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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The former deputy director of the FBI who was fired Friday by President Donald Trump's attorney general has memos that document his conversations with the president, a source told ABC News. The memos are akin to documentation of meetings with the president kept by McCabe's former boss, James Comey, the FBI director fired by Trump.

McCabe's documents have been turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the Russia investigation, the source said.

The news of McCabe's memos that detail interactions with the president was first reported by The Associated Press.

McCabe was fired Friday, just two days before he was set to retire from government after nearly 22 years in federal law enforcement.

In an interview with ABC News, he pushed back, claiming he's been caught up in a politically-motivated effort to hurt the Russia investigation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he decided to fire McCabe based on the findings of the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, which concluded that McCabe allegedly misled investigators looking into how Justice Department and FBI officials handled matters associated with the 2016 presidential election.

The former FBI official, who at one time was deputy director, told ABC News he wanted to make one thing clear: “I firmly believe what’s happening to me right now … is just a piece of an ongoing assault” on the FBI and Mueller. The special counsel is investigating Russia's alleged efforts to help Trump win the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives.

McCabe said he “played a significant role and witnessed significant events” after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director last year, and for that reason, he said, “A concentrated effort to consistently undermine my credibility and my reputation makes perfect sense if you are trying to undermine the efforts of the special counsel and discredit the entire FBI.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Several members of President Donald Trump's cabinet are facing public criticism and government investigations over reports that they misspent taxpayer money on items ranging from pricey trips to Montana to $31,000 mahogany dining sets.

The White House has been critical of some of the spending and the president asked former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to resign last September after the cost of his travel on private jets reached almost $1 million.

Here is ABC News' latest reporting on the allegations and investigations into members of the president's cabinet.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been under investigation for several allegations of misusing taxpayer funds.

The agency's inspector general is looking into whether Pruitt's travel in 2017 followed all proper procedures, including his frequent flights in first and business class. The agency confirmed that Pruitt often flies an upgraded class due to security concerns but Pruitt recently said he would direct his staff to find a new security plan that would include flying in coach.

The agency has also confirmed Pruitt took one chartered flight and several other flights on government planes totaling more than $58,000 between March and May of last year.

The agency watchdog's review was originally prompted after documents reported in The New York Times showed that Pruitt traveled back to his home state of Oklahoma multiple times in his first few months as secretary.

The Government Accountability Office is also looking into the agency's decision to install a "secure phone booth" in the administrator's office. A contract for the "privacy booth" is listed at about $25,000 but newly released documents show that the cost of the booth and all the construction was closer to $43,000.

The EPA's overall spending on Pruitt's security is also under review. The agency spent $3,000 to have his office swept for listening devices in March and almost $2,500 to install biometric locks with fingerprint readers in Pruitt's office the following month. The cost of his security detail has also been significantly higher than previous administrators because of an increased number of threats against him.

Senate Democrats recently asked the EPA to provide information on whether a member of his taxpayer-funded security team improperly steered the contract for the listening device sweep to a personal business associate. Other congressional Democrats have said Pruitt needs to answer questions about his travel and spending.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's travel has been under investigation after the department confirmed he took at least three charter flights between March and September, including a $12,000 charter flight from Las Vegas to Montana.

The department has said Zinke only took non-commercial flights when there were no other travel options available.

He also took three helicopter trips totaling more than $53,000, according to reporting by Politico.

The Department of the Interior inspector general's report looking into Zinke's travel is expected to be made public later this year.

Last week the department confirmed it planned to spend $139,000 to replace three sets of doors in Zinke's office, saying the cost was higher because they had to protect the historical integrity of the building.

Zinke recently defended his spending in a congressional hearing on the department's budget and said in another hearing the department has negotiated the cost of the doors down to about half that price.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has been under scrutiny the last few weeks after the department confirmed that it ordered a $31,000 dining set for the secretary's office suite. Carson originally denied that he ordered the set but the agency confirmed that his wife, Candy, played a role in selecting it after a watchdog group obtained agency emails this week referencing her involvement.

There is a $5,000 legal limit on spending to redecorate the office for incoming cabinet secretaries. Any additional spending requires congressional approval.

Carson asked the department to cancel the order for the dining set.

Carson is also under investigation for including his son in a "listening tour" in Baltimore in June even after the agency's attorneys warned him it could be a conflict of interest. Ben Carson Jr. is a businessman and investor in Maryland and a HUD attorney warned Secretary Carson that his son's involvement in scheduling meetings with his business associated on the visit could look like Carson was using his position for his son's private gain.

Both incidents have raised questions from members of Congress and watchdog groups about the Carson family's involvement in official HUD business. The agency's inspector general is looking into the Baltimore listening tour at the secretary's request.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin spent $122,334 of taxpayer funds when he inappropriately accepted tickets to Wimbledon as a gift during a work trip to Europe last summer, according to a VA inspector general report. That report also found that Shulkin spent the majority of that 11-day trip sightseeing.

Shulkin has said that he will pay back some of the costs.

Shulkin was also under scrutiny for saying that he was "unaware" of issues that existed at the VA medical center in Washington, D.C., despite an interim inspector general report filed in April 2017.

He later admitted critical deficiencies likely existed at VA facilities across the country after the inspector general released a 144-page report last week detailing persistent problems at the Washington, D.C. facility.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price

Former HHS Secretary Tom Price was fired in September after reports that he often flew in private jets paid for by taxpayer dollars and that he mixed government work with personal business.
Price took military planes to Africa and Europe where he was accompanied by his wife. The estimated cost of all his travel on private and military planes was near $1 million from May to September, according to Politico.

He expressed regret shortly after he resigned and said he would reimburse the government for the cost of his travel on the 26 private flights. House Democrats confirmed last week that Price has repaid the federal government $60,000 for his use of private jets as secretary.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former FBI deputy director Andy McCabe was fired Friday from the federal government, just two days before he was set to retire, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in a statement late Friday night.

Nearly 24 hours earlier, McCabe was inside the Justice Department making the case to keep his job until Sunday when he officially qualifies for retirement benefits. His firing means his full pension -- built after nearly 22 years in government -- is in jeopardy.

President Donald Trump ripped McCabe on Twitter around midnight, hours after McCabe was fired. Trump twice called it a "great day" and said McCabe was worse than regular Trump target, James Comey, the former FBI director fired by Trump last May.

"Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy," he tweeted. "Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!"

In his statement Sessions said: "After an extensive and fair investigation and according to Department of Justice procedure, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) provided its report on allegations of misconduct by Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)."

"The FBI’s OPR then reviewed the report and underlying documents and issued a disciplinary proposal recommending the dismissal of Mr. McCabe. Both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor -- including under oath -- on multiple occasions," the statement continued.

"The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability. As the OPR proposal stated, “all FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand,” Sessions said.

"Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately," the Sessions statement said.

"For the last year and a half, my family and I have been the targets of an unrelenting assault on our reputation and my service to this country. Articles too numerous to count have leveled every sort of false, defamatory and degrading allegation against us. The President’s tweets have amplified and exacerbated it all. He called for my firing. He called for me to be stripped of my pension after more than 20 years of service. And all along we have said nothing, never wanting to distract from the mission of the FBI by addressing the lies told and repeated about us."

"No more," McCabe said.

Later in his statement, McCabe accused the president of driving an effort to destroy his reputation and hurt special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

"Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey. The release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former Director Comey’s accounts of his discussions with the President," the statement said.

"The OIG’s focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the Administration, driven by the President himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn. The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens. Thursday’s comments from the White House are just the latest example of this," McCabe said.

"This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally,' McCabe's statement continued. "It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work."

Friday's move by Sessions comes after FBI officials concluded McCabe should be fired for allegedly misleading internal investigators about his role two years ago in allowing an FBI spokesman and FBI attorney to disclose information about the agency's Clinton Foundation investigation to a reporter.

On Thursday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said McCabe's "troubling behavior" was "well-documented," insisting McCabe was "by most accounts a bad actor."
McCabe, however, has denied any wrongdoing.

"I have tried at every juncture to be as accurate and of course truthful in all of my encounters with whoever was interested in asking questions,” McCabe recently told ABC News. “The idea of being condemned or miscast in any way contrary to that is just unbelievably disappointing and really offensive to me.”

After McCabe was questioned by investigators, he said he realized he needed to clarify some of his responses, so he “proactively reached out to those people to ensure that they clearly understood what my position was." He would not offer any further details.

The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended that McCabe be fired after an internal report by the Justice Department’s inspector general accused the FBI veteran of misleading investigators looking into how FBI and Justice Department officials handled an array of matters connected to the 2016 presidential campaign, a source briefed on the recommendation told ABC News.

Because the inspector general’s report has not been released publicly yet, it’s still unclear exactly why investigators believe McCabe was not forthcoming, or if McCabe is criticized for other actions. ABC News has not reviewed the report.

Over the past year, McCabe has become a frequent target of criticism from Trump and Republican lawmakers, who allege that McCabe’s time at the top of the FBI was emblematic of political bias in the FBI’s law enforcement work.

In 2015, while McCabe was head of the FBI's Washington Field Office, his wife ran for state senate in Virginia as a Democrat. She lost the election in November 2015, and three months later McCabe became deputy director, giving him an oversight role in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal published at least one article that questioned whether McCabe was hampering the federal probe of the Clinton Foundation.
According to McCabe, he was trying to push the probe forward while the Justice Department tried to slow it.

“I had not slowed our efforts, but it was part of the same theme: ‘I was maybe politically motivated, and worse, that the FBI was being subjected to influence,’” McCabe said. “I just thought that was incredibly damaging to the FBI."

Ahead of the story’s publication, McCabe authorized an FBI spokesman to speak with the Wall Street Journal about efforts to keep the Clinton Foundation investigation moving forward, McCabe told ABC News. As the number-two at the FBI, McCabe has authority to approve such a disclosure, McCabe said.

After the Wall Street Journal story was published, McCabe recused himself from the Clinton matter.
McCabe first joined the FBI in 1996, investigating organized crime cases in New York. Over the next several years, he shifted his focus to rooting out international terrorists, and in 2012 he became the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division at headquarters in Washington.

In October 2013, McCabe took over the FBI’s entire national security branch, and the next year he moved to become the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

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iStock/Thinkstock (WASHINGTON) -- Despite reports that President Donald Trump was poised to fire cabinet members and other top officials as soon as Friday, the White House tamped down expectations and insisted the jobs of some thought to be on the chopping block were secure.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted to reporters that chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser H.R. McMaster were not at imminent risk of losing their jobs, counter to some headlines suggesting otherwise.

Sanders said Kelly reassured a number of staff members Friday morning that there would be no immediate personnel changes. “People shouldn't be concerned," Sanders said Kelly told staffers.

Regarding McMaster’s fate, Sanders referenced a tweet she sent last night that said she spoke to both the president and McMaster, and that they have a "good working relationship" and there "are no changes" at the National Security Council. She also noted during the briefing that the president had asked her to relay to McMaster that his job was safe.

McMaster himself was cryptic when ABC caught him walking out of the White House West Wing Friday afternoon.

“Sarah set it straight yesterday. Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point,” he said. Asked whether he was leaving sooner or later, he responded, "I'm doing my job.”

During the briefing, Sanders also denied that the president himself has been fomenting rumors of a staff shakeup when making suggestive statements as he did Thursday, when he said, “There will always be change, and I think you want to see change.” Earlier this week, when asked about his firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump said he was "close" to having the cabinet he wanted.

"Taking two sentences out of the thousands of remarks that the president makes and making it look like that's the entire focus of his administration,” Sanders said, before being reminded by a reporter that he was simply quoting what the president has said recently.

Sanders responded that the president was referring to the two people he had just nominated -- Pompeo and his replacement, CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel -- not a broader changing of the guard.

Sanders did not answer directly when asked whether Trump has given similar assurances about job security to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Veterans Affairs Secretary Dave Shulkin.

The White House tried to steer the staff shakeup narrative toward the lack of presidential nominees being confirmed, with legislative director Marc Short addressing reporters to talk about what he called Democrats’ record levels of obstruction. But when Sanders retook the podium, a reporter pointed out that the White House added to the backlog when Trump fired Tillerson and opened up two new cabinet positions.

Sanders said that was a matter of changing policy priorities.

"That's not different for this administration as it has been for any other administration, and we're going to add new staff regularly," she said.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(LA QUINTA, Calif.) -- Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security adviser, made his first public appearance since agreeing to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller at an event Friday night for California congressional candidate Omar Navarro.

Flynn made remarks and announced his endorsement of Navarro for Congress with the candidate and Joy Miedecke, the president of the East Valley Republican Women Federated -- the organization that hosted Friday night's event in La Quinta, California.

"What I'm not here to do is complain about who has done me wrong, or how unfair I've been treated, or how unfair the entire process has been -- it is what it is, and my previous statements stand for themselves," Flynn told the small group of attendees. "I'm here to talk about the future -- your future, our future, the future of this country. If you feel passionate about something, and feeling sorry for yourself will keep you from achieving that destiny, then I can't be a part of that. That's partly why I'm here today, because I saw that passion in the eyes of Omar."

A source close to Flynn had confirmed to ABC News earlier Friday that Flynn would be in attendance.

"He's endorsing me," Navarro, a small business owner, told ABC News earlier in the day Friday.

Navarro, who’s challenging longtime Rep. Maxine Waters, said he and Flynn had been communicating online and via email. They met in person in February when Navarro was in Washington, D.C. to attend Conservative Political Action Conference.

"We talked to each other for two hours. We got along really well,” he said, adding that Flynn agreed to endorse him at that time.

This is the first public appearance by Flynn since he left the White House, was charged with lying to federal authorities and began cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Despite agreeing to cooperate with Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 president election, Flynn was supportive of President Donald Trump on Friday.

"My passion and my destiny changed when I saw our country taking a fundamentally different direction, in a world filled with challenges and challengers, and we see them out there all over the world today, and I decided to do something about it in a different capacity. If I'm paying the price for that decision, so be it. God can and will judge me at some point," Flynn said, apparently referring to his legal problems. "I got involved in the national political process of our country to help our president get elected. All of us are imperfect. I used to introduce our current president -- then presidential candidate Trump -- during our various campaign appearances as an imperfect candidate. I mean, clearly he is a non-traditional politician. But his "Make America Great Again" philosophy energized the country enough to get him overwhelmingly elected. Whether we like it or not, that's what happened."

The crowd clapped at the suggestion.

"Despite the madness that you see, I mean, darn near every day, I still believe standing up here today that this is a great thing for our country," Flynn added of Trump's election.

Navarro brushed off concerns about the investigation earlier Friday.

“I was very happy” to have the endorsement, he said “because I have a lot of respect for the man. It was an honor and it’s great to have the support for my campaign.”

He added: “I’m more than honored to have his endorsement.”

 In December, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador before president-elect Trump took office. Flynn faces one count of lying to federal authorities and his sentencing hasn't been set yet pending his successful cooperation with Mueller's investigation.

Navarro challenged Waters in 2016 and received 24 percent of the vote to her 76 percent.

The 43rd Congressional District is rated by the Cook Political Report as plus-29 for Democrats and considered a safe seat for the party.

Flynn targeted Democrats in general in his speech, rattling off and criticizing labels such as liberal, left and progressive.

"It's a dangerous thing to put these labels on something to make it sound cool, but it really isn't. It really isn't," Flynn said. "My judgment, they have trained a generation of young people to remain poor while blaming the rich, and to remain obsessed over the past while blaming those of us who are optimistic for the future. Blame, blame, blame. What a miserable existence. I don't know how you can get up everyday and feel that way. God, it's like, quit whining."

Navarro spent his time on Twitter Friday evening retweeting all of the various news stories about his endorsement by Flynn.

Navarro has not been endorsed by the California Republican Party.

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ABC(WASHINGTON) -- The Minnesota senator who replaced Al Franken when he resigned after facing allegations of sexual misconduct said she believes he should have had the benefit of an ethics investigation before he stepped down.

“I would have liked for the Senate ethics process to run its course, but, you know, that didn’t happen,” Democratic Sen. Tina Smith told hosts on The View. “It was an extraordinary moment, and it was a really tough moment too.”

Smith, previously her state's lieutenant governor, was appointed to Franken's seat when he left office in early January.

Franken announced his plan to resign in December, a day after a number of his Democratic colleagues called for him to step down amid mounting allegations of sexual misconduct that included groping and improper advances. He has steadfastly denied some of the allegations and said he did nothing to dishonor the Senate.

Smith said on The View that she is friends with Franken and his wife.

“Al was a champion for Minnesota, and he was a champion for progressive issues around the country,” Smith said.

As one of only 22 women now in the Senate, Smith said she feels a great responsibility.

“Women have all sorts of responsibilities and obligations in any job that we have. Whether it's in the state Senate, whether it is being in the news or wherever it is, I think we always have extra obligations. That's just the way it is. In my career, I've spent a lot of time working on women's health issues and women's economic issues, so I feel that responsibility really strongly,” she said.

Smith is running for re-election to a full term as senator this year, and she said she believes voters in her state will decide the race based on which candidate they want rather than on whether they support or oppose President Donald Trump.

She also commented on the victory this week of Democrat Conor Lamb in a special election for Congress in a district that went heavily for Trump in 2016. Smith said Lamb won by “talking about base economic issues” and “what matters to people in their economic lives” such as child care and college debt.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is receiving heat from some lawmakers for greeting a Japanese American congresswoman with the phrase "Konnichiwa" after being asked a question Thursday about continuing funds for the Japanese American Confinement Sites program.

The program preserves confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II.

"Will we see it funded again in 2018?," asked Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, whose grandfathers during World War II were among the estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans sent to U.S. confinement camps.

"Oh, Konnichiwa," Zinke replied with a phrase often used in the afternoon.

"I think it's still 'ohayo gozaimasu,' but that's okay," Hanabusa corrected him with a phrase typically used in the morning.

Zinke's comment quickly raised eyebrows as one audience member's jaw dropped immediately after his remark.

Lawmakers quickly came to Hanabusa's defense - rebuking Zinke for his remarks.

"My colleague asked Sec. Zinke a serious question about gov't funding and received the response "Konnichiwa." This blatantly insensitive remark by @secretaryzinke is uncalled for and is not behavior that a cabinet secretary should exhibit," Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y. tweeted.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, also responded to Zinke's comments calling them "flippant and juvenile."
"The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans is no laughing matter, @SecretaryZinke," she tweeted.

ABC News reached out to the Interior Secretary's office, but did not receive a response.

Zinke said to the congresswoman that the issue "probably got caught up in the priorities of fixing" other agency matters.

Zinke concluded his response by telling Hanabusa he'd work on the issue with her.
"I will look at it and I'll work with you on it, because I think it is important," he added.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A lawyer for Stormy Daniels says his client was threatened to keep her alleged 2006 affair with Donald Trump a secret.

Michael Avenatti, who represents the adult film star, told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday that his client had even been threatened with “physical harm.” He did not provide any details or evidence of the alleged threat.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing President Trump, claiming that a nondisclosure agreement she signed precluding her from speaking publicly about their alleged affair is invalid because Trump failed to sign the document as well.

Daniels is expected to deliver her version of the story of their encounter in a highly anticipated taped interview scheduled to air March 25 on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

“The American people can judge for themselves on who is telling the truth and not and, again, we're not trying to silence anyone,” Avenatti said. “We want both sides to lay out their version of the facts so the American people can decide for themselves what happened.”

Buzzfeed reported last week that Trump’s legal team was weighing a legal challenge to stop CBS from broadcasting the interview, but they have not yet filed a lawsuit.

The story has continued to gain momentum ever since the Wall Street Journal reported in January that Trump’s longtime personal attorney had arranged a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump spokespersons have said that he denies Daniel’s allegations of an affair, and Cohen has said that he was never directly or indirectly reimbursed by Trump for the payment.

One of the outstanding questions that Aventatti wants answered is what role, if any, Trump played in arranging the payment to Daniels. A nonpartisan watchdog group called Common Cause has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about the payoff arguing that it amounted to an unreported in-kind campaign contribution, which would be a violation of campaign finance laws.

"Did [Trump] have anything to do with this payment?” Aventatti asked. “Did he reimburse Mr. Cohen? Did he have a surrogate reimburse Mr. Cohen?"

If the contract is upheld, Daniels stands to face a $1,000,000 penalty for every breach of the nondisclosure agreement, but Aventatti said that he does not think that any court will uphold the terms.

"If the plan by Mr. Cohen and the administration is that they're going to pursue millions of dollars of damages against a private citizen who wants to exercise her First Amendment right, bring it,” Aventatti said. “That's our position. Bring it. Because our position is that the agreement was never signed.”

Cohen's company, Essential Consultants, filed notice on Friday to move the case to federal court. The document also alleges Daniels broke the NDA 20 times and therefore owes $20 million.

Avenatti fired back at the new filing on Twitter late Friday, calling the damages claim "bogus" and saying they would continue to fight in court.


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Bill Clark/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Louise Slaughter, who served more than 30 years in the House of Representatives, died Friday following a fall last week, her chief of staff announced in a news release.

Slaughter died early Friday morning surrounded by family at George Washington University Hospital after sustaining an injury in her Washington, DC residence last week, according to longtime aide Liam Fitzsimmons.

She was 88.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called Slaughter "a giant in the people's House."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who also took office in 1987, said she was "heartbroken" by Slaughter's death.

"In her lifetime of public service and unwavering commitment to working families, Congresswoman Slaughter embodied the very best of the American spirit and ideals. With her passing, the Congressional community has lost a beloved leader and a cherished friend," Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement. "Louise was a trailblazer."

A senior aide said that Pelosi visited Slaughter at the hospital on Thursday.

“It was my great privilege to serve with her and to benefit from her friendship and wise counsel for 30 years," Pelosi stated. "Her loss will be deeply felt."

Slaughter was the first woman to chair the powerful House Committee on Rules and served as the Ranking Democrat in the 115th Congress.

Slaughter was the dean of the New York congressional delegation, serving her 16th term in Congress.

“She was a strong and respected leader in the House of Representatives and a passionate advocate for the community she represented and loved,” Rep. Brian Higgins, D-New York, said. “The nation has lost a fervent defender of righteous policies and Western New York has lost a champion.”
Slaughter often boasted she was the only microbiologist in Congress.

She served in the New York State Assembly from 1982 to 1986 and the Monroe County Legislature between 1976 and 1979. While holding elected office, she was the regional coordinator to Mario Cuomo from 1976 to 1982 during his tenure as secretary of state and lieutenant governor, according to her office.

This is a breaking news story please check back for updates.

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Chris Kleponis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump Jr. and his wife, Vanessa Trump, are separating.

“After 12 years of marriage, we have decided to go our separate ways," the couple said in a joint statement. "We will always have tremendous respect for each other and our families. We have five beautiful children together and they remain our top priority."

The couple, who married in 2005, went on to ask for privacy.

The news was broken by The New York Post, which reported Wednesday that a divorce could be imminent.

At 40, Trump Jr. is President Donald Trump's eldest child. He serves as executive vice president of the Trump Organization.

Vanessa Trump, also 40, is a former model who made news last month after opening a piece of hate mail addressed to her husband dusted with suspicious powder. The NYPD concluded that the substance was nonhazardous.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Felix Sater is a lot of things. One of them, he says, is misunderstood.

The Soviet-born American businessman, who once billed himself as a “senior advisor to Donald Trump,” has become known for his supporting role in the unfolding drama that is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Sater is often referred to as the convicted felon and onetime stock scammer who promised to “get all of Putins team to buy in” on a proposed plan to build “Trump Tower Moscow” in the heat of the presidential campaign.

“I know how to play it, and we will get this done,” Sater wrote to Trump attorney and confidant Michael Cohen, his childhood friend, in emails published by The Washington Post and The New York Times. “Buddy, our boy can become president of the USA, and we can engineer it.”

The project was abandoned, but as federal investigators launched a wide-ranging probe of alleged Russsian interference in the 2016 election including possible connections to Trump’s campaign and personal businesses, Sater quickly found himself caught in the dragnet. Now, in an exclusive interview with George Stephanopoulos airing Friday morning on Good Morning America, Sater tells ABC News that there is much, much more to his life story.

And he’s right.

“I don’t think if a screenwriter was trying to write this movie that they could make this up,” Sater said.

Sater, 52, says that for the past two decades he has served as a high-level intelligence asset for the DIA, CIA and the FBI. As first reported this week by Buzzfeed News, Sater has helped bust mafia families, capture cybercriminals and pursue top terrorists — including Osama bin Laden — earning praise from some of the country’s top law enforcement officials.

He won’t say whether or not he’s been interviewed by the special counsel, but it’s almost certain that Mueller knows his body of work well. He served as FBI Director for much of Sater’s clandestine career.

As questions have swirled about his supposed loyalty to Russia, Sater is speaking out, recasting himself as an unheralded protector of the United States.

“I am a patriot,” Sater said. “Having the opportunity to serve my country and do anything in its defense was a no brainer. It was, ‘Where do I sign up?’”


Sater says he was recruited as an intelligence asset in perhaps the unlikeliest of places — the bathroom.

He was a young man living in Russia, where he was born, trying to rebuild a business career derailed by what he calls “a bad, stupid, drunken night in a bar.” He had been convicted of felony assault charges and spent a year in prison following a bloody bar fight in which he stabbed a man in the face with a margarita glass.

He needed money so desperately upon his release, he says, that he started working on what he calls “the dark side of Wall Street,” a reference to a so-called “pump-and-dump” stock scheme that reportedly defrauded investors of nearly $40 million.

He was at a dinner party in Moscow when he says one of the guests followed him into the bathroom and identified himself as an agent of the U.S. government. He told Sater that he had unwittingly gained access to a group of high-level Russian intelligence operatives who had valuable information about Russian defense technology.

“They seem to like you,” Sater recalls being told. “You speak Russian. You blend in there. And your country needs you.”

So began, Sater says, career in espionage. He says he developed assets in several different countries by cultivating cover as a corrupt businessman offering access to illicit schemes and passed information to U.S. agents tasked with handling a variety of threats to national security.

“They used to come to me with cases that had nothing to do with me and ask for my assistance, in which I would enthusiastically and wholeheartedly dive in and try to help,” he said.

He says he tipped off law enforcement to potential assassination attempts on Secretary of State Colin Powell and President George W. Bush; obtained information and photographs about North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear program; lured Russian cybercriminals hacking the U.S. financial system out of hidings so that they could be unmasked and captured.

And, he says, he was even tasked with hunting for Osama bin Laden and managed to turn Mullah Omar’s personal secretary into a key source that provided intelligence about al-Qaeda hideouts.

The information he had obtained was so valuable that when his past caught up with him and he finally faced his sentencing in connection with that multimillion-dollar fraud, the judge let him off with a mere $25,000 fine.

That work, he says, continues in some unspecified capacity to this day. He said as recently as last year he was asked for “assistance in making evaluations of various foreign governments [and] foreign individuals.”

He reportedly told this story under oath when he testified recently before the House Intelligence Committee, at which point he said even “the Democratic aides who were there to question [me] regarding the Russia-Trump investigation stopped, paused and thanks me for my service to my country.”

“One of the few times in my life that I almost cried,” Sater said.


Sater says he made himself valuable to the U.S. government by knowing everything. When it comes to Trump, however, he says he knows next to nothing.

His company, Bayrock Group, began renting office space in Trump Tower. Sater says he introduced himself to Trump in 2000 and began funneling development proposals to Trump’s desk shortly thereafter.

“I would bring him deals,” Sater said.

Sater claims he has helped the Trump Organization secure financing on several major projects, but none has garnered more scrutiny than a failed proposal to build “Trump Tower Moscow” amid the launch of Trump’s controversial campaign for the presidency.

In 2015, Trump signed a non-binding letter of intent, which promised a $4 million initial payment to the Trump Organization, to build the tallest building in the world in Moscow. In emails sent to Cohen published by the Post and the Times, Sater appears to celebrate an apparent merger of Trump’s business and political fortunes.

Faced with questions about his boast that he and Cohen could “engineer” a Trump presidency using the deal to court Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support, Sater pleaded ignorance.

“I am not a political person,” Sater said. “I don't understand the implications of the politics or the various strings that get attached to it and how good or bad it may look.”

Any perceived alignment of Trump’s business and political interests, he said, was purely coincidental.

“I was trying to do a real estate transaction,” Sater told ABC News. “I clearly was not involved in the campaign, nor was I involved in any of the political end, and the hope that a large transaction like that would be built, if that was helpful to his run, that would be great.”

Asked if he knew certain key member of the Trump campaign, he claimed to have had “zero contact” with many of the Trump allies who have fallen under the spotlight. He denied knowing Michael Flynn. And Paul Manafort. And Rick Gates. And George Papadopoulos. And Carter Page.

Asked if then-candidate Trump could have softened his stance on Russia because he was simultaneously pursuing a business deal there, Sater demurred.

“I can’t speak for the president,” he said.

And asked if — given his extensive sources in the both the Russian foreign intelligence services and the Russian criminal underworld — he knew of the effort underway to influence the U.S. election, he paused before issuing a forceful denial.

“I was not aware of what they were doing,” Sater said. “I read about it, just like everyone else, in the newspapers.”

Sater called Trump’s claim that he couldn’t pick him out of a lineup “disappointing,” but says Trump has nothing to fear from his testimony to investigators. He is unaware, he said, of any Russian money in any of the Trump projects he worked on and unaware of anyone in Trump’s orbit who may have colluded with foreign powers during the campaign.

If Mueller finds any, Sater recommended stiff penalties.

“Send ‘em to jail,” he said. “Anybody who colluded with anybody-- with any other country against America -- is guilty of crimes against our country.”
But as for himself, Sater isn’t worried.

“Eventually, it will become known that I’m guilty of trying to build the world’s tallest building,” Sater said, “and that’s about it.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Top House Democrats are accusing the White House and State Department of forcing out administration officials not considered sufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Citing emails provided by a whistleblower, Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the ranking members of the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, wrote to White House chief of staff John Kelly and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan raising questions about what they see as an apparent effort to target career civil servants at the State Department.

The State Department confirmed that it had received the letter Thursday afternoon and "will comply with Congress' request," according to spokesperson Heather Nauert, who said she had never heard of outside groups pressuring the department to making staffing changes. "This is the first I've heard of it in this letter," she said.

A number of emails, reviewed by ABC News, focus on former State Department official Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a career official who worked on the Iran nuclear deal under President Obama at the State Department and on the White House National Security Council.

Nowrouzzadeh was the subject of a March story from a conservative outlet describing her as a “trusted Obama aide” who was “burrowing into the government under President Trump.”

She wrote to Brian Hook, her supervisor and director of the secretary’s policy planning staff, to push back on the story from the Conservative Review.

“I am and have been a career civil servant for nearly 12 years now,” she wrote in her email to Hook. “I began government service in the Bush Administration at DOD/NSA after graduating college and have focused on Iran in various capacities ever since. I’ve adapted my work to the policy priorities of every administration I have worked for.”

Nowrouzzadeh asked to meet with Hook to discuss the story and said she was worried about her safety. Hook forwarded her note to other Trump appointees, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's deputy chief of staff Christine Ciccone; his deputy, Ed Lacey; and Matt Mowers.

“I know she is, in fact, a career civil servant,” Lacey replied, adding that she served on the Obama National Security Council, and promoted and defended the Iran nuclear deal “with enthusiasm.” In another email, he refers to Nowrouzzadeh as one of a handful of "Obama/Clinton loyalists not at all supportive of President Trump's foreign policy agenda."

In a subsequent email, Julia Haller, formerly the State Department’s White House liaison, wrote that it would be “easy to get a detail suspended,” and claimed Nowrouzzadeh was born in Iran and “cried when the president won.”

The Connecticut-born Nowrouzzadeh, currently a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, was later removed from her assignment on the State Department’s policy planning staff in a manner that was “not in accordance with that which was explicitly stated in my [memorandum of understanding]," she wrote to State Department officials in an email regarding a Politico story about her reassignment.

She did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

The emails also appear to reveal that conservatives outside the administration were in touch with State Department and White House officials with concerns about career staff.

David Wurmser, a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, emailed the Conservative Review story about Nowrouzzadeh to Trump adviser and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who forwarded it along to Margaret Peterlin, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s chief of staff.

“I think a cleaning is in order here,” Wurmser wrote to Gingrich. “I hear Tillerson has been reasonably good on stuff like this and cleaning house, but there are so many that it boggles the mind."

The emails also identify several White House officials, including Deputy White House Counsel Makan Delrahim, who were aware of the story and communicating about Nowrouzzadeh. He had received a note with the story from a judicial strategy distribution list from Barbara Leeden, a conservative activist.

Nowrouzzadeh was one of several officials viewed with suspicion in the early days of the Trump administration.

In one email to himself titled “Derek notes” -- a reference to National Security Council Senior Director Derek Harvey, according to a congressional aide -- Hook listed several other officials and notes about their loyalty, and described one as a “turncoat” who is “fully political.”

In their letter, Cummings and Engel have asked the State Department and White House for transcribed interviews with White House and State Department officials regarding Nowrouzzadeh’s detail and reassignment, along with relevant documents and communications.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. During the briefing with reporters at the State Department, Nauert defended career employees as "extremely professional" and "almost blind to politics."

"They may not always like the policy that they are asked to advance on behalf of this administration and the American people, but my personal experience has been that people have done that and handled it in a very professional matter," she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A group of influential Republican senators on Thursday called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate how the Department of Justice and FBI conducted a probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

The demand came in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, from Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa; John Cornyn of Texas, a committee member and No. 2 in the Senate Republican leadership; and committee members Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

They requested that a special counsel assist the DOJ inspector general in digging into possible misuse of the foreign intelligence surveillance system to obtain warrants against a former Trump campaign aide, leaks of classified intelligence to the media and “potential improprieties in the FBI’s relationship with Christopher Steele.”

Grassley and Graham already made a criminal referral to the DOJ two months ago concerning former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele -- author of the so-called “Trump dossier” -- recommending that officials investigate possible false statements by Steele to federal officials.

One Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic source said, "They keep forgetting that the Russia investigation started with George Papadopoulos and his Russia-related contacts."

Buried in the list of more than 30 questions that the senators want investigated is an allegation by Grassley that former FBI Director James Comey may have lied to Congress.

“Chairman Grassley wrote to former Director Comey nearly a year ago requesting him to resolve apparent material discrepancies between information he provided in a closed briefing and information contained in classified documents,” the letter reads. “Specifically, what Mr. Comey disclosed in a private briefing to the Chairman and Ranking Member Feinstein about the timeline of the FBI’s interactions with Mr. Steele appeared inconsistent with information contained in FISA applications the chairman and ranking member later reviewed.”

Grassley goes on to say, “It’s unclear whether this was a deliberate attempt to mislead the Oversight Committee about whether the FBI’s communications with Mr. Steele about the Trump allegations began before or after the FBI opened the investigation.”

“No explanation for the inconsistencies has ever been provided,” the letter states.

The four GOP Judiciary Committee members also want to know more about the nature of the FBI’s interview of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser who is now cooperating in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. He pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal agents.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have frequently lambasted Rosenstein, Mueller and the Russia investigation more broadly. Disagreements on the Senate Judiciary Committee have so fractured its own Russia investigation that Republicans and Democrats have been operating on separate tracks, with some members privately grousing that the whole thing is a waste of time.

Democrats often said Republicans, in attacking the Russia investigation, are merely trying to protect the president.

The DOJ inspector general is already investigating how the department and the FBI handled its probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The inspector general is expected to issue its report on that matter in April, according to sources.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization for Russia-related documents, ABC News has confirmed.

The scope of the subpoena was not immediately clear, but it represents the latest indication of the breadth of the special counsel’s nearly yearlong, wide-ranging probe into possible collusion between Russian agents and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. The New York Times first reported news of the subpoenas.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders referred questions about the matter on Thursday to the Trump Organization.

Alan S. Futerfas, attorney for the Trump Organization, said they have sought to cooperate with the special counsel.

“Since July 2017, we have advised the public that the Trump Organization is fully cooperative with all investigations, including the special counsel, and is responding to their requests," he said in a statement. "This is old news, and our assistance and cooperation with the various investigations remains the same today.”

The special counsel's investigation has already been looking at other aspects of the Trump Organization's business dealings for months, but this latest sign shows the attention is now turning to Russia-related matters.

As ABC News has previously reported, four months into his campaign for president, then candidate-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. The proposal would have involved the construction of the world’s tallest building in Moscow, according to developers of the project.

The disclosure from Cohen, who has described himself as Trump’s personal lawyer, came as Cohen’s attorney gave congressional investigators scores of documents and emails from the campaign, including several pertaining to the Moscow development idea.

“Certain documents in the production reference a proposal for ‘Trump Tower Moscow,’ which contemplated a private real estate development in Russia,” Cohen’s statement read. “The decision to pursue the proposal initially, and later to abandon it, was unrelated to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign.”

In a separate statement texted to ABC News at the time, Cohen said, “The Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected.”

Last year, President Trump told the New York Times that Mueller's team would be crossing a "red line" if it started investigating the Trump Organization or the Trump family businesses for matters beyond Russia.

“I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo -- who knows? I don’t make money from Russia,” Trump told the Times during the interview last year.

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iStock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Just days after the still too-close-to-call special election for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, it appears that Democrat Conor Lamb will seek re-election in the state's new 17th Congressional District this fall, setting up a likely match with GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus.

Republican Rick Saccone, who competed against Lamb on Tuesday night, is gathering petitions to run in the new 14th Congressional District in November, he tweeted.

If they win their respective races, Saccone and Lamb could serve together representing Pennsylvania in Congress next year.

There is still no official winner in the contest between the two men for Tuesday’s special election in the 18th Congressional District, but both parties were competing heavily in part to set them up for a strong run in November.

The race was seen as a critical test of the GOP's political strength ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats saw the contest as a way to measure their base's enthusiasm and prove they can run good candidates in tough districts.

Beaver County Democratic Chairman Stephen Dupree said the Lamb campaign reached out to him on Wednesday.

The county is located entirely in the 17th district. None of it was in the district Lamb competed in on Tuesday.

“I have talked to Conor’s campaign and was told he wanted Beaver County’s endorsement,” Dupree told ABC News.

The endorsement requires a written request from the candidate, which Dupree said they received on Wednesday. The party will vote on their endorsement on March 22.

Meanwhile, Saccone tweeted on Thursday that he is running in the new 14th, but noted he is still going “through the process to ensure the integrity of the special election.”

For Lamb, running as an incumbent would come with advantages, such as dedicated support from the party and franking privileges from Congress, which allows lawmakers ways to tout their accomplishments to their constituents.

Lamb and the Democrats have declared him the winner of Tuesday’s contest, where he leads by 627 votes, according to current vote totals.

But Republicans have brought a lawsuit to impound the ballots and have started an ad campaign to ask voters if they experienced any irregularities on Tuesday night, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Lamb and Saccone were faced with a choice of which new district to run in regardless of the outcome this past Tuesday night.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in January that the congressional map enacted in 2011 violated the state constitution's provisions on partisan gerrymandering.

National and Pennsylvania Republicans have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate the state court's ruling, but no decision has been made on that request thus far.

The race in the new 17th Congressional District would be considered highly competitive, and Rothfus would likely get serious support from Republican outside spending groups, which spent more than $10 million against Lamb in the special election and would likely relish the chance to go after him again.

The GOP incumbent is in good shape with his own fundraising. He has $1,215,217 in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

It won’t be known for a few weeks how much cash Lamb has on hand after Tuesday’s election, but he proved himself a strong fundraiser, raising more than $4 million for his special election bid.

It’s also unknown if he will face a Democratic primary in the new district. He was selected by a special committee for the Democratic nomination for the special election, in accordance with state rules.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has already named Lamb to its Frontline Program, which is its incumbent protection program.

“Congressman-elect Conor Lamb embodies toughness, hard work and service, and represents the very best of his community and our country,” said DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján in Thursday’s announcement. “Conor’s record of service, combined with a deep connection to labor and the grassroots community, puts him in a very strong position to be re-elected in November.”

Lamb showed a strong performance in Tuesday’s special election.

President Trump won the old 18th Congressional District by 19.6 percent in 2016. Under the new lines, President Trump won the 17th Congressional District by just 2.5 percent, mostly due to the greater inclusion of the Democratic areas in Allegheny County -- Pittsburgh suburbs -- in the district.

The new 14th Congressional District has no sitting incumbent. Its area mainly consists of the seat that former Rep. Tim Murphy held before he resigned after a report that he allegedly asked an extramarital lover to end her pregnancy.

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