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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  President Donald Trump continued to escalate threats to North Korea late Saturday as he responded to their foreign minister with a warning "they won't be around much longer" if the country continues provocation.

Trump took to Twitter just after 11 p.m. to respond to statements made earlier Saturday by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who said bombing the U.S. mainland was "inevitable."

Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

Ri is currently in New York at the United Nations General Assembly and spoke on Saturday in a much-anticipated rebuttal to Trump's message delivered on Tuesday in which he said the U.S. would "totally destroy" North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies.

"Due to his lacking of basic common knowledge and proper sentiment, he tried to insult the supreme dignity of my country by referring it to as a rocket," Ri said, referring to Trump's new penchant for referring to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man." "By doing so, however, he committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets' visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more."

Kim and Trump have spent the better part of the last few months hurling insults back and forth at each other. Trump tweeted early Friday morning that Kim was "obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people."

Ri referred to the president as "a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency" in Saturday's address.

The war of words has continued to escalate as North Korea advances its development of a nuclear weapon. The country has fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean in the past month. They also conducted a nuclear test on Sept. 3, with U.S. officials saying the country exploded a hydrogen bomb at an underground facility.

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Cleveland Cavaliers star Lebron James lashed out at President Trump on Saturday on social media after the president said he was withdrawing his invitation to the Golden State Warriors' Steph Curry to visit the White House.

James, in his tweet, referred to Trump's comment that visiting the White House is "a great honor."

"Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up," Lebron wrote.

U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!

— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017

The three-time NBA champion later posted a two-minute video on Uninterrupted.com, a media outlet dedicated to giving athletes a platform to speak their minds, in which he criticized Trump, saying he "has tried to divide us once again."

"He’s now using sports as the platform to try to divide us," James said. "For him to try to use this platform to divide us even more is not something I can stand for and is not something I can be quiet about."

James finished the monologue by encouraging "us to all come together. It’s not about a division. It's not about dividing. We as American people need to come together even stronger."

The president's earlier tweet apparently was in response to Curry's disclosure that he didn't want to go to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

No formal White House invite had been made to the Warriors but championship teams often make such a visit. The Warriors, winner of the 2017 NBA championship, have been in discussions with the White House about whether to visit, ESPN reported.

"I don't want to go," Curry told the press Friday. "My beliefs stay the same."

Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Curry, the Warrior's star shooter, has said it was important for the team "to understand the magnitude" of its decision of whether to visit the White House.

"Just like our country, every opinion counts and matters," Curry said, according to ESPN.

"Based on the conversations we've had in the past and what people have said to the media, to each other, I know pretty much where everybody kind of stands on it," he said. "But we want to respect the opportunity to represent not only ourselves, our own beliefs, but our organization because we're obviously in this position because we won a championship and we did something special together. So for us to just really take the time to understand the magnitude of this decision and the right thing to do, the right way to go about it is important."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday that he expects the team to meet in coming days to decide whether to go. But after Trump's tweet, the team posted a statement to Twitter on Saturday afternoon, saying, "We accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited."

"While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited. We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We're disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise," the Warriors said in the statement.

Statement from the Golden State Warriors: pic.twitter.com/6kk6ofdu9X

— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) September 23, 2017

It added, "In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we'll constructively use our trip to the nation's capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion -- the values that we embrace as an organization."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday evening he was "disappointed" the NBA champs wouldn't be going to the White House, which he said was "a rare opportunity for these players to share their views directly with the President."

"More importantly, I am proud of our players for taking an active role in their communities and continuing to speak out on critically important issues," he added.

The NBA Players Association also supported the Warriors' decision.

"The National Basketball Players Association defends its members' exercise of their free speech rights against those who would seek to stifle them. The celebration of free expression - not condemnation - is what truly makes America great," the union said in a statement.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump slammed Arizona Sen. John McCain at a rally on Friday night after the senator said he would not be voting in favor of the Republicans' new bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump called McCain's opposition to the Cassidy-Graham bill "terrible, honestly terrible" at a rally for Alabama Sen. Luther Strange.

The president followed up on the criticism via Twitter on Saturday morning.

John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Arizona had a 116% increase in ObamaCare premiums last year, with deductibles very high. Chuck Schumer sold John McCain a bill of goods. Sad

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Large Block Grants to States is a good thing to do. Better control & management. Great for Arizona. McCain let his best friend L.G. down!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Trump said he was still holding out hope that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would change his vote. He even managed to level a shot at McCain as he lauded Paul's chances of flipping to "yes."

"Wouldn't it be ironic if he took John McCain's place?" Trump said. "And they definitely do not like each other."

McCain had said earlier in the day that he could not "in good conscience" vote for the bill.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together -- Republicans and Democrats -- and have not yet really tried," he said in a statement.

"Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums and how many people will be helped or hurt by it."

The success of the bill, pushed by Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rests on the decisions of fellow Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Both voted against the last effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was sunk when McCain decided in the eleventh hour to vote "no."


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Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) -- Despite delivering a meandering, hour-and-a-half-long speech that touched on the NFL, Kim Jong Un and his wife's stilettos, President Donald Trump drove home the message he intended to bring to Alabama: Sen. Luther Strange is his choice in Tuesday’s runoff election.

But the president also made clear he’s aware of the stakes for himself in this race, which pits the establishment-backed Strange against Judge Roy Moore, an outspoken conservative who’s leading in most polls and has garnered the support of former Trump officials like Steve Bannon.

"I might have made a mistake, I’ll be honest," Trump said, fully aware of how the race has drawn national attention as a proxy war between the political influence of the Trump and Bannon camps.

"If Luther doesn't win, they're not going to say we picked up 25 points in a very short period of time. They're going to say, 'Donald Trump, the president of the United States, was unable to pull his candidate across the line. It is a terrible, terrible moment for Trump. This is total embarrassment.'"

But Trump insisted that despite what he said was his political peril in getting involved, he chose to endorse and campaign for Strange because the senator is committed to pursuing the president’s agenda. Trump singled out his request for support on the Senate’s first attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare and Strange not asking for anything in return.

"I said, 'Senator, I need your help. I gotta get your vote on health care.' He said, 'You got it,'" Trump said, sounding as if he was still amazed at how easy it was to whip Strange.

"I went home and told my wife, 'That’s the coolest thing that’s happened to me in six months!'" he exclaimed.

The president also told the crowd at the packed Von Braun Center, which seats 10,000, that Strange was not, as his political detractors have tried to cast him, a creature of the so-called "swamp" that Trump wants to drain. He rejected the notion that Strange has any relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite the fact that a McConnell-backed outside group has poured millions of dollars into Strange's campaign.

"He's not a friend of Mitch McConnell. He doesn't know Mitch McConnell," Trump said.

Despite Trump's embrace of Strange, the president also said he told the candidate that if he does lose Tuesday’s runoff, he will “be here campaigning like hell for [Moore].”

Several rally-goers seemed fine with that notion. Many were outright Moore supporters, and had simply come to the event to see Trump, whom they largely still support enthusiastically.

Others said they were voting for Strange simply because Trump endorsed him, and that if Trump ended up campaigning for Moore, should he win the runoff, they too would vote for him.

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Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) -- President Donald Trump slammed the NFL this evening for what he called the league's tolerance of players showing disrespect to the U.S.

Speaking to a crowd in Huntsville, Alabama, where Trump is campaigning for Luther Strange ahead of the Senate runoff for the Republican primary, Trump insisted the NFL take a stronger stance.

"Someone is going to say, 'That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired,'" Trump said.

"Wouldn’t you love one of the NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now?'" he continued to thunderous applause and cheers.

Trump went on to encourage people to "leave the stadium to protest people doing things like kneeling during the national anthem. "I guarantee these things will stop," he said.

Trump fires back at North Korea

Trump also took aim at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Friday evening, saying "Little Rocket Man" should have been handled a long time ago and vowing he would shield Americans from Kim.

"You are protected. Nobody is going to mess with our people. … Nobody is going to put our people in that kind of danger. Nobody," Trump said.

In a statement Thursday, Kim said Trump will "pay dearly" for his address to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week, in which Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea.

"I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire," Kim said.

Trump told the crowd in Huntsville that he will "handle" Kim unlike previous administrations before him.

"He may be smart, he may be strategic and he may be totally crazy. But no matter what he is … believe me we’re going to handle it," Trump said Friday.

The comments followed an early morning tweet from Trump, in which he called the North Korean leader a "madman" and said he "would be tested like never before."

McCain opposition to GOP health care bill 'unexpected,' Trump says

During the Friday remarks, Trump, who at times seemed to take on a Southern accent, also expressed his displeasure with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said earlier today he would not support the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

"That was a totally unexpected thing," Trump said. "Honestly, terrible."

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kafl/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin used a costly government jet to make the short journey from New York City to Washington D.C. following a meeting in Trump Tower last month, a flight that is now under review by department investigators, along with at least two other requests for government travel involving the secretary, multiple officials told ABC News.

Mnuchin's trip on a U.S. Air Force C-37 jet, which took less than an hour and cost American taxpayers at least $25,000, took place on Aug. 15. Mnuchin was in New York to attend the now-infamous press conference in Trump Tower during which President Trump made highly controversial remarks on the violence in Charlottesville. Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who also flew on that government jet, flanked the president during his remarks.

The Treasury's Department's review of Mnuchin's travel habits was triggered after ethical questions were raised about a military jet he and his wife, Louise Linton, used to travel to Louisville and Fort Knox, Kentucky, last month, and whether they may have used that business trip to catch a prime view of the solar eclipse. Investigators are also examining why Mnuchin, an independently wealthy former banker at Goldman Sachs, requested a government jet to take the couple on their European honeymoon in early August, a story first reported by ABC News. Mnuchin has strongly denied he used the Kentucky trip to view the eclipse and a spokesman for the Treasury Department said the honeymoon request was made so he could communicate securely with Washington. They added that the honeymoon request was later withdrawn.

“We welcome the [Office of the Inspector General's] review and are ensuring the office has everything needed for a full evaluation of our travel procedures," the Treasury Department said in a statement.

Chao took the C-37 jet from Joint Base Andrews to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey for the Aug. 15 press conference, and Mnuchin, who flew up commercially, used it to return to D.C., according to their department spokespeople.

When asked for an explanation about who ordered the government jet for travel between New York and Washington, a Department of Transportation spokesman insisted it did not come from his department. A spokesman for the Treasury Department declined to comment.

However, two Defense Department officials told ABC News that U.S. Air Force records show Mnuchin's office requested the flight and that Chao was later added to it. According to the Defense Department, it costs $25,000 per hour to operate the C-37, the military's equivalent of a Gulfstream jet.

It is extremely unusual for treasury and transportation secretaries to use this method of transportation for domestic business travel. Aside from the president and vice president, travel on military aircraft is typically reserved for cabinet members who deal directly with national security, such as the secretaries of defense, state and homeland security. Former officials with the treasury and transportation departments told ABC News it is exceedingly rare that their bosses used government travel, and that when it did happen, it was typically on overseas business flights.

A spokesman for the Department of Defense also told ABC News that "generally, when other federal executive agencies request use of military airlift, it is provided on a reimbursable basis." That reimbursement, however, generally matches an equivalent coach fare, rather than the total cost to operate the aircraft.

Chao's office said she only takes government travel if there are concerns about security, excessive cost, or if there are no commercial options available. Yet her spokesman could not say which of these criteria she used to justify her government flight on Aug. 15. Multiple carriers shuttle hourly flights between Washington and New York that can be booked on the same day for less than $1,000.

Mnuchin is not the only member of Trump's cabinet whose travel has come under scrutiny.

ABC News has confirmed that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is now under investigation by his department's inspector general for chartering dozens of private flights for domestic business trips. Politico reported this week the bills for those flights, footed by American taxpayers, amount to roughly $300,000.

A spokesman for Price told ABC News the private flights were necessary, in part, because of his demanding schedule.

"The Secretary has taken commercial flights for official business after his confirmation. He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule. The week of September 13 was one of those times, as the secretary was directing the recovery effort for Irma, which had just devastated Florida, while simultaneously directing the ongoing recovery for Hurricane Harvey," the spokesman said.

But Price also took a flight in June from Washington to Philadelphia at the same time commercial carriers were flying that route. The price of a 40-minute commercial flight from Washington to Philadelphia typically falls in the hundreds of dollars range. Private charter companies typically charge a two-hour, $10,000 minimum for the day.

Today, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), called on Republicans to hold hearings on the administration's use of costly travel.

“Too many Trump Administration officials have an entitled, millionaire mindset when it comes to squandering taxpayer money that does not belong to them just to support their lavish lifestyles,” Cummings said in a statement. “This starts at the very top, and the American people are not going to keep footing the bill for the Trump Administration’s champagne wishes and caviar dreams."

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Jupiterimages/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Americans by more than a 20-point margin prefer the existing federal health care law to the latest, imperiled Republican alternative -- another challenge to the GOP’s long-held effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The public supports Obamacare over the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill by 56-33 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. Intensity of sentiment also is on the current law’s side: Forty-two percent strongly prefer it, nearly twice as many as strongly prefer the GOP plan.

See PDF with full results here.


The result is similar to public views on the previous GOP repeal-and-replace effort, which failed in July. Americans preferred Obamacare to that plan by 50-24 percent, again with a 20-point advantage for the current law in strong sentiment.

The latest GOP plan suffered a blow on Friday when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he’d oppose it. His decision could be fatal to the measure, as it was in July.

Given that the bill is comparatively little-known, the survey summarized Graham-Cassidy by noting that it would end the national requirement for nearly all Americans to have health insurance, phase out the use of federal funds to help lower- and moderate-income people buy health insurance and let states replace federal rules on health care coverage with their own rules.

Notably, nearly a quarter of Republicans (23 percent) and a third of conservatives (31 percent) say they’d prefer Obamacare to this proposal.

Beyond typical political and ideological divisions, there’s a vast racial gap in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. Seventy-five percent of nonwhites prefer Obamacare, compared with 45 percent of whites. Age gaps are substantial, with preference for Obamacare ranging from 63 percent of young adults to 47 percent of seniors. Preference for Obamacare ranges from 61 percent among those with household incomes less than $50,000 down to 48 percent of those with $100,000-plus incomes. And there’s a big gender gap: Sixty-two percent of women prefer Obamacare; 50 percent of men agree.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 18-21, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci defended his decision to stand by President Donald Trump after his many controversial statements on the campaign trail.

Scaramucci told the co-hosts of "The View" he stood by Trump during the election because "he was going to win — I saw that."

Scaramucci was fired 11 days after the announcement of his appointment as communications director, at the advice of the incoming White House chief of staff John Kelly — who joined the administration only days earlier. Former press secretary Sean Spicer announced his resignation on the same day Scaramucci was appointed.

Scaramucci explained he first realized Trump would win when he attended the campaign's first fundraiser in May 2016.

"I went into the audience and started shaking hands with the people," Scaramucci said. "People were desperate."

"I'm going one person to the next, and it's dawning on me — oh my god. The country is separating like in 1890 and 1912."

Scaramucci was referring to two presidential election cycles where a powerful third party emerged as a result of polarized differences in political beliefs in America — in 1890, the Populist Party emerged as a result of economic strife, and in 1912, Democrat Woodrow Wilson beat Theodore Roosevelt with the Progressive Party.

"I knew he was going to win!" Scaramucci said. "I said ... if I can somehow help incrementally, whatever the flaws are of this man ... I wanna be there as an American patriot to try and help him!"

When asked if Scaramucci would consider himself "complicit" in the president's wrongdoings, he said: "I would say that I'm not. I don't agree with everything that he says."

Among his disagreements with Trump, Scaramucci listed his "15 years" working for marriage equality.

Scaramucci concluded his reasoning with a call for unity in America.

"We are polarized and we are killing each other," Scaramucci said. "Whether you like the president or you don't ... we gotta meet somewhere in the middle to get things done for the American people — we have to do it!"

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Paul Morigi/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced in a statement on Friday that he cannot support the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. McCain’s opposition will likely sink the latest Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried," he said in a statement.

"Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it."

The Graham-Cassidy bill, considered to be Republican’s last-ditch attempt to follow through with an almost seven-year campaign promise to end Obamacare, was spearheaded by a close friend of McCain’s, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

As Senate Republicans leaned on McCain this week -- whose "no" vote contributed to the demise of July's Health Care Freedom Act -- Graham remained optimistic that McCain would eventually support the bill, telling an ABC affiliate on Thursday, “He won’t vote because of our friendship, I would never ask him. I don’t expect him to vote because we’re friends, I expect him to vote for what’s best for the country.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey came out in support of Graham-Cassidy on Monday, saying in a statement it “is the best path forward to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Republicans hoped that Ducey’s support would help convince McCain to support the bill.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough. McCain was frustrated by Republicans' hasty efforts to pass the bill without it going through what he called “regular order.”

"Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions,” said McCain.

The CBO, or Congressional Budget Office, could only offer a partial assessment of the Graham-Cassidy bill's effect on the federal deficit as well as how many people it would cover.

"I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it. The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.

“I hope that in the months ahead, we can join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a compromise solution that is acceptable to most of us, and serves the interests of Americans as best we can.”

Where other Republicans stand on the bill

Republicans have a deadline of Sept. 30 to pass Graham-Cassidy under parliamentarian rules of reconciliation, allowing them to pass a bill with a simple majority of 51 votes. This has left little wiggle room for Republicans to lose any votes -- with three "no" votes, the bill cannot pass.

In addition to McCain, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. is the only other GOP senator to confirm his opposition. Paul said he planned to vote "no," calling the bill “Obamacare lite" and arguing for legislation that would constitute a more complete repeal.

Two other Republicans have signaled that they are undecided on the Graham-Cassidy: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Collins’ spokesperson said in a statement that she is “leaning no" and the senator said at an event in Maine Friday that she was "reading the fine print."

"The premiums would be so high they would be unaffordable," said Collins, adding, "I'm just trying to do the right thing for the people of Maine."

Murkowski, who joined Collins in opposition on three related votes in July, remains undecided her office told ABC News on Friday.

"Sen. Murkowski is still focused on how the bill will impact Alaska, specifically," a spokesperson said. "She's continuing to gather data and is looking at the details of the bill to determine what's best for her state."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration is planning to introduce tailored limits on travel to the U.S. from certain countries as a replacement for its controversial travel ban, according to a senior administration source with knowledge of the plans.

The new restrictions, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, could be implemented as early as this weekend.

The administration declined to discuss details about the new travel restrictions, but a White House official provided the following statement to ABC News in response to inquiries: “The Trump administration will ensure we only admit those who can be properly vetted and will not pose a threat to national security or public safety."

Trump signed the original travel ban one week after his inauguration in January, setting off waves of protests and legal challenges across the country as travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- were suddenly blocked from entering the U.S. and, in some cases, detained by customs officials.

After a federal judge blocked the ban -- a move later upheld by an appeals court -- Trump signed a new order in March that revoked the first travel ban, removed Iraq from the restricted countries and clarified rules on permanent U.S. residents, among other changes.

But the second order was temporarily put on hold by two district court judges, who noted that members of the administration, including Trump, had indicated that the second travel ban was intended to be a facsimile of the first.

However, in June, upon a challenge by the Department of Justice, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the ban could be reinstated, with some exceptions, until the court could take up the case in the fall.

Supreme Court arguments on the matter are currently scheduled for Oct. 10.

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Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump called Russian interference in the 2016 election a "hoax" again Friday morning, a day after Facebook said it would turn over some 3,000 Russia-linked political ads purchased during the 2016 election to congressional investigators.

"The Russia hoax continues," Trump wrote. "Now it's ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?"

The Russia hoax continues, now it's ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2017

On Thursday, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it would release the ads and announced steps that the company will be taking to prevent interference in elections in the future.

The ads -- seen by millions of Americans -- ran on the social media site during the election and were previously linked by Facebook to a Russian company in St. Petersburg with ties to the Russian government.

Facebook reported earlier this month that fake accounts created by the Russian company, which Facebook officials referred to as a "troll farm," purchased at least $100,000 worth of political ads during the 2016 campaign.

Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said most of the ads did not mention a specific presidential candidate or the election, but focused on “amplifying divisive social and political messages” on immigration, gun rights and LGBT issues.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it’s clear that those divisive messages were “often stories that would help one candidate and potentially hurt another,” part of a broader effort the intelligence community has determined was designed to aid Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

Friday's tweet was not the first time Trump has called the issue of Russian election interference a hoax. In August, he slammed Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., for "talking about hoax Russian collusion."

In July, he told The Wall Street Journal that the "whole Russia story" is a "total witch hunt." Earlier that month, he tweeted that the stock market hit a new high "despite the Russian hoax story."

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former FBI Director James Comey was interrupted by protesters Friday before his convocation address at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Protestors in the upper level of the university’s Cramton Auditorium started chanting slogans as Comey stood at the lectern.

Some of the slogans included "We shall not be moved" and "I love being black."

Comey told the protesters, “I hope you’ll stay and listen to what I have to say. I’ve listened to you for five minutes.”

The event was live-streamed on the Howard University website, but the feed was interrupted after several minutes of protesting.

News organizations were not permitted to have their own cameras inside the venue.

Comey was fired from his position as the head of the FBI in May by President Donald Trump.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- President Donald Trump will visit Alabama Friday to campaign ahead of the Senate runoff for the Republican primary to fill the seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump, who won the state by a nearly 28 percent margin in the 2016 presidential election, has endorsed Luther Strange, the incumbent temporarily appointed to fill the seat.

Trump tweeted about his favored candidate on Wednesday.

Alabama is sooo lucky to have a candidate like "Big" Luther Strange. Smart, tough on crime, borders & trade, loves Vets & Military. Tuesday!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to campaign for Strange on Monday, just a day before the GOP primary that is slated for Sept. 26.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has spent more than $3.5 million to boost Strange.

Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, however, are backing Judge Roy Moore, who was twice elected to the Alabama Supreme Court and removed for ignoring court orders.

The winner of the primary will move on to the special election on Dec. 12 and face the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, who is recognized as the lead prosecutor in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case that killed four African-American girls.

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- At his post-debate outdoor rally, Judge Roy Moore’s high-profile supporters sought to cast him simultaneously as an outsider and a candidate who will fulfill President Donald Trump’s agenda -- not an easy task considering Trump has endorsed the establishment-backed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange.

But former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gave it a shot all the same.

"A vote for Judge Moore isn't a vote against the president. It is a vote for the people's agenda that elected the president," Palin said to a cheering crowd at the Old Union Station Train Shed in Montgomery, Alabama.

The former vice presidential nominee ticked through the policy priorities on which the "establishment" has yet to deliver, including the "big, beautiful wall" and an Obamacare repeal.

But Palin blamed only Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose name came up three times in her short speech. She didn’t mention Trump by name once.

Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s former national security adviser, blamed McConnell as well. Gorka joined Palin; Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; and Moore himself at the rally.

"You have a man in Judge Moore who has been endorsed by not just myself, but Steve Bannon, [Sean] Hannity, Laura Ingram, Gov. Palin -- that should be enough," Gorka said. "But just think: Who you have on the other hand? A man endorsed by Mitch McConnell -- enough said."

Together, Palin and Gorka mentioned McConnell four times -- and Trump not at all.

Gorka also neglected to mention Strange was endorsed by Trump.

When Moore himself got onstage, he wasn’t as hard-hitting as his surrogates, but he did suggest a revision to the president’s signature slogan that put more emphasis on religion. Faith has been the foundation of Moore’s political reputation, beginning with his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument outside the courthouse where he once served as chief justice. Moore was removed from the position in November 2003 for that refusal.

"We can be great again, but the one thing politicians don't talk about is how we're gonna be good again," he said. "And we can't be good until the heart changes, and God is the author of that, so we're gonna stand for one nation under God."

His commitment to religion as the foundation of public service is one of the things many of Moore’s supporters mention when they explain why they are going to vote for him.

"I like his stance on critical issues that are going on today -- the Ten Commandments, his convictions,” Montgomery native Jim Galluzzi told ABC News, wearing a "MAGA" hat and standing next to his American flag-emblazoned motorcycle with a big "Moore for Senate" sticker on it. "And he’s not politically correct -- and I like the fact that he’s not politically correct."

But some Moore supporters said they make a clear distinction between Trump’s endorsement of Strange and his ideological alignment with Moore.

"I think he probably got some bad information, mostly. I think if he got better information -– it was probably maybe a coin toss? I don’t know,” Galluzzi said of Trump’s decision to endorse Strange.

That doesn’t apply to all Moore supporters. One woman who didn’t want to go on camera said she was so fed up with Trump that she was just about ready to disavow him. Trump’s failures on his key agenda items so far had led her to support Moore.

While Palin elicited loud cheers from the rally crowd, that wasn't the case for one name she mentioned in her speech -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the man whom Moore and Strange are fighting to replace.

Sessions, Trump's first Senate supporter, got virtually no applause.

"Alabama, remember it was here in 2015 that Sen. Sessions defied the political establishment when he put his support behind the long-shot candidate who promised to 'Make America Great Again,' " Palin said. "It was here where Sessions declared, 'This isn't a campaign; this is a movement,' and that movement grew. It grew and it roared and it rumbled -- and it shocked the world in November."

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- Sen. Luther Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore faced off Thursday night in the only debate before the runoff election for the Republican nomination next Tuesday to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.

The debate -- held without a moderator -- focused largely on who would best support and advocate for President Trump’s agenda in the U.S. Senate.

Strange made no secret that he is endorsed by President Trump, and talked about his “close personal friendship” to a president who is broadly popular among Alabamans.

Moore, the twice-removed former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, tried to paint Strange -- who worked as a lobbyist in the nation's capital for many years -- as a D.C. insider and a creature of the “swamp.”

President Trump is set to visit the state Friday and will hold a rally in support of Strange.

Moore has earned the support of former White House aides Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, as well as Republican luminaries such as Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa.

Here are five moments that mattered in Thursday's fiery debate.

Who’s Trump’s man?

“The first question is, who does the president support?” Strange said in his opening remarks. “The president supports me.”

Right off the bat, Strange endeared himself to the man in the Oval Office, heaping praise on him and talking up their shared background, in a moment that set the tone for how Strange approached the debate.

“We've developed a close personal friendship. We both come from the same background, the same mission, the same motivation: to make this country great again,” Strange said.

Moore instead chose to frame the race as a battle between the outsiders and the Washington elite.

“Will an elitist Washington establishment with unlimited millions of dollars and special money be able to control the people of Alabama?” Moore said. “Will false, malicious radio, TV and internet advertising take the place of honest and open debate in our political arena? I think not.”

'Manipulated' by McConnell

Moore, who expressed support for numerous Trump administration policies such as the border wall and a ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military, said Trump’s support of Strange was a result of influence from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is supporting the incumbent’s campaign.

“The problem is President Trump's being cut off in his office. He's being redirected by people like McConnell who do not support his agenda,” Moore said.

Strange shot back, calling Moore’s attack “insulting.”

“You just said that he was being manipulated by Mitch McConnell. I met Mitch McConnell about six or seven months ago,” Strange said. “To suggest that the president of the United States -- the head of the free world, a man who is changing the world -- is being manipulated by Mitch McConnell is insulting to the president."

Strange’s controversial appointment

Moore also attacked Strange for what has been a major issue in the race: how Strange became a United States senator.

Strange, who was the Alabama attorney general prior to his appointment, was tapped for the seat by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who was later forced to resign over a sex scandal involving a member of his staff. Strange was, at the time, the very man leading the investigation into Bentley’s misconduct, raising questions about the appropriateness of Bentley’s appointment of Strange to Sessions' Senate seat.

“What's the truth?” Moore asked Strange directly across the stage. “Did you, sir, have Robert Bentley, the former governor who appointed you to the Senate, under investigation while you were applying for that appointment?”

Strange did not directly respond to the question, instead dismissing the charge as a personal attack.

“I didn't hear anything about the issues or any solutions or anything he's going to do to help the president,” Strange said.

Moore, who was suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court in 2016 after refusing to enforce the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, accused his opponent of not standing up to the high court’s ruling.

“As soon as Obergefell came down, he caved. He did not stand,” Moore said.

Earlier in the debate, Strange pointed to his record of opposing various requirements in the Affordable Care Act that affected religious organizations who objected to portions of the law.

“Our religious liberty was threatened by the Obama administration as part of the Obamacare law,” Strange said. “I was in the courtroom when that law was, I think unjustly, held constitutional.”

Who’s the real swamp dweller?

Both candidates accused each other of being nothing but career insiders, either as lobbyists or elected officials.

Moore invoked President Trump when he called Strange a “professional lobbyist” who only represents “special interests.

“President Trump had it right when he ran. He said he was going to get rid of lobbyists. You don’t get rid of lobbyists in the swamp by sending one to the United States Senate,” Moore said.

Strange again leaned on the president’s endorsement.

“What I’m here to do is talk about the issues. That’s why the president endorsed me,” Strange said.

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