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Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon is expected to meet behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, a congressional source and two sources close to Bannon tell ABC News.

Bannon will field questions from congressional Russia investigators for the first time as he continues to face backlash for his comments in a controversial new book about the Trump White House by author Michael Wolff that has renewed questions about the president's mental fitness and campaign activity.

Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign in August of 2016, said the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer thought to have dirt on Hillary Clinton was "treasonous," according to "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House."

"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers," Bannon said, according to Wolff. "Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic ... you should have called the FBI immediately."

In the book, he also suggested Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would focus on money laundering - something the panel has spent time investigating abroad.

Bannon, who stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart News last week amid the fallout over his comments, has since regretted his comments in the book and has called Donald Trump Jr., one of the campaign officials who participated in the meeting, a "patriot and a good man."

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the panel has questions about Bannon's comments in the book - including his suggestion that Trump Jr. brought the participants to meet with then-candidate Donald Trump.

“Specifically what's the basis for his assertion that the president met with the participants in the Trump Tower meeting,” Schiff said in an interview with ABC News' Pierre Thomas. “What [Bannon] knows about the president’s knowledge of that meeting, as well as his concerns over money laundering which has been a persistent concern of ours as well.”

The committee first reached out to Bannon with a request for documents and an interview before the release of "Fire and Fury." Trump's former political adviser is also expected to face questions about his knowledge of Russian contacts during the transition.

“We know from the Erik Prince testimony…that [Prince] had a meeting with Steve Bannon before he made that trip to the Seychelles traveling halfway around the world to have what he described essentially as a coincidental meeting with a Russian in a bar,” Schiff said. “Which just happened to be a head of one of the Russian Investment Banks, so we'd like to know whether Steve Bannon was involved in establishing any kind of a back channel of with the Russians.”

Bannon isn't the only Trump associate expected before the committee this week: Corey Lewandowski, Trump's first presidential campaign manager, is expected before the panel later this week.

"I have nothing to hide. I didn't collude or cooperate or coordinate with any Russian, Russian agency, Russian government or anybody else, to try and impact this election," he told WABC Radio's Rita Cosby in a recent interview.

Bannon's interview comes as the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees continue their investigations into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, are also seeking interviews with Justice Department officials involved with the Hillary Clinton email investigation and initial Russia probe.

So far there is no indication that Bannon is being investigated by the Special Counsel Mueller.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Congress has until midnight Friday to strike a deal on a host of thorny issues before government funding is set to run out, but talks appear to be at a standstill and a stopgap spending bill is looking more likely.

At the heart of it: the fate of nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants.

Democrats insist that if Republicans want their support for a spending deal, it must include a legislative fix to help DACA recipients. Republicans maintain that DACA must be dealt with separately from spending negotiations.

While a bipartisan group of senators claimed to have struck a deal that would shield DACA recipients from deportations and address border security, President Donald Trump roundly rejected their plan at an Oval Office meeting late last week.

Talks got even more complicated after sources said -- and at least one Democratic lawmaker at the meeting publicly claimed -- that Trump had made disparaging remarks about accepting immigrants from African nations.

On Sunday, Trump emphatically denied calling them "s---hole countries," adding that he is the "least racist person" reporters "have ever interviewed."

He went on to blame Democrats for holding up negotiations, telling reporters, "Honestly, I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal. I think they talk about DACA, but they don't want to help the DACA people."

And on Monday Trump tweeted, "Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military."

With Congress heading towards another government shutdown, all eyes are on negotiators as they scramble to come up with a spending deal that will placate members on both sides of the aisle.

The spending bill

Just two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seemed confident Democrats and Republicans could work together on spending.

"I am optimistic that we can begin 2018 with a bipartisan, two-year funding agreement that meets several critically-important objectives," McConnell said at the beginning of the new year.

Congressional leaders are scrambling to negotiate a funding bill that sets spending caps, reauthorizes the Children's Health Insurance Program, and provides supplemental disaster relief for communities ravaged by hurricanes last fall.

Republicans and Democrats both want to lift spending caps, which limit the amount of money the government can spend without adding to the deficit.

While Republicans are calling for a boost in defense spending, Democrats insist that any military spending increase be matched by an equal increase in spending on domestic programs. Republicans have said this notion of “parity” is a non-starter.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said negotiators on both sides of the aisle are “making progress” on establishing spending caps, and downplayed the chances of a government shutdown.

But he acknowledged another short-term spending bill was likely in the cards in order to give lawmakers more time to strike a deal on a long-term spending bill.

“We will have to do something short-term,” Ryan admitted last week during remarks at the University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee.

GOP defense hawks say a short-term spending bill cripples the military and the country's national security.

Democrats, for their part, are loathe to support a spending bill that doesn’t include a legislative fix to help the so-called Dreamers – the nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Fate of the Dreamers

The lone bipartisan plan to address DACA recipients and border security is now on the cutting room floor, but negotiators say they plan to whip up support from their colleagues.

"President Trump called on Congress to solve the DACA challenge. We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act—the areas outlined by the President. We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress," the bipartisan group of six senators said in a joint statement last week.

The Trump administration has set March 5 as the deadline to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young undocumented immigrants if Congress fails to come up with its own solution.

Republicans say Democrats are holding spending negotiations "hostage" and have said the DACA program must be addressed separately and in a standalone bill.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and other Democrats are pushing for a DACA fix to be included in a spending agreement this week because they fear if it's delayed any longer than that, Republicans won't put any legislation on the floor for a vote.

Republican leadership have said they intend to bring a vote to the floor in February or March.

"We’ve heard that before and it never happens," Schumer said last week.

Immigration hardliners in the Senate have already said their colleagues' bipartisan plan "isn't serious."

“There has been no deal reached yet on the future of DACA in the Senate. Some of our colleagues have floated a potential plan that, simply put, isn’t serious. It is disingenuous to discuss providing status to, potentially, millions of individuals without taking credible steps to truly protect our borders and secure the interior," Sens. Cotton, Grassley, and Perdue said in a statement last week.

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Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A public he-said, they-said debate has been unfolding for days in the wake of last week’s Oval Office meeting where President Donald Trump reportedly used a derogatory term to refer to certain countries.

The White House initially offered no denial of the charge that Trump questioned why the United States would want to accept immigrants from "s---hole countries.” But Trump is now denying that he made that specific remark, also citing claims from two people at the meeting that he says support his version of events.

Here is a timeline of how the issue has unfolded:

Thursday Jan. 11

In an immigration meeting at the White House Thursday afternoon, Trump grew frustrated at a proposed bipartisan immigration plan that would scale back the visa lottery program, but not eliminate it, asking those in the room why they would want people from "s---hole countries" like some in Africa coming to the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.

The president suggested instead that the United States should welcome more people from places like Norway, whose prime minister he had met with the day before, according to the sources.

The White House did not deny that the president made the remarks.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah issued this statement to ABC News, saying, "Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation. He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”

A senior White House official acknowledged to ABC News that the president "grew frustrated when the conversation turned to the issue of the visa lottery deal," which allows a certain number of immigrants from qualifying countries every year.

White House aides appeared unfazed, with some there arguing the remark could actually help the president despite drawing bipartisan condemnation.

But it was “not the best way” for the president to convey his position, a senior White House official conceded, calling it a “classic Trump moment,” though arguing, “he’s making a point that people agree with, with words that are controversial.”

“This is a gaffe,” the official said. “It may not have been the best way to convey his position.”

Another White House official told ABC News the comment reflects the president’s “America First” policy.

“I don't think anyone is worried about it,” the official said. “I haven't seen or heard anyone worried about it. In this instance, our statement reflects our thinking here. America First."

Friday Jan. 12

Trump posted a tweet, making a vague denial of something that was being reported but not specifying the language with which he took issue.

"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!" he tweeted.

In the first public, on-camera reaction from someone in the room, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said there is no question the president said these "hate-filled things."

"To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words,” he said. “It is not true."

"When I mentioned that fact to him, he said, ‘Haitians, do we need more Haitians?’ Then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from shitholes. The exact word used by the president. Not just once but repeatedly."

Two Republican senators who were also in the meeting, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, issued a joint statement saying they did not “recall” the president’s use of the derogatory word.

“In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the resident saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest,” the joint statement read.

Another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, weighed in but revealed little about what was or wasn’t said.

“Following comments by the president, I said my piece directly to him yesterday,” he said in a statement. “The president and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel. I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.”

Sunday Jan. 15

In addition to Cotton, who again denied the use of the word during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” another person who was in the room during the meeting came to Trump’s defense.

The newly appointed Department of Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said on “Fox News Sunday” she didn’t remember hearing the word used.

"I don't recall him saying that exact phrase. I think he has been clear and I would certainly say undoubtedly the president will use, continue to use strong language when it comes to this issue. He feels very passionate about it," she said.

During an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Perdue doubled down on his earlier claims that he didn’t recall hearing the word used.

“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George,” Perdue told host George Stephanopoulos. “And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation.”

Before a dinner with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., at Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, the president denied making the “s---hole” remark.

“Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments? They weren’t made,” Trump said.

Asked about those who accuse him of being a racist, Trump replied: “No, no, I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.”

Monday Jan. 15

While attending an event in Chicago to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Durbin dismissed questions that have been raised by some who said that Trump didn't say "s---hole" but actually said "s---house" instead.

"I don’t know that changing the word from “hole” to “house” changes the impact which this has. This speaks to America and its view toward immigration and his message to the world," Durbin said. "I don’t believe the majority of America agrees with the president, whichever word was used."

Durbin said "I stick with my original interpretation. I am stunned that this is their defense" of suggesting that it was a slightly different word used.

In an interview with the Charleston Post & Courier, Sen. Lindsey Graham said his memory "hasn't evolved" since Thursday's controversial Oval Office meeting.

He told fellow South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott last week that media accounts of Trump's remarks were "basically accurate."

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's schedule Monday marks a break in presidential tradition.

Though it isn't unusual for Trump to visit his golf course while spending time at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, the timing of it Monday, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, shows a break from the actions of past presidents.

While Trump urged Americans last Friday to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with acts of civic work and community service to honor the life of the civil rights legend, it doesn’t appear he'll be doing the same, with no public events listed on his schedule. The White House didn't immediately respond to requests for further details on how Trump spent his day.

Past Republican and Democratic presidents have done some form of commemoration for King's life of service on the holiday during their time in office.

In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed legislation to designate the federal holiday as a national day of service. He also did volunteer work himself in subsequent years, including a day he spent painting the walls at a Washington, D.C., high school in 1998 and joining AmeriCorps volunteers in painting a senior center in 2001.

During his eight years in office, then-President George W. Bush participated in service events, invited African-American clergy to the White House for lunch and attended church and cultural services honoring King.

And former President Barack Obama and his family made it an annual tradition to participate in some type of service event, from working at a soup kitchen to painting a mural at a family shelter.

Hundreds of demonstrators, including many from the Haitian community, greeted Trump Monday in West Palm Beach. They called for the president to apologize for his controversial comments reportedly made during a recent Oval Office meeting on immigration reform.

"Mr. Trump, we want him to know what he said was not who we are and he needs to apologize," Byrnes Guillaume, organizer of the protest, told ABC affiliate WPBF-TV. "It was unbecoming of a president."

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Lou Rocco /ABC(NEW YORK) -- Rep. John Lewis, who boycotted President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year, said Martin Luther King Jr. “would have taken the same position I did.”

Lewis, one of the last surviving leaders of the U.S. civil rights movement, was among the original 13 Freedom Riders and was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a major organization of the movement in the 1960s.

Lewis has served as the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 5th district since 1987.

He told The View Monday that he originally decided not to attend Trump's inauguration a year ago because he “never felt that his election was legitimate.” He also has not met with the president and does not plan to.

"I couldn't be at home with myself if I had to participate or be part of [Trump's inauguration]," Lewis said. "The movement told us to withdraw from evil."

Lewis also said on This Week on Sunday that he will not attend Trump’s first State of the Union later this month, saying that “in good conscience” he “cannot sit there and listen to him.”

Trump attacked Lewis on Twitter two days before the inauguration last year in response to Lewis' claim that Trump was not a “legitimate” president because of alleged Russian interference in the election.

 Lewis said today that he disagreed with a contention by King’s daughter, Bernice King, that her father would have met with President Trump.

Bernice King said on WSB radio in early 2017: “Unlike some people, my father would try to meet with President-elect Trump because he recognizes that in order to move the agenda of justice, freedom, and equality forward, you can’t just protest and resist. You also have to negotiate as well.”

Lewis said, “I knew her father very, very well. Meeting him, working with him, and getting to know him — I think he would have taken the same position that I did.”

He added that he believes Trump wouldn’t have been elected had Martin Luther King Jr. still been alive: “Dr. King would have been able to lead us to a different place and our country would have been different and the world community would have been different.”

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There was a slew of high-profile departures from the Trump White House over a three-week period this past summer--but they were hardly the only ones during the first year.

Some of the highest-profile positions have been part of White House shakeups--including chief of staff, press secretary, and communications director.

At the same time, a number of key aides who've stayed have been on the so-called Trump train since the beginning.

Here's a rundown of the biggest departures:

Mike Flynn, former national security adviser

Flynn's departure came less than a month into his tenure as the president's national security adviser.

He lasted just over three weeks before being forced to resign Feb. 13 after it was revealed he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of multiple contacts with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak before Trump's inauguration.

On Dec. 1, Flynn pleaded to one felony count of making false statements to the FBI.

Reince Priebus, former White House chief of staff

Amid tensions with the then-new communications director Anthony Scaramucci, Trump decided to replace Reince Priebus.

Priebus came into the White House with Trump, having served as chairman of the Republican National Committee during the campaign. Given his background in Republican politics, Priebus was widely seen as one of the more ‘establishment’ figures in the administration.

On July 28, Trump announced then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly would replace Priebus.

Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary

Sean Spicer became one of the best-known figures in the early Trump administration for his combative press briefings and an outlandish imitation on “Saturday Night Live.” That all ended on July 21, just over six months into the administration.

A few hours after Anthony Scaramucci was brought on the team as communications director, Spicer resigned. Spicer told ABC News that he felt "relieved" and that "organizationally" the White House communications team needed a "fresh start."

Spicer has made a handful of public appearances since his departure, including a controversial moment at the Emmy Awards when he mocked his own claims about the size of the crowd at Trump's inauguration.

Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director

A former investment banker briefly became the head of the White House communications operation--before a profanity-laced conversation with a reporter led to his ouster.

The hiring of Anthony Scaramucci ruffled feathers within the White House, and prompted the resignation of a beleaguered Spicer, and the replacement of Trump's then-chief of staff Priebus a week later.

With Scaramucci just days into his role, The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza published a detailed account of an expletive-ridden phone conversation he had with Scaramucci. Scaramucci resigned four days after the article's publication.

All told, Scaramucci officially held the role of communications director for a little more than a week.

Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist

Critics opposed Bannon's purported nationalist views and former position as executive chairman of the website Breitbart News, which published articles that promoted the so-called alt-right movement.

Bannon's firing came as a result of Trump's increasing frustration with him, according to one senior White House official.

He returned to Breitbart News after leaving the White House, and publicly supported certain far-right candidates including Roy Moore in Alabama who made a failed run for U.S. Senate. He came under fire from Trump in January 2018 for comments he made to the author of "Fire and Fury" - a revealing book about the administration, and days later it was announced that Bannon was stepping down from his role at Breitbart.

Mike Dubke, former White House communications director

Dubke wasn't part of the Trump team for long, joining the White House in early March and announcing his departure only a little more than two months later.

His lack of roots within the Trump team may have contributed to his departure-- Axios reporting that he didn't gel with those who had been part of the campaign.

He reportedly left on good terms June 2.

Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president

Sebastian Gorka attracted an extraordinary amount of scrutiny during his time in the White House for his alleged ties to a far-right Hungarian nationalist group and his questionable national security resume.

Known for his combative television appearances, he courted controversy in early August with an interview just a week prior to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in which he criticized the news media for focusing too much on white supremacists.

Gorka wrote a lengthy letter obtained by The Federalist in which he stated he had resigned his post-- saying he was frustrated with national security adviser H.R. McMaster's leadership and his moves to push out some close allies of former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Omarosa Manigualt-Newman, former communications director for the Office of Public Liaison

She was fired three times from various seasons of "The Apprentice," but former reality star and Trump confidante Omarosa Manigualt-Newman insists she resigned from her role at the White House, denying reports she was fired and had to be escorted from the building. A White House official said in a statement on Dec. 13 that Manigault-Newman resigned “to pursue other opportunities.”

Manigualt-Newman spoke about her departure on "Good Morning America" the next day, saying she and chief of staff John Kelly "had a very straightforward discussion of concerns that I had, issues that I raised and, as a result, I resigned."

The White House announced that while Manigault-Newman will not have the same level of security clearance, she will officially stay on in her role until Jan. 20 and would continue to get paid during that time.

She was in charge of outreach to the leaders of HBCUs--historically black colleges and universities--and also oversaw the president’s visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. But Manigault's day-to-day duties could not be pinpointed and, according to Politico, she used the White House as a backdrop for her 39-person bridal party to take wedding photos.

Katie Walsh, former deputy chief of staff

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh left the White House in March to consult for an outside group that aims to help with Trump’s agenda.

Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser


Powell is set to leave the White House in early 2018. The announcement of her departure came on Dec. 8 and her final day of work in the administration has not been publicly released.

Powell has been a key player in the administration’s Middle East policy, with senior adviser Jared Kushner releasing a statement saying that she "has been a valued member of the Israeli-Palestinian peace team."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement saying Powell has been "a key, trusted advisor" and "has always planned to serve one year before returning home to New York, where she will continue to support the president's agenda and work on Middle East policy."

The kind words didn't end there, as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also released a statement asserting that "she is one of the most talented and effective leaders with whom I have ever served."

Who’s still around


Not everyone has left, however, and a number of familiar faces have stayed on to help achieve Trump administration goals into 2018.

One reason why the list of those who date back to the campaign is on the shorter side stems from the fact that the campaign was a relatively lean operation and not everyone involved stayed on after the election and transition.

Others, including all but one cabinet member, have remained part of the administration.

Here are the key players who have been there since the beginning:

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, had been a key player in the presidential campaign and translated that into a powerful role inside the White House. Kushner was named head of the new White House Office of American Innovation and was tasked with leading projects ranging from prison reform to restarting Middle East peace efforts.

The role held by his wife Ivanka, Trump’s elder daughter, has grown over the first year. While she didn’t have an official role at first, she drew controversy for regularly attending White House and public events with her father, and then in March her position as an unpaid special adviser was formalized and she was given a White House office. Ivanka Trump has since made her own version of state visits to Japan and India and has pushed for some of the administration’s biggest policy proposals, including tax reform.

Hope Hicks, White House communications director

One person who has been a near constant presence around Trump from the very beginning is Hope Hicks.

A former public relations consultant, Hicks was Trump’s press secretary during the campaign and followed him into the White House.

Starting as director of strategic communications, it was announced in September that she had been promoted to White House communications director.

Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary

Sarah Sanders is now one of the most public faces of the administration as the press secretary.

Sanders regularly conducted press briefings during the first six months of Trump's term--but most frequently off camera as the White House faced questions over the possibility of Sean Spicer's role changing.

During the 2016 campaign, she worked first for her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and then, after his presidential bid failed, she joined the Trump campaign. She began working as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign in February 2016 but then joined the campaign’s communications team in September 2016.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president

Trump’s former campaign manager is one of the familiar faces still working closely with Trump as counselor to the president.

She regularly speaks for the White House on television, but some appearances have been highly controversial, including one when she cited a terrorist attack that never happened and anotehr in which she defended Spicer’s characterization of Trump inauguration crowd size by saying he used “alternative facts.”

Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser

Another campaign carryover is Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser who has played a central role in some of the more controversial administration moves.

Miller has been a key player in the attempts to implement a travel ban and in February doubled down on the president’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the election. Earlier this month, the administration disbanded the presidential voter fraud commission.

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ABC News(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- President Trump on Sunday emphatically denied saying Haiti and other African countries were "s---hole countries," adding that he is the "least racist person" reporters "have ever interviewed."

The president finally addressed the disparaging remarks in person as he was headed to dinner at his golf club in West Palm Beach with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Despite news reports and accounts from elected officials inside the room, the president pointed to two senators -- Tom Cotton and David Perdue, both Republicans, who were also present -- who maintained he hadn't slurred Haiti and Africa.

"Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments?" he asked reporters. "They weren't made."

Trump denied being racist, too.

"No, no, I'm not a racist," he said. "I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you."

The president's remarks come after a weekend of non-stop criticism and calls for him to apologize. The remarks were reportedly made during a closed-door meeting with members of Congress to discuss immigration on Thursday.

The president, according to the reports, also said the United States should accept more immigrants from places like Norway.

Beyond his denial about the comments, Trump touched on topics ranging from DACA to North Korea.

He blamed Democrats for failing to reach a deal on DACA, the Obama-era policy that offers protection for children who were brought to the U.S. illegally.

"Honestly, I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal," he said. "I think they talk about DACA but they don’t want to help the DACA people."

He responded "I don't know" when asked whether there would a government shutdown, but warned it would hurt the military, which he said is unacceptable.

On the false missile alert sent by Hawaiian officials, which triggered panic and confusion in the state, the president said he "love[s] that they took responsibility."

"They took total responsibility. But we are going to get involved. Their attitude...I think it is terrific," he said. "They took responsibility. They made a mistake."

He added, "We hope it won't happen again."

And on North Korea, Trump was optimistic about recent and future talks with its neighboring country, South Korea.

"We're gonna see what happens," he said. "Hopefully it's all gonna work out."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Republican strategists have turned decidedly pessimistic about their prospects for the 2018 midterm elections.

Prominent Republicans are now saying privately that Democrats are virtually certain to win control of the House of Representatives.

As one senior Republican on Capitol Hill told ABC News, “If the election were held today, the House would be gone. Fortunately, the election is not today.”

Another prominent Republican strategist working on the midterm elections went further, telling ABC News point-blank that Republicans will lose the House and that this prospect unlikely to change.

“The only question is whether Democrats win narrowly by picking up 25 seats or whether it is a blowout of more than 35 seats,” the strategist said.

Allies of President Donald Trump are convinced the president will quickly face impeachment hearings if Democrats take control of the House.

One Republican close to Trump predicted that not only will there be impeachment hearings but that the prospects for the president would be grim.

“Consider what happened with Bill Clinton,” the Trump ally said. “Clinton was disciplined; he had a strategy and still he was impeached.”

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Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, one of President Donald Trump’s harshest critics from within his own party, plans to give a speech on the Senate floor this week slamming the White House for its “unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally-protected free press,” according to an excerpt of the speech provided to ABC News by Flake's office.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Republican senator said President Donald Trump did not use the word "s---hole" in reference to immigrants from Haiti and Africa in a meeting at the White House last week.

Senator David Perdue of Georgia told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that reports have misrepresented the president's comments during a meeting on immigration on Thursday.

“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George,” said Perdue, who was among the senators at the meeting with Trump. “And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation.”

Stephanopoulos pressed Perdue, saying that multiple sources have confirmed the president’s language, of whom the most outspoken has been Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

“Multiple sources? There were six of us in the room,” Perdue responded to Stephanopoulos. “I haven’t heard any of those six sources other than Senator Durbin talk about what was said.”

Perdue also seemed to question Senator Durbin’s intentions, saying “it is not the first time” that the Illinois senator has accused someone of inflammatory language.

“In 2013, Senator Durbin also made the same accusation against a Republican leader in a meeting with President Obama, and said that ... he chewed out the president, it was so disrespectful to President Obama, we couldn’t even have the meeting,” Perdue said.

“That’s what he (Durbin) said in 2013. Later that day, the president’s own press secretary came out and said, and I quote, 'It did not happen.' This is about a gross misrepresentation. It’s not the first time.”

Durbin's communications director tweeted a response to Perdue's apparent questioning of the credibility of the Illinois senator's account of what Trump said.

Credibility is something that’s built over time, Durbin spokesman Ben Marter tweeted. "Senator Durbin has it. Senator Perdue does not. Ask anyone who’s dealt with both."

Perdue maintained on "This Week" that the focus on what Trump allegedly said was being used to prevent any deals on immigration.

“These people have been trying for 35 years to solve this immigration problem without success, for one reason, and that is I don’t believe they’re serious about trying to solve that right now,” Perdue said.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Responding to President Donald Trump’s reported “s---hole countries” comment in an Oval Office meeting on immigration, Democratic Representative John Lewis, a leader in the civil rights movement who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said he thinks the president “is a racist.”

“George, I don't think there's any way that you can square what the president said with the words of Martin Luther King Jr.," the Georgia congressman told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday. "It's just impossible ... It's unbelievable. It makes me sad. It makes me cry.”

Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think President Trump is a racist?”

“I think he is a racist,” Lewis responded.

He added, “We have to stand up. We have to speak up, and not try to sweep it under the rug."

“As a nation and as a people, we have come so far. We have made so much progress,” the Georgia congressman said. He spoke of visiting schools in his state, saying of the students, “They're black. They're white. They're Latino. They're Asian-American. They're Native American. And they look like the dream and act like the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

Trump, Lewis said, “is taking us back to another place.”

Asked by Stephanopoulos about a Democratic plan to “try to bring forward a motion to censure the president” this week for his comments, Lewis said he thinks Democrats should. “[W]hen that resolution comes up, I will be one of the people to speak up and speak out,” he said.

Lewis said he will not be attending Trump’s first State of the Union address, scheduled for Jan. 30, saying “in good conscience,” he “cannot sit there and listen to him.”

Noting it’s the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Stephanopoulos asked Lewis, “What do you believe that Martin Luther King would be preaching this Sunday if he were still alive?”

“If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were still alive, he would be speaking the idea that we're one people. We're one family. We all live in the same house, not just American house, or the world house, that we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters,” Lewis said. “If not, we will perish as fools.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Hawaii congresswoman said the false alert of a missile attack in her state shows the need to try to lessen the chance of nuclear warfare.

“Nuclear attack is not a game,” Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday. She said she hopes “the rest of the country… leaders in Washington pay attention to … this threat of nuclear war.”

Stephanopoulos asked if she thinks the U.S. should talk to North Korea?

"Absolutely and immediately," Gabbard said. “This is something that I have been calling for a long time. I have been talking about the seriousness of this threat posed to the people of Hawaii and this country coming from North Korea. The people of Hawaii are paying the price now for decades of failed leadership in this country of failure to directly negotiate” with North Korea.

The congresswoman added, “We've got to understand why Kim Jong Un is saying he's not going to give up his nuclear weapons. Our country's history of regime-change wars has led countries like North Korea to develop and hold on to these nuclear weapons because they see it as their only deterrent against regime change.”

An emergency alert of an imminent missile threat to Hawaii was broadcast and sent to mobile phones across the state at about 8:07 a.m. on Saturday, causing panic.

It turned out the alert was a mistake due to a worker's hitting the wrong button during a routine procedure. Gabbard was the first official to tweet out that the alarm was false, which she did at 8:24 a.m.

But it took 38 minutes for an official correction of the alert to get broadcast around the state.

Gabbard said to Stephanopoulos on Sunday, “You can only imagine, George, the panic, the terror, the chaos and confusion that ensued when over a million people in Hawaii, plus many visitors who were visiting Hawaii, got that alert on their cell phones, now understanding that they literally just have minutes, minutes to say goodbye to their loved ones, to find their loved ones, to try to find some kind for shelter somewhere.”

“The fact that it took so long for them to put out that second message, to calm people, to allay their fears -- that this was a mistake,” the congresswoman said.

 

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Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Arizona Senate candidate Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff of Maricopa County and an outspoken "birther," said Saturday he is not surprised that Hawaiians received an erroneous emergency mobile alert about an imminent ballistic missile attack because "there's something wrong with that government."

Case in point, according to Arpaio? Former President Barack Obama's "fraudulent" Hawaii birth certificate.

Arpaio claims Obama was not born in the U.S., despite what the birth certificate says. But Obama was indeed born in the U.S., in Honolulu on August 4, 1961.

During an interview Saturday night with Fox News' Jeanine Pirro, Arpaio was asked for his thoughts on the alert, which turned out to be false and the result of human error.

"I don’t want to get into it," Arpaio said, "but I know doing a certain investigation on a fake, fraudulent government document. They can’t even solve that case. They don’t even want to look at it. So either they’re incompetent or there’s something behind it."

Pirro didn't let those remarks go unchallenged, telling Arpaio, 85, "I got to push back on that a little bit. That document, the long-form, was filed. Let’s put that way. Let’s talk about what happened today in Hawaii. You had some specific thoughts about today."

Arpaio said, "Well, the only thing I’m saying is they can’t even solve a phony document. So now they’ve got a problem. There’s something wrong with that government."

Arpaio is running for the Senate seat currently occupied by Senator Jeff Flake, who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term.

Once again he was met with resistance by Pirro, who countered, "Well, let’s keep moving, because they did solve that, and I’m going to keep pushing back on that."

President Donald Trump last year pardoned Arpaio for criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor. Arpaio had been convicted of the crime for disobeying a federal judge's order to stop racial profiling in detaining "individuals suspected of being in the U.S. illegally."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The infamous "dossier" alleging collusion between Donald Trump and the Russian government is filled with inflammatory, uncorroborated and in some cases clearly false claims made by unidentified sources — so much so that a longtime Trump aide mentioned in it filed a pair of lawsuits this week.

But the unverified nature of the dossier is precisely why the FBI decided to look into the allegations, rather than accept them as evidence, and why the dossier should not be used to undermine what federal authorities have since uncovered, according to law enforcement veterans.

"There may be 90 percent of that dossier that is a complete bunch of [baloney]," said Bob Anderson, who oversaw counterintelligence cases for the FBI before heading its cyber and criminal branch. "But a piece matches with other potentially credible sources that [FBI agents] have ... so now they’re going to dig a little more."

In fact, even without the dossier, the U.S. intelligence community was in possession of information warranting an FBI probe.

"I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred," former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Judiciary Committee last year.

For the FBI, the dossier was essentially just another tip.

"This particular matter was complicated by the fact that the 'main subject' happened to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States," but "we still had an obligation to look at it as part of our effort to protect the Republic from foreign threats," according to Frank Montoya, who spent more than two decades with the FBI and another two years leading U.S. counterintelligence policy under the Director of National Intelligence.

Police routinely respond to unverified “reports” of criminal activity on city streets. Border Patrol agents routinely respond to unverified reports of illegal border crossings. Similarly, the FBI routinely commits resources to a matter based on unverified reports.

In all those cases, what happens next depends on what investigators find. The FBI’s Russia-related probe is no different.

"There's no way in hell the [FBI] is going to open an investigation off of one document," said Anderson, who left the FBI in 2015. "They may open what's called a 'preliminary inquiry' and look for other pieces of information" warranting a full investigation, but that "could take a day, it could take five years."

In the Trump-Russia case, it took at most three weeks.

"Very concerned"


In early July 2016, Steele — described by Montoya as a "proven," "well-regarded" and "known entity" in the intelligence community – approached an FBI associate with a worrisome tale: Sources he was speaking with overseas told him then-presidential candidate Trump maintained a "compromising relationship with the Kremlin," perhaps even to the point where Trump could be blackmailed.

"Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said ... he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government, in our government about this information," Glenn Simpson, the man who hired Steele to conduct opposition research on Trump, told Senate staffers in a transcript released Tuesday. "He said he was professionally obligated to do it."

The allegations Steele laid out to the FBI in July 2016 in the dossier were shocking. They were salacious. And they were completely unverified by the U.S. government — at least at that point.

The FBI has not said whether the dossier prompted its investigation, which was opened the same month Steele handed over his dossier, according to congressional testimony.

"Fact is, I've opened many cases on the basis of information that was a lot less detailed than what was in the dossier, from sources a lot less reliable," Montoya said. "That is the whole point of conducting an investigation ... to determine if the information is valid, or not."

In the 18 months since the investigation began, the Justice Department has charged four Trump associates for financial-related crimes and lying to the FBI about contacts with Russians; the U.S. intelligence community has published a 25-page report on Russian efforts to boost "Trump's election chances" and "undermine public faith in the US democratic process;" and U.S. officials have testified countless times before Congress in open hearings.

The Steele dossier, made up of at least 17 individual reports from the months before and after the 2016 presidential election, is not mentioned in the charges filed, the government report published a year ago, or testimony offered by U.S. officials.

"The dossier wasn't used at all" to conclude that Russia meddled in the election and worked to boost Trump’s candidacy, Brennan told a national security forum last year. "It wasn't part of the [body] of intelligence information that we had," he also told lawmakers.

Steele was hired by Simpson after his firm, Fusion GPS, signed a contract with a lawyer for the Democratic National Committee to conduct research on Trump. The firm's initial client was a Republican.

While the 35 pages that comprise Steele's dossier are brimming with explosive and explicit claims based on unidentified sources, some of the dossier's broad implications — particularly that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an operation to boost Trump and sow discord within the U.S. and abroad — now ring true and were embedded in the memo Steele shared with the FBI before the agency decided to open an investigation.

Dossier: Putin directed effort to support Trump

In that first report, filed June 20, 2016, Steele wrote: "The Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least 5 years. Source B asserted that the Trump operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN. Its aim was to sow discord and disunity both within the U.S. itself, but more especially within the Transatlantic alliance which was viewed as inimical to Russia’s interests."

In its report published in January 2017, the U.S. intelligence community concluded: "We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process ... We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for [Trump]."

Meanwhile, Trump had expressed past interest in becoming president.

In March 2011, he said on ABC News that he has "never been so serious as I am now" about running for president. He also expressed support for the anti-establishment Tea Party and promoted the "birther movement," questioning whether President Barack Obama had been born inside the United States. Two years later, Trump hosted the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and hammered out a deal to build a Trump Tower-style building in Russia.

Dossier: Russia collected compromising material on Hillary Clinton

The first report filed by Steele and handed to the FBI also stated: "So far TRUMP has declined various sweetener real estate business deals offered him in Russia in order to further the Kremlin’s cultivation of him. However he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals. ... A dossier of compromising material on Hillary CLINTON has been collated by the Russian Intelligence Services over many years and mainly comprises bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls."

In fact, the Russian intelligence services had compiled a massive stockpile of emails and documents damaging to Democrats and Clinton in particular — but they were collected through a year-long attack on Democratic National Committee systems and the personal accounts of high-profile Democratic operatives, according to the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community.

And the FBI later found that two months before Steele authored his first report, a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, was told by a Russian national that the Russian government had obtained "dirt" on Clinton, including thousands of emails.

Furthermore, the FBI ultimately found that two weeks before Steele's report, Donald Trump Jr. received an email offering "to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."

It's "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump," said the email, sent by a contact in touch with Russian businessmen who previously worked with Trump to bring the 2013 Miss America Pageant to Moscow.

The email brought about the now-infamous meeting at Trump Tower with Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on June 9, 2016 — 11 days before Steele wrote his first report, and more than six weeks before Wikileaks would release a trove of emails stolen by Russian hackers from the DNC.

Nevertheless, Russians did offer business deals to Trump that he ultimately turned down.

Four months into his presidential campaign, Trump signed a letter of intent to pursue a Trump Tower–style building development in Moscow, according to a statement from the Trump Organization's then–chief counsel, Michael Cohen. Trump, however, never moved forward with the deal.

On Tuesday, Cohen filed a pair of lawsuits, one in federal court against Fusion GPS and the other in state court against the popular website BuzzFeed, which first published the dossier in full.

In both suits, Cohen claims the dossier contains "false and defamatory" allegations that resulted in "harm to his personal and professional reputation, current business interests, and the impairment of business opportunities."

Critics "misunderstand?"

Within weeks of the FBI launching its investigation in 2016, agents obtained approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of Trump adviser Carter Page, who was already on the FBI’s radar after being targeted for recruitment as an intelligence source by Russian spies in a previous case, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Applications to the FISA court are in-depth and "almost always ... significantly thicker than my wrists," Comey said in remarks early last year.

Nevertheless, Trump and other Republicans accuse the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller of conducting an investigation based on a "dossier that was all dressed up" and "paid for by the Clinton campaign," as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, put it during a House hearing in December.

In a tweet early Friday morning, Trump described the dossier as "disproven and paid for by Democrats."

But law enforcement veterans say such criticism seems to misunderstand — or deliberately misconstrue — the role that something like the dossier plays in investigations.

"They not only misunderstand how these kinds of investigations are conducted, but knowingly attempt to discredit the investigation ... by playing on that misunderstanding," Montoya said in an email to ABC News.

Meanwhile, Jordan has also complained that senior FBI agent Peter Strzok "had a hand in that dossier," and Republicans have pounced on Strzok's one-time role on Mueller's team.

Strzok left the team last year after Mueller learned of text messages Strzok sent during the 2016 presidential campaign disparaging Trump and repeatedly calling the Republican candidate "an idiot". Strzok previously helped oversee the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

Montoya called attacks like Jordan's "particularly galling."

"They seem to have forgotten we are a free country, that you can have your own opinions and still uphold the Rule of Law," Montoya said. "You should be able to support the candidates of your choice in an election without being called corrupt ... or biased in your ability to live up to your oath to support and defend the Constitution."

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- As President Donald Trump’s words are being widely condemned, some legal experts believe that the “s---hole” remark could also impact his case for the travel ban.

But given his previous call for a “Muslim ban” and other public statements, other experts aren’t sure this latest comment makes much legal difference.

Attorneys fighting the president’s executive action restricting travel in court, connected the president’s latest comment to what they says is a “racist” ideology.

“The travel ban is a de facto quota – a return to a discredited national origin quota system that was in our law until Congress wisely abolished it in 1965,” said Peter Margulies, professor at Roger Williams School of Law. Yesterday’s alleged statement “couldn’t have been a clearer example of what Congress wanted to abolish.”

According to Margulies, the latest travel ban should be struck down in court on statutory grounds as a violation of a 1965 immigration law prohibiting discrimination based on national origin.

In other words, Trump’s comments further clarified what was already unlawful about the ban, he said.

On Thursday during a bipartisan meeting on immigration reform in the Oval Office, the president asked those in the room why they would want people from Haiti, Africa and other "s---hole countries" coming into the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.

Trump denied that he used "derogatory" language about Haitians, but did not specifically address the comments.

“The president has interjected race and ethnicity into the making of immigration policy in a way this country hasn’t seen since the 1920s,” said Hiroshi Motomura, professor at UCLA School of Law and author of two award-winning books on immigration law and policy.

"Yesterday’s statement makes it more reasonable for courts to decide that the travel ban can be struck down as unlawful — beyond the president’s authority under immigration statutes, and as unconstitutional — without necessarily intruding on the national security authority of a president who exercises that authority in a nondiscriminatory and rational way.” said Motomura.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in December that the travel ban, currently in its third iteration, could go into effect while the lower courts continued to hear appeals in the cases.

Later that month, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a Hawaii district court injunction against travel ban 3.0, agreeing with the lower court that the policy violates federal immigration law and exceeds the authority of the executive branch.

But the ban remained in effect, pending the final U.S. Supreme Court review.

Another appeal that was heard in the 4th Circuit is still awaiting a ruling.

Yale Law School professor Peter Schuck said he thinks the Court will be “very reluctant to take into account informal comments made in a closed political bargaining session a year after the ban was imposed and not relating to Muslims.”

Schuck believes Trump’s call for a “Muslim ban” was more legally fraught than his alleged "s---hole" comment, and so he “can’t see the courts focusing on this particular languages as being important, as odious as it is.”

Similarly, Josh Blackman, a constitutional law expert at George Mason University School of Law, said "I don't think these statements, as odious as they are, have any bearing on this case."

“As a general matter, I think the president statements are fair game, but in the context of foreign policy judges have to be deferential to the president,” he added.

Meanwhile, Neal Kaytal, who is the lead lawyer in the Hawaii travel ban challenge, and had a brief due at the Supreme Court on Friday, took to Twitter in the wake of Trump’s comment.

“Past immigration decisions have been made by Presidents who have not harbored this sort of animus. It is a daunting, and un-American, thing to have a President who not only says such vile comments, but acts on them,” he told ABC News when asked if he could expand on his tweet. Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who litigated the 4th Circuit appeal, said the “s---hole” comment was “more fuel on the fire.”

“I think it’s further confirmation that prejudice and racism underlie a lot of the president's approach to foreign policy,” he said.

The Department of Justice, which is responsible for defending the president’s policies in court, did not provide a comment on the matter.

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