By Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.(NEW YORK) -- A series of newly released State Department emails obtained by ABC News offers fresh insight on direct contact between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's inner circle while she was Secretary of State.
The emails -– released as part of a public records lawsuit by conservative group Citizens United and shared exclusively with ABC -- reveal what the group claims is new evidence Foundation allies received special treatment. [Read the emails here.]
In one December 2010 email chain with Clinton's closest aide Huma Abedin, then-top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band offers names for a State Department lunch with Chinese President Hu Jintao scheduled for January 2011.
On the list were three executives from organizations that have donated millions to the Clinton Foundation: Bob McCann, the then-president of wealth management at UBS; Dr. Judith Rodin, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Hikmet Ersek, the CEO of Western Union.
According to the Foundation website, the UBS Wealth Management USA has contributed between $500,001 and $1 million to the Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation has given between $10 million and $25 million, while Western Union and its foundation has contributed between $1 million and $5 million.
Nearly two weeks later, Band followed up on email, specifically requesting Rodin be seated at Vice President Joe Biden’s table. "I'll ask," Abedin replied.
In a separate exchange, Abedin forwarded to Band -- outside the State Department -- an attachment entitled "Updated China RSVP Guest List 1-5-11." The attachment was not included in the documents received by ABC, but suggests sharing of information ahead of a state visit by President Hu Jintao in late January 2011.
Band declined comment to ABC News. Clinton Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian said the emails "aren't related to the Clinton Foundation's work improving lives around the world."
A representative for McCann told ABC News he did not attend the lunch, while a representative for Ersek said he doesn't have a "record" of the event. Rodin's office did not immediately return a request for comment. The State Department said it could not provide a list of attendees.
In addition to State Department functions, Band also corresponded with Abedin about personal requests of some Clinton Foundation supporters.
In January 2011, Band forwarded an email to Abedin on behalf of Gerardo Werthein, a South American businessman who has donated more than $1 million to the Foundation, according to its website.
Calling Werthein a "great friend" and "big supporter," Band asked Abedin to deliver a message to the U.S. ambassador to Malta on behalf of Werthein. The ambassador was scheduled to meet with the Admor, a religious leader in Malta and associate of Werthein.
Abedin passed on Band's message to another State Department official asking for delivery to the ambassador's assistant, writing, "Just want to pass along for info. No need for action."
A June 2009 email from Band passed on thanks from a Tim Collins to Abedin for bringing him to "some event." Abedin says, "We invited him into speech in Cairo." ABC News could not confirm the identity of the Collins who attended the speech. The Clinton Foundation website lists a Timothy Collins, founder of the investment firm Ripplewood Advisors, as a major donor.
"After more than two years of Freedom of Information Act requests and lengthy litigation, the truth is finally coming out," said David Bossie, president of Citizens United, in a statement. "Hillary Clinton's senior staff at the State Department routinely worked with the Clinton Foundation to reward big donors with special access and favors for four years."
The State Department and Clinton campaign both told ABC News that Foundation donors held no special influence or received favors.
When asked about the apparent involvement of a top Clinton Foundation official in requesting invitations for guests for State Department functions, spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told ABC News: "The State Department does not believe it is inappropriate for the administration to consider individuals suggested by outside organizations when deciding who to invite to an official function."
Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin said the emails released are a political attack on the Clintons.
"Citizens United is a right-wing group that's been attacking the Clintons since the 1990s and, once again, is trying to make something out of nothing," Schwerin told ABC News.
ABCNews.com(MIAMI LAKES, Fla.) -- Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine reacted to Donald Trump tweeting about NBA star Dwyane Wade's cousin being the victim of gun violence, saying the only appropriate reaction is sympathy.
Kaine also criticized Trump for calling his running mate, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a bigot.
"My reaction is we just ought to be extending our sympathy to the family. That's the only reaction that is appropriate right now and maybe a sadness about this gun violence issue, which we know it's complicated but that is, you see something like this and it's just, we should redouble our efforts to really adopt and promote smart strategies on that. But the sympathy issue is the one that ought to be our strong first reaction," Kaine said of Trump's tweet.
Dwyane Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!
Wade's cousin, Nykea Aldridge, was killed Friday in Chicago's Parkway Gardens neighborhood when two men exchanged gunfire nearby, according to police.
Kaine made the remarks about Trump's tweet following a tour of the small business, Design South Florida, in Miami Lakes, Florida.
"The tweet isn't important. What's important is this horrible crime, you know a woman and her child on her way to a store getting shot. I mean it's really, really tragic and of course you need good leadership to focus on these issues," Kaine said.
ABC News asked Kaine about remarks he made Friday in Tallahassee connecting Trump to "Ku Klux Klan values."
"He has supporters like David Duke connected with the Ku Klux Klan who are going around and saying Donald Trump is their candidate because Donald Trump is pushing their values. Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values," Kaine said Friday at Florida A&M University.
On Saturday, Kaine said he was not saying Trump had "Ku Klux Klan values."
"What I said yesterday was he's got guys connected with the Ku Klux Klan who are out, they are claiming him. And his record of, you know, sometimes he doesn't disabuse that and sometimes he seems to want to take advantage of that, and that I find that very troubling," Kaine said.
When asked earlier this year about what he thought about white supremacists, Trump told CBS News, "I don't like any group of hate. Hate groups are not for me.”
When reporters asked Kaine what was behind his intensifying attacks against Trump, he said that Trump's calling Clinton a "bigot" really bothered him.
"I mean I was pretty stunned by that," Kaine said.
He contrasted Clinton's career battling "for families and kids to get a fair shot in tough places" with Trump's remark about her.
"So that he is just going to casually say you're a bigot. Well then, OK. Well, it's important to call out what he's been saying, who he has been drawing support from. It was really important to do that," Kaine said.
The vice presidential nominee also criticized Trump's controversial overtures to the African American community over the past few days. Kaine said that Trump's past helping facilitate the "birther" controversy about President Obama makes it impossible for him to be serious about reaching out to the African American community.
"I don't see it as that serious because if you have been out pushing, promoting the notion that President Obama wasn't born in this country then you can say OK, well now I want to do outreach. I just don't see it as that serious," Kaine said.
Alex Wong/Getty Images(PEMBROKE PINES, Fla.) -- Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine met with Florida mayors and elected officials on Saturday, encouraging them to deliver the state for his running mate Hillary Clinton by contrasting the Clinton-Kaine ticket from what he called a "Social Darwinism me first" Donald Trump.
Kaine made the remarks in Pembroke Pines, Florida. In attendance were Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee.
"We are running against a guy who is kind of a social Darwinism, me first everybody else move aside guy and that's a sharp distinction," Kaine said.
Kaine did not repeat remarks he made Friday that linked Trump to "Ku Klux Klan values." Instead, he attacked Trump for questioning the NATO alliance and discussed America’s fight against ISIS.
"We are battling ISIL, we are beating them on the battlefield. They are shrinking, shrinking, shrinking but they are trying to do one-off attacks here, there and everywhere. How do you stop those? You stop those attacks by sharing intelligence. Who do you share intelligence with? Your allies," Kaine said.
He added, "If you tear up NATO and say now we don't need alliances anymore, who are you going to share intelligence with? So there is a sharp distinction between a Hillary Clinton, who understand the value of alliances and making us stronger, and a Donald Trump, who seems to think building walls and tearing up alliances is a path to strength. It's a path to Isolation and it's a path to weakness."
Kaine described the importance of Florida to the mayors and elected officials as crucial to a Clinton-Kaine victory.
"If we win Florida, it's over. Help us do that," Kaine said.
A NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll released this month showed the Clinton campaign with a slight lead in the Sunshine State. Kaine said that good poll numbers in other battleground states means that they can devote more energy to Florida. Kaine said that Virginia and Colorado have moved into "safer territory," while Florida is "so close."
"What that means is the states that are real close, now we can really spend a lot of time here, and Florida is one of those states. Not only massive on the electoral vote side but also because it is so close. It's a place where we are going to spend a lot of time. And there is nobody, nobody who can be more of a guarantor of our success here in Florida winning the electoral votes and by producing a margin for Hillary winning House seats, winning a Senate seat, winning seats in local legislature elections, there is nobody who can do that better than you," Kaine told the elected officials.
To stress the importance of Florida, Kaine brought up the 2000 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, when the state's votes were recounted.
"Of course in Florida, it's an easier sell to tell people that their vote matters because you were so pivotal to one of the most amazing and even still kind of surreal elections in the history of this country in 2000 where every vote did matter in a way that frankly changed the history of this country in terms of things that happened that might not have happened and things that didn't happen," Kaine said.
Kaine's appearance in Pembroke Pines was part of a two-day swing through the state where he attended public events as well as private fundraisers. Kaine will head back to the state next week.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) -- Hillary Clinton spent Saturday morning at an FBI facility near her New York home meeting with staffers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence who briefed her on major threats and emerging concerns around the world.
Clinton arrived at the office in White Plains, New York, which is roughly 20 minutes from her Chappaqua home, about 9 a.m. The meeting lasted over two hours and she attended it alone, a campaign aide said.
Any attendees aside from the presidential candidate have to hold the necessary security clearances.
The briefing comes 10 days after her main rival, Donald Trump, received his first classified briefing as the Republican Party’s nominee.
Trump took two top advisers to his briefing: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former Defense Intelligence Agency director who has been an outspoken and sometimes controversial supporter of Trump.
Because of the sensitivity of the information discussed during presidential candidate briefings, the sessions must take place in locations with secure rooms, known as Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs). The FBI's office in White Plains has such rooms.
While some top-secret information could have been discussed, the briefing did not include the nation's most sensitive secrets, particularly information on sources, methods and operations.
Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Many of Clinton’s critics have questioned whether she should receive a classified briefing after what they say is the reckless way she handled sensitive information when she was secretary of state.
Some Republican lawmakers have said her use of a private email server -- and what FBI Director James Comey called the "extremely careless" way she subsequently handled classified information -- should prevent Clinton and some of her aides from obtaining security clearances. There's no evidence, however, to indicate that she knowingly sent or received classified information across the server, according to Comey.
DNI Director James Clapper and the White House recently said they have no qualms about briefing the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, noting that providing the briefings is a tradition dating back more than 60 years.
"Ensuring a smooth transition to the next president is a top priority ... and that's important, in part, because of the significant threats around the world," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington, D.C., last month.
He said U.S. intelligence officials "understand what steps are necessary to protect sensitive national security information, and the administration is confident that they can both provide relevant and sufficient briefings to the two major-party presidential candidates while also protecting sensitive national security information."
Clapper said there is no concern in the U.S. intelligence community about providing classified information to either of the presidential candidates, insisting, "It's not up to the administration and certainly not up to me personally to decide on the suitability of a presidential candidate."
"The American electorate is in the process of deciding the suitability of these two candidates to serve as commander-in-chief, and they will make that decision, to pick someone who will be cleared for everything," he said at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Colorado last month.
Each of the campaigns decides the location for the classified briefings, according to Clapper.
Clinton and Trump could each receive as many as three classified briefings before Election Day.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's address, President Obama called on Republicans in Congress to take action and vote to fund the administration’s $1.9 billion response to the Zika virus.
The president said Republicans in Congress have failed to take action on this issue.
"We were forced to use resources we need to keep fighting Ebola, cancer, and other diseases," President Obama said. "We took that step because we have a responsibility to protect the American people. But that’s not a sustainable solution. And Congress has been on a seven-week recess without doing anything to protect Americans from the Zika virus."
President Obama urged for a bipartisan way to fight Zika because he said, "A fraction of the funding won’t get the job done. You can’t solve a fraction of a disease. Our experts know what they’re doing. They just need the resources to do it. "
Read the president's full address:
Earlier this year, I got a letter from a South Carolina woman named Ashley, who was expecting her third child. She was, in her words, “extremely concerned” about the Zika virus, and what it might mean for other pregnant women like her.
I understand that concern. As a father, Ashley’s letter has stuck with me, and it’s why we’ve been so focused on the threat of the Zika virus. So today, I just want to take a few minutes to let you know what we’ve been doing in response, and to talk about what more we can all do.
Since late last year, when the most recent outbreak of Zika started popping up in other countries, federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been preparing for it to arrive in the U.S. In February – more than six months ago – I asked Congress for the emergency resources that public health experts say we need to combat Zika. That includes things like mosquito control, tracking the spread of the virus, accelerating new diagnostic tests and vaccines, and monitoring women and babies with the virus.
Republicans in Congress did not share Ashley’s “extreme concern,” nor that of other Americans expecting children. They said no. Instead, we were forced to use resources we need to keep fighting Ebola, cancer, and other diseases. We took that step because we have a responsibility to protect the American people. But that’s not a sustainable solution. And Congress has been on a seven-week recess without doing anything to protect Americans from the Zika virus.
So my Administration has done what we can on our own. Our primary focus has been protecting pregnant women and families planning to have children. For months now, the CDC has been working closely with officials in Florida and other states. NIH and other agencies have moved aggressively to develop a vaccine. And we’re working with the private sector to develop more options to test for and prevent infection. For weeks, a CDC emergency response team has been on the ground in South Florida, working alongside the excellent public health officials there – folks who have a strong track record of responding aggressively to the mosquitoes that carry viruses like Zika. They know what they’re doing.
Still, there’s a lot more everybody can and should do. And that begins with some basic facts.
Zika spreads mainly through the bite of a certain mosquito. Most infected people don’t show any symptoms. But the disease can cause brain defects and other serious problems when pregnant women become infected. Even if you’re not pregnant, you can play a role in protecting future generations. Because Zika can be spread through unprotected sex, it’s not just women who need to be careful – men do too. That includes using condoms properly.
If you live in or travel to an area where Zika has been found, protect yourself against the mosquitoes that carry this disease. Use insect repellant – and keep using it for a few weeks, even after you come home. Wear long sleeves and long pants to make bites less likely. Stay in places with air conditioning and window screens. If you can, get rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed. And to learn more about how to keep your family safe, just visit CDC.gov.
But every day that Republican leaders in Congress wait to do their job, every day our experts have to wait to get the resources they need – that has real-life consequences. Weaker mosquito-control efforts. Longer wait times to get accurate diagnostic results. Delayed vaccines. It puts more Americans at risk.
One Republican Senator has said that “There is no such thing as a Republican position on Zika or Democrat position on Zika because these mosquitoes bite everyone.”
I agree. We need more Republicans to act that way because this is more important than politics. It’s about young mothers like Ashley. Today, her new baby Savannah is healthy and happy. That’s priority number one. And that’s why Republicans in Congress should treat Zika like the threat that it is and make this their first order of business when they come back to Washington after Labor Day. That means working in a bipartisan way to fully fund our Zika response. A fraction of the funding won’t get the job done. You can’t solve a fraction of a disease. Our experts know what they’re doing. They just need the resources to do it.
So make your voices heard. And as long as I’m President, we’ll keep doing everything we can to slow the spread of this virus, and put our children’s futures first. Thanks everybody.
ABCNews.com(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine depicted Donald Trump Friday as a man peddling "prejudicial and bigoted" ideas but stopped short of calling him a racist.
Following an appearance at a voter registration drive at the historically black Florida A&M University, reporters asked Kaine if Trump is racist.
"I don’t know him but he says things that are clearly prejudicial and bigoted," Kaine said.
During his remarks to the mostly African-American student body, Kaine stressed the ideal of equality and framed it as an issue at stake this election.
Noting it was Women's Equality Day, Kaine contrasted the ideal with Trump's rhetoric. "Let’s just take equality. Let’s just take the principle that we stated in 1776 would be the North Star for our nation,” Kaine said. "That’s something to think about on Women’s Equality Day and that’s something to think about as we approach this election.”
Kaine echoed much of Hillary Clinton's speech in Reno, Nevada, yesterday where she described Trump running a campaign based on “prejudice and paranoia" and accused Trump of "taking hate groups mainstream."
Kaine brought up Trump's support among white supremacists, saying that Clinton's speech called Trump "out on the fact that he has supporters like David Duke connected with the Ku Klux Klan who are going around and saying Donald Trump is their candidate because Donald Trump is pushing their values.
"Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values, they’re not our values and we’ve got to do all we can to fight to push back and win to say that we’re still about heading toward that North Star that we set out so long ago,” Kaine added.
When asked earlier this year about what he thought about white supremacists, Trump told CBS News, "I don't like any group of hate. Hate groups are not for me.”
Kaine went on to describe Trump as a man engaged in irresponsible rhetoric during this election cycle.
"You’ve heard during the campaign he’s ridiculed people with disabilities, he’s ridiculed people if they were [of] Mexican-American origin. He has said that anybody who’s Muslim should be treated as second class religiously," he said.
"That’s not the way we do things in this country. It’s not the way we do things. Donald Trump was a main guy behind the scurrilous and I would say bigoted notion that President Obama wasn’t even born in this country and Donald Trump has continued to push that irresponsible falsehood from all the way up to now. And that’s the difference in this election and that’s the stakes."
ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump says he plans to discuss his immigration plan at length in a speech at some point next week, but that hasn’t stopped the Republican presidential nominee from teasing some of the possible changes he may adopt.
His plan to build a wall along the southern U.S. border has not changed since he introduced it early in his campaign, but his proposal for what to do with undocumented immigrants who are already in the country may have.
In November, Trump first mentioned a “deportation force” to remove immigrants who arrived in the country illegally, but now he appears to be wavering on what to do with some longstanding residents who have families and jobs and no criminal history.
Here is a rundown of what changes he and his team have mentioned in the past few days. Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway’s interview on CNN on Sunday, Aug. 21
Trump’s new campaign manager appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, and when asked directly whether Trump’s plan will include a deportation force, Conway indicated that it is up for discussion.
"To be determined," she said.
Trump’s town hall on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show taped on Tuesday, Aug. 23
Trump spoke about immigration in a town hall hosted by Fox News that was taped Tuesday, Aug. 23, but then broken into two parts and aired on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
"There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people,” Trump said in the first part of the town hall. “We want people -- we have some great people in this country. We have some great, great people in this country. But, so we're going to follow the laws of this country. What people don't realize, we have very, very strong laws.”
During the second part of the town hall, Trump seemed to express empathy for people who have adapted to life in America and have been law-abiding ever since arriving.
"You have somebody that has been in the country for 20 years. He has done a great job. Has a job, everything else. OK. Do we take him and the family, her or him or whatever, and send them out?” Trump said.
"So do we tell these people to get out, number one, or do we work with them and let them stay in some cases?” he added.
Trump attempted to address the concerns among some hard-liners in light of signs that he may be “softening” his position on immigration.
"Let me go a step further: They will pay back taxes. They have to pay taxes. There's no amnesty, as such. There's no amnesty,” Trump said. Trump’s Rally in Jackson, Mississippi on Wednesday Aug. 24
Trump held a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, where Nigel Farage, the former U.K. Independence Party leader who was one of the strongest supporters of the Brexit vote, appeared.
Trump said "any immigration policy" that he supports, if he's elected, would have to improve jobs and wages, improve safety and security, and improve the quality of life, for all U.S. citizens.
Trump’s interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday Aug. 25
"My first day in office, I am going to notify law enforcement authorities that all of the bad dudes -- and we have a lot of them -- that are here illegally, that are the heads of gangs and drug cartels and all sorts of people ... And there are probably millions of them but certainly hundreds of thousands, big numbers. They’re out. They’re out,” he said.
The order in which undocumented immigrants would have to leave the country would be determined by the time and effort it takes to enact his policy, he said.
"You can’t take 11 million at one time and just say, 'Boom, you’re gone.' We have to find where these people are. Most people don’t even know where they are,” he said.
When asked whether people who entered the country illegally as long of 15 years ago, and have jobs and families, will be deported, Trump said, "We’re going to see what happens once we strengthen up our border."
"There is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and come back,” Trump said, noting that they would then have to start paying taxes.
"If somebody wants to go legalization route, what they’ll do is they’ll go, leave the country, hopefully come back in, and then we can talk. And one other thing, there are millions of people right now online trying to come into our country. It’s very unfair to them some of the rules, regulations and policies that I’ve seen. These are millions of people that want to come into our country legally. And it would be very unfair to them,” he said.
Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway’s Good Morning America interview on Friday Aug. 26
Even though it has been nearly a week since she made her “TBD” remark, Conway appears to be sticking to the same talking points.
"I think you've heard him over the course of a week explain his position as being what it's always been. No amnesty. He's going to build a wall, the center piece of his campaign from the beginning. He wants to protect the American worker,” Conway said.
"He's said no path to legalization, no path to citizen ship. No amnesty. You can return home, and if you would like to stand in line, the thing that everybody else is stand in line, wait your turn, go through the normal courses.”
While she didn’t specifically address the so-called “deportation force,” she said the manner in which they would be deported “will be determined.”
Conway added: "This has never been tried on such a scale. It's President Obama who has deported by some estimates 2 million plus people. We know it's possible.”
When asked about the order in which undocumented immigrants would have to leave the country, Conway reiterated that criminals are the first priority.
"He has said first you throw the bad once out. The one who is have committed a crime,” she told Good Morning America.
“They leave. We don't know the number. Some people have estimated 1 million. Then you find a humane, fair way to deal with those still here. He said last night, they would have to return to their home countries.”
Joe Phelan/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images(AUGUSTA, Maine) -- Maine's Republican Gov. Paul LePage apologized to his constituents Friday as he found himself back in hot water, this time for not only making what critics have called "racially charged" comments at a recent town hall but also for leaving a voicemail laced with expletives accusing a fellow state lawmaker of calling him a "racist."
"I would like to apologize to the people of the state of Maine for having heard the voicemail I left for Rep. [Drew] Gattine," LePage said to reporters Friday. And despite being heard on the voicemail to Gattine saying, "I want you to record this and make it public," the governor went on to tell reporters Friday: "It was intended for his ears and his ears only."
The dustup between LePage and Gattine, a Democratic state representative, began Thursday after comments made by LePage at a town hall Wednesday sparked backlash from lawmakers.
At the town hall in North Berwick, LePage was captured on camera saying that he kept a binder of pictures of non-Maine residents accused of crimes tied to illegal drugs.
"I don't ask them to come to Maine to sell their poison but they come. And I will tell you, that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book -- and it's a three-ring binder -- are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut; the Bronx; and Brooklyn," LePage said.
During Friday's news conference, LePage defended his comments Wednesday, describing the state's drug problem in terms of war.
"When you go to war ... you try to identify the enemy," LePage said Friday. "The enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin. I can't help that. I just can't help it. Those are the facts."
Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon called for LePage to resign Friday. She said that Democratic House leaders were concerned about the "tone and content" of his remarks in the voicemail as well as to the media.
"It's clear from the governor's threats that he is not mentally or emotionally fit to hold this office," Gideon said in news release.
On Thursday, LePage told ABC affiliate WMTW-TV reporters: "If I am a racist for trying to get black people and Hispanic people and white people and Asian people who come up the [Interstate] 95 with heroin that will kill Mainers then I plead guilty. ... It's not a matter of race. It's a matter of fact."
On Thursday, amid uproar over LePage's comments, Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine told WMTW-TV: "It's inconsequential to me what the race is of the people who are coming here. ... I don't know why we have to think about it or talk about it in those terms."
On Thursday, LePage told WMTW-TV that he had left Gattine a voicemail.
"I wish Mr. Gattine, whom I just sent him a not very nice cell message, I hope he records it because I'd like the whole world to hear it," LePage said to WMTW-TV Thursday.
Gattine described the voicemail as "violent sounding" and "ugly." In the voicemail released by the Maine State House Majority Office, LePage could be heard saying that he wanted Gattine to "prove" that he was a racist.
"Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you ----sucker. ... I want you to prove that I'm a racist. I've spent my life helping black people and you little son of a ---- socialist ----sucker. ... I want you to record this and make it public because I'm after you. Thank you."
Gattine said Friday that he had not called the governor a racist.
"That's an awful thing to call somebody. I choose my words very carefully," Gattine said. "I think his comments were racially charged."
Gattine said during a news conference Friday that when asked Thursday by a reporter about LePage's comments, he'd said: "The racially charged comments that [the governor] made were not helpful in trying to resolve the incredibly awful drug crisis that we've been working on trying to resolve here in Maine."
"When I got that message yesterday," Gattine said Friday, "my first thought was that I was really glad that I wasn't in the room with him when he left it 'cause he really sounded like somebody who was about to commit physical violence. ... It was a really stunning message, not like any message that anybody has ever left me before."
LePage apologized to Maine residents Friday but refused to apologize to Gattine. He maintained that Thursday morning, reporters had asked him to respond to lawmakers calling him racist.
"They came in to interview me and said, 'What's your response to legislators calling you 'racist?' And I said, 'Who?' And he said, 'Mr. Gattine,'" LePage told reporters Friday.
The identity of the reporter was unknown.
"For an elected representative to call me 'racist,' is beyond contempt for me. Now was I angry, yes. Am I still angry? I am enormously angry to this gentleman. ... I do not apologize to Mr. Gattine," LePage said. "If he wants to exchange apologies, I'd be more than happy to do that."
On his website, LePage released a statement regarding Gattine's comments:
"When someone calls me a racist, I take it very seriously. I didn't know Drew Gattine from a hole in the wall until yesterday. It made me enormously angry when a TV reporter asked me for my reaction about Gattine calling me a racist. It is the absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person. So I called Gattine and used the worst word I could think of. I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state. Legislators like Gattine would rather be politically correct and protect ruthless drug dealers than work with me to stop this crisis that is killing five Mainers a week.
"When I said I was going after Gattine, I meant I would do everything I could to see that he and his agenda is defeated politically. I am a history buff, and I referenced how political opponents used to call each other out in the 1820s -- including Andrew Jackson, the father of the Democratic Party. Obviously, it is illegal today; it was simply a metaphor and I meant no physical harm to Gattine. But I am calling him out to stop giving inflammatory sound bites and get to work to end this crisis that is killing Mainers, destroying families and creating drug-addicted babies, all so the drug dealers Gattine is protecting can make a profit."
This week was not the first time LePage's comments sparked a firestorm of criticism.
In January, LePage made some controversial remarks, which some labeled as "racist," about out-of-state drug dealers coming into the state.
Addressing Maine's drug challenges at a town hall, LePage said, "These are guys by the name D-Money, Smoothy, Shifty. These type of guys that come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here and sell heroin, then they go back home.
"Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we've got another issue we have to deal with down the road," he said.
A spokesman for LePage later told ABC News that LePage was not talking about race and that "race is irrelevant" to the case he was making.
At a news conference later, LePage said that he'd made a verbal mistake in comments about drug dealers, but insisted his remarks were not racist.
"I was going impromptu and my brain didn't catch up to my mouth," LePage said.
LePage said Friday that he would not be stepping down.
ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- As Donald Trump makes repeated appeals to black voters in his bid for the White House, one lawsuit has become fodder for Hillary Clinton’s attacks against him.
Back in 1973, five years after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Trump was deeply involved in the family’s New York City real estate business. And that’s when the Justice Department filed a housing discrimination suit against Donald Trump, father Fred and their real estate management corporation.
Clinton mentioned the suit in her speech in Reno, Nevada, Thursday, calling it one of many examples of Trump’s true feelings on race.
The Lawsuit’s Claims
The Department of Justice filed the civil suit against the Trump management corporation for “discriminating against black persons in the operation of their buildings,” according to the DOJ's news release on the date of the filing, Oct. 15, 1973.
At the time, the buildings in questioned included 14,000 units throughout greater New York City.
The suit was filed against Trump Management Inc., then-board chairman and principal stockholder Fred Trump and his son, the company’s then-president, Donald Trump.
“The suit said the defendants have violated the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by refusing to rent and negotiate rentals with blacks, requiring different rental terms and conditions because of race, and misrepresenting that apartments are not available,” according to the release.
The lead up to the suit involved a government investigation where “testers” of different races went undercover and were allegedly treated differently and told opposite answers about what apartments were available for rent, according to a Washington Post report.
Federal investigators found that Trump employees marked black applicant’s applications with a “C” for “colored” and steered black and Puerto Rican renters to buildings with fewer white tenants, according to court filings by the government, The Washington Post reported.
How Donald Trump Responded to the Suit
PHOTO: Donald Trump and Fred Trump are pictured during Donald Trump Celebrates His Book The Art of The Deal at Trump Towers Atrium in New York City. Ron Galella/Getty Images Donald Trump and Fred Trump are pictured during Donald Trump Celebrates His Book "The Art of The Deal" at Trump Towers Atrium in New York City. more
Donald Trump held a news conference after the suit was announced where he denied any wrongdoing and suggested a possible motive for the Justice Department’s actions.
“I have never, nor has anyone in our organization ever, to the best of my knowledge, discriminated or shown bias in renting our apartments,” Donald Trump said at a December 1973 news conference, according to a New York Times article from that day.
Trump “accused the Justice Department of singling out his corporation because it was a large one and because the Government was trying to force it to rent to welfare recipients,” the newspaper reported.
Reaching an Agreement “With Prejudice” but Without Claims of Guilt
In spite of Trump’s effort in 1974 to have the suit dismissed, his legal team reached an agreement with the government in June 1975. The suit was described in the agreement as a situation where the Trumps “have failed and neglected to exercise their affirmative and nondelegable duty under the Fair Housing Act… with the result that equal housing opportunity has been denied to substantial numbers of persons.”
The Trumps “vigorously deny said allegations,” the court document states.
The agreement, which laid out the specific terms that the Trumps would have to abide by moving forward, noted that it was “in no way an admission by it of a violation of the prohibition against discrimination.”
The complaint against Fred Trump and Donald Trump was “dismissed against them in their personal capacity, with prejudice.”
But the agreement includes some specific terms that had to be met by the Trumps, including the addition of the words “Equal Housing Opportunity” and the fair housing logo on all of their advertising. Beyond that, the agreement included a page-long description of how they were ordered to insert a monthly ad “at least 3 inches in length” in “a newspaper of general circulation” showing available apartments.
According to an article in The New York Times in June 1975, the day after the agreement was reached, Donald Trump said that the agreement was to their “full satisfaction” because it didn’t have “any requirement that would compel the Trump organization to accept persons on welfare as tenants unless as qualified as any other tenant.”
Part of a Pattern?
In spite of Trump’s recent attempts to recast himself as an appealing candidate for African-American voters, critics have cited the discrimination suit as a negative mark on his history.
Wayne Barrett, who has written two books about Trump and covered the discrimination suit for The Village Voice at the time it was unfolding, said the case shows Trump’s psyche when it comes to race.
“His position publicly, and he did talk about this in the media, was, ‘Oh no, we were just trying to keep welfare recipients out of our buildings.’ Well, as a matter of fact, welfare recipients couldn’t afford to live in your buildings,” Barrett told ABC News.
“Equating black people and welfare recipients is the way his mind works,” he said.
Barrett points to this case as an early example of Trump’s public encounters with race.
“If it stood there alone, then it would be a valid argument to say, ‘It was a youthful mistake 40 years ago when I was guided by my father. But it comes in a continuum,’” he added.
Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America(WASHINGTON) -- After being called a "bigot" by her White House rival earlier in the week, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton refused to directly return the insult when prompted in an interview Friday, instead reiterating her charge that Republican nominee Donald Trump is a man with a "long history of racial discrimination" and all she can do is "point to the evidence of what he has said and what he has done."
In an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, she claimed Trump's campaign was "built on prejudice and paranoia," a theme she had brought up at a campaign rally in Reno, Nevada.
"It is deeply disturbing that he is taking hate groups that lived in the dark regions of the internet making them mainstream, helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party," Clinton continued. "What I want to make clear is this, a man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids, and these kind of white supremacist, white nationalist, anti-Semitic groups, should never run our government or command our military."
Earlier this week, Trump told supporters at an event in Jackson, Mississippi, that "Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future."
Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, defended the New York businessman's comment on ABC News' Good Morning America Friday morning.
"Is she right to call him a bigot? Have you seen what this man is called on a daily basis?” Conway said. “He's called a bigot, a racist, a sexist. Why is this a one way conversation?"
Conway also argued that Trump "deserves credit" for his outreach to African-American voters, even though Trump primarily campaigns in predominantly white communities.
"Usually, Republican nominees are not bold enough to go into communities of color and compete for all ears and all votes," Conway said.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump's campaign manager said Friday she did not know whether the Republican presidential nominee was aware of the domestic violence charges reportedly filed two decades ago against new Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon.
"I don't know what he [Trump] was aware of with respect to a 20-year-old claim where the charges were dropped,” Kellyanne Conway said on ABC News' Good Morning America.
Bannon was "charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness following an incident in early January 1996," the website Politico reported Thursday.
The case was ultimately dismissed, according to documents obtained and posted online by Politico.
The court file has not been released yet, but the L.A. County Criminal Court’s database confirms that the criminal charges against Bannon were filed and ultimately dismissed. It does not give details, but Bannon’s spokeswoman, Alexandra Preate, told ABC News Friday that the charges were dropped in August 1996 because of “witness unavailability.”
In the complaint obtained by Politico, Bannon's then-wife said he “pulled at her neck and wrist” and smashed the phone when she tried to call the police, after a dispute over finances.
Responding Friday on Bannon’s behalf, spokeswoman Preate told ABC News that he has a great relationship with his ex-wife and their children.
Bannon's defense attorney, Steven Mandell, said, "No comment on the record."
Eric Hanson for The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — One of Congress’ conservative immigration hawks is worried by Donald Trump’s shifting tone on his signature immigration policy.
“There’s not much that’s happened that’s encouraged me,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said of Trump's pivot in an interview with ABC News.
Trump, who won the GOP primary with his pledge to deport millions of undocumented immigrants with a "deportation force," softened his position earlier this week by signaling an openness to a pathway to legal status for some undocumented immigrants.
In an interview with CNN Thursday night, he then appeared to walk back his latest reversal by ruling out legal status for undocumented immigrants who remain in the country.
"There's no path to legalization unless they leave the country," Trump said.
King, who called the initial softening a "mistake," now says Trump's consideration of legal status "gives me an uneasy feeling in my stomach."
“It’s okay to soften some things, but it’s not okay to let people violate the law and be rewarded for it,” he said.
The Iowa Republican said Trump’s new openness to granting legal status amounts to his definition of amnesty, comparing it to the positions of Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Jeb Bush that Trump railed against during the primary.
King also said Trump could be in danger of alienating his most fervent supporters by waffling on immigration.
“If you lose the vigorous support of your core base, then it's pretty hard to build a winning coalition to win out in the general election,” he said.
Trump needs to “define amnesty with clarify and reject real amnesty with clarity,” King said, and not continue using language like that of the "comprehensive immigration reformists."
King said he's reached out to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to share his concerns.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, on Friday defended her candidate’s outreach to African-American voters, saying he "deserves credit" for doing so.
Trump is prepared to "compete for all ears, compete for all votes," Conway said on ABC News' Good Morning America, referring to Trump's recent remarks that black Americans are "living in poverty."
She also criticized Hillary Clinton's relationship with the black community, suggesting that her policies would not help them.
"I think her policies have left many people behind," she told co-host George Stephanopoulos.
Clinton has held an overwhelming advantage among black voters in recent polls.
Conway also addressed Trump's characterization of Clinton as a "bigot."
"Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future,” Trump told a mostly white crowd at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi, earlier this week.
Discussing the widespread criticism of his remarks, Conway said Friday morning, "Have you seen what this man has been called on a regular basis?"
The interview also covered Trump's immigration plan, the details of which have been questioned in recent days, after the Republican nominee appeared to soften his stance on the issue.
She suggested that some of the confusion around how Trump would execute his immigration plan stemmed from its scope, and the degree to which it represented a new phenomenon.
"This has never been tried on such a scale," she said.
Conway referred to the record-setting number of deportations conducted by President Obama as a precedent for how Trump would deal with the issue, and added that Trump would provide "absolutely no amnesty."
He's "going to build a wall, and protect the [American] worker," she said.
ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) -- John McCain's primary challenger has once again declared that the Arizona senator -- who turns 80 on Monday -- is too old to be re-elected.
"John McCain has fallen down on the job," Dr. Kelli Ward, a former state senator, told MSNBC's Chuck Todd during an interview Thursday. "He's gotten weak. He's gotten old."
"I want to give him the best birthday present ever -- the gift of retirement," said 47-year-old Ward.
When asked by Todd to explain her comments, Ward reminded him of her medical background.
"I'm a physician," she said. "I see the physiological changes that happen in normal patients again and again and again over the last 20, 25 years, so I do know what happens to the body and the mind at the end of life."
Todd shot back, "You feel comfortable diagnosing him on air like this?"
Ward responded, "Diagnosing him as an 80-year-old man, yes, I do."
Ward was unapologetic about her comments, even issuing a statement following the interview reiterating her sentiments.
“With his fundraising in free fall and his foreign policy in shambles, John McCain is too weak to win in November against Obamacare Queen Ann Kirkpatrick," read the statement. "After 4 decades in DC, it's time to honor John McCain’s 80th birthday with retirement. It’s time for real life experience outside politics. It’s time to elect a conservative champion for Arizona’s Future."
Meghan McCain took issue with Ward's assessment of her dad, pointing out his physical stamina.
"He hikes the grand canyon every year w/ my brothers. He's in better shape than I am. This attack is really desperate," she wrote.
She continued, "Seriously, stick to the issues and maybe hang out with my incredible 103-year-old grandmother to see how McCain's age."
On Wednesday, according to Politico, McCain said Ward's attempt to discredit him based on his age was a "dive to the bottom."
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic(WASHINGTON) -- Ann Coulter did not hold back when talking about Roger Ailes on this week’s episode of Powerhouse Politics podcast.
Coulter, who this week published her book, In Trump We Trust, blasted the former CEO of Fox News, who she suspects might be behind Trump’s latest immigration plan.
“[Trump] seems to be getting contradictory advice. I’ve seen these rumors he’s now being advised by Roger Ailes, the former head of the Marco Rubio super PAC known as Fox News. Suddenly he’s sounding like Rubio,” said Coulter.
“He was using all the clichés from the Gang of Eight bill,” she continued. “I don’t know who he’s getting it from, but the idea that his base is not going to mind is nonsense. And the idea that it helps him with anyone is nonsense.”
Speaking with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein, Coulter explained her frustration with the latest shifts in Trump’s immigration plan.
“I am trying to encourage Donald Trump to dump whomever the moron is who told him Americans are staying up at night worried about how people who broke our laws entering, broke our laws staying here, broke our laws taking jobs, how comfortable they are,” Coulter said.
“We have to take care of Americans first. And that’s what [Trump] should be saying, not going back and saying one thing in his speech and then using the crazy Gang of Eight nonsense when he’s talking to [Fox News host Sean] Hannity,” she explained. “Maybe it’s just something in the air at Fox News?”
In response to whether she heard Ailes’ voice in Trump’s new immigration plan, Coulter admitted, “I never believed it. I thought it was all nonsense you mainstream media reporters were sending out until that stupid talking point. But I don’t know who it is. I want to find out who it is and make sure that person is never allowed in the same room with Donald Trump.”
Despite her criticisms of the Republican nominee, Coulter remains a loyal Trump supporter.
“I can criticize my guy and still support him,” Coulter said. “Since the convention, since his speech at the convention, he has not made any mistakes until now.
“The media just makes stuff up, reinterprets his words, doesn’t show people what he says, lies about him,” she added. “He’s been magnificent in every speech since the convention. And I think he should just keep doing that.”