Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is getting regular updates on the operation against ISIS targets inside Syria, which began earlier Monday night, according to a senior White House official.
The president also phoned House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to brief them on the missile strikes and bombing.
Congress is in recess, with members scattered across the world on trips and back in their districts. But the president began reaching out to a few key members of Congress late Monday afternoon.
In addition to the calls from the president to leaders, senior Capitol Hill aides tell ABC News that Vice President Joe Biden reached out to a wider ring of senior lawmakers -- including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice called House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce earlier Monday evening with a notification, a GOP congressional aide told ABC News.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., issued this sign of support on Twitter: "All Americans must stand w/Pres Obama in our war against ISIS - particularly tonight's air strikes in Syria."
Meanwhile, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, encouraged unity among the divided Congress, noting that "in times of war and of peace it is important that we come together as a nation."
"To defeat ISIS, we must cut off the head of the snake, which exists in Syria. I support the administration's move to conduct airstrikes against ISIS wherever it exists," McCaul, R-Texas, wrote. "ISIS is not just a threat to the United States - it is a threat to all nations that value human life and decency. We must continue to lead the coalition and utilize all tools available to combat this threat until ISIS is destroyed."
Obama travels to New York Tuesday, where he will deliver remarks at the Climate Summit 2014 in the General Assembly Hall.
New River Valley Regional Jail(WASHINGTON) -- White House fence jumper Omar Gonzalez had more than 800 rounds of ammo in his car plus two hatchets and a machete, prosecutors said Monday as Virginia authorities revealed the Army veteran was arrested last July and charged with possession of a sawed-off shot gun and eluding police in Wythe County, Virginia.
Police also found "several assault rifles" in the vehicle at the time of his July arrest, according to a criminal complaint obtained by ABC News.
After Virginia State Police received several calls about a reckless driver on July 19, Virginia State Police observed a grey Ford Bronco moving at high speeds.
After eluding police and nearly crashing, Gonzalez was eventually pulled over, according to the complaint.
Gonzalez has been homeless for the past three months after more than a decade in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Iraq, authorities said.
Virginia State Police confirmed to ABC News that Gonzalez had a map of Washington, D.C., with a circle drawn around the White House, along with 11 different guns in his vehicle when he was arrested in July on charges of reckless driving, eluding police and possession of a sawed-off shotgun.
Virginia State Police also confirmed that they alerted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as well as the Secret Service about their arrest of Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was also stopped on Aug. 25 while walking along the south fence of the White House, prosecutors said. He had a hatchet in his rear waist band but was not arrested after he permitted a search of his car, which was parked nearby. Police found camping gear and two dogs but no ammo, prosecutors said.
Asked by a judge Monday whether Gonzalez needed a mental health eval, his lawyer said no.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After Omar Gonzalez of Texas scaled the north fence and entered the White House Friday, the Secret Service immediately began clamping down on security protocols.
But this is hardly the first time an intruder has managed to gain access to the White House grounds, one of the most historic and seemingly secure places in the world.
Here's a look back at some of the most egregious breaches at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
July 1976: Chester Plummer
Armed with a 3-foot-long metal pipe, Chester Plummer, 30, climbed the 8-foot fence and advanced toward the White House in July 1976. After reportedly menacing a Secret Security agent, he was shot in the chest and died 90 minutes later.
October 1978: Anthony Henry
Dressed in a white karate uniform, Anthony Henry, 35, scaled the fence and charged the North Portico in an attempt to convince President Carter to remove the phrase “In God we trust” from U.S. currency. When officers approached, Henry adopted a karate stance and whipped a knife out of the Bible he was carrying. He slashed one officer in the face and another in the arm before being wrestled to the ground.
January 1985: Robert Latta
Just a few hours before President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985, Robert Latta, 45, sauntered into the White House with the Marine Corps band and wandered around for about 15 minutes before being apprehended by Secret Service.
September 1994: Frank Eugene Corder
In September 1994, during President Clinton's first term, former Army mechanic Frank Eugene Corder allegedly stole a single-engine Cessna airplane and crashed it on the South Lawn. The plane skidded across the lawn and slammed into a wall just below the presidential bedroom. Corder, reportedly intoxicated at the time, was the sole fatality.
October 1994: Francisco Martin Duran
About a month later, Francisco Martin Duran, 26, pulled a rifle from under his trench coat and opened fire, unleashing at least 29 rounds at the White House, where President Clinton was watching football. When he stopped to reload, passersby managed to tackle and subdue him. Duran later claimed he was attempting to save the world from an alien “mist.” He was convicted of attempted assassination and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
February 2001: Robert Pickett
In February 2001, Robert Pickett, a former IRS accountant with a history of mental illness, allegedly fired several shots outside the White House and then refused to drop his weapon, spurring a tense 10-minute standoff that ended when a Secret Service agent shot him in the knee. Just 700 feet away, President Bush was exercising in his private residence. Pickett, 47, was eventually sent to a Bureau of Prisons psychiatric hospital for treatment.
January 2005: Lowell Timmers
Angry that his daughter’s undocumented fiancé could be deported, Lowell Timmers, 54, threatened to blow up his van near the White House in January 2005. "I want my son, and I'm not leaving until my son-in-law is out of jail," Timmers reportedly told authorities during the ensuing four-and-a-half-hour standoff. He eventually surrendered peacefully, and later pled guilty to making a false explosive threat. He told the court, however, that he couldn’t “rule out” the possibility that he would do it again, but “the odds of that happening are 800 million billion [sic] to one.”
November 2009: Tareq and Michaele Salahi
In what may have been the most glamorous breach in White House history, aspiring reality stars Tareq and Michaele Salahi managed to slip through two security checkpoints and into a White House state dinner, where they mingled with the president, vice president and chief of staff in November 2009. The pair, who publicly maintained they had been invited to the event, pled the Fifth at a congressional hearing examining the breach.
November 2011: Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez
Apparently fearful of an impending apocalypse, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez fired at least eight rounds at the White House from the window of his Honda Accord, striking the building several times and severely damaging its façade. President Obama, whom Ortega, 23, reportedly called “the anti-Christ,” was away at the time. Ortega fled the scene and was apprehended in a hotel room in Pennsylvania five days later. He eventually pled guilty to firing an assault weapon at the White House and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Authorities agreed to drop an assassination charge as part of a plea deal.
June 2013: Joseph Clifford Reel
In June 2013, Joseph Clifford Reel, 33, rigged his driverless Jeep to crash into the White House security gate, hoping it would create diversion and allow him to paint a “don’t tread on me” sign on an exterior wall of the White House. According to prosecutors, the Jeep had two machetes as well as hundreds of bullets and eight knives. No one was injured in the crash, and Reel was apprehended with a can of spray paint in the courtyard. In a manifesto posted online, Reel slammed the Obama administration, saying “Every once in a while, bad people take over. .?.?. And every once in a while, regular people have to get up and say, ‘No.’?” Reel, who claimed he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
But not all the security snafus at the White House have been so serious. In perhaps the most adorable security breach to date, a 2-year-old squeezed through the bars of the north fence last month, spurring a lockdown and delaying the president’s impending address to the nation.
"We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him,” a Secret Service spokesman said, ”but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on way with parents.”
mcallister.house.gov(WASHINGTON) -- "Kissing congressman" Rep. Vance McAllister is back, and this time, he's with his wife.
McAllister, the Louisiana Republican who was caught on surveillance video passionately kissing a married woman on his staff, released a new TV commercial Monday. His wife, Kelly McAllister, is looking into his eyes, praising his character as she says: "I'm blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes."
The McAllisters' marriage was thrust into the spotlight in April after the compromising video of the congressman surfaced. Republican leaders in Louisiana and Washington urged him to resign, but he issued a public apology, asked for forgiveness and said he would let the voters of Louisiana's 5th Congressional District decide.
"Life is filled with ups and downs," McAllister says in the ad.
"But a man's character is based on how many times he gets back up and stands again," says Kelly McAllister.
As images of their children pass by on the screen, she reaches over to clasp his hand and shows her diamond ring, while he says he is "blessed with a great family and a wonderful Christian wife."
Then, she replies: "I'm blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana."
In June, Kelly McAllister said she fully supported her husband's decision to run. But the ad released Monday, called "Blessed," marks the first time the couple has made the indiscretion a central part of the campaign.
McAllister, who won his congressional seat a year ago in a special election, now faces several challengers, including Zach Dasher, a nephew of Duck Dynasty TV star Phil Robertson. If none of the candidates win at least 50% of the vote on Nov. 4, the top two rivals face off in a runoff election in December.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the midst of high-profile domestic violence scandals, including that of ex-Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced grants totalling $2.6 million to go towards preventing deadly domestic violence.
The pilot program will be implemented at four sites in the U.S. to help identify people so violent they could kill their partner. The goal of the program is to anticipate lethal behavior and stop it.
In a video message, Holder said, "This Administration, this Department of Justice - and I personally - will not waver in that effort: to shine a light on violence and abuse."
Three women die every day in the U.S. at the hands of their partner or ex-partner, a statistic Holder calls shocking.
"We've come a long way since the time when these incidents of abuse were considered private household matters but we have a ways to go still," Holder said.
The pilot program will begin in Pitt County, N.C.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Contra Costa County, Calif.; and Brooklyn, N.Y.
warren.senate.gov(NEW YORK) -- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren lit up a crowd of Democratic activists and donors Monday, speaking at a fundraiser for a powerful group that backs women candidates, just across town at the same time Hillary Clinton kicked off the Clinton Foundation's annual Clinton Global Initiative conference.
Warren received two standing ovations from the group of women at Emily's List, but it was clear Clinton was on their mind.
"This is an exciting time and we at Emily's List, we know and we believe we will have a woman running for president in 2016," Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock said to cheers from the crowd right before Warren took the stage. "We sure hope that Secretary Clinton takes the time she needs, but we also sure hope she takes this on because we are ready. We are ready."
The former secretary of state has said she will make up her mind by the end of this year. Warren has said repeatedly, "I am not running for president," choosing not to expand on whether she could run in the future. Warren is very popular with the progressive left of the Democratic Party, many of whom remain unsure about Clinton. The group "Ready for Warren" launched to encourage her to run, mimicking the "Ready for Hillary" campaign that has brought in millions and is well organized across the country. Warren disavowed the Ready for Warren group, but it hasn’t stopped her supporters from hoping she changes her mind.
After Warren spoke, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow also mentioned Clinton, saying she "really hope(s) I can call her something else…I think Madam President sounds awfully good."
Warren headlined the fundraiser Monday at the Mandarin Oriental, where she spoke about the fast-approaching midterm elections and the importance of recruiting female Democratic candidates.
"It truly matters and it matters not just because women win. It matters because it means we have a seat at the table," Warren said to the over 300 attendees. "And everybody in this room knows the basic rule, if you don't have a seat at the table, you are probably on the menu."
Over the next three days, Clinton, alongside her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea, will engage in moderated discussions and panels with key global leaders, including announcing a large commitment regarding secondary education for girls around the world.
At a CGI event Sunday night, the former president called Warren an "important part" of the Democratic Party’s future because of her signature message of giving Americans "an equal shot at prosperity."
Monday, Warren roused the crowd, speaking about reproductive rights and income equity, saying to applause, "Women have an opportunity to change, to change the government, to change the direction this country goes…we have a chance, but we have to fight for it and me, I'm out there fighting for it."
She mentioned the several Senate female incumbents and challengers who are in tough November fights, including Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, and Michelle Nunn in Georgia.
"We are here and we are going to change this country, our voices will be heard," she said. "There is so much at stake in this election…women across this country our going to make a difference."
In a lighter moment, Warren noted the "terrible parts about running for office," including negative ads.
"Where do they get those pictures of you? I don't look that bad when I first wake up in the morning," Warren said. "And the creepy music. There was one ad that seemed to suggest I was going to eat voters' brains."
Robin Marchant/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump has never been shy when it comes to backing Republican politicians.
The businessman took to his Twitter account on Monday to call Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Grimes a “rookie,” while he voiced his support for Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell. But in his enthusiasm, he moved McConnell to the other chamber of Congress.
Why would the people of Kentucky want a rookie Senator-- they have Sen. Mitch @McConnellPress who may be next Speaker & bring $'s to KY?
Sen. McConnell is currently the Senate Minority Leader, and if re-elected to what some are predicting will be a Republican-majority Senate after the midterm elections, he could become the Senate Majority Leader, not Speaker of the House.
The gaffe quickly became fodder for ridicule from pundits as well as McConnell’s challenger.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Reacting to Friday’s security breach in which a U.S. veteran scaled a perimeter fence at the White House and made it all the way into the building, White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday said President Obama is “obviously concerned” by the incident but added that the president “continues to have complete confidence” in the Secret Service.
“I had the opportunity to speak briefly with the president about it earlier today. He did indicate, as you would expect, his family lives in the White House, and so he is obviously concerned by the incident that occurred on Friday evening,” Earnest said.
“Providing security at the White House is complicated business,” he said, pointing to its dual role as a government office building and popular tourist destination. “The Secret Service has the challenging task of balancing the need to ensure the safety and security of the first family, while also ensuring that the White House continues to be the People’s House. And balancing those equities is challenging work, but it’s clear that in this case a review of that work is warranted and that review will be conducted.”
Earnest said the ongoing review is studying the positioning of tactical and non-tactical assets inside and outside the fence line, but Obama is “confident that the reforms that are determined to be necessary will be implemented in the proper way.”
“It will include a review of technical or physical security enhancements that may be necessary to improve security at the White House. It will also include a question about ongoing staffing and an assessment about whether or not additional staffing is needed,” Earnest said.
He added that the Secret Service will review its policy and procedures “related to the assessment of threats” and go over its previous interactions with the suspect.
Earnest refused to say whether Obama personally favors building a higher fence or further restricting access near the White House, but added that Obama and several senior administration officials were briefed “multiple times on the actual incident” over the weekend, and that a number of changes to the security posture have already been implemented in the “immediate aftermath” of the incident.
“The Secret Service has beefed up foot patrols along -- around the fence line of the White House complex,” Earnest said. “The Secret Service has deployed additional surveillance resources to beef up the surveillance around the White House. The Secret Service has changed the procedures for ensuring that the entrance to the White House is secure, and there is already some stepped-up training for officers who are essentially standing on the front lines of the White House to ensure that they are aware of the policies and procedures that are related to securing the White House and dealing with incidents like the one that we saw on Friday.”
Andrew Burt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The head of the Department of Homeland Security is urging the public to “not rush to judgment” on the White House intrusion that took place Friday.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he encourages “all of us to…not second-guess the judgment of security officers who had only seconds to act,” insisting in a statement issued on Monday that the public should wait “until all the facts are in.”
Johnson noted that the head of the Secret Service, a DHS component, has ordered a review of the events that unfolded Friday, and said he will “carefully evaluate the findings and recommendations of the review” when it’s completed.
Meanwhile, there are already signs of increased security around the White House, including additional barriers outside of the White House gates.
Texan Omar Gonzalez, 42, was allegedly carrying a folding knife in his pocket when he jumped the 9-foot fence, ran about 100 yards across the north lawn of the White House and then made it inside one of the most secure buildings in the world.
Gonzalez has been homeless in the nation’s capital for the past three months after 13 years in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Iraq.
After the breach, Johnson expressed continued confidence in the Secret Service.
“It is important to remember that the U.S. Secret Service remains one of the best, if not the best, protection services in the world,” he said.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- President Obama will convene a rare head of state summit at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on Wednesday to address international financing of terror groups like ISIS.
The summit has been in the works, and comes on the heels of Russia vowing to veto any U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria.
During an appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, dismissed Russia's threat.
“Russia has vetoed in the past, but on very different issues,” Power said. “I think Russia has made clear for a long time its opposition to ISIL.”
ISIL, like ISIS, is an acronym for the radical Islamic group that is operating in Iraq and Syria.
Power noted that the international community doesn't need Russia's approval to launch airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Omar Gonzalez, the man accused of scaling a security fence and getting into the White House with a knife last week, is scheduled for an appearance in Federal Court Monday.
Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, is facing charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.
The Army says Gonzalez served from 1997 until his discharge in 2003, and again from 2005 to December 2012, when he retired due to disability.
In the wake of the incident Friday night, the Secret Service stepped up its security procedures at the White House complex.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson ordered an immediate increase in “officer patrols and surveillance capabilities along the Pennsylvania Avenue fence line” of the White House complex, the Secret Service said Saturday.
In addition,The New York Times reports Monday that “The Secret Service is considering screening tourists and other visitors at checkpoints before they enter the public areas in front of the White House…As part of the screening, the Secret Service would establish several checkpoints a few blocks from the White House, the officials said. The screening would likely be limited to bag checks and not include measures taken at airports by the Transportation Security Administration, which include metal detectors and body scans.”
U.S. Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. is "gravely concerned" about the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons's findings last week of systematic and repeated chlorine attacks in northern Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a written statement Sunday.
"The Assad regime must know that it will be held to account for such use in the international community," Kerry said, noting that the report raises "especially troubling concerns that continued chemical attacks on the Syrian people by the regime could occur."
The OPCW released its report on Wednesday. While it does not assign responsibility, Kerry pointed to witness accounts of helicopters being used in the attacks, which would indicate the Assad regime carried them out.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The man who jumped over a White House fence and made it all the way inside the executive mansion before being caught was carrying a three-and-a-half inch knife and told officials he was a veteran of three tours in Iraq, according to the complaint released Saturday.
In the wake of the incident Friday night, the Secret Service announced it is stepping up its security procedures at the White House complex.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson ordered an immediate increase in "officer patrols and surveillance capabilities along the Pennsylvania Avenue fence line" of the White House complex, the Secret Service said Saturday.
The steps went into effect Friday night after Omar Gonzalez, 42, scaled the White House fence, sprinted across the North Lawn, and entered the White House.
The Secret Service dealt with a second security incident in as many days on Saturday after a man was arrested at the White House after trying to enter a barricaded entrance to the White House complex with his car.
Gonzalez was arrested just after going through the North Portico doors of the White House. He appeared at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on Saturday and was charged with unlawful entry while in possession of a deadly or dangerous weapon.
Gonzalez was carrying a Spyderco VG-10 black serrated folding knife in his front pants pocket when he was arrested, according to a police affidavit.
On Friday, Secret Service Spokesman Ed Donovan had initially said Gonzalez was unarmed at the time of his arrest.
The affidavit says after he was apprehended, the Copperas Cove, Texas man told a Secret Service agent "he was concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing and need to get the information to the President of the United States so that he could get the word out to people."
He told officials he served 18 years in the military and did three tours in Iraq, according to the affidavit. He also claimed to have lived in Washington, D.C., for three months but has no known address.
Army records indicate one deployment to Iraq from October 2006 to January 2008. The service record also shows Gonzalez enlisted twice, with a two-year between each. His first enlistment was from 1997 to 2003, then a second from 2005 to 2012 ended with retirement for an unspecified disability.
Gonzalez's drug test was negative and he has no verified criminal history and no convictions.
The suspect was ordered held without bond until he goes to federal court on Monday. The legal basis the judge used to detain him was that the government formally asked for a detention hearing, which gives her three days to hold him pending the hearing.
President Obama and his daughters had departed the South Lawn of the White House aboard Marine One just minutes before Gonzalez entered the residence of the White House.
Following Friday's incident, the White House said Obama has "full confidence" in the Secret Service.
"The President has full confidence in the Secret Service and is grateful to the men and women who day in and day out protect himself, his family and the White House," the White House said Saturday. "The Secret Service is in the process of conducting a thorough review of the event on Friday evening and we are certain it will be done with the same professionalism and commitment to duty that we and the American people expect from the United States Secret Service."
The agency said the arrest inside the White House was "not acceptable," and Pierson has ordered a review of the incident, which began Friday night with a physical assessment of the site and interviews with those involved.
In Sunday's incident, Kevin Carr, 19, was arrested and charged with unlawful entry after he drove his car up to a barricaded entryway to the White House complex and refused to follow orders from Secret Service officers, Brian Leary, a Secret Service spokesman, told ABC News.
Carr, from Shamong, N.J., did not hit the barriers with his vehicle.
Police temporarily closed the plaza in front of the White House and other streets in the area because of the incident. Police officers ordered pedestrians to get off Pennsylvania Avenue and onto the sidewalk in Lafayette Park just in front of the building.
Bomb technicians, fully suited, searched a white four-door sedan with New Jersey plates near the security area where Carr attempted to enter the White House complex with his car. At one point, a bomb squad robot was seen moving away from the car.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has been working with the Secret Service in investigating Friday evening's breach, a committee aide told ABC News. The findings of the Secret Service's review will be submitted to the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.