R-California, Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, and Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, the chairmen who requested declassified versions of the memos last week, described the documents as "Defense Exhibit A" in a criminal case for obstruction of justice, arguing that they show Comey was motivated by animus, and did not feel that Trump was attempting to obstruct the Russia investigation in real time.

"While former Director Comey went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented, and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation," they wrote.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the memos are "strong corroborating evidence" of Comey’s claims that Trump "wanted his personal loyalty, that he wanted to end the Russia investigation, and that he wanted Michael Flynn to walk."

"President Trump’s interference was a blatant effort to deny justice, and Director Comey was right to document it as it happened -- in real time," Cummings said.

Comey said in a CNN interview Thursday he was "fine" with his memos being released to the public.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A federal appeals court upheld a nationwide injunction that blocked the Trump administration from linking a federal grant program to cooperation with immigration enforcement Thursday.

The program, known as the Byrne JAG grant, is the “primary provider” of federal criminal justice funding to state and local governments, according to the court. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had tied the funds to grant recipient’s compliance with three conditions.

"From now on, the department will only provide Byrne JAG grants to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities," Sessions wrote in a July statement.

The City of Chicago argued that it was “unlawful and unconstitutional.”

A lower court agreed to two of the three conditions, issuing a nationwide injunction. The appellate court upheld that decision Thursday.

“The attorney general in this case used the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement," the court wrote in its opinion. "But the power of the purse rests with Congress, which authorized the federal funds at issue and did not impose any immigration enforcement conditions on the receipt of such funds."

A DOJ spokesman, however, said that the department acted with proper authority.

“The Justice Department believes it exercised its authority, given by Congress, to attach conditions to Byrne JAG grants that promote cooperation with federal immigration authorities when the jurisdiction has an illegal alien who has committed a crime in their custody,” said DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley.

John Cohen, an ABC News consultant and former acting Homeland Security undersecretary, said that he has seen no lack of cooperation from state and local law enforcement officials in his experience.

"In speaking with law enforcement officials across the nation, I have found none that are unwilling to work with ICE and CBP to locate, arrest and detain those undocumented or unauthorized immigrants involved in criminal activity," Cohen said.

The court went on to lay out the “sometimes-clashing interests” between federal law enforcement and local government. In this case, Chicago determined that people unlawfully in the U.S. might avoid contacting local police to report crimes if they fear it will bring the scrutiny of the federal immigration authorities.

Cohen said that the administration has overstated the threat of illegal immigration.

"While demonizing state and local officials and embellishing the threat posed by illegal immigrants may further the president’s political agenda, it is undermining the very operational relationships that are vital to protecting our communities from violence," Cohen said.

In its decision, the court wrote that its role in this case was not to assess the “optimal immigration policies for our country," but rather to protect one of its "bedrock principles," the separation of powers.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, CIA director Mike Pompeo, is facing stiff opposition to his becoming the nation's top diplomat - and it may be unprecedented.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote on Pompeo’s nomination on Monday and right now it's not clear if he has the votes to receive a positive recommendation.

If the Senate panel rejects Pompeo’s nomination – and it’s looking increasingly likely that it will – it would be a first.

Never before in at least a century has a secretary of state nominee received an unfavorable recommendation from the Foreign Relations Committee, according to information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

“We have found no case of a Secretary of State nominee receiving other than a favorable report by the Committee on Foreign Relations,” the Historical Office confirmed in an e-mail.

Pompeo will still get a vote before the full Senate even with an unfavorable recommendation.

But with many Democrats who just last year voted to confirm him as CIA director now publicly opposing him as the next secretary of state, Pompeo’s confirmation is on a razor's edge.

Just how unprecedented is this scenario? The last time any cabinet-level nominee who was reported unfavorably by a committee but went on to be confirmed by the full Senate was 73 years ago when Henry Wallace was confirmed to be the Secretary of Commerce on March 1, 1945.

Here’s the math on the Senate panel vote

Republicans on the 21-member panel hold a slim one-seat majority over Democrats.

So far, every single Democrat in the committee has announced their opposition to Pompeo, with the exception of Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who, as of Thursday afternoon was still “leaning against” his nomination. Coons also opposed Pompeo’s nomination to be director of the CIA last year.

Despite the Democrats’ opposition, Republicans could squeak out a favorable recommendation for Pompeo were it not for Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul has adamantly refused to support Trump’s nominee due to his objections to some of Pompeo’s foreign policy positions.

And Pompeo fared no better after meeting with Paul in person on Thursday. After the meeting, Paul reiterated that he was still a 'no' on Pompeo despite the president saying Wednesday of Paul: "He's never let me down."

Why does this vote matter?

It is very unusual for a secretary of state nominee to face such opposition.

Past secretaries of state, including Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton have breezed through their respective confirmations.

“I realize we’re in an atmosphere now where that is just not going to be the case,” Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said Thursday on the Senate floor. “I realize my Democratic friends in many cases feel like that in supporting Pompeo, it's a proxy for support of the Trump administration policies, which many of them abhor. I understand that.”

“I hope that the members on the other side of the aisle that have not yet said how they are going to vote will think about the circumstances that we’re in today and feel like that they can support a highly qualified Secretary of State…,” Corker went on.

Last year, Pompeo had little trouble clinching the confirmation to be the director of the CIA. He received a favorable recommendation from the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, and he was confirmed by the full Senate in a 66-32 vote.

At the time, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Tim Kaine of Virginia – both Democrats who sit on the Foreign Relations panel – voted in favor of his nomination. This time around, they’re voting no.

What happens after the panel vote?

Even if Pompeo receives an unfavorable recommendation, it’s not game over for him.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can still bring his nomination to the floor for a vote before the full Senate, where Republicans have a one-seat advantage over Democrats.

However, with Paul opposing the nomination and GOP Sen. John McCain, battling brain cancer at home in Arizona, Republicans, it seems, would need at least one Democrat to vote with them in order to secure Pompeo’s confirmation.

On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a vulnerable Democrat facing an uphill Midterm election battle, announced she will vote to confirm Pompeo.

In a statement, Heitkamp said Pompeo “demonstrated during this nomination process and during our meeting in March that he is committed to empowering the diplomats at the State Department so they can do their jobs in advancing American interests.”

As long as no other Republican defects, and with Heitkamp’s vote secured, Pompeo could become the next head of the State Department.

Last year, the votes against Rex Tillerson, 56-43, made Senate history when he was confirmed as secretary of state.

It’s possible Pompeo will beat that record.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Donald Trump has expanded his legal team and hired an old friend, former New York city Mayor Rudy Giuliani, ABC News has confirmed — a move which comes on the heels of shake-ups on the president's legal team.

In a statement, President Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow confirmed the hiring along with two other attorneys.

“Rudy is great. He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country,” President Trump said in a statement released by his attorneys.

‘It is an honor to be a part of such an important legal team, and I look forward to not only working with the President but with Jay, Ty, and their colleagues,” Giuliani said in a statement.

The Washington Post first reported the Giuliani hire.

Giuliani was a top surrogate for the President during the 2016 campaign, often seen by his side at multiple campaign rallies.

"I'm sick and tired of the defamation of Donald Trump by the media and by the Clinton campaign,” a fiery Giuliani said during the 2016 Republican Convention. “I am sick and tired of it! This is a good man!”

For the last several months, the Trump legal team has been in active negotiations with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team working toward a potential interview, which would include either a face-to-face interview with parameters, a written questionnaire or some mix of both, sources have told ABC News.

The last reported meeting the Trump team had with the special counsel's office was on the same day that FBI agents in New York raided the home, office, and hotel of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. Sources told ABC News it was after the Cohen said that the President has since been “less inclined” to sit down for an interview with Mueller’s team.

Giuliani enters the arena after the president’s lead attorney John Dowd abruptly resigned in March. Sources told ABC News at the time that Dowd resigned in part because he felt the president was not taking his advice.

The Trump legal team on Thursday also announced the hiring of Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin.

According to a statement released by the team: “Jane and Marty are highly respected former federal prosecutors with decades of experience. They have a nationwide practice and reputation for excellence and integrity.”

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Karl Moor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal prosecutors in Washington have been asked by the Justice Department’s inspector general to determine whether the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, should be charged for allegedly “lacking candor” on multiple occasions with internal investigators and with then-FBI director James Comey, according to a source familiar with the matter.

In a report made public by lawmakers last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that McCabe repeatedly misled investigators looking into how sensitive investigative information ended up on in a national newspaper in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

Horowitz’s office then referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, indicating Horowitz believes McCabe committed a federal crime with his actions. It’s unclear exactly when the referral was made.

McCabe has become a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, who allege that McCabe's time at the top of the FBI was emblematic of political bias in the FBI's law enforcement work.

McCabe's lawyers issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying they're confident no charges would be filed.

"We were advised of the referral within the past few weeks. Although we believe the referral is unjustified, the standard for an IG referral is very low. We have already met with staff members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute,” the statement said.

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article that questioned whether McCabe was hampering the federal probe of the Clinton Foundation.

Ahead of the story's publication, McCabe authorized an FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to speak with the newspaper about the probe and his own efforts to keep it moving forward, including the contents of a phone call months earlier about the matter with a senior Justice Department official, the report released Friday said.

“Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing … that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” according to the report.

Meanwhile, McCabe, first head of the FBI field office in New York and then in Washington, told the inspector general’s office that after the Wall Street Journal report was published, “they each received calls from McCabe admonishing them for leaks contained in the” article, the report said. “At no time did McCabe disclose to either of them that McCabe had authorized [an FBI attorney] to disclose information … to the WSJ reporter.”

The day after the article’s publication, McCabe spoke face-to-face with Comey, who expressed concern about information contained in the news article, according to the inspector general's report. According to what McCabe later told the internal investigator, he informed Comey that he had authorized the FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to disclose details about his previous phone call with a senior Justice Department official. Comey disputed that version telling investigators he was “very concerned” that the article included “sensitive FBI information,” and that McCabe “definitely did not tell me that he authorized” the disclosure, according to the report.

Asked on CNN Thursday afternoon how he felt about McCabe lying to him and other investigators, according to the report, Comey answered: "Conflicted. I like him very much as a person but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn't do," Comey said.

Saying "I'm not the judge in the case," Comey added, "I think it's accountability mechanisms working and they should work because it's not acceptable in the FBI, the Justice Department for people to lack candor. It’s something we take really seriously."

Thursday evening Trump tweeted, "James Comey just threw Andrew McCabe “under the bus.” Inspector General’s Report on McCabe is a disaster for both of them! Getting a little (lot) of their own medicine?"

The inspector general began investigating McCabe in August 2017, after the FBI’s Inspection Division told the inspector general’s office that the deputy director may have lacked candor when questioned about his role in disclosing sensitive information to a reporter.

In its report released Friday, the inspector general’s office said McCabe “lacked candor” in July 2017 when he told investigators – under oath – “that he was not aware of [the FBI attorney] having been authorized to speak to reporters around October 30,” and he “lacked candor” again four months later when he acknowledged authorizing the disclosure but “stated that he told Comey on October 31, 2016, that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ.”

Representatives for McCabe noted that two business days after speaking with investigators in July 2017, McCabe contacted the inspector general’s office “and corrected his prior statements.”

“Mr. McCabe thought further about his discussion with the OIG investigators and realized that he needed to correct the record,” they said in a “factsheet” distributed to reported.

Nevertheless, the inspector general also concluded that McCabe “lacked candor” in May 2017 when interviewed by officials from the FBI’s Inspection Division. He told them he had not authorized the disclosure to the Wall Street Journal and did not know who did, the report said.

The representatives for McCabe said the inspector general’s “account of Mr. McCabe’s interactions with the … investigators is incomplete and misleading.”

“Mr. McCabe never deliberately misled Inspection Division (INSD) investigators,” the “factsheet” said. “[W]hen Mr. McCabe turned back to the draft statement they prepared for him several months later, he declined to sign it and instead contacted INSD to correct the inaccurate facts about his relationship to the WSJ article.”

Beyond the accuracy of McCabe’s statements to investigators, the inspector general’s report released Friday also took sharp issue with McCabe’s move to authorize the media disclosure in the first place.

“[W]e concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the [Clinton Foundation] Investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior Department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception,” the report said.

“We therefore concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in this manner violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.”

But representatives for McCabe said he “had full authority to authorize sharing information with the media” as deputy director.

“Their interaction with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was not done in secret: it took place over the course of several days and others knew of it, including Director Comey. It was done to protect the institutional reputation of the FBI as a non-political and professional investigative agency, and therefore was squarely within the public interest exception to the FBI’s prohibition on sharing sensitive material,” a “factsheet” from McCabe’s representatives said.

In 2015, while McCabe was head of the FBI's Washington Field Office, his wife ran for state senate in Virginia as a Democrat. She lost the election in November 2015, and three months later McCabe became deputy director, giving him an oversight role in the investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. After the Wall Street Journal story was published in October 2016, McCabe recused himself from the Clinton matter.

McCabe first joined the FBI in 1996, investigating organized crime cases in New York. Over the next several years, he shifted his focus to rooting out international terrorists, and in 2012 he became the head of the FBI's counterterrorism division at headquarters in Washington.

In October 2013, McCabe took over the FBI's entire national security branch, and the next year he moved to become the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office.

McCabe stepped down as deputy director in January, and he was fired by Sessions in May.

“The rush to judgment – and the rush to terminate Mr. McCabe – were unprecedented, unseemly, and cruel,” Michael Bromwich, an attorney for McCabe, said in a statement. “His treatment was far more harsh and far less fair than he deserved, and his reward for the loyalty he showed to his country over the course of his career was a truncated form of administrative due process, including the lack of any right to appeal outside the Department of Justice.”

The U.S. attorney’s office and a spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment for this article.



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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As House Republicans prepare to select their next speaker, two key Freedom Caucus members told ABC News they want their conservative group to have a seat at the leadership table.

“We need to be more involved in the process. I am for somebody from the Freedom Caucus either being Speaker of the House, House Majority Leader, or Majority Whip or else the culture is not going to change," Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said he thinks Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is ready to be speaker, but warned, “If you got the same old people doing the same old jobs, you don’t get any new ideas and that’s why the American people turn to the other party for new ideas. We’ve got to have those ideas. We’re much younger and much more in touch with the American people than the Democrats are.”

Blum, however, cautioned that Freedom Caucus members are unwilling to make concessions to gain prominent leadership positions.

“If you say I want to be in House leadership, then you’ve got to get on the team. Get on the team is French for ‘hand in your voting card to leadership,’” he said.

Blum, who co-stars with Buck in a new Facebook video series called "The Swamp," outlined changes he would like to see Washington embrace.

“We should have term limits. We should have a life-time ban on lobbying. We should cut our pay every year that we don’t balance the budget. We should get rid of this 87-million dollar slush fund for sexual harassment,” he said, referring to the fund used to pay out millions of taxpayer dollars to privately settle workplace claims filed by Hill staffers.

Asked whether they think President Donald Trump is fulfilling his campaign promise to “drain the swamp," Buck and Blum agreed that progress is being made.

“Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos- all those folks are helping to drain the swamp and the fact that they are being attacked means that they’re doing a good job,” said Buck.

Buck and Blum were cautiously optimistic about midterm elections come November. When Bruce asked if Republicans can hold onto the House in the fall, Blum said, “I do, but I think it’s going to be very close. Six, seven months is a lifetime in politics, but let’s see where we are in seven months.”

Blum was more partisan in his response. “It is never good to drain the swamp by electing Democrats.”

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal prosecutors in Washington have been asked by the Justice Department’s inspector general to determine whether the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, should be charged for allegedly “lacking candor” on multiple occasions with internal investigators and with then-FBI director James Comey, according to a source familiar with the matter.

In a report made public by lawmakers last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that McCabe repeatedly misled investigators looking into how sensitive investigative information ended up on in a national newspaper in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

Horowitz’s office then referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, indicating Horowitz believes McCabe committed a federal crime with his actions. It’s unclear exactly when the referral was made.

McCabe has become a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, who allege that McCabe's time at the top of the FBI was emblematic of political bias in the FBI's law enforcement work.

McCabe's lawyers issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying they're confident no charges would be filed.

"We were advised of the referral within the past few weeks. Although we believe the referral is unjustified, the standard for an IG referral is very low. We have already met with staff members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute,” the statement said.

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article that questioned whether McCabe was hampering the federal probe of the Clinton Foundation.

Ahead of the story's publication, McCabe authorized an FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to speak with the newspaper about the probe and his own efforts to keep it moving forward, including the contents of a phone call months earlier about the matter with a senior Justice Department official, the report released Friday said.

“Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing … that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” according to the report.

Meanwhile, McCabe, first head of the FBI field office in New York and then in Washington, told the inspector general’s office that after the Wall Street Journal report was published, “they each received calls from McCabe admonishing them for leaks contained in the” article, the report said. “At no time did McCabe disclose to either of them that McCabe had authorized [an FBI attorney] to disclose information … to the WSJ reporter.”

The day after the article’s publication, McCabe spoke face-to-face with Comey, who expressed concern about information contained in the news article, according to the inspector general's report. According to what McCabe later told the internal investigator, he informed Comey that he had authorized the FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to disclose details about his previous phone call with a senior Justice Department official. Comey disputed that version telling investigators he was “very concerned” that the article included “sensitive FBI information,” and that McCabe “definitely did not tell me that he authorized” the disclosure, according to the report.

The inspector general began investigating McCabe in August 2017, after the FBI’s Inspection Division told the inspector general’s office that the deputy director may have lacked candor when questioned about his role in disclosing sensitive information to a reporter.

In its report released Friday, the inspector general’s office said McCabe “lacked candor” in July 2017 when he told investigators – under oath – “that he was not aware of [the FBI attorney] having been authorized to speak to reporters around October 30,” and he “lacked candor” again four months later when he acknowledged authorizing the disclosure but “stated that he told Comey on October 31, 2016, that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ.”

Representatives for McCabe noted that two business days after speaking with investigators in July 2017, McCabe contacted the inspector general’s office “and corrected his prior statements.” “Mr. McCabe thought further about his discussion with the OIG investigators and realized that he needed to correct the record,” they said in a “factsheet” distributed to reported.

Nevertheless, the inspector general also concluded that McCabe “lacked candor” in May 2017 when interviewed by officials from the FBI’s Inspection Division. He told them he had not authorized the disclosure to the Wall Street Journal and did not know who did, the report said.

The representatives for McCabe said the inspector general’s “account of Mr. McCabe’s interactions with the … investigators is incomplete and misleading.”

“Mr. McCabe never deliberately misled Inspection Division (INSD) investigators,” the “factsheet” said. “[W]hen Mr. McCabe turned back to the draft statement they prepared for him several months later, he declined to sign it and instead contacted INSD to correct the inaccurate facts about his relationship to the WSJ article.”

Beyond the accuracy of McCabe’s statements to investigators, the inspector general’s report released Friday also took sharp issue with McCabe’s move to authorize the media disclosure in the first place.

“[W]e concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the [Clinton Foundation] Investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior Department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception,” the report said.

“We therefore concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in this manner violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.”

But representatives for McCabe said he “had full authority to authorize sharing information with the media” as deputy director.

“Their interaction with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was not done in secret: it took place over the course of several days and others knew of it, including Director Comey. It was done to protect the institutional reputation of the FBI as a non-political and professional investigative agency, and therefore was squarely within the public interest exception to the FBI’s prohibition on sharing sensitive material,” a “factsheet” from McCabe’s representatives said.

In 2015, while McCabe was head of the FBI's Washington Field Office, his wife ran for state senate in Virginia as a Democrat. She lost the election in November 2015, and three months later McCabe became deputy director, giving him an oversight role in the investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. After the Wall Street Journal story was published in October 2016, McCabe recused himself from the Clinton matter.

McCabe first joined the FBI in 1996, investigating organized crime cases in New York. Over the next several years, he shifted his focus to rooting out international terrorists, and in 2012 he became the head of the FBI's counterterrorism division at headquarters in Washington.

In October 2013, McCabe took over the FBI's entire national security branch, and the next year he moved to become the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office. McCabe stepped down as deputy director in January, and he was fired by Sessions in May.

“The rush to judgment – and the rush to terminate Mr. McCabe – were unprecedented, unseemly, and cruel,” Michael Bromwich, an attorney for McCabe, said in a statement. “His treatment was far more harsh and far less fair than he deserved, and his reward for the loyalty he showed to his country over the course of his career was a truncated form of administrative due process, including the lack of any right to appeal outside the Department of Justice.”

The U.S. attorney’s office and a spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment for this article.



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Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Pittsburgh’s police department found itself in the spotlight Thursday because of a few key words in an email from a head detective: President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller and riot gear.

The email, sent Wednesday by Major Crimes Commander Victor Joseph, asked detectives who wear plain clothes to bring uniforms and “riot gear” to work in case President Donald Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller and detectives are needed to help monitor possible protests. The email was reported by WTAE and confirmed by Pittsburgh’s mayor.

The email

“We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District,” the email from Joseph begins.

“There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller. This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing,” Joseph wrote. Because of this, “all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice,” he wrote.

The measures were precautionary, Joseph wrote. “We may be needed to assist in the event that there is a large scale protest,” he said in the email.

The department, backed by the mayor’s office, said it has no inside knowledge of whether the president might fire special counsel Robert Mueller. But social media filled with questions on specifically what protest — and on what day — the Pittsburgh police were preparing for.

“We receive information regularly about potential events and/or threats, assess the credibility of the information and plan for a potential event. In this case, we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President’s decision-making process,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich clarified in a statement.

The department also emphasized that it “receives information daily that we evaluate and prepare for if the event should occur,” including anything from extreme weather to protests.

“Often the events we prepare for do not occur. However, through an abundance of caution, we attempt to adequately prepare for an appropriate response,” the statement said.

Though the department didn’t cite a specific protest, the progressive organization MoveOn.org does have plans for nationwide demonstrations in the event the president fires Mueller. In a statement, a campaign director said MoveOn has “laid the groundwork for more than 900 non-violent and lawful protests nationwide, including one planned in the Pittsburgh area.”

More than 350,000 Americans are signed up to participate across the country, according to MoveOn.org.

In his statement, campaign director David Sievers also emphasized that the protests would be nonviolent. “We hope such protests are never triggered, but if they ever are, police everywhere have an obligation to respect Americans’ right to peacefully protest,” he said.

The social media circulation


On social media, news quickly circulated that a commander with the city’s police force was calling for riot gear, citing a “belief” that Trump would soon fire the special counsel leading the investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign and potential involvement with Russia.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto responded from his own Twitter and called for an end to the “conspiracies.”


“This is an internal email from a Commander to his plainclothes Detectives. It doesn’t claim to know what the President will do. It doesn’t say people can’t lawfully assemble. It says you may be needed to help, bring your uniform,” he tweeted.

The mayor, who runs his own Twitter account, had a little fun with his responses to various Twitter users alleging different backstories. One said Peduto was trying to scare his constituents into thinking Trump was firing Mueller.

Communications director for the mayor, Timothy McNulty, described the directions in the email as “fairly normal operating procedure.”

“I don't have every last police memo that was issued but I know for a fact that detectives work protests wearing uniforms, it's very common,” McNulty said.

Tension surrounding the investigation


The email came in the midst of building tensions in the investigation — which the president has repeatedly called a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”

Last week, the residences and office of the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was raided by the FBI. The president called it "an attack on our country, in a true sense” and said the situation was “now on a whole new level of unfairness.”

But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thwarted a bipartisan measure to protect Mueller's job. It would not be necessary, McConnell said, because Trump would not fire Mueller.

A day later, the president responded to questions about Mueller and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation. "They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months. And they’re still here," Trump said during a press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.



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