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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is one step closer to achieving a bipartisan legislative victory with the passage of a prison reform bill that has been championed by the president’s son-and-law and adviser Jared Kushner in the House of Representatives.

“The First Step Act” passed the House Tuesday by a sweeping bipartisan 360-59 margin but is expected to face stronger political headwinds in the Senate, where the leading Republican on the key House Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley has expressed his opposition to a narrow prison reform bill that does not also tackle broader sentencing reforms.

"You have a president that needs a big bipartisan victory and if we just did what the House did, it would be a spit in the ocean compared to the problem we face," Grassley told ABC News.

The House bill aims to reduce recidivism, and among other provisions, would expand education for federal prisoners and require them to be placed in facilities closer to home.

The legislation has been criticized by some Democrats and civil rights groups who argue that it does not go far enough in reforming the justice system and in reducing the size of the prison population.

But a source familiar to the process says the bill's passage in the House with 70 percent of Democrats voting in favor of the measure puts pressure on Senate Democrats to support the legislation.

"That says there is massive momentum," the source said. "That means that whatever has been said in an ivory tower doesn't matter. That means Democrats are going to be forced to vote in favor of this bill."

And on the Republican side, the source predicted, the fact that the bill has the backing of the president, the source said, will force Republicans to get in line.

"The president needs a victory and this would give him a bipartisan one," the source said. "Kushner is on board, Trump is on board, that will steamroll any Republican opposition. I have no doubt that Trump will sign this bill into law."

Kushner has led a more than year-long effort within the Trump administration on the issue, working behind the scenes within the White House to carve out a middle ground for seeking reforms to the criminal justice system that could be accepted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has rejected efforts to seek broader sentencing reforms.

The White House heralded the bill’s passage Tuesday, with press secretary Sarah Sanders saying in a statement that the “strong bipartisan vote paves a path for action by the Senate."

The House bill’s bipartisan co-sponsors Reps. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., celebrated their legislative accomplishment Tuesday, with Jeffries making clear that he sees the bill as just the first step in a series of reforms he believes are still needed to the nation’s justice system.

“The FIRST STEP Act is not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. It's simply the end of the beginning on a journey undertaken to eradicate our mass incarceration epidemic in America,” Jeffries said.

Collins said the ball is now in the Senate’s court as to whether they will seize upon the current political moment to improve the lives of the nation’s incarcerated population.

“Today’s vote answers a question in the House and asks one of the Senate: Given the chance to accomplish good in this moment, will you act today or regret your inaction tomorrow?” Collins asked rhetorically in a statement.

Companion legislation to the House bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan duo: Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI.

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@SenJohnMcCain(WASHINGTON) -- Former Sen. Joe Lieberman says he was unaware Sen. John McCain regretted not selecting him as his 2008 running mate until the Arizona senator shared that sentiment in his new book and in an upcoming documentary.

“I must say, I kind of wondered, but we never talked about it. It was a classic, as close as we are,” Lieberman laughed as he spoke to ABC News. “What he said in the book meant a lot to me really because he had never said that before, and it was sort of just an expression of our friendship at a difficult time."

In his new book, "The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations," McCain described his regret over not adding Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-Independent, to his ticket at the urging of his advisors.

"They were giving me their best counsel. It was sound advice that I could reason for myself," McCain wrote. "But my gut told me to ignore it, and I wished I had."

Lieberman, a former Connecticut senator who served alongside McCain for 24 years, has visited his friend several times since he was diagnosed with glioblastoma last summer and calls him by phone about once a week. Lieberman said he plans to travel to Arizona this weekend to visit McCain.

Asked if there might be another reunion of the "Three Amigos," the nickname given to McCain, Lieberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. in the coming months, Lieberman said, “I hope we get to go out together because it’s the three of us. It’s just an extraordinary friendship really and I consider it to be one of the blessings of my life truthfully.”

The trio reunited in Arizona last August shortly after McCain's first chemotherapy treatment following his brain cancer diagnosis.

Lieberman also weighed in on the controversy involving the White House staffer who made disparaging remarks about McCain, saying she needs to apologize publicly.

“I just think they should have apologized right away and I guess there has been a personal apology to Meghan McCain," he said. “John of all people knows, he’ll always say 'I’m far from a saint,' but so we all make mistakes and the best thing to do when you do is to acknowledge it and move on but I’m surprised that they haven’t.”

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK CITY) -- New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon did not receive enough votes today at the New York Democratic Party Convention to guarantee her a spot on the primary ballot.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won more than 95 percent of the votes from the state Democrats, giving him the party’s nomination for his re-election campaign. Nixon, the former “Sex and the City” actress-turned-politician, said that she will work to get the 15,000 petition signatures she needs from across the state to get onto the ballot.

Nixon showed up to the party’s convention but was not offered a speaking slot. She told reporters that she knew wouldn’t get the 25 percent of the vote, so why did she attend the convention?

Because “it’s my party too. I’m a lifelong Democrat,” she told ABC New York station WABC.

Earlier in the day, she said she was attending the convention because “I think it’s important that at the Democratic convention there be at least one actual Democrat running for governor present today because Andrew Cuomo as Andrew Cuomo has said about himself, he has governed this state in a way that any Republican would be proud of.”

Nixon left the convention before the voting finished and Cuomo was not there during voting, but he did make a surprise appearance after Hillary Clinton’s keynote speech. Regarding the vote, Cuomo said, “For me, it’s an affirmation of everything we have done. I work very, very hard, as you know.”

Cuomo will address the convention on Thursday. The state’s primary election is on Sept. 13.

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U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump will award a former member of the Navy's SEAL Team Six with the Medal of Honor Thursday for an attempted rescue of his teammate on a mountainside in Afghanistan in March 2002.

Retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt Slabinski will receive the military’s highest honor for his "daring assault" amidst ongoing enemy fire, according to the White House.

Sixteen years ago, during the early morning of March 4, Slabinski was leading a reconnaissance team to the top of a 10,000 foot snow-covered mountain when unexpected heavy fire knocked Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts out of their Chinook helicopter and onto the mountaintop, according to the Navy and ABC reporting at the time.

The damaged helicopter was forced to land in the valley below and Slabinski rallied the remainder of his team on a rescue back up to the mountaintop, the White House said.

During the rescue, then-Senior Chief Slabinski’s team was successfully inserted on top of the mountain, Takur Ghar.

He and a teammate assaulted and cleared one enemy bunker at close range, but then faced a hail of machine gun fire from 20 meters away, according to the Navy.

As they faced mounting casualties and ran low on ammunition, Slabinski maneuvered his team over the mountainside.

Slabinski carried a “seriously wounded teammate through waist-deep snow, and led an arduous trek” – eventually moving down the sheer side of the mountain, said the Navy.

After 14 hours on the mountaintop - stabilizing casualties and fighting against enemy fire - the team was extracted. Seven Americans were dead and six wounded.

As it turned out, Roberts had been captured and killed after falling out of the helicopter.

The battle, which became known as Roberts Ridge, was a part of Operation Anaconda – a 16-day mission to destroy al Qaeda and Taliban forces fortified in mountainous positions in eastern Afghanistan. At the time, it was the deadliest ground offensive of the war in Afghanistan.

Slabinski’s honor comes amid years of controversy over the events on the deadly day.

Earlier this month, Newsweek reported that its reporter had reviewed footage appearing to show that Air Force Technical Sgt. John Chapman was left behind alive by Slabinski and the rest of the SEAL team during the rescue for Roberts.

The footage supported Air Force claims that Chapman “fought on for an hour, badly wounded and alone, before Al-Qaeda militants killed him as he provided cover for an approaching helicopter,” reported Newsweek.

In 2016, The New York Times reported that although Slabinski believed Chapman was dead, the team retreated, leaving the Air Force sergeant to fight alone for more than an hour.

Chapman will also be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor later this year, according to Task and Purpose.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Dave Eastburn said, “we are well aware of the passionate arguments that have surrounded this nomination, but no one should think that these issues were not given due consideration in our exhaustive evaluation process."

"The secretary fairly and thoroughly evaluated the Medal of Honor nomination for SOCM Britt Slabinski against the long-standing Medal of Honor award criteria. Based on SOCM Slabinski's heroic actions at the Battle of Roberts Ridge, the secretary recommended that the president approve the Navy's request to award SOCM Slabinski the Medal of Honor,” he added in a statement.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the controversy, except to provide its official statement on Slabinski’s honor.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI rolled out a new public service announcement on Wednesday called “Think Before You Post" in the hope that people stop making hoax threats in the wake of tragedies such as the recent school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas or the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

They offer a stark warning: if you make a hoax threat, you will be prosecuted.

“The Bureau and its law enforcement partners take each threat seriously. We investigate and fully analyze each threat to determine its credibility,” said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich in a news release. “Hoax threats disrupt school, waste limited law enforcement resources, and put first responders in unnecessary danger. We also don’t want to see a young person start out adulthood with a felony record over an impulsive social media post. It’s not a joke; always think before you post.”

The PSA highlights that it might take a few seconds to write or post the threat - but it can cause years or even a "lifetime of consequences."

The FBI highlighted the potential consequences, citing the case of a 22-year-old Texas man just released from three years in prison for using fake email accounts, Twitter accounts and internet-based phone accounts to make hoax threats in Minnesota, including threatening to kill a police officer and her family. He also threatened to blow up and shoot up a school and engaged in swatting -- calling in fake reports that violent crimes were in progress.

Officials also pointed to a North Carolina man known as "Tyrone" on the internet who, at 18, earned himself two years in prison after recording himself staging bomb threats to colleges and FBI offices around the country in 2008 and 2009.

More recently, officials said, the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico filed charges against two men for allegedly making bomb and school shooting threats on social media. The two men are not connected, however, but represent a pattern after a tragedy, officials said.

“The Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute school shooting threats on social media platforms, which have recently spread like wildfire in the District of New Mexico in the wake of the Parkland shootings and other tragedies, causing fear and concern in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney John Anderson in a news release.

The FBI offers tips such as alerting law enforcement the moment a threat is seen and not to repost or share the threat broadly unless law enforcement is alerted. They also counsel that parents or family members should talk to children about the "proper outlet for their stress or other emotions," as well as explaining how to responsibly use social media.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time, the National Transportation Safety Board is recommending all new school buses be equipped with lap and shoulder seat belts, after the agency released findings from a special investigation report prompted by two deadly 2016 crashes.

"I feel like we've always tiptoed around this issue of seat belt usage and lap [and] shoulder belts in school buses," said NTSB Board Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. "The last recommendation we made on this was in 2013 coming out of a crash in Chesterfield, New Jersey, that occurred in February of 2012. And it was a recommendation which is sort of weak in my opinion."

The NTSB recommended that 42 states that don't require for lap and shoulder belts on large school buses add such a requirement. It also recommended four other states upgrade their requirements from lap-only belts to lap and shoulder belts.

To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NTSB recommended that it requires "all new school buses to be equipped with collision avoidance systems and automatic emergency braking technologies" as well.

The school bus industry has long debated mandatory seat belts on school buses for reasons including uncertainty of its actual benefit in increasing safety and evacuation concerns.

NHTSA's stance on seat belts has been that they are not absolutely necessary in large school buses, although they are required for small school buses due to the size and the weight of the vehicle.

"There is no question that seat belts play an important role in keeping passengers safe in these vehicles," NHTSA website states. "But school buses are different by design, including a different kind of safety restraint system that works extremely well."

Since the release of the new NTSB recommendation, NHTSA said it is "currently planning research on the use and implications of seat belts on school buses, which will help inform future agency actions and activities."

The Tuesday board meeting drew attention to the two school bus crashes in Baltimore City, Maryland, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, both in November of 2016. The board identified lack of driver oversight as the similarity in the fatal accidents and key issue, among other factors.

"In both crashes, we saw poor driver oversight both by the school district and by the contracted motor carriers that provided student transportation services," said Sumwalt.

The two crashes collectively killed 12 and injured 37, prompting the NTSB special investigation.

"In both cases, school bus drivers continued to operate school buses unsafely, with no remedial action taken, even when driver safety issues were known. In addition to lack of oversight, the Baltimore report focused on medically unfit school bus drivers, and commercial driver license fraud," the board said in a statement.

The statement also noted that the cause of the Baltimore City crash on Nov. 1, 2016, included "the loss of vehicle control due to incapacitation of the bus driver because of a seizure stemming from a long-standing seizure disorder," and the cause of the Chattanooga crash on Nov. 21, 2016 included "the school bus driver’s excessive speed and cellphone use, which led to the loss of vehicle control.

"In concrete terms, neither of these drivers should have been behind the wheel," said Sumwalt, making clear that both crashes could have been prevented.

The full report will be available on the NTSB website in a few weeks.

There were 1,282 deaths of all ages and 281 deaths of school-age children from school transportation-related crashes from 2007 to 2016, according to a NHTSA report. The report also showed that more occupants of other vehicles died compared to the number of occupants of school transportation vehicles.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- President Donald Trump traveled to Long Island for the second time in less than a year to hold a roundtable on the brutal MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha gang whose members Trump recently referred to as "animals."

"We're here today to discuss the menace of MS-13, a ruthless gang that has violated our borders and transformed our once peaceful neighborhoods into blood-stained fields," Trump said.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the goal of the roundtable was to address "immigration loopholes that enable MS-13 to infiltrate our communities."

Trump said he plans to cut foreign aid to countries that allow gang members to enter the United States.

“We are working on a plan to deduct a lot of the aid. We are going to deduct a rather large amount of money from what we give them. They don’t want the people we are getting in their country,” Trump said. "Despite all of the reports I hear I don't believe they're helping us one bit."

Trump acknowledged the parents of two teenage girls, Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, who were brutally killed in September 2016 by MS-13.

The parents, Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas and Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens, were also the guests of first lady Melania Trump at Trump's State of the Union Address.

MS-13 has been on Long Island, where Trump spoke, for decades but now it is the largest gang on the island with an estimated 2,000 members. Between 2016 and 2018, police suspect MS-13 played a role in at least 25 killings on Long Island.

Trump often conflates the gruesome and heinous crimes of MS-13 with border control and immigration policies, claiming lax immigration laws allow gang members to cross into the United States.

And while MS-13 currently has its roots in Central America, the gang actually began in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Currently, it is estimated to have around 30,000 members in the world, and, according to the FBI, more than 10,000 in the United States, a number that has remained constant since 2006.

Many MS-13 members living in the U.S. have immigrated from El Salvador and Central American countries, but most are legal U.S. citizens.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said seven of the 13 gang members who murdered Mickens and Cuevas were unaccompanied alien children who came into the country.

According to June 2017 congressional testimony from the then-acting Customs and Border Patrol chief Kevin McAleenan, between 2012 and 2016, "of the approximately 5,000 individuals apprehended by USBP with confirmed or suspected gang affiliations since FY 2012, 159 were (UACs) unaccompanied alien children. Of those 159, approximately 56 UACs were suspected or confirmed to be affiliated with MS-13."

On average the U.S. saw about 41,000 children crossing alone per year during that time period. Many are targeted for gang recruitment once living in the U.S.

Trump recently came under fire for calling people in the MS-13 gangs "animals." In response, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said "calling people animals is not a good thing."

“I called them animals the other day and I was met with rebuke," Trump said. "They're not people, these are animals, and we have to be very, very tough."

Thomas Homan, Acting ICE Director, defended Trump's comment and said was being "kind" by calling MS-13 members animals. "Animals kill for survival and MS-13 kills for sport," Homan said.

Trump was also joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who has recently been targeted by Trump. Rosenstein and Trump shook hands before the program began.

"I feel totally confident that this problem will be eradicated," Trump said. Later Wednesday, Trump travels to New York City for a fundraiser.

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United States Government(NEW YORK) -- Coming off a night of Democratic victories in congressional primaries, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., describes the winning candidates as “a new generation.”

“Democrats can’t just be opposed to Trump," he told Powerhouse Politics podcast hosts Jon Karl and Rick Klein. "We have to have an agenda and a vision of our own. And that’s why I’m fighting for a new generation of leadership in the [Democratic] Party.”

Moulton, a Marine Corps veteran, does not like the effort by liberal Democratic activist Tom Steyer to make impeachment of the president the unifying message of the Democratic party.

"I talked about why we need to lead on national security because we have a president who is being utterly reckless,"

But in Moulton's view, it's a mistake to rally Democratic troops around a theme of a hypothetical impeachment.

“We’re not going to just complain about the president or complain about the Republicans, even though there are a lot of things that are very legitimate to complain about. We’re going to put forward a positive agenda that shows how everybody in America can have a role in the economy that shows what it means to have a smart and secure national defense.”

Moulton is building and raising money to support a network of fellow veterans to try and flip the House in midterm elections to Democratic control.

One of his picks, Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot with three kids, won her primary in the 6th Congressional District in Kentucky.

Moulton argues that Democrats can win in red states by standing up to Washington, moving more to the middle on political issues, and making the economy a top priority.

Even though one of his recruits won her primary, Moulton tips his hat to the GOP. “The Republicans have actually done a better job. The Republicans have gotten out and recruited new people to run. If you look at their leadership in the House, it’s much younger and more dynamic than ours.”

So, if the House turns blue, are Minority House leader Nancy Pelosi’s days numbered?

Moulton declined to comment on a potential power struggle over who lead a Democratic House majority. Minority Leader Pelosi has made it clear she plans on running for House speaker again. But Moulton did volunteer one observation: “There’s a change afoot.” He even offered up a viable candidate – a fellow member of the Massachusetts delegation, Rep. Joe Kennedy.

"I've yet to see whether or not he actually wants to pursue it. He's a modest guy, but he is exactly the kind of new generation of leaders that I think we need."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House confirmed Wednesday it is planning for a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders, known as the "Gang of 8," to receive a highly-classified intelligence briefing on the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling, reversing plans to exclude Democrats altogether.

ABC News first reported the plans to hold a separate briefing for Democrats, citing multiple administration and congressional sources.

While details of the bipartisan meeting are still being worked out, a Republican-only briefing will go on as scheduled Thursday.

“Tomorrow’s meeting will proceed as previously scheduled. A separate meeting of the bipartisan Gang of 8 with DOJ, law enforcement and intelligence officials is being planned following the Memorial Day recess,” White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement.

The briefing for the GOP lawmakers will be conducted by officials from the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Director of National Intelligence, according to the White House.

The bipartisan "Gang of 8" includes the Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate as well as the respective party leaders from the House and Senate intelligence committees.

The briefing comes as after the president issued a 'demand' that the Justice Department investigate unproven allegations the FBI spied on his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump and his congressional allies, led by House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes R-Calif., believe secret FBI documents will shed light on those allegations.

The FBI has, until now, resisted turning over the documents for fears of revealing confidential sources and methods.

Trump's demands for an investigation followed media reports that said the FBI used an informant to make contact with members of his campaign, only after the agency obtained information that members of the Trump team had suspicious contacts with Russians during the 2016 election.

Earlier Wednesday, the Senate's top Democrat, New York’s Chuck Schumer, formally requested the Justice Department include the "Gang of 8" or reconsider holding the meeting altogether.

“Tomorrow’s meeting will proceed as previously scheduled. A separate meeting of the bipartisan Gang of 8 with DOJ, law enforcement and intelligence officials is being planned following the Memorial Day recess.” – Raj Shah WH Principal Deputy Press Secretary

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Zach Gibson - Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, spent nearly seven hours with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team earlier this year for a second interview, a source familiar with the meeting confirmed Wednesday to ABC News.

The source added that, in the two times Kushner has met with investigators, it was in the role of witness – not as a target. The first interview, which happened in late 2017, largely dealt with Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn., according to the source.

The second, which occurred in April of this year, focused on the campaign, the transition and other topics, including the circumstances of the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the source said, adding that there were no questions about Kushner’s financial dealings or his family business.

The news of the Mueller interview comes as ABC News has learned Kushner has been granted a permanent security clearance on Wednesday after a lengthy review by the White House and FBI, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, confirmed the change in Kushner's security status. This caps a nearly 18- month review of his security application, which was held up after Kushner failed to disclose contacts he had with foreign officials – including Russians – as required by law.

“With respect to the news about his clearances, as we stated before, his application was properly submitted, reviewed by numerous career officials and underwent the normal process,” Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement.

“Having completed all of these processes, he’s looking forward to continuing to do the work the president has asked him to do.”

In February, Kushner was stripped of his temporary, high-level security clearance after White House chief of staff John Kelly imposed new rules designed to crack down on West Wing staff with long-pending background investigations, sources told ABC News at the time.

Another attorney for Kushner, Jamie Gorelick, said that Kushner's security clearance form, known as an SF-86, was "prematurely submitted" and that "among other errors, [it] did not list any contacts with foreign government officials."

Kushner later updated the questionnaire multiple times to account for all relevant meetings, including "over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries," Gorelick told ABC News.

It was not immediately clear whether Kushner had access to some classified material in the months since his clearance was downgraded. At the time, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News that Kushner's downgraded clearance may still allow him access to sensitive information, but details were never clarified.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A longtime business associate of President Trump’s former personal attorney has agreed to cooperate with the government as part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors in New York, a source familiar with the agreement told ABC News.

Evgeny Friedman, 46, a Russian immigrant known as the “Taxi King,” was chief executive of Taxiclub Management Inc. which managed a fleet of more than 800 cabs, including some controlled by Cohen and his wife. He was accused of failing to pay the state $5 million in surcharges on taxi rides and pleaded guilty in Albany County to a single count of tax fraud.

“The Taxi King admitted that he built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers,” New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood said. “Friedman pocketed money that should have provided much-needed investment in our transit system and he’ll now have to pay back every cent.”

His plea deal, announced Tuesday, requires Friedman to assist federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York who have been investigating Cohen’s business practices and hush payments to women, the source said, as well as paying the $5 million owed to the state. Friedman was facing what would have amounted to a life sentence, the source said, but if he satisfies the terms of the agreement, he will receive just five years of probation.

In a statement to ABC News, Friedman expressed regret for his actions and sought to distance Cohen, who he described as a “dear, dear personal friend” from the scandal.

“I plead guilty to a felony, I am humbled and shamed!” Friedman said. “This is me taking responsibility for my actions! … Michael is a dear, dear personal friend and a passive client! That's it! This is a very difficult day for myself and my family! I had been an officer of the court in excess of 20 years and now I am a felon! I hate that I have been grouped in this runaway train that I am not a part of!”

While prosecutors declined to discuss with ABC News how Friedman is prepared to assist them in the criminal investigation of Cohen, they typically know in advance what a potential witness could offer in exchange for a reduced sentence. There is no specific mention of cooperation in a transcript of the plea hearing obtained by ABC News, but prosecutor Ben Clark mentioned “other factors known to the AG” in outlining the terms of the agreement.

“The Attorney General's office agrees that if the defendant fulfills these conditions, and taking into account all other factors known to the AG at the time of sentencing, we would recommend that he would receive a sentence of 5 years’ probation.”

Later in the hearing the judge warned that a violation of the agreement by Friedman would likely lead to a prison sentence of up to 3 to 9 years.

Legal experts agree that the terms of the deal appear to be very favorable for Friedman, suggesting that he agreed to provide something of significant value to prosecutors.

Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said the terms of the deal appear to signify a substantial level of cooperation.

“A no jail time deal like this strongly suggests a level of cooperation significant enough to incriminate other significant subjects,” he said. “And those who are prosecuted under New York State law, cannot be saved by a Presidential pardon.”

Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, described it as a “very good deal” for Friedman that could prove a major headache for both Cohen and Trump.

“This defendant [Friedman] could potentially have a seismic impact on the president’s case because he is a direct threat to Michael Cohen, who is direct threat to the president,” he said.

Michael Volkov, a defense attorney at The Volkov Law Group, sounded a grim note on Cohen’s legal prospects after the deal had been struck.

“The government now has a strong inside witness who can assist in explaining many of Cohen’s business activities and potential fraud schemes, especially when it came to valuing the medallions for loan purposes,” he said. “Cohen secured large loans with the medallions as collateral. As I have been saying, Cohen is a dead man walking and Friedman’s plea puts Friedman in the role of undertaker.”

Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, did not immediately respond to questions about Friedman’s plea, but in a Thursday morning Tweet, Cohen sought to distance himself from Friedman.

“I am one of thousands of medallion owners who entrust management companies to operate my medallions according to the rules of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission,” Cohen wrote. “Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other.”

Friedman’s attorney, Patrick Egan, declined to discuss whether Friedman’s plea spells trouble for Cohen.

"I cannot comment on any speculation regarding what the entry of the plea indicates regarding any case other than my client's,” he said.

In a text message to a reporter for the New York Daily News, Friedman denied he flipped on his friend in exchange for leniency.

“This is me taking responsibility for my actions and has nothing to do w/mc,” Friedman wrote to the newspaper.

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Twitter(NEW YORK) -- A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump can't block people from his Twitter account because they disagree with his political views, saying such action violates the First Amendment.

U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

"This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, 'block' a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States," the judge wrote in her ruling.

"The answer to both questions is no."

There was no immediate response from the White House on the ruling.

The Knight First Amendment Institute filed the lawsuit in July 2017 on behalf of seven people who had been blocked from the president's @realDonaldTrump Twitter account after they had individually "tweeted messages critical of the President or his policies in reply to tweets from @realDonaldTrump."

The suit also named as defendants Daniel Scavino, the White House director of social media and assistant to the president; White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and former White House communications director Hope Hicks.

In her ruling, the judge said Sanders and Hicks were no longer defendants in the suit.

Since being blocked, the plaintiffs were unable to see the president's tweets, which include policy proposals and cabinet appointments. The blocked individuals have had to use workarounds or go through third-party accounts to view the president's tweets, according to the lawsuit.

"These limitations are cognizable injuries-in-fact," the lawsuit contended. "The individual plaintiffs' ability to communicate using Twitter has been encumbered by these limitations (regardless of whether they are harms cognizable under the First Amendment)," according to the suit.

In her ruling, Buchwald rejected arguments from the president's lawyers "that the First Amendment does not apply in this case and that the president's personal First Amendment interests supersede those of plaintiffs."

Buchwald issued a "declaratory judgment" on behalf of the plaintiff, specifically stating that "the blocking of the individual plaintiffs from the @realdonaldtrump account because of their expressed political views violates the First Amendment" and writing, "no government official -- including the President -- is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared."

“We’re pleased with the court’s decision, which reflects a careful application of core First Amendment principles to government censorship on a new communications platform,” Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director, said in a statement. “The president’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end.”

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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has formally denied allegations made by a former contestant on "The Apprentice" who is suing him for defamation.

Trump's legal team submitted its answer to the lawsuit filed in New York by Summer Zervos, who appeared on the reality show in 2005.

The president denied he subjected Zervos to unwanted advances and denied claims that he "debased and denigrated" her by making false statements on the campaign trail.

Zervos alleged he defamed her after she came forward in the waning weeks of the campaign with allegations that Trump had groped and kissed her a decade ago without consent.

Trump has sought, so far unsuccessfully, to freeze the case while he tries to have it dismissed. His attorney, Marc Kasowitz, has signaled his intent to appeal to the state’s highest court but, in the meantime, was obligated to issue a formal response to the allegations.

"We look forward to proving that his denials are baseless,” Mariann Wang, Zervos’ attorney, said in a statement.

The only assertion in the lawsuit Trump admits to: “In July 2016, Mr. Trump was selected as the presidential nominee for the Republican Party.”

Judge Jennifer Schecter is allowing the case to move forward despite Trump’s pursuit of an appeal, raising the prospect that both the president and his campaign will be required to respond to discovery requests and, possibly, depositions.

The Trump campaign is currently facing a deadline of Tuesday to respond to a wide-ranging subpoena from Zervos’ lawyers, seeking documents and records related to Zervos and to all the other women who made allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump prior to the election.

Kasowitz filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals earlier this week. Trump’s side has maintained -- despite the setbacks thus far -- that Trump is immune, under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, from lawsuits in state court while he is serving as president of the United States.

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Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the June meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is moving forward as scheduled, despite growing concerns among White House officials and the president that the North Koreans could scuttle the summit.

Those concerns, according to a senior White House official, began about two weeks ago when a North Korean delegation failed to show up at a planning meeting for the summit with U.S. officials.

Though, according to the official, the U.S. will be sending a delegation back to Singapore later this week for yet another sit-down.

In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday, Secretary Pompeo said the summit is "still scheduled for June 12th," and put the burden on North Korea to show tangible steps towards ridding the country of its nuclear weapons before the U.S. makes any concessions.

"Our eyes are wide open to the lessons of history, but we're optimistic that we can achieve an outcome that will be great for the world," Pompeo said. "Our posture will not change until we see credible steps taken toward the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

Pompeo's remarks came just a day after President Trump seemed to open the door to incremental concessions to North Korea in the event it started taking steps to denuclearize, appearing to back away from a demand that it happen immediately and completely.

"All in one would be nice, I can tell you," Trump said. "I'm not going to go beyond that. It would certainly be better if it were all in one. Does it have to be? I don’t think I want to totally commit myself."

In the same set of remarks, Trump also tempered expectations for the summit happening on its previously announced date, even as the White House said it continues to move forward as if it's on schedule.

"So there's a very substantial chance that it won't work out, and that's okay," Trump said alongside South Korean President Moon in the Oval Office Tuesday. "That doesn’t mean it won't work out over a period of time. But it may not work out for June 12th."

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn Wednesday, President Trump said he expects a final decision on if the June 12 date will be locked down by next week, after the U.S. delegation returns from its meetings in Singapore

Trump on Tuesday also laid out some specifics on what the U.S. would be willing to offer in exchange for positive results in the negotiations, including protection from any potential attempts at regime change to overthrow Kim and a surge of economic benefits for the country.

"We will guarantee his safety," Trump said. "And we've talked about that from the beginning. He will be safe. He will be happy. His country will be rich."

Despite the various diplomatic carrots floated to encourage the North Koreans, it remains unclear whether there's been a change of posture since senior officials in the country last week publicly scolded South Korea and the U.S. over a pre-planned joint military drill and rhetoric from Trump's national security adviser John Bolton.

"It is ridiculous comedy to see the Trump administration, claiming to take a different road from the previous administration, still clings to the outdated policy on the DPRK," North Korea's first vice minister Kim Kye-gwan said in a statement last week.

At Wednesday's hearing, Pompeo still expressed hope that the North Korean position mirrored the personal assurances he said he received in his two meetings face to face with Kim Jong Un.

"There's places where we still have lots of work to do to find common ground," Pompeo said. "But he has shared candidly that he understands that economic growth for his people depends on a strategic shift and we hope he's prepared to make that. Our demands have been unambiguous."

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CDC(ATLANTA) -- The mysterious death of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist -- whose body was found along the banks of a river weeks after he disappeared -- has been ruled a suicide by drowning, officials said.

Cunningham, 35, a Harvard graduate and commander in the U.S. Public Health Service who responded to public health emergencies including the Ebola and Zika viruses, disappeared Feb. 12 after saying he was sick before leaving his Atlanta office.

All of Cunningham's belongings, including his dog, were left at his home.

Cunningham's concerned family reported him missing, and after weeks of searching, authorities found his body April 2 along the banks of the Chattahoochee River.

Cunningham’s parents told investigators that he had mood swings but had not been diagnosed with depression, documents released by the medical examiner’s office said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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