Image Source Pink/Image Source/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate voted 62-37 to pass the so-called "fast track" Trade Promotion Authority.
Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was in the chair when the vote was called at 9:21 p.m. on Friday.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then informed the chamber that there is not a time agreement to speed up the timing of votes related to FISA reform.
Therefore, the earliest the Senate can move onto those measures is 1 a.m. Saturday, when McConnell has said the chamber will hold its next vote series – absent any intervening time agreement.
“If that changes, I’ll be the first to let everyone know,” McConnell promised. “If it does, obviously we’ll try to expedite the process but as of this moment, we’ll be voting at 1:00 a.m.”
The FISA votes are only procedural to get onto the bill – in the form of Motions to Proceed.
Both are expected to fail to reach 60 votes, but if either motion passes, senators fear their Memorial Day recess will go out the window – possibly drawing out the process until Wednesday.
If neither measure passes, the Senate is expected to advance a short-term measure to buy Congress a few more days to get a deal worked out once both chambers return in early June following the week-long recess.
Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department on Friday released 296 emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail account related to the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The documents made public Friday were earlier provided to the House Select Committee on Benghazi several months ago in response to its request for more information about the incident that remains the most troubling moment in Clinton’s tenure at the State Department -- and a major vulnerability as she campaigns for the presidency.
“The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks, which have been known since the independent Accountability Review Board report on the Benghazi attacks was released almost two and a half years ago,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement Friday.
The documents cover the period from January 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012.
“I have said repeatedly I want those emails out,” Clinton said during a campaign stop in Iowa earlier this week. "Nobody has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do. I respect the State Department. They have their process that they do for everybody and not just for me, but anything that they might do to expedite that process I heartily support."
Friday’s release is just the tip of the spear: Going forward, another 55,000 pages of former Secretary Clinton’s e-mails will be made publicly available on a rolling basis. The State Department has until next Tuesday to announce the roll-out plan for the much larger batch of e-mails.
The laborious task of sorting, reading, redacting and reviewing paper copies of what now amounts to hundreds of thousands of pages of documents falls to the State Department’s Office of Information Programs and Services and its lawyers, better known as the FOIA office -- which stands for Freedom of Information Act.
They’ve established a full-time staff, with one project manager, two case analysts, nine FOIA reviewers and a slew of additional information analysts who have been working since April. The larger trove of e-mails from Clinton’s private email account spans the period from 2009 to 2013.
ABC/Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) -- 19 Kids and Counting star Josh Duggar responded to allegations of child molestation Thursday by calling his actions "inexcusable."
Now, Mike Huckabee is standing up for him.
"Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn’t mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities," Huckabee wrote in a post on Facebook. "No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things."
According to a report from In Touch magazine, Duggar, 27, was investigated in 2006 for inappropriately touching minors when he was a teenager.
On Thursday evening, he released a statement that has since been obtained by ABC News in which he said he "would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions."
"I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling," he added. "I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life."
Huckabee and the Duggar family have long been close, and the former Arkansas governor has often praised the family for their Christian values. Photos of Duggar's parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, and their endorsements of Huckabee for president are prominently featured on his campaign website; they still appeared on the homepage Friday afternoon.
The Duggars endorsed and campaigned for Huckabee during his 2008 presidential campaign, as well.
Josh Duggar said last week he had met with Huckabee in Washington, tweeting a photo of himself with the candidate that Huckabee later shared with his own Twitter followers. "Great to visit w/ my friend @GovMikeHuckabee this morning in DC," Duggar wrote. "Thankful to have his voice on the #2016 stage!"
Huckabee, whose campaign declined further comment when asked by ABC News, added that by admitting and apologizing for his actions, Josh Duggar acted as a testament to his family's "authenticity" and "humility."
"It is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends," he concluded. "Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support."
A personal representative for the Duggars had no additional comment Friday, nor did a rep for TLC.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama told a Jewish-American audience on Friday that he has a personal stake in making sure the Iran nuclear deal is a success.
“This deal will have my name on it, so nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise,” the president said, echoing the comments he made to The Atlantic earlier this week.
Seeking to reassure the Jewish community, the president reiterated that the U.S. and Israel share the same goal: “Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to get a nuclear weapon,” he said.
“Now, there’s a debate about how to achieve that -- and that's a healthy debate,” he continued. “The deal that we already reached with Iran has already halted or rolled back parts of Iran’s nuclear program. Now we’re seeking a comprehensive solution. I will not accept a bad deal.”
Obama also reiterated that a deal is not yet done and that “all options are and will remain on the table.”
“I can’t stand here today and guarantee an agreement will be reached. We’re hopeful. We’re working hard. But nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he said.
The president, wearing a white yarmulke, spoke before the Congregation at Adas Israel at an event marking Jewish American Heritage Month.
Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Presidential primary organizers have quite the dilemma on their hands. The Republican field has more candidates than in any recent primary, and debate organizers have been wrestling with one main question: How can we fit all the candidates on a stage?
The answer from Fox News and CNN, which are separately hosting the first two televised debates, is to invite the top 10 candidates as determined by a national polling average, and leave everyone else out.
Fox will average the last five polls that are conducted by “major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques.” That likely translates to non-partisan polls conducted by live interviewers.
So who’s likely to be left out?
Polling site FiveThirtyEight analyzes which candidates would make a debate held today. See the results here.
Feng Li/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Hillary Clinton has set the date for her first big campaign rally: June 13.
While there’s no word on where the event will take place, we do know this — June 13 will officially mark the end of the "ramp up" phase of her campaign.
It’s possible that former President Bill Clinton could attend the rally as well. It would mark his first official appearance with Hillary on the campaign trail.
Meanwhile, Clinton will hold two events in New Hampshire Friday with more planned in South Carolina, Florida, Texas and Missouri in the coming weeks. Clinton is also adding Georgia, Rhode Island and even New Mexico into the mix. She's scheduled to swing through for fundraisers at some time in between.
ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) — It’s the Florida endorsement Marco Rubio may secretly be vying for — that of hugely popular Cuban rapper Pitbull.
In a BuzzFeed profile of Rubio, an unnamed aide, trying to tout the senator's cool factor, alluded to Rubio's hip hop fluency, and citing that he's on a first name basis with Pitbull.
Rubio has made mention of his favor for Pitbull, whose real is Armando Perez, in the past.
“Pitbull has become a friend and someone from Miami we’re very proud of,” Rubio said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in April.
But Rubio may not have the market cornered on cool. Pitbull has said that his mother and grandmother told him that “politics and religion” are the two things you don’t speak about, according to The Hill.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Clinton Foundation has released a list of paid speeches by Hillary, Bill and Chelsea showing the payments that were donated to the foundation.
The amount of the payments, which were not disclosed before Thursday night, could total between $12 million and more than $25 million, according to the foundation, which provided only ranges rather than actual amounts.
Here is a breakdown of the donors: BANKS
To any Democrats sensitive to Clinton’s perceived ties to the finance industry, this won’t look particularly good. Goldman, JP Morgan, Citi and Carlyle each donated between $250,000 and $500,000. Charles Schwab gave $100,000 to $250,000, as did Bank of America Merrill Lynch. FOREIGN FRIENDS
Thailand’s ministry of energy paid a boatload, as did Qatar First Investment Bank, the Vancouver Board of Trade, and several other foreign companies. Chinese companies Alibaba, Beijing Huaduo Enterprise Consulting Company, China Real Estate Development Group, Xinjiang Hualing Industry & Trade Co. and Zhong Lu Corp also donated. CASH FROM CHARITY
Between $50,000 and $100,00 was paid for a Clinton speech by Chicago House, a social-services group in Chicago that helps people “who are disenfranchised by HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ marginalization, poverty, homelessness, and/or gender nonconformity by providing housing, employment services, medical linkage and retention services, HIV prevention services, legal services and other supportive programs,” according to its website. WHAT THE CLINTON FOUNDATION IS SAYING
“In addition to the more than 300,000 donors who are all listed on our website, posting these speeches is just another example of how our disclosure policies go above and beyond what's required of charities,” Craig Minassian, Chief Communications Officer of the Clinton Foundation said in a statement. “This funding allows the Foundation to effectively and efficiently use our resources to implement programs that are fighting HIV/AIDS and childhood obesity, increasing opportunity for women and girls, lifting people out of poverty and combating climate change."
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The White House says the president’s strategy against ISIS is working, despite the fact that ISIS is in control of much of Syria and has gained control of the capital city of Iraq’s largest province.
"We are in the degrade portion of this operation,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Thursday’s press briefing, pushing back against those who are calling for an overhaul of the current strategy and drawing a hard line against the consideration of a large-scale military deployment.
“The president is not going to be in a position where he's going to consider a large-scale U.S. military deployment,” Earnest added. “And for those who are calling on a change in strategy, I would encourage them to be specific.”
Instead of overhauling current strategy, Earnest told ABC News' Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl that that President Obama and his national security team are looking for ways to apply strategies that have worked in other places -- using Kobani and Tikrit as examples of success -- to areas where the United States is experiencing setbacks.
“What's under consideration is how can we learn from those situations where we have had success and made progress and how can we apply those lessons to this area where we have experienced a setback,” Earnest told Karl.
Though Earnest said the White House is “deeply concerned” about the situation in Palmyra, the administration is not changing its current strategy in Syria.
“Until we're able to build up local forces on the ground in Syria who can take the fight to ISIL in their own country, you know, this is going to continue to be a difficult challenge, and one that is not going to be solved overnight, but rather, one that will require a long-term commitment,” he said.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- It was a historic first at the White House, as Press Secretary Josh Earnest took a question from a Cuban reporter in Thursday’s press briefing.
“Welcome to the United States and to the White House,” Earnest told a group of visiting Cuban journalists before taking a question from a reporter who identified her affiliation with Cuba’s government-run national television network.
“First, do you think that it's possible to see a scenario in which we will open embassies in Havana and Washington? In that future scenario, is the administration committed to be more respectful of the Vienna Convention towards the behavior of the American diplomats in Havana?” the reporter asked Earnest.
After affirming hopes that the United States and Cuba will re-open embassies in each respective country, Earnest said it’s a priority that the two countries reach an agreement that will allow U.S. diplomats to do in Cuba what they “do in countries around the world, which is to not just engage the leaders of the government, but also to engage the people.”
Diplomatic movement within Cuba has been a sticking point in the ongoing negotiations to restore full diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Earnest also used the exchange as an opportunity to pointedly voice concerns about Cuba’s human rights record.
“We continue to have significant concerns about the way that the Cuban government all too often fails to respect the basic universal human rights that we hold so dear in this country,” he said. “That there are too many Cuban political activists, Cuban journalists, who see their freedom of speech, their freedom of assembly, their freedom of expression trampled by the Cuban government. That continues to be a source of significant concern, not just on the part of the president of the United States, but by a lot of Americans.”
Asked about the likelihood of a presidential visit to Cuba, Earnest said there’s one person in particular who is eager to for the president to make a visit to the island country in the near future: President Obama himself.
“I know that he would relish the opportunity to visit the island of Cuba, and Havana in particular,” Earnest said.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine says his officers are receiving potty training (get it?) after three separate incidents this year when officers left firearms unattended in the Capitol’s public restrooms.
“We are now providing additional training on what to do when you have to go to the bathroom,” Dine told lawmakers during a hearing on Wednesday.
Dine said a first-time offender would be suspended for five days under current policy for leaving a weapon unattended, but he is considering toughening the penalty to 30 days or even potential termination for a first offense because of the seriousness a single error can carry.
“There are no excuses for these mistakes,” he stressed.
The chief appeared before the House Committee on Administration to discuss a number of troubling issues that have plagued his police force in the past year, including the widely publicized gyrocopter landing on the Capitol lawn on April 15.
Dine defended his officers’ actions during that event, telling lawmakers that his agency had little heads-up of the possibility Douglas Hughes - the pilot who was indicted Wednesday on six counts related to the incident - might be heading to the Capitol on his helicopter-like aircraft.
“I think the officers acted properly, heroically, swiftly and efficiently," Dine said.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate narrowly advanced a bill that would give President Obama the “fast-track” authority to negotiate trade deals with foreign partners.
Sixty votes were needed to move forward with the measure, and the Senate voted 62 to 38 in favor of invoking cloture -- setting up a vote on final passage for this week before the Senate leaves for Memorial Day recess.
The vote was a squeaker, going down to the wire with many observers unsure how a group of senators, led by Sens. Maria Cantwell, R-Washington, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, threatening to vote against advancing the measure if a vote was not held on the Export-Import bank.
With Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, draping his arms over the South Carolinian's shoulder, Graham and Cantwell were at the center of intense negotiations on the Senate floor with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who eventually assured the senators he would allow a vote on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank despite personally opposing the measure. After nearly thirty minutes of huddling, Graham and Cantwell voted in favor of invoking cloture on the trade bill, opening the floodgates for other senators to advance the measure.
Many Senate Democrats, who normally side with the White House on its legislative agenda, opposed the measure over concerns about a lack of amendments and secrecy surrounding the bill.
“We’re going to shut down debate on the first full day of consideration?” Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said ahead of the vote. “We’re not being unreasonable. We’re playing this straight. We’re simply asking for the Senate to debate this legislation.”
Before the vote, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, offered votes on nine amendments to the measure, but Brown objected, saying it didn’t reflect a thorough amendment process.
If the Senate failed to advance the bill, it would have sent a brutal blow to the White House. Last week, Senate Democrats defeated the first effort to move forward with the legislation.
“What we just witnessed here is Democratic senators shutting down debate on the top economic priority of the Democratic president of the United States,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the time.
Obama acquired some unlikely allies in his push for obtaining negotiating authority for trade deals. McConnell was one of the pivotal lawmakers advocating in favor of the president’s plan. But the debate has put the president at odds with some of his top Democratic supporters, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who engaged in a back and forth battle with the president over the deal.
iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — A State Department employee has been arrested and charged with computer hacking, cyber-stalking and extorting college-aged women in what authorities say was a scheme to gather sexually explicit material.
Michael C. Ford, a State Department employee who has worked out of the U.S. Embassy in London since 2009, is accused of using government computers there to conduct the alleged crimes. He was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Sunday and is scheduled to appear in a federal court later Thursday.
Authorities said investigators found a spreadsheet on Ford’s work computer that appeared to summarize criminal activity that included a list of approximately 250 e-mail addresses he may have used to target the women.
A criminal complaint filed in Atlanta's federal court contains an affidavit from a diplomatic security agent that details the emails found after searching Ford’s computer records. It alleges that, in early 2015, Ford “apparently hacked into and stole compromising photographs from online accounts belonging to an 18-year-old Kentucky woman.” He then sent her threatening emails demanding she sent him more photographs and video of other “girls” and “sexy girls” who were undressing in changing rooms at pools, gyms and clothing stores, according to the court papers.
He allegedly would threaten to send the compromising photos to acquaintances of his targets or make them public in other ways if the targets did not comply.
The affidavit quotes emails recovered from Ford’s accounts. “Finally, I found you! What do you think? Nice a**!,” his first email to one victim allegedly read. When the woman responded by asking where he got the photos, according to the court documents, he answered: “I’m a wizard, I have lots. Do you like it? :).” He then allegedly asked, “Can I text the picture to [her acquaintance's phone number] or maybe email it to [other individuals].”
When the woman threatened to tell the police, according to the documents, he responded: “I’ve hacked nothing. You threaten me again and I send it out. Would you like that.”
The affidavit adds that when the woman begged him to leave her alone he responded yet again, demanding his terms. “I want you to video girls in the changing room [of her gym]. If you don’t, I send your details and picture to everyone. What do you say? Looks like you’ve made up your mind. Get ready for my email and post to go out tomorrow morning. Enjoy!”
Based on the totality of the information recovered from Ford's computer, the diplomatic security investigator said in the documents that he believes "Ford may be targeting college-aged women throughout the U.S."
The federal charges also state that at one point a man with the same name and Social Security number was arrested in connection with “'peeping-Tom'-like” offenses, without offering additional details.
The State Department declined to comment on Ford or the case, noting the pending charges and citing department policy.
ABC News reached out to Ford’s lawyers for comment but they were not immediately available.
JP Yim/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Like so many job seekers, Hillary Clinton, has posted her resume to LinkedIn, the social media site that helps professionals connect and find work.
She included her education (Wellesley College and Yale Law School), the books she’s published, as well as a long list of the various positions she's held throughout her career -- going all the way back to her days as a staff lawyer for the Child Defense Fund and an attorney for Rose Law Firm in Arkansas during 1970’s.
She even lists her current position: “2016 Presidential Candidate.”
But there's at least one thing missing from Clinton's extensive resume: Her first — and failed — attempt at the same job she’s seeking now.
Clinton left off her roughly year-and-a-half long stint as a presidential candidate from 2007 to 2008.
In addition, Clinton appears to have made at least one error. She is listed as being a First Lady from 1993 to 2000. Clinton actually held the role until January 2001.
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — It’s official: Donald Trump is moving to Pennsylvania Avenue.
No, not to the most famous address in America, but just down the street, where the real estate mogul turned reality TV star is set to open a luxury hotel in the Old Post Office space.
But the sign that reads “Coming 2016” and below in big letters “Trump” over the construction site may turn out to be a double entendre, according to The Donald.
We asked Trump what the chances are that he'll make a bid for the White House in 2016 (he decided against one in 2012).
"Very good -- very strong,” he told Power Players during a recent interview. “I'm looking at it very, very seriously.”
What's more, Trump suggested he may have a fair shot.
“We're getting great poll numbers. New Hampshire just came out with a very strong poll,” he said. “And nobody thinks that I'm running…when you get really good, you beat almost everybody in the poll numbers.”
He explained, “Politicians are all talk, no action. They do a terrible job; a tremendous disservice to the country. And I know them better than anybody, and I love them — I think they're great. It's easy to make money with politicians. But, the fact is that it's all talk and no action…and the country's going to hell.
“So the chances are very, very good and I'll be announcing something in June and you will be surprised,” he added.
Trump was not only in town to check in on the transformation of the Old Post Office Building into a Trump International Hotel, but to participate in an event benefiting the caregivers of veterans through an organization founded by Elizabeth Dole.
For more of the interview with Trump, including whether he would have invaded Iraq if he had been president, and what he thinks of his likely opponents’ answers to the question, watch this episode of Power Players.