Mark J Sullivan/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Both major-party U.S. presidential candidates plan to meet with the prime minister of Israel on Sunday in New York, sources in the two campaigns told ABC News.
Two senior-level sources tell ABC News that Republican candidate Donald Trump was to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday morning at Trump Tower. And an aide to Democrat Hillary Clinton confirmed a planned meeting with the Israeli leader Sunday as well.
Netanyahu has been in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
The meetings will take place a day before both candidates face off at their first general election presidential debate Monday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
ABC/Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- The race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has narrowed to essentially a dead heat nationally in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, raising the stakes dramatically for the first presidential debate Monday night.
A vast 74 percent of Americans plan to watch the debate. And while eight in 10 say it won’t change their minds, that leaves more than enough to shift the balance in an increasingly closely fought contest, with unprecedented levels of qualms about both major-party candidates.
Trump, in particular, is running competitively despite persistent doubts. Around six in 10 Americans continue to see him as unqualified, untrustworthy, temperamentally unsuited or insufficiently knowledgeable of world affairs to serve effectively as president. Yet he’s capitalizing on strength in his core support groups and on Clinton’s own weaknesses, including concerns about her health.
In all, 44 percent of likely voters say they’d vote for Trump if the election were today, numerically his best since spring. Forty-six percent prefer Clinton, unchanged from an ABC/Post poll early this month and virtually unchanged since June. The 2-point gap between them is not significant, given the survey’s margin of sampling error. The race has closed from an 8-point Clinton lead in early August.
Support for third-party candidate Gary Johnson slipped to a new low, 5 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, with the biggest departure among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents -- thus mainly benefiting Trump.
The Clinton campaign issued a statement Saturday night in response.
"Hillary Clinton plans on using the debate to discuss the issues that make a difference in people's lives. It's not surprising that Donald Trump has chosen a different path," said Clinton Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri in a statement to ABC News.
ABC News(CLEVELAND) -- Six people who know their way around the White House -- or at least a fictional version of it -- are lending their support this weekend to Hillary Clinton's campaign to live and work inside the real thing.
Actors from television's "The West Wing" are supporting the Democratic presidential nominee on the campaign trail in Ohio on Saturday and Sunday in an attempt to register and organize voters in the battleground state.
Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Dulé Hill, Joshua Malina and Mary McCormack, who each played members of fictional President Josiah Bartlett's White House staff for parts of seven seasons, are making stops a number of major cities in the state, including Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton and Columbus.
The attending actors portrayed a number of roles in the White House Office of President Bartlett -- played by Martin Sheen -- among them: press secretary, communications director and deputy chief of staff.
Several of the actors reunited in 2012 to produce a video encouraging citizens to vote on the non-partisan portion of their ballots. McCormack's sister, a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court, was involved in the production.
"The West Wing," which ran from 1999 to 2006, won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The mystery has been solved.
Hillary Clinton's longtime aide Philippe Reines has been chosen by the campaign to play the role of Donald Trump in mock debate sessions with the Democratic nominee ahead of the upcoming presidential debate, a source familiar with the debate prep told ABC News.
Reines' role, first reported by the New York Times on Saturday, has been a tightly guarded secret by the campaign. For weeks, reporters and politicos have been speculating over who had been tapped to play opposite Clinton in her mock debates, which is one of the ways she has been preparing for the first debate at Hofstra University in New York on Monday.
Clinton's aides had been looking for someone to play Trump who would not be afraid to rattle Clinton, as they expect the Republican nominee may attempt to do, or confront her about her husband's past sex scandals.
Reines' personality -- which Clinton described as "passionate, loyal, and shrewd" in her memoir "Hard Choices" -- is seen as a good fit for the part.
"I can always trust him to speak his mind," Clinton wrote in her book.
Reines, currently a political consultant, began working with Clinton more than 10 years ago when she was a senator from New York. He went on to become a senior adviser to Clinton at the State Department.
Although he has no formal or public role in her current campaign, it is known that Clinton still consults with him behind the scenes.
Clinton -- who is not new to presidential debates (Monday will be her 35th) -- has been preparing for her first debate against Trump for weeks. According to aides, she has been poring over briefing books at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., studying footage of Trump's past debates, and practicing in mock debate sessions. Her campaign has also consulted with Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter for Trump's "The Art of the Deal," on ways to get under his skin.
Much of her prep is focused on the unpredictable nature of Trump's personality, her campaign says.
"You're not sure who is going to show up," Clinton's communications director Jennifer Palmieri told reporters this week. "He may be aggressive or laid back."
Official Whie House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama used his weekly address to commemorate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
"And this museum tells a story of America that hasn’t always taken a front seat in our national narrative," he said. "As a people, we’ve rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country. But too often, willful or not, we’ve chosen to gloss over or ignore entirely the experience of millions upon millions of others."
He went on to say that the museum isn't just the African story, its an American story.
"That’s what we’ll celebrate not just this weekend, but in the years and generations ahead – a fuller account of our glorious American story. It’s a chance to reflect on our past and set a course for the future."
Read the president's full address:
Hi everybody. This weekend, we’ll dedicate the newest American icon on our National Mall – the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It’s a beautiful building, five stories high and some 70 feet below the ground, situated just across the street from the Washington Monument.
And this museum tells a story of America that hasn’t always taken a front seat in our national narrative. As a people, we’ve rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country. But too often, willful or not, we’ve chosen to gloss over or ignore entirely the experience of millions upon millions of others.
But this museum chooses to tell a fuller story. It’s doesn’t gauze up some bygone era or avoid uncomfortable truths. Rather, it embraces the patriotic recognition that America is a constant work in progress; that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is within our collective power to align this nation with the high ideals of our founding.
That’s what you’ll see inside. You’ll see it in the shackles of an enslaved child and in the hope of Harriet Tubman’s gospel hymnal. You’ll see it in the tragedy of Emmett Till’s coffin and in the resilience of a lunch counter stool and in the triumph of a Tuskegee Airplane. You’ll see it in the shadow of a prison guard tower and in the defiance of Jesse Owens’ cleats and in the American pride of Colin Powell’s uniform.
All of that isn’t simply the African-American story; it’s part of the American story. And so it is entirely fitting that we tell this story on our National Mall, the same place we tell the stories of Washington and Jefferson and our independence; the story of Lincoln who saved our union and the GIs who defended it; the story of King who summoned us all toward the mountaintop.
That’s what we’ll celebrate not just this weekend, but in the years and generations ahead – a fuller account of our glorious American story. It’s a chance to reflect on our past and set a course for the future. Because here in this country, all of us, no matter what our station in life, have the chance to pick up the pen, and write our own chapter for our time.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) delivered this week's GOP address to talk about the the threat of terrorism on American soil and his party's dissatisfaction with the Obama administration's handling of recent attacks.
Rubio discussed the evolution of the terror attack from broad scale to lone wolf attacks.
"Americans should not accept this as the new normal. We should not have to constantly look over our shoulder every time we visit a public place with our children, or take a walk down the street," he said in regards to the bombings in New York and New Jersey last week. Read the Republican's full address:
Hello, I’m Marco Rubio. It’s my honor to represent Florida in the United States Senate.
In recent days, the evil face of radical Islamic terrorism has again appeared on American soil. We’ve seen attacks in Minnesota, New Jersey and New York.
Many innocent people were injured, and we continue to pray for their recovery. But fortunately, this time, the only loss of life was one knife-wielding terrorist, who was taken down by an off-duty police officer before more harm could be done.
These attacks remind us once again that evil is real, and that we remain a nation at war against radical Islamic terrorism.
This is a war against our country that has evolved, from terrorists with box cutters hijacking airplanes and flying them into buildings 15 years ago, to the threat of bombs targeting the Boston Marathon and charity 5K runs, speeding trucks being rammed into large crowds, makeshift bombs built with instructions obtained online, and knives and guns being used to massacre people in places like Orlando, Fort Hood, Chattanooga and San Bernardino.
Americans should not accept this as the new normal. We should not have to constantly look over our shoulder every time we visit a public place with our children, or take a walk down the street.
But we must also understand that this war will not end soon, and we can’t become fatigued or complacent about that reality.
This is a war we must win.
And winning this war requires American resolve – the kind shown by so many of our men and women in uniform over the past 15 years.
It requires the best intelligence community, equipped with the best intelligence-gathering tools – so that we can hunt down terrorists before they attack us, and bring swift justice to those who aren't stopped in time.
It requires American ingenuity – to keep up with the modes of communication and coordination being used by these terrorists.
It requires American patriotism – like the kind shown by countless Muslims who have refused to let their Islamic faith be tarnished by extremists acting in its name, and have informed law enforcement about plots or suspicious individuals they encounter.
It requires an immigration system based on common sense – which says if we can’t fully vet someone and verify that they don’t have terrorist ties, then we simply can’t allow them inside our country or make them citizens.
It requires working with our partners to target this hateful ideology at its roots, dismantle its organizations, and deprive them of safe havens anywhere in the world.
All of these things need to happen to stop the worst threats from striking us here at home.
Unfortunately, President Obama has proven himself unable to meet these challenges for the past eight years.
The world is now a more dangerous place than when he came into office. Because instead of seeing the chaos and threats that all of us see, he dismisses the enemy and underestimates the challenges they pose to our very way of life.
And yet, the worst of his presidency may still be yet to come.
With just four months left in office, President Obama and his allies in Congress want to release every single terrorist from the military's custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
We’ve already seen why this is a dangerous mistake, as many have been released to other countries, only to quickly go missing. Others have returned to the battlefield, and replenished the forces of evil.
The terrorists still behind bars are the worst of the worst, but President Obama and his misguided allies in Congress still want to send them to other countries, or even bring these terrorists here to U.S. soil.
If Congress and the American people don’t stop this terrible plan, these terrorists could join the ranks of al Qaeda or ISIS, at the same time our troops are trying to defeat them.
Thanks to a Republican Congress, we have successfully blocked President Obama from bringing terrorist detainees to U.S. soil. And I’ve introduced legislation to prevent the White House from evading restrictions in current law and allowing them to release all the terrorists from Guantanamo anyway.
But the president and his allies remain committed to getting this done – even though it helps these groups grow even stronger, and even though it increases the risks to Americans at home and abroad.
Even while other policies – like the disastrous deal with Iran – are providing the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism with billions of dollars in sanctions relief and ransom payments, money they will use to fulfill their dreams of 'death to America' and wiping Israel off the planet. Most of the Democrats in Congress supported this flawed deal too, and they continue doing everything they can to salvage it.
All these challenges underscore the need to rebuild our military, to reassure our traditional allies, and reassert American leadership on the world stage. Unless we take these actions, we will be unable to leave the world more secure for future generations of Americans.
The next four months could be President Obama’s most damaging yet as he works to fulfill these last ditch legacy projects. But it’s up to the American people and those of us in Congress to stop him.
Thank you for listening. May God bless you. And may God always bless the United States of America.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- President Obama vetoed a bill that would allow survivors of the 9/11 attacks, along with victims' families, to sue the government of Saudi Arabia.
“I am returning herewith without my approval S. 2040, the ‘Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act’ (JASTA), which would, among other things, remove sovereign immunity in U.S. courts from foreign governments that are not designated state sponsors of terrorism,” Obama notes in the veto message.
“I have deep sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), who have suffered grievously. I also have a deep appreciation of these families' desire to pursue justice and am strongly committed to assisting them in their efforts.”
The veto comes at the end of a 10-day constitutional window after Congress' overwhelming approval of the legislation, setting up a fight that's likely to hand the outgoing president his first veto override.
Suffering his first veto override so late in his second term would be significant, especially considering the president's high approval ratings relative to the rest of his presidency. By comparison, former President George W. Bush was overridden twice during his two terms in office and only in his final two years when his approval rating had plummeted.
The last president to make it through a full presidency without a veto override is Lyndon B. Johnson.
If passed into law, the legislation would allow victims of terrorism to sue foreign governments for damages.
Obama and the White House have argued that language in the bill could potentially compromise the principle of “sovereign immunity,” and put the U.S. government and entities at risk of being sued by other countries.
"Overriding the president's veto means that this country will start pursuing a less forceful approach in dealing with state sponsors of terrorism and potentially opens up U.S. service members and diplomats and even companies to spurious lawsuits in kangaroo courts around the world," White House press secretary Josh Earnest explained to reporters today.
"Our concern extends not just to the impact this would have on our relationship with Saudi Arabia, but rather the impact that this could have on the United States' relationship with countries around the world."
But the showdown has also put the Obama administration at odds politically with the wishes of countless 9/11 families who argue they haven't had their day in court against all parties responsible for the terror attacks. Saudi Arabia has itself spoken critically of and personally lobbied against the effort, maintaining it had no role in assisting the 9/11 terrorists.
The House and Senate each passed the measure by unanimous consent. A veto override requires a two-thirds vote by each chamber, and the White House says it has been working diligently behind the scenes to rally enough Democrats to block the override effort.
Obama's former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has also indicated she would sign the legislation into law if she wins the presidential election.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Election Day may be more than six weeks away but, starting today, some voters can cast votes at a physical polling place as statewide in-person, no-excuse voting gets underway in Minnesota and South Dakota.
With more than two-thirds of states offering some kind of early voting, the practice will trend upward in 2016, as it has in recent decades, and will play a major factor in battleground state ballots, some election experts predict.
An estimated 34 percent of voters will vote early, according to Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida and fellow at the Brookings Institution. The steep climb in early voting has resulted from states’ making early voting more widely available, along with incremental year-to-year increases as voters become more familiar with early-vote procedures, McDonald told ABC News.
While all states offer absentee voting, 37 states and Washington, D.C., will allow some form of early in-person voting this year before Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Early voting comprises both early absentee voting and early in-person voting. New York, South Carolina and Michigan are among the states that don't allow early, no-excuse voting.
Voting early offers flexibility and convenience to voters who may not be able to show up to the polls on Nov. 8, or prefer to avoid long lines on Election Day.
Whatever the motivation, early voting is likely to make up a significant chunk of the total vote in some key battleground states, Josh Putnam of the election blog Frontloading HQ told ABC News. He expects large early turnout in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina.
High early-vote turnout in battleground states is borne out by data from the previous elections. In 2012, early voting made up more than half the overall vote in Florida, Nevada and North Carolina. In Georgia, early voting accounted for 48 percent of the overall 2012 vote, and in Iowa that percent grew to 43 percent in 2012, up from 35 percent in 2008.
While Ohio traditionally does not have a big early vote, more than 524,000 absentee ballots had been requested as of this week, according to The Associated Press.
That marks an 8 percent increase of 40,000 compared to this time in the last presidential election. Early voting in Ohio in 2012 and 2008 comprised some 30 percent of the overall vote.
Beyond just the tweet, Clinton will now also be traveling to Charlotte on Sunday, according to a campaign aide.
Scott was fatally shot by officers on Tuesday and police reportedly have video that shows that he was holding a gun, though it is unclear if he was pointing a gun in their direction.
Scott's family has said he was holding a book, not a gun, while waiting for his son to be dropped off from school. After reviewing the footage, the family's attorney said in a statement that it's "impossible" to detect what Scott is holding and at no point did Scott appear or act aggressively.
"After watching the videos, the family again has more questions than answers," Justin Bamberg, a lawyer representing Scott's family, said in the statement Thursday. "When told by police to exit his vehicle, Mr. Scott did so in a very calm, non-aggressive manner. While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time. It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands."
Family members were privately shown the police video, and they want it to be released publicly.
Law enforcement officials have said that they intend to release the video but have not determined the appropriate timing.
The city's mayor and police chief have said they believe that the video should be released but suggested that if it was released too soon it could impact the ongoing investigation. The State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation.
Scott's family released footage shot by his wife that shows his confrontation with police officers and the moments before the shooting as well as the aftermath, but it does not show the shooting itself.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The FBI released nearly 200 more pages of documents late Friday from its investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, offering further insight into how FBI officials decided that charges were not warranted for the former secretary of state and her aides.
FBI Director James Comey has said repeatedly that while his agency's investigation found no evidence to indicate Clinton knew classified information was being sent over her home server, the FBI did conclude that Clinton was "extremely careless" in the handling of classified information.
In fact, the documents released Friday show that during a trip to Russia while secretary of state, one of Clinton's aides brought a pouch with Clinton's classified briefing book into the hotel suite they were sharing. After Clinton and the aide left the suite, diplomatic security found a classified document had been left behind -- and the pouch should not have been brought to the suite in first place, according to the FBI documents.
The 189 pages released today are comprised of summaries of FBI interviews with Clinton aides, State Department officials and other witnesses. They are peppered with redactions.
Many of the documents released today highlight how aides and officials knew they were discussing sensitive matters over email, but indicate they thought they were steering clear of classified information, according to what they told FBI agents.
For example, when Clinton adviser Jacob Sullivan was sent an email about what the FBI called "pending military activities" by North Korea, Sullivan inferred that "the person at [the State Department] who sent the email must have had reason to believe it could be sent on an unclassified system," FBI agents summarized Sullivan as saying.
"Sullivan had no reason to believe any [State Department] employee he worked with ever intentionally mishandled classified information and did the best they could to make a sound judgment when handling classified information," the FBI agents wrote.
Similarly, when asked about an email sent discussing a classified drone strike, Sullivan surmised the sender "may have sent this email on an unclassified system because the drone strike could have already hit the news wire."
While reporting on a drone strike after the fact wouldn't make the strike "less sensitive," the email's sender may not have viewed it that way, Sullivan told FBI agents, according to their summary.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Mark Cuban will be trolling his business rival Donald Trump during the first presidential debate.
The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner tweeted that he'll be sitting front row for the first faceoff between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, referring to the Monday night debate as the "Humbling at Hofstra."
The Clinton campaign confirmed it did invite Cuban and that his ticket is "one of the best seats we have available" at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York.
“I’m excited to see what happens, but I really don’t know what to expect," Cuban told ABC News today at the red carpet premiere for the ABC show "Shark Tank."
"Obviously, I’m a not a Trump fan. I am a Clinton fan," Cuban said. "I think she’d make a great president. I don’t think he’s got the skill set. Let’s put it this way, if he came on 'Shark Tank,' I wouldn’t make the investment. I just don’t see him as being capable in the least bit.”
Cuban officially endorsed Clinton for president on Twitter on July 29 and introduced her and running-mate Sen. Tim Kaine at their campaign rally the next day in Pittsburgh.
During an appearance on the Netflix show "Chelsea," Cuban said he even offered to play the role of Trump in Clinton's mock debates. Cuban said he emailed someone on the campaign but never heard back.
He has emerged as a critic of Trump, questioning whether the New York real estate mogul is actually worth $10 billion, as Trump has claimed, and calling on the Republican presidential nominee to release his taxes.
“What he’s done well is put his name on big buildings. ... He’s good at that. Now, whether or not that makes him a billionaire, I don’t know,” Cuban said of Trump in a June interview on 77 WABC’s “Bernie and Sid Radio Show” in New York City. “He’s not transparent enough for us to know that.”
Cuban trolled Trump recently by offering $10 million in exchange for an interview on Trump's policies.
.1) @realDonaldTrump $10mm to the charity of YOUR choice if you let ME interview you for 4 hrs on YOUR policies and their substance.
When Trump announced he was running for president, Cuban viewed Trump as a promising candidate.
Cuban called Trump "probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long time" in a statement last year on Cyber Dust, a private messaging app Cuban created.
In September of last year, Cuban gave Trump the American Airlines Center in Dallas, where the Mavericks play, free of charge for one of his biggest rallies during the fall cycle.
At that Sept. 14 rally last year, Trump called Cuban "a great guy" and thanked him for allowing him to use the arena.
Back in May, during the veepstakes, Cuban said on ESPN Radio's “Capital Games” podcast that he's "wide open" to being a running mate for either candidate.
But the relationship between Trump and Cuban quickly soured.
Cuban's 180-Degree Turn on Trump
Cuban, in an interview with EXTRA June 21, unloaded on Trump: "It’s rare that you see someone get stupider before your eyes, but he’s really working at it. ...You have to give him credit. It’s a difficult thing to do, but he’s accomplished it."
Cuban went on to explain the reasoning for his 180 on Trump.
“He sent me an email when I started picking on him. … What happened was I really didn’t like Ted Cruz, so I started helping Donald, tried to encourage him, because I thought he’d be, and to this day thought he’d be a better candidate than Ted Cruz. ... But at some point, you’ve got to start learning and understanding the issues, you know?” he said in that interview.
“Donald has been at this a year but you don’t look at him and say, ‘Wow, he’s gotten so much smarter on this topic or that topic.' In fact, you look at him and say, ‘What the hell are you talking about?' That’s not good for America.”
Cuban, 58, told CNN while campaigning with Clinton in his hometown of Pittsburgh on July 30, "Donald initially — I really hoped he would be something different, that as a businessperson, I thought there was an opportunity there. But then he went off the reservation and went bat---- crazy."
A History of Rivalry
Cuban and Trump, 70, have been rivals for some time. Before the campaign kicked off, the two would get into frequent Twitter spats. Back in 2012, Cuban dared Trump to shave his head for charity, offering to pay $1 million if Trump went through with it.
Trump subsequently accused Cuban of “trying to use me to get publicity for himself," before, months later, saying, Cuban “has less TV persona than any other person I can think of. He’s an arrogant, crude, dope who met some very stupid people.”
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election, according to a statement posted by Cruz to his Facebook page.
"After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump," wrote Cruz.
The question of whether Cruz, the Republican primary's second-place finisher, would cast a ballot for the party's nominee had been in question, particularly after he gave a fiery speech at the Republican National Convention in July.
Speaking on the third night of the RNC, Cruz encouraged conservatives to "vote your conscience" and never specifically endorsed Trump, who had overcome a last-ditch effort by Cruz supporters to secure the nomination on the convention's first day.
Trump responded to Cruz the day after the Texas lawmaker's address, calling the senator “dishonorable” for rejecting the pledge Republican candidates signed during the primaries indicating they would support the party's eventual nominee.
Today, Cruz said that he is embracing that pledge.
"A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment," wrote Cruz on Facebook.
But on the morning following Cruz's speech to the RNC, the senator said that the pledge was not "a blanket commitment."
"I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father," said Cruz at a breakfast for the Texas delegation. "And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi, that I’m going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say 'thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father.'"
That same day, Trump made clear that he would neither seek nor accept an eventual endorsement from Cruz.
"I like Ted, he's fine. Again, don't want his endorsement," Trump said. "If he gives it, I will not accept it, just so you understand."
Among the 17 primary candidates for the Republican nomination, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki have all withheld their support from Trump.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform says several Hillary Clinton staffers received immunity from the FBI in exchange for cooperating with the now-closed private email investigation.
Cheryl Mills, Clinton's top aide and chief of staff at the U.S. State Department, gave investigators access to her laptop as part of the deal, according to Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz. In exchange, their findings couldn't be used against her, he said.
"This is beyond explanation. The FBI was handing out immunity agreements like candy. I've lost confidence in this investigation and I question the genuine effort in which it was carried out," Chaffetz said in a statement to ABC News. "Immunity deals should not be a requirement for cooperating with the FBI."
Clinton aide Heather Samuelson, who worked with Mills to sort Clinton's emails, also received a similar immunity deal.
According to The New York Times, two additional staffers were granted immunity for cooperating with authorities.
The Clinton campaign criticized Chaffetz's comments about the immunity deal and investigation, which the FBI closed without recommending charges against Clinton for using a private email server as the nation's top diplomat.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Mills' immunity deal was limited and did not apply to testimony provided to Congress or comments made to the FBI.
"Of course, Republicans are trying to make political hay out of this, but the facts are that Ms. Mills cooperated fully with the Justice Department and Congress, the FBI concluded that there was no basis for any criminal prosecution, and even Chairman Gowdy praised Ms. Mills for voluntarily answering every single question in his marathon, nine-hour interview with her more than a year ago," he said in a statement. "Republicans will stop at nothing to tear apart the FBI’s independent investigation to try to damage Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
FBI Director James Comey said Clinton and her aides were "extremely careless" for their handling of classified information.
(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are going to have their formal showdown Monday at the first presidential debate of the season.
The debate at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, launches the campaign into a new stage as the countdown to Election Day races on.
"I think there's going to be a lot of focus [on the debates] and they've always been a really important part of the process," said Peter Eyre, a senior adviser with the Commission on Presidential Debates, the independent organization that sponsors the events.
Here's a rundown of all of the information that's available to date:
When and Where
First presidential debate: Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. All of the 90-minute debates air at 9 p.m. ET.
Moderator: NBC's Nightly News anchor Lester Holt
The debate will have six segments covering different subjects, according to the commission.
The commission announced that Holt had selected three topics -- America's direction, achieving prosperity and securing America -- to cover during the debate, but noted that they were subject to change based on news events.
Vice presidential debate: Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.
Moderator: CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano
The debate will feature nine segments, each about 10 minutes long. The topics of the debate will be announced about a week before it is held, as is the case for the other two presidential debates.
Second presidential debate: Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis.
Moderators: ABC News' chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper
The debate will be in a town hall format, with about half the questions asked by members of the audience and the other by the moderators. Gallup is responsible for finding the audience members, who are supposed to be uncommitted voters, the commission announced.
Third presidential debate: Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
Moderator: Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace
The final debate will be in the same format as the first one.
The specific themes will be announced about a week before the debate.
Who Will Be on Stage
Clinton and Trump are the only candidates who qualified to participate in the first debate, but that is not necessarily the case for the other two debates.
The Commission on Presidential Debates decided months ago that in order to participate, candidates must have support averaging at least 15 percent in selected national polls. Commission officials announced on Sept. 16 that neither Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson nor Green Party candidate Jill Stein had enough standing to qualify for the first debate. Subsequent decisions will come for the rest of the debates.
The commission previously announced it will use five surveys -- ABC News/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research Corp., Fox News and NBC/Wall Street Journal -- to make the decision.
Who Will Be in the Audience
In the run-up to the first debate, attention is now being paid to some of the big names that will be in the audience off-stage.
Chelsea Clinton will attend the debate, a first for her this election cycle after not attending any of the Democratic primary debates.
And then another familiar face is expected to be in the front row supporting Team Clinton: Mark Cuban.
The billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner is a vocal Clinton supporter and reportedly went so far as to volunteer to play Trump in Clinton's mock debates. He said earlier this week that the Clinton team never returned his email offer, but they did keep him in mind for another move.
If Cuban is being put in the front row as some kind of psychological fake out for Trump, the television audience shouldn't expect to enjoy his presence. Eyre told ABC News that the viewing audience will not be in the camera shot during the debate.
Depending on the venue, the viewing audience ranges in size from more than a couple dozen people but fewer than 100 people at each venue, Eyre said.
The audience will be a mix of guests of the universities, guests of the campaigns and "others who have made the debates possible, including sponsors, members of the media, security, etc.," he said.
The audience at the second presidential debate will be different from the other two, however, because that debate will be a town hall format where some of the audience members will be asking questions of the candidates. Polling company Gallup has been tasked with finding the audience members for that event who are expected to be uncommitted voters.
How the Moderators Were Picked
Commission officials are tasked with picking the moderators for the debates, and while they normally announce their decisions in August, the final list was released in September this year.
"These journalists bring extensive experience to the job of moderating, and understand the importance of using expanded time periods effectively,” Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr. and Michael D. McCurry, co-chairs of the nonpartisan commission, said in the statement announcing the moderators.
Raddatz, who is a co-anchor of the ABC News Sunday show This Week, is the only one of the four who has been selected by the commission before. She moderated the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan in 2012.
CNN's Candy Crowley was selected to moderate the town hall-style debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012. This year, that format will have two moderators: Raddatz and Cooper.
Crowley was the second female debate moderator ever. The first was ABC News' Carole Simpson in 1992.
"The formats chosen for this year's debates are designed to build on the formats introduced in 2012, which focused big blocks of time on major domestic and foreign topics,” Fahrenkopf and McCurry said in the release. “We are grateful for their willingness to moderate, and confident that the public will learn more about the candidates and the issues as a result.”
Debate Prep Underway
In keeping with their starkly different campaigns, the candidates are taking dramatically different approaches to debate prep.
Clinton cleared her schedule and took herself off the campaign trail for the four days before debate day. She's doing intensive debate prep, which includes mock debates complete with a Trump stand-in, as well as reviews of Trump's performance in Republican primary debates, according to campaign sources.
By contrast, Trump had two campaign events scheduled for Thursday, and while off the trail on Friday, he did add events to his schedule over the weekend.
His debate prep has been slim and he has not delved into policy or participated in mock debates, sources have told ABC News.
The one study tactic that they both share is a review of their opponent's past performances. But while aides say Clinton has been actively reviewing Trump's work, senior level Trump sources say he was given an iPad loaded with footage of old Clinton debates, though it's unclear how much time he has spent watching them.
Trump is reportedly being advised by his senior campaign staff, including campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and campaign CEO Stephen Bannon, as well as former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who has worked on the campaigns of Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan in the past.
Well-known Washington lawyer Bob Barnett is said to be advising Clinton during her debate prep. He helped her prepare for the primary debates by playing Sen. Bernie Sanders. The campaign has reportedly found someone to play Trump in their mock debates but they are remaining tight-lipped about the person's identity.
Trump hasn't spoken extensively about his debate prep, but does talk about the tone he expects to take.
"I'm going to be very respectful of her," Trump said during a phone interview on Fox News Thursday.
"I think she deserves that and I'm going to be nice. And if she's respectful of me, that’ll be nice. We'll have something that I think people will respect as a debate but we'll see where it all goes. You really never know exactly how it's going to turn out and that's why we’re going to have a lot of people watching," he said.