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  • MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes defended his visit to White House grounds last week to meet a source the day before publicly sharing details about surveillance that "inadvertently collected" information on associates of President Donald Trump, calling his actions as "pretty common" and saying that "nobody was sneaking around."Nunes, R-California, is facing growing calls for his resignation from his chairmanship from prominent Democrats, who on Monday portrayed him as nonobjective and called the White House meeting as a conflict of interest. Some have additionally highlighted Nunes' service on the Trump transition committee.In an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room," Nunes argued that the visit was commonplace and part of an investigation into the unmasking of Americans in intelligence reports that began before Trump's wiretapping claims."I had been working this for a long time with many different sources and needed a place that I could actually finally go because I knew what I was looking for and I could actually get access to what I needed to see," said Nunes, adding later, "It wasn't at night ... nobody was sneaking around, all it was was just a place where I had to go to be able to review this information."Asked whether he could've used a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) at a different location to view the materials and avoid the appearance of impropriety that accompanied his White House trip, Nunes said he could not because Congress had "not been given this information." SCIFs are specifically used to view or discuss classified information in surroundings that are otherwise unsecured.The chairman's defense comes as a number of Democrats have stepped forward to call for his recusal from or replacement on the House Intelligence Committee, including the committee's ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California."I believe that the chairman should recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russia investigation, as well as any involvement in oversight of matters pertaining to any incidental collection of the Trump transition," said Schiff in a statement Monday."This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the chairman and I have worked together well for several years; and I take this step with the knowledge of the solemn responsibility we have on the Intelligence Committee to provide oversight on all intelligence matters, not just to conduct the investigation," added Schiff, who compared the situation to the one that led to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in matters involving Russia following the news that he met with the country's ambassador to the U.S. last year.Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, became the highest-profile Democrat to call for Nunes' resignation while speaking on the Senate floor."If Speaker [Paul] Ryan wants the House to have a credible investigation, he needs to replace Chairman Nunes," said Schumer.Last week, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, called Nunes a "stooge of the president" and said he was "deeply compromised and he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation," but she has not yet explicitly called for Ryan to remove Nunes.On the Republican side, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and John McCain, R-Arizona, had questions of their own."I just think he needs to explain what he did, who he talked to," said Graham. "Schiff to me is talking more like a prosecutor and Nunes has been acting like a defense attorney. The bottom line is, we’re hoping they can put it together in the House. We hope they can get back on track."McCain said he "honestly [doesn't] know what to make of" the situation with Nunes, but said he wants to know, "What brought him to the White House? Who did he see? What was the information? Just a few complicated questions like that."A spokesman for Nunes told ABC News the chairman won't be stepping down from leadin
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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House Freedom Caucus raised its profile dramatically last week during the debate to repeal and replace Obamacare, becoming not only antagonists to President Trump but also unlikely saviors – even if unintended -- to Democrats working to preserve Obamacare.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Polls opened Monday for early voting in the special election for Georgia's 6th congressional district.Election Day is April 18 and it's a close race.The 6th congressional district includes parts of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties north of the city of Atlanta.Why the seat is openThe seat was formerly held by Tom Price, who is now the secretary of Health and Human Services.Price was elected to a sixth term in the 2016 election. But then President Donald Trump tapped Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Price was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 10, leaving a vacancy in the House.Who are the candidates?It's a rather crowded field -- 18 candidates are running to fill the vacant seat left by Price.Out of the 11 Republicans, former state Sen. Dan Moody, who has the support of aides tied to Georgia's Perdue family, and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel have emerged as front-runners.Handel had launched unsuccessful bids for Georgia governor and for the Senate.Jon Ossoff has emerged from the field of five Democratic candidates, despite not being a district resident.The Congressional Leadership Fund, a House Republican super PAC, made an attack ad against the 30-year-old Democratic candidate, using old college videos of Ossoff in college dressed up as Han Solo and singing parody songs, in an attempt to portray him as inexperienced.Two independent candidates, Andre Pollard and Alexander Hernandez, are also on the ballot.Why the race has garnered attentionDemocrats, who see this race as a referendum on Trump's presidency, are making an effort to flip the seat.Ossoff has the backing of prominent Georgia House members, Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson, as well as Democrats' congressional strong arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.“We should unite behind him and send a clear message that Donald Trump doesn’t represent our values," Lewis said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.As of now, Republicans hold 237 seats in the House of Representatives. Obviously, one seat is not enough for Democrats to tip the majority. For Republicans, however, it could prove to be a small help when it comes down to the slim number needed to pass legislation in the House.If necessary, a run-off election between the two top candidates will be held on June 20.
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  • Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of the defeat of the GOP overhaul of Affordable Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Obamacare was the "law of the land...for the foreseeable future" and that health care would be set aside as Republicans work towards tax reform this fall.But Ryan -- who called his legislation, the American Health Care Act, "fundamentally flawed" -- told donors Monday that the effort to roll back the ACA is not over yet."We are going to keep getting at this thing," Ryan said, according to a recording obtained by the Washington Post. "We’re not going to just all of a sudden abandon health care and move on to the rest. We are going to move on with rest of our agenda, keep that on track, while we work the health care problem."Ryan's comments are a reversal from his position on Friday, when he declared Obamacare "the law of the land.""We still have a promise to keep, so the speaker wants members to continue discussing this issue until we can find a path ahead," Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan, explained in an email, confirming the intent behind the quotes reported by the Post.The Post also reported that Ryan suggested that a plan was being developed in time to brief the donors at a retreat scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Florida.
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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a surprise appearance at Monday's White House press briefing, slamming cities that are working to actively ignore the federal law to turn over people who are living in the country illegally.Sessions said he "strongly urges" these cities, known as sanctuary cities, to "consider carefully" the damage they are doing to national security and public safety by refusing to enforce immigration laws.“Unfortunately some states and cities have adopted policies designed to frustrate the enforcement of immigration laws,” including refusing to detain nonfelons on federal detainer requests, Sessions said.Sessions noted a Department of Homeland Security report out last week showing more than 200 criminal suspects released in one week despite U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers.“Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe but putting dangerous criminals back on the streets,” he added."We intend to use all the lawful authorities we have to make sure our state and local officials … are in sync with the federal government,” Sessions said."Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with [relevant laws] as a condition of receiving those awards," he added.In the current fiscal year, Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs is slated to award $4.1 billion in grants.
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  • Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One of President Trump's top advisers is getting an even more public role in the coming days.Jared Kushner, the president's senior adviser and son-in-law, has been a key player in the presidential campaign and inside the White House, but an announcement expected Monday will be the latest visible display of his growing power within in the administration.Kushner, 36, will be named as head of the new White House Office of American Innovation, ABC News has learned. Few details have been released about the office, but it is believed to be tasked with taking ideas from the business world and using those theories to innovate in government. He is not drawing a salary.Kushner's wife, President Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka, may be one of the more public faces of the administration. She regularly accompanies her father to public events, like his recent visits to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Boeing Co. plant in South Carolina. She also often posts pictures on her social media accounts of various business roundtable discussions she attends.Her husband arguably keeps a lower profile, even though he is, technically, more senior in the administration, given his formal title as a government employee, which she is not, at least at the moment. Ivanka Trump, who is also not being paid, received a promotion of sorts last week when she was given security clearance, a government-issued communications device and an office in the West Wing. Her office is on the second floor of the West Wing, while Kushner's is steps from the Oval Office.Kushner's influence appears to occur slightly more behind the scenes, which has been the case since the campaign.Kushner, who, with his wife, practices Orthodox Judaism, helped write Trump’s first formal address of the campaign to the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March, campaign sources confirm.During remarks before the speech, Trump said Kushner, "spoke to many of his friends from Israel."One of the few public statements that Kushner made during the campaign came when he defended his father-in-law in July against allegations of anti-Semitism, after Trump shared an image on Twitter of Hillary Clinton with a pile of money and a star, which many interpreted as the Star of David, a symbol of Judaism.Kushner wrote a 1,326-word op-ed in The New York Observer, the newspaper from which he has now divested, in which he described Trump as being "an incredibly loving and tolerant person who has embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife."In another example of Kushner’s influence, he was one of a handful of advisers who accompanied Trump on a controversial trip in August to Mexico, and sources inside the campaign told ABC News that he had been working to plan the trip for several weeks.“Jared executed this thing beautifully from start to finish,” a senior level adviser with direct knowledge told ABC News.Since Trump took office in January, his reliance on Kushner has become well-known. And prior to Monday’s expected announcement, which appears to focus on domestic economic growth, the president’s has turned to Kushner and his role on the international stage.At an event for donors and Republican supporters the night before the inauguration, Trump addressed Kushner in his remarks and said, "If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can."Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also highlighting his longstanding ties to Kushner in a show of support for Trump when he visited the White House in February."Can I reveal, Jared, how long we’ve known you?" Netanyahu said while addressing Kushner, who was seated in the front row of the crowd."Well, he was never small. He was always big. He was always tall," Netanyahu said, alluding to Kushner's height, even as a young child."But I’ve known the president and I’ve
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