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Subscribe To This Feed -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with special counsel investigators for several hours last week, Justice Department spokespersons told ABC News.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is looking into whether President Donald Trump or anyone else sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian operatives.

Sessions met with Mueller’s investigators for several hours last week, according to a Justice Department spokesperson. It’s unclear where the interview took place.

Nevertheless, the sit-down with the nation’s top cop comes nearly three months after the special counsel directed the broader Justice Department to turn over a wide array of documents related to the probe.

In particular, Mueller's investigators were keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and Sessions’ earlier decision to recuse himself from the entire matter, ABC News was told at the time.

Trump told reporters Tuesday that he was "not at all" concerned about the Sessions interview.

When asked if he had discussed the interview with the attorney general, Trump said, "I didn't, but I'm not at all concerned."

During a briefing Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president would be "fully cooperative" with the special counsel when reporters asked if Trump would be open to an interview if Mueller requests one.

Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill have hammered Sessions for denying contacts with Russian officials and telling Congress — under oath — in an Oct. 18 hearing when asked by then-Sen. Al Franken, that he was not aware of nor did he believe any Trump campaign surrogate ever communicated with Russian operatives or intermediaries.

But Sessions has since acknowledged meeting with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. And in the first known charges brought by Mueller, announced in October, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos admitted he told Sessions and Trump during a 2016 meeting that he was working with Russians to orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some Democrats accused Sessions of lying to lawmakers, though he has vehemently denied the charge, citing a memory lapse due in part by the "chaos" of the campaign.

At a House Judiciary committee hearing last November Sessions vigorously disputed that he has ever been intentionally deceptive with Congress or the public when it comes to his Russia related dealings. “I will not accept, and reject, accusations that I have ever lied,” Sessions said then.

Sessions told lawmakers he now remembers dismissing Papadopoulos' proposal during the meeting last year.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian nationals.

Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein played key roles in Comey's removal. And Sessions has since faced withering criticism from Trump over his recusal and Rosenstein's subsequent appointment of Mueller.

Rosenstein was interviewed by Mueller last summer, and he still maintains final supervision over the Mueller probe.

Trump has openly expressed disdain for the federal investigation, and since his days on the campaign trail, he has questioned the U.S. intelligence community's unanimous conclusion that Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

To publicly bolster Trump's decision on Comey, the White House released two memos written separately by Sessions and Rosenstein, with both faulting Comey for his handling of the FBI's probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

Meanwhile, Trump has taken aim at Sessions for the recusal, launching such biting personal attacks months ago that it appeared that Sessions would not last the summer as attorney general.

At one point, Trump told reporters he wouldn't have nominated Sessions to run the Justice Department had he known Sessions would give up oversight of the investigation.

In July, Trump posted a tweet demanding to know why "our beleaguered" attorney general wasn't "looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations."

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment about Sessions’ interview, which was first reported by The New York Times.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is expecting her second child, and when she gives birth this spring, she will be the first senator to do so while in office.

Duckworth's first child, Abigail, was born in November 2014, when she was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Bryan and I are thrilled that our family is getting a little bit bigger, and Abigail is ecstatic to welcome her baby sister home this spring," a statement from Duckworth, 49, released Tuesday reads. "We are all so grateful for the love and support of our friends and family, and I want to thank the wonderful staff at both Northwestern Medicine and GW for everything they’ve done to help us in our decades-long journey to complete our family.”

A combat veteran of the Iraq war who lost both legs in 2004 when the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, Duckworth has served in the Senate since January of last year.

Sen. Dick Durbin, Duckworth's Illinois colleague, congratulated her on the news.

The news also drew congratulations from a handful of other U.S. senators.

According to Duckworth's office, she will be "only of only "10 women since our nation's founding who have given birth while serving in Congress," giving her a unique perspective on certain issues.

“Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue and an issue that affects all parents—men and women alike,” Duckworth said in the statement released by her office. “As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and Abigail has only made me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere.”

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Mike Pence will head to Pennsylvania’s 18th district next month to campaign for Republican candidate Rick Saccone in a special election that's ignited new GOP anxieties that it might lose another race ahead of the 2018 midterms.

Pence’s visit on Feb. 2, confirmed by Saccone’s campaign to ABC News, will be the first official White House involvement in the race.

President Trump visited the district just last week but the White House insisted the trip was solely to tout the economy and recently-passed tax reform bill.

During his visit Trump praised Saccone as a “great guy” and promised to return to the district before the March 13 special election between Saccone, a state senator and former military intelligence officer, and Democrat Conor Lamb, a Marine Corps veteran and former federal prosecutor.

As the race continues to cause greater GOP concern, elites and mega-donors in the national party have started ramping up outside spending in the race.

A nonprofit group called Ending Spending -- founded by Chicago Cubs co-owner Joe Ricketts - kicked off the flow of Republican money into the race earlier this month, rolling out ads costing $513,386 to support Saccone and attack Lamb.

Established as a 501(c)(4) organization, Ending Spending is not required to disclose its donors.

And a pro-Trump nonprofit named 45Committee – also a 501(c)(4) – just last week spent $518,640 on an ad campaign to benefit Saccone. Founded by megadonors Sheldon Adelson and another Cubs co-owner, Todd Ricketts, 45Committee dropped a total of $21.3 million to support Trump during the presidential election.

A third group, Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., reported spending $104,952 on ads backing Saccone earlier this month.

CLF also announced earlier this month that it is opening two field offices in the district and employing 50 full-time door knockers with a goal of reaching 250,000 voters before March 13.

With Election Day less than two months away, so far there's been no outside spending from the Democratic side reported to the FEC.

Lamb faces an uphill battle in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, which is tucked in the state’s southwestern corner. The district voted for President Trump by nearly 20 points in the 2016 presidential election, and had been represented by Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa. since 2003.

Murphy resigned after it surfaced that he not only had an extra-marital affair, but that he urged his mistress to get an abortion after she discovered she was pregnant. Murphy was an ardent anti-abortion voice in Congress.

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ABC News(JERUSALEM) -- Vice President Mike Pence wrapped his trip to Israel with a visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall -- one of Judaism’s holiest sites -- after meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

It is a move that will further anger Palestinians already enraged by the U.S. administration’s recognition of the contested city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The ancient site is the holiest place where Jews can pray. It is located in the Old City, an area that falls within East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and formally annexed in 1980. It is considered to be occupied Palestinian territory by most of the international community but Israel disputes this.

Pence says US embassy in Jerusalem 'will open before the end of next year'

After meeting Rivlin, Pence laid a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, before visiting the Western Wall, where he prayed with his wife, Karen Pence.

Pence’s first trip to the Middle East as vice president has not been without bumps. On Monday there was chaos when, a minute into his speech at the Knesset, Arab-Israeli parliamentarians were thrown out by ushers for protesting with signs, which is prohibited in the assembly chamber.

In his speech, Vice President Pence reiterated the administration’s recognition of Jerusalem’s new status, referring to it as “the capital of the State of Israel.”

Pence, an evangelical Christian, made biblical references in his speech to invoke ties between the Abrahamic faiths and to enforce Israel’s religious claims to the Holy Land.

He added that President Donald Trump has instructed the State Department to begin initial preparations to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying it would open by the end of next year.

He also called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, warning that peace would only be achieved through dialogue.

But Pence's call is falling on deaf ears. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was in Jordan over the weekend at the same time as the vice president but did not meet with him. On Monday, Abbas was in Brussels to appeal to Europe for support for a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines. Meeting with the European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini, he said that such a recognition would not be an impediment to peace -- to which Mogherini stressed that the EU’s position has not changed.

The EU supports a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Abbas’ ruling Fatah Party has called for a general strike of all Palestinians to protest Pence’s visit as well as the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she used a "secret weapon" to help end the government shutdown.

“I quickly realized that I needed a way to control the debate because senators can be quite loquacious and they always want to be the first to speak. There's a lot of crosstalk and I wanted to make sure that everybody's voice was heard. So Sen. Heidi Heitkamp a few years ago gave me an African Talking Stick that is used by a tribe that is in Kenya and in the Sudan region. And it is used by the tribe to control the debate when they are in meeting and I found that it worked very well.”

Those bipartisan meetings helped senators vote to reopen the government with a vote of 81-18, ending a contentious weekend in which immigration policy represented the largest stumbling block. Republicans refused to consider legislation to protect “Dreamers,” hundreds of thousands of undocumented citizens at the heart of the contentious budget battle, and Democrats refused to budge without protection for that group.

“I would hand the stick to whoever was seeking recognition and until that person was finished, no one could interrupt him or her. And then I would take the stick and pass it on to the next person," Collins said. "Occasionally it was tossed to the next person, but it worked amazingly well to ensure that everyone had a chance to be heard.”

Senators could face a similar legislative showdown in nearly three weeks when an extension to fund the government expires on Feb. 8.

“That is always a risk, and that is why I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can," she said. "There is a real commitment on both sides of the aisle in the Senate to work so hard to achieve results -- a bill that would pass the Senate I hope by more than 60 votes and that that would give it momentum going into the House.”

Collins, who talked to the president after the Senate vote, explained her personal connection to the Dreamers in Maine.

The Dreamers, an estimated 800,000 individuals nationwide who entered the country as minors, were protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy established by the Obama administration in 2012. The policy was rescinded by the Trump administration last year.

“I told him about Dreamers that I talked with in Maine who had come here at age 2, at age 4, at age 6 -- that some of them didn't even realize that they were not American citizens until they went to apply for their driver's licenses. And I also agree with him that we do need to strengthen our border security. So he seemed to be listening carefully and receptive and to recognize that legislation is needed. I don't mean to speak for the president, but I did have a good conversation with him just last night.”

Collins remains optimistic that senators will hammer out a long-term budget and immigration deal. She already had a bipartisan meeting scheduled later that day, and hurried off with her talking stick in hand to continue and control the debate, her way.

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Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Six in 10 Americans don’t trust Donald Trump to handle his nuclear authority responsibly, and just more than half in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll are concerned he might launch a nuclear attack without justification.

Those results follow the president’s heated rhetoric toward Kim Jong Un, which have included threats of “fire and fury” and boasts by Trump that he has a “much bigger” nuclear button than the North Korean leader’s.

They also accompany a range of other U.S. public doubts about Trump in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, including an even split in opinion on whether or not he’s mentally stable.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

Just 38 percent in the national survey trust Trump to act responsibly in handling his authority to order a nuclear attack on another country, a figure much like his overall job approval rating, 36 percent -– the lowest on record after a president’s first year in office in data back 72 years.

Sixty percent overall don’t trust Trump with this authority, peaking at 90 percent of Democrats, 85 percent of liberals, 75 percent of nonwhites, 73 percent of those with post-graduate degrees, 71 percent of college-educated white women and 70 percent of young adults. Distrust also is 16 points higher among women than men, 68 vs. 52 percent, and in urban areas vs. rural ones, 67 vs. 51 percent, reflecting partisan divisions.

Trust of the president on this issue, on the other hand, reaches 77 percent among Republicans, two-thirds of evangelical whites Protestants and 64 percent of white men who lack college degrees, a key voting group in 2016. Seventy-five percent of strong conservatives trust Trump -– declining sharply to 58 percent of “somewhat” conservatives.

Distrust fuels anxiety of a baseless attack. Among those who don’t trust Trump with the nuclear button, 88 percent are concerned the president might spark a nuclear attack without justification, and 55 percent are “very” concerned about it. Those translate to 52 and 33 percent of all adults, respectively.

Again, worry is highly partisan, reaching 84 and 79 percent of Democrats and liberals, and 55 and 50 percent of moderates and independents, vs. just 17 and 18 percent of Republicans and strong conservatives.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Jan. 15-18, 2018, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,005 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-40 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(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been pushing FBI Director Chris Wray to replace his deputy, Andrew McCabe, and install new leadership within the FBI, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The attorney general’s push comes as many Republicans, including President Donald Trump, continue to hammer McCabe and others at the FBI for what they allege is political bias in their law enforcement work.

“The president has enormous respect for the thousands of rank-and-file FBI agents who make up the world’s most professional and talented law enforcement agency,” a White House spokesman said in a statement. “He believes politically motivated senior leaders have tainted the agency’s reputation for unbiased pursuit of justice.”

But Wray has made clear that -- as long as he’s in the top job at the FBI -- he is going to make personnel decisions on his own time, the sources told ABC News. And according to Axios, which first reported the pressure from Sessions, Wray even threatened to resign if McCabe was removed.

Wray became director in August, after Trump fired James Comey, an ally of McCabe’s who rose through the FBI ranks to become Comey’s deputComey had come under fire for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, which ultimately exonerated Clinton of criminal wrongdoing. More recently, McCabe has been under fire himself for alleged conflicts of interest because his wife ran for state-wide office as a Democrat in 2015 while the Clinton email probe was underway.

However, emails and correspondence released by the FBI show McCabe recused himself from any public corruption cases ties to Virginia. According to the FBI documents, McCabe had no oversight of the Clinton matter until he became deputy director in February 2016, three months after his wife lost her election bid.

Last month, Trump singled out McCabe in a tweet, writing, "How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin' James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?"

Meanwhile, the FBI is under intense pressure as Republicans use a cache of text messages between two FBI employees to push allegations of political bias within the FBI and the sprawling probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking at whether Trump associates tried to help Russia influence last year's presidential election and whether White House officials may have sought to obstruct the investigation.

Senior FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page had been part of Mueller’s team when, last summer, the Justice Department's inspector general, looking into an array of FBI actions tied to last year’s election, discovered the FBI officials' text messages and notified senior department officials. Mueller immediately removed Strzok, and by then Page had already left the team.

Last month, the Justice Department released about 375 of the messages from last year, including repeated references to Trump as an “idiot.” Then on Monday, the department disclosed that five months’ worth of messages are missing.

“The Inspector General discovered the FBI’s system failed to retain text messages for approximately 5 months between December 14, 2016 to May 17, 2017,” Sessions said in a statement. “We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are not now available to be produced and will use every technology available to determine whether the missing messages are recoverable from another source.”

In a tweet this morning, Trump called it “one of the biggest stories in a long time.”

Last month, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dismissed suggestions that Mueller or his probe were tainted, insisting there is nobody "better qualified for this job" and noting "political affiliation" is not the same as political "bias."

"I've discussed this with Director Mueller and ... we recognize we have employees with political opinions. It's our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions," Rosenstein told a House panel. "He is running that office appropriately, recognizing that people have political views but ensuring that those views are not in any way a factor in how they conduct themselves in office."

Former FBI officials agree, with one agency veteran saying that those going after FBI officials “seem to have forgotten we are a free country, that you can have your own opinions and still uphold the Rule of Law.”

“You should be able to support the candidates of your choice in an election without being called corrupt, or disloyal (to the Republic), or biased in your ability to live up to your oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Frank Montoya, who spent more than two decades with the FBI, recently told ABC News in an email. “In the Russia investigation—just like in the Clinton investigation that preceded it—investigators and prosecutors know that what they think or who they voted for doesn’t matter. What does is upholding the law. Period.”

As for Wray, the White House spokesman said, “The president appointed Chris Wray because he is a man of true character and integrity, and the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest levels of the F.B.I. and give the rank and file confidence in their leadership.”

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Immigration activists were outraged with Democrats on Monday night after party leadership agreed to a short-term funding bill without protections for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

The bill to fund the government for three weeks and end the three-day-long federal government shutdown passed in Congress Monday after Senate Republicans assured Democrats that those protections would be addressed soon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged that it was Republicans' "intention to take up legislation here in the Senate that would address DACA, border security and related issues, as well as disaster relief."

President Donald Trump signed the bill Monday night.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democrats behind closed doors that their position in the minority prevented them from seeking a perfect deal, but expressed satisfaction at the progress made toward bringing significant immigration information to the Senate floor.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., quoted Schumer as saying, "It is what it is. We’re not in the majority. You’ve got to play the hand that was dealt you, and this is what we have. For those who voted to shut it down, you've gotten further than we’ve ever gotten in the past five years to have a major piece of legislation on immigration committed to come to the floor since we did the 2013 immigration bill.”

But that wasn't good enough for many immigration and progressive groups fighting against Trump's push to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program, which was granted by President Barack Obama under an executive action in 2012, allows certain undocumented immigrants who were children when they entered the United States to remain in the country without fear of deportation. The policy also gives these beneficiaries, commonly referred to as "Dreamers," the right to work legally.

Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the American Civil Liberties Union, lambasted Democrats' decision to give up their demands and vote to reopen the government, saying "too many lives are on the line."

“Enough is enough. We cannot rely on empty promises from those who have already proven to play politics with the lives of Dreamers," Praeli said in a statement Monday night. "Today, Republicans -- and too many Democrats -- in Congress betrayed our American values and allowed bigotry and fear to prevail. But too many lives are on the line and too much is at stake to give up on this fight. Let it be known -- we will be watching, and will make sure voters this November know if their representatives stood for Dreamers or for their deportations.”

Ezra Levin, co-founder the left-wing advocacy group Indivisible, called the deal "morally reprehensible and political malpractice," adding that Democrats "need to grow a spine."

"It’s Senator Schumer’s job to keep his caucus together and fight for progressive values. He failed in that today," Levin said in a statement Monday night. "Republicans have consistently negotiated in bad faith, demonstrating that they have no interest in actually protecting Dreamers. And for months, Democratic leadership has reassured Dreamers that Democrats would use all their leverage to get the Dream Act done.

"They caved in early September, but promised to use their leverage in early December. They caved in early December, but promised to use their leverage by the end of the year. They caved at the end of the year, but they promised to use their leverage in January," Levin continued. "And now they caved again, but promised to use their leverage in February. Democrats clearly want to keep Dreamers as a talking point, but they need to grow a spine and actually fight for the Dream Act."

Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said senators' display of resolve to fight for Dreamers was "short-lived" and immigrant communities need action, not "bold gestures and empty promises."

"Today, although the government is reopening, senators have done nothing to address the Trump-created crisis that leaves hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth at imminent threat of deportation," Hincapie said in a statement Monday night. "Those who voted in favor of a continuing resolution based on the promise of a future immigration vote put their faith in the hands of those who have proven themselves unreliable in the past.

"Our communities need more than bold gestures and empty promises," Hincapie added. "We need action right now. It’s not enough to say pro-Dreamer things and issue strong statements."

Cristina Jimenez, executive director and co-founder of United We Dream, didn't mince words, saying "immigrant youth will suffer" because of Monday's deal.

"There is no way to spin this -- immigrant youth will suffer in detention camps and be deported because both parties delayed a breakthrough on the Dream Act today. United We Dream and our members are outraged because our members, including my brother Jonathan, are in greater danger today because of the cowardice of U.S. Senators," Jimenez said in a statement Monday night. "Senators who voted today for the promise of a symbolic vote on the Dream Act are not resisting Trump -- they are enablers."

“Senators can and must deliver on the Dream Act by February 8th," Jimenez continued. "We don’t need a symbolic vote -- we need a breakthrough and a solution."

Several immigration and progressive organizations had issued a joint statement Monday morning calling on Democrats to not "cave on their principles" and to deem McConnell's resolution "unacceptable."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration tried its best to make it clear that it was not responsible for the recent two-day government shutdown, but critics said it turned “childish” when it decided to use the White House's voicemail to take jabs at Senate Democrats.

Live host Jimmy Kimmel, played the message for his audience on Monday evening, calling it an example of “how childish our White House is.”

“Thank you for calling the White House. Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today because congressional Democrats are holding government funding, including funding for our troops and other national security priorities, hostage to an unrelated immigration debate,” the White House’s outgoing voice message said over the weekend. “Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down.”

“So if you were looking for proof that this administration has its eye on the future, they're attacking Democrats by changing the outgoing voicemail on their landline,” Kimmel said. “And a quick tip. If you are calling the White House, don't press two for Spanish. You're asking for trouble.”

Kimmel also took a few swipes at the president’s self-proclaimed knowledge about dealmaking.

“He always claimed to be the best negotiator. This was his big selling point,” Kimmel said. “At this point, it seems pretty clear he couldn't even negotiate 20 percent off at Bed, Bath & Beyond with the coupon.”


He went on to play a 2013 recording of Trump slamming then-President Barack Obama for his lack of leadership during a previous government shutdown, a clip Kimmel says has now "come back to haunt the president.”

In the clip, Trump is heard telling Fox News that he blamed Obama for the 2013 federal shutdown, which halted government operations for 16 days.

“Well, if you say who gets fired, it always has to be the top. I mean, problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top,” Trump said at the time. “And the president's the leader. And he's got to get everybody in a room and he's got to lead. And he doesn't do that.”

“That's not his strength and that's why you have this horrible situation going on in Washington,” he added.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Following passage in the Senate and House, President Donald Trump Monday night signed a bill to fund the government for three weeks and end the three-day-long federal government shutdown.

Congress had agreed to the short-term funding bill earlier Monday after Senate Republicans provided assurances to Democrats that immigration reform and other contentious issues would be addressed in the near future.

After the Senate passed the bill by an 81-18 margin Monday afternoon, the House of Representatives concurred with the measure 266-150, sending it to President Donald Trump, whose signature would bring an end to the impasse. Between 700,000 and 800,000 federal employees were furloughed during the standoff, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The deal was reached after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged that it was Republicans' "intention to take up legislation here in the Senate that would address DACA, border security and related issues, as well as disaster relief." Democrats had attempted to tie protection for Dreamers -- some 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children -- to the funding bill. They had been covered by the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, started under President Obama but ordered ended by President Trump.

"Let me be clear: This immigration debate will have a level playing field at the outset and an amendment process that's fair to all sides," McConnell said.

The continuing resolution to fund the government, which also included six years of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, passed Monday afternoon after the Senate also voted to end debate earlier in the day over the objections of just 18 senators.

Among the Senate group in opposition to the move were a number of legislators rumored to be interested in a 2020 presidential run, including Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Though the vote to end debate was successful, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continued his criticism of the negotiation process and demonstrated particular frustration with what he described as a lack of bipartisanship from the White House.

"The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines," said Schumer on the Senate floor prior to the vote, explaining that he had not spoken with President Donald Trump since a meeting Friday before the shutdown began.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders portrayed the deal agreed to as one proposed by Trump from the start — "to responsibly fund the government and debate immigration as a separate issue."

"I am pleased Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders and insurance for vulnerable children," said Trump, in a statement read by Sanders at Monday's White House press briefing.

"We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it's good for our country," the statement concluded.

Despite his isolation from Democrats during the shutdown, Trump met with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Doug Jones, D-Ala., and a group of six Republicans Monday afternoon to chart a path forward on immigration.

"As soon as the Senate voted to reopen the government, the President continued conversations on the next steps on responsible immigration reform," Sanders said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, some moderate and Democratic senators had told ABC News that they hoped McConnell would delay the vote to allow a little more time to work out a broader deal. The cloture vote, which required 60 votes, had already failed several times and Republicans were looking for as many as seven Democrats to join them as of Monday morning.

The cloture vote passed despite a group of bipartisan senators emerging from talks earlier in agreement that McConnell needed to clarify his immigration-related promises.

"We need a little bit more clarity," Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said, to the agreement of some Republicans.

"I would encourage [McConnell] to try to [get firmer language,]" said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. "If [Democrats] can get language they're comfortable with, I think we'll have the government open."

While Flake characterized McConnell's effort as a "pretty high profile promise," and some Democrats said that they felt additionally encouraged, it was far from certain that a solution would pass.

"I was more negative yesterday, last night, than I was today," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said before the vote, saying she thought the impasse could be resolved in "a day or two."

The blame game was in full force this weekend, with Trump tweeting about how the shutdown began with the first anniversary of his inauguration: "Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown," he wrote.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., weighed in that the president is not being well-served by staff in the negotiations over immigration issues that are key to resolving the impasse and reopening the government.

Asked by ABC News if he was referring to Trump's senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, a hardliner on immigration and close adviser on the issue to Trump, Graham said: "I'll just tell you his view of immigration has never been in the mainstream of the Senate. And I think we're never going to get there as long as we embrace concepts that cannot possibly get 60 votes."

The White House hit back, dismissing Graham's comments and calling him an "outlier."

"As long as Senator Graham chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully instead of our own American citizens, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years," said White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Access to abortions, which the Supreme Court legalized 45 years ago, is still being fought over, with advocates from either side of the issue arguing for their cause.

The landmark Roe v. Wade case was decided on Jan. 22, 1973, with the highest court in the land affirming the right that women have to privacy, as granted by the 14th Amendment, which extends to medical decisions including abortions.

Since then, however, numerous laws have been enacted at the state level restricting some access to abortions.

"Roe is still the law of the land but because anti-choice politicians have enacted hundreds of laws that restrict access to abortion, the right to get an abortion isn’t a reality for many women," said Jen Dalven, the director of the American Civil Liberty Union's Reproductive Freedom Project.

The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group that previously operated under Planned Parenthood, notes that 43 states prohibit abortions after a certain point in the pregnancy, typically after a certain number of weeks into the pregnancy ranging from 20 to 24 weeks.

There are 35 states that require that a woman receive counseling before an abortion is performed, according to the Guttmacher Institute, while 14 states require a woman to receive an ultrasound before being given an abortion, a move that the Guttmacher Institute calls "a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion."

And there are more battles to come, including a ballot initiative that will be included in the November 2018 ballot in Alabama where voters are asked to decide whether or not to amend the state's constitution to support "the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children" and to not protect the right to abortion or require funding of abortions.

The Guttmacher Institute states there were 401 state-level abortion restrictions enacted from 2011 through 2017.

Jeanne Mancini, the president of the education and defense fund at the anti-abortion rights group March for Life, pointed to that data as well and cited various parental notification and consent laws, among others, as a victory.

Danielle Wells, a Planned Parenthood for America spokesperson, said that their group was optimistic because of the grassroots activity they have seen in the past year, citing the turnout at both the 2017 and this year’s Women’s March.

She said that recent years have brought an “onslaught of attacks on people’s rights and freedoms, and at the same time we've seen a historic groundswell of support for people's health and rights and Planned Parenthood and at every turn we've seen the resistance growing stronger.”

Of Planned Parenthood's current roster of about 11 million supporters, Wells said that 1.5 million of those joined within the last year.

"That energy has translated into tangible gains and policies at the state level," Wells told ABC News.

While Wells is excited about the support from the people at large, Mancini is optimistic about the support of one person in particular. She hopes to see more abortion-restricting legislation moving through during the Trump administration, citing how she feels President Donald Trump has kept "all" of his promises on the issue thus far.

"In terms of public policy in defense of the unborn, he's been quite good and we have every expectation that he will continue to be so," Mancini said.

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Robin Marchant/Getty Images(PARK CITY, Utah) -- Sharing her own #MeToo experience, 84-year-old U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a crowd at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday that "it's about time" women speak up about sexual harassment.

Speaking at a Park City, Utah forum, in advance of the premiere of a documentary about her titled "RBG" by filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen, Ginsburg said she was encouraged that women have been speaking out about sexual harassment and marching in the streets of America.

"Well, I think it's about time," she said to rousing applause. "For so long, women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it. But now the law is on the side of women, or men, who encounter harassment and that's a good thing."

She surprised the audience by speaking of her own experience with sexual harassment back when she was a student at Cornell University in the 1950s. She said her chemistry professor tried to make an inappropriate pass at her.

"Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is, although we didn't have a name for it," she said. "I'm taking a chemistry course at Cornell and my instructor said, because I was uncertain about my ability in that field, 'I'll give you a practice exam.' So he gave me a practice exam. The next day on the test, the test is the practice exam and I knew exactly what he wanted in return. And that's just one of many examples."

But Ginsburg said she didn't let the instructor get away with his overture.

"I went to [the instructor's] office and said, 'How dare you! How dare you do this!' And that was the end of that," she said. Laughing, she added that when she took the actual test, "I deliberately made two mistakes."

Ginsburg, who will turn 85 in March, said she was encouraged by what she saw at the Women's Marches across the country and globe this past weekend. Asked by interviewer Nina Totenberg, the award-winning NPR legal correspondent, if she feared there will be a backlash, she said, "Let's see where it goes. So far, it's been great. When I see women appearing every place in numbers, I'm less worried about a backlash than I might have been 20 years ago," she said.

In the interview, Ginsburg tackled a wide range of subjects from her fight for equal pay to her favorite movies.

She recounted being a member of the faculty at Rutgers Law School from 1963 to 1972 and fighting for the same pay as men.

"The dean, who was a very kindly man, said, 'Ruth you're going to have to take a cut in salary.' And I said, 'I understand that, state universities don't pay so well.' But when he told how much of a cut, I was astonished. So I asked, 'Well, how much do you pay so-and-so?' a man who was out of law school about the same amount of time I was was? And the dean replied, 'Ruth, he has a wife and two children to support. You have a husband with a good paying job in New York.' That was the very year the Equal Pay Act was passed.'"

Instead of accepting the pay cut, she said she and other women at Rutgers took action.

"What the women at Rutgers did, they didn't make a big fuss. They got together and they filed an equal pay complaint," she said. "So, the suit was filed in 1964. The university settled. The lowest increase was $6,000, which in those days is a lot more than it is today."

When she joined the faculty at Columbia Law School, she continued her battle for women's rights in the workplace when the university tried to lay off all its women janitors and none of the men.

"I went to the university vice president for business and told him that the university if violating Title VII" of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, she said. "He said, 'Professor Ginsburg, Columbia has excellent Wall Street lawyers representing them. Would you like a cup of tea?'"

Instead, she filed an injunction motion to halt the layoffs and garnered the support of famed feminists of the day, including Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem and Susan Sontag. The university back down from laying off the female janitors.

"These were women who really didn't care that they were paid less. They expected that, but they wanted jobs. They didn't want to be on welfare," Ginsburg said of the janitors. "In the course of that litigation, those women grew in self-esteem and two of them ended up being shop stewards."

Besides her legal career, Ginsburg also shared her personal tastes in movies, art and music, saying that she dreamed since the age of 11 of being an operatic diva.

"That's a recurring dream. I'm on stage at the Metropolitan Opera and I'm about to sing 'Tosca' and then I remember, I'm a monotone," she said to laughter.

She said her favorite movie of all-time is the classic "Gone With the Wind" -- a film she has seen five times. As far as current films go, she said "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" -- a film about a small town mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter -- was "fantastic."

Mentioning that Ginsburg is considered a "rock star" to countless fans and that her face appears on T-shirts and coffee mugs, Totenberg asked how her colleagues on the Supreme Court react to her fame.

"My colleagues are judiciously silent about the 'Notorious RBG,'" she said.

She revealed she only recently saw the "Saturday Night Live" sketch in which she was spoofed by cast member Kate McKinnon.

"I like the actress who portrayed me," she said, "and I would like to say 'Gins-burn' to my colleagues."

Speaking of her husband of 56 years, Marty Ginsburg, who died in 2010 after a battle with cancer, the Supreme Court justice said, "He cared that I had a brain."

"I certainly wouldn't be here today were it not for Marty because he made me feel that I was better than I thought I was," she said. "He had a great sense of humor and another very important strength, he was a wonderful cook."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- America's federal government shutdown is now in its third day at the start of a work week, with lots of uncertainty looming.

At noon Monday, the Senate is set to vote on ending debate and proceeding on a proposal to fund the government through Feb. 8, and the House will return to the Hill to await action in the upper chamber.

Results are anything but certain for the vote, which was originally scheduled for 1 a.m. Monday Morning but got pushed back.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is holding a daily press briefing at 1:30 p.m., when she will likely weigh in on the vote and the status of negotiations.

"The president’s been very clear on exactly what he wants," Sanders said on Good Morning America today.

"First and foremost we have to reopen our government. We have to fund our government. As soon as that is done, we're more than happy to negotiate on responsible immigration reform," she said.

The blame game was in full force this weekend, with President Donald Trump tweeting about how the shutdown began with the first anniversary of his inauguration: "Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown," he wrote.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., weighed in that the president is not being well-served by staff in the negotiations over immigration issues that are key to resolving the impasse and reopening the government.

ABC News' David Wright asked Graham if he meant Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller -- a hardliner on immigration and close adviser on the issue to Trump.

"I'll just tell you his view of immigration has never been in the mainstream of the Senate," Graham said of Miller. "And I think we're never going to get there as long as we embrace concepts that cannot possibly get 60 votes."

The White House hit back, dismissing Graham's comments and calling him an "outlier."

"As long as Senator Graham chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully instead of our own American citizens, we are going nowhere.  He’s been an outlier for years," said White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley.

On Saturday evening, Eric Trump spoke to Fox News' Jeanine Pirro about the shutdown, saying, "Honestly, I think it's a good thing for us, because people see through it."

"I mean, people have seen a year that's incredible. It's been filled with nothing but the best for our country, 'America First' policies, and they're happy with where we are as a nation. It has the Democrats worried," he said.

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Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Most Americans know of her only by her pseudonym, Jane Roe, the namesake plaintiff in the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case.

But the real woman behind the anonymous pseudonym eventually came out of the shadows and into the limelight.

Norma McCorvey went public initially as an abortion rights activist. But she later became an outspoken opponent of abortion rights.

Jan. 22 marks 45 years since the high court's decision in Roe v. Wade, and the first anniversary since her death on Feb. 18, 2017.

21 years old and pregnant with her third child

McCorvey's journey to becoming Jane Roe began after she tried to have an abortion while pregnant with her third child.

It was 1969, McCorvey was 21 and living in Texas. She initially claimed to have been raped, which might have allowed her to have an abortion legally since Texas law made exceptions for cases of rape and incest. But she later publicly acknowledged that had been a lie.

McCorvey was put in touch with two Texas lawyers who were building a case against state laws that banned abortion. She ended up having the child, whom she put up for adoption, and continued to have her case attached to the suit as it moved over time through the court system.

The Supreme Court sided with her - Jane Roe -- in its 7-2 ruling in January 1973 that it was unconstitutional to make abortion illegal.

Going public

McCorvey went public with her role in the case in 1984, according to her obituary in The Los Angeles Times, eventually writing a biography titled I Am Roe: My Life, Roe v. Wade, and Freedom of Choice in 1994.

Her religious and ideological conversion took place a year after her biography was published. She became an evangelical Christian after befriending people who ran an operation opposed to abortions that had set up shop next door to a women's health clinic that performed abortions where McCorvey worked.

The New York Times noted in its obituary that McCorvey had been bisexual but primarily lesbian for much of her early life, and that this continued for years.

McCorvey became a vocal advocate against abortion rights. In 1998, she wrote a second book, "Won by Love," which detailed her conversion and concluded with an account of her work for the anti-abortion organization, Operation Rescue.

Jeanne Mancini, the president of the education and defense fund at the anti-abortion rights group March for Life, told ABC News that McCorvey spoke three times at the organization's annual march.

"Her story was what helped to legalize abortion in America. It's remarkable when you consider the fuller story of what happened after that. Many people don't know it," Mancini said.

"We miss her greatly and remember her as we're marching without her today," she said to to ABC News on Jan. 19, the date of this year's March for Life.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the U.S. now on day three of a federal shutdown, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders disputed any notion that President Donald Trump is not being clear about what he wants in any deal to reopen the government.

“The president’s been very clear on exactly what he wants," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America.

"He wants to make a deal on DACA," the program that protects young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, Sanders said. "The fact that Democrats are trying to pretend as if that is something that we haven't put on the table is disingenuous and a bit ridiculous."

“First and foremost we have to reopen our government. We have to fund our government. As soon as that is done, we're more than happy to negotiate on responsible immigration reform.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has raised questions about the clarity of the president’s positions in talks to reopen the government. “We don’t have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with,” Graham said

Sanders said on GMA Monday that if congressional leaders are unsure where the president stands, “then maybe sometimes they're not paying attention."

Stephanopoulos also pressed Sanders on how engaged Trump is in negotiations to end the shutdown. The president did not participate in any meetings over the weekend with congressional leaders.

“The president has been engaged," the press secretary said. "I think that different circumstances call for a different type of leadership. He's been incredibly engaged. He’s spent a lot of time on the phone.”

Sanders added that Trump has had "a lot of meetings internally with staff here in the White House. They have been going back and forth with negotiations.”

The White House spokeswoman also addressed an ad that Trump’s re-election campaign put out over the weekend to hammer out a deal. The ad implied that Democrats will be “complicit” in any murders committed by undocumented immigrants.

“Look, the president's number one job as commander in chief and the president is national security, and we cannot protect American citizens -- we cannot protect this country -- if we don't secure our border," Sanders said. "That's the point the president is trying to make.”

The Senate is slated to vote today at noon to proceed on a proposal that will fund the government through Feb. 8. Democrats are pushing to ensure that if they approve the short-term funding fix, Congress will address immigration issues and other policy matters in the coming weeks.

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