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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump was critical of Senate Republicans for their work -- or lack thereof -- on health care reform during remarks at the White House on Monday.

"So far Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare. They now have a chance, however, to hopefully, hopefully fix what has been so badly broken for such a long time. And that is through replacement of a horrible disaster known as Obamacare," Trump said Monday.

"Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare, which is what it is," he said while standing in front of a group of Americans the White House referred to as "victims of Obamacare."

"For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise," he added.

He went on to say the Senate "is very close to the votes it needs to pass a replacement," though there do not appear to be enough votes to pass a motion to proceed to a vote on a repeal without having a replacement plan in place.

The latest whip count had at least three Republican senators against a repeal of Obamacare without a replacement plan in place. In addition to those votes, Senate Republicans are down a vote while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is recovering from recent surgery during which doctors discovered a brain tumor. There can only be two Republican "no" votes for any vote to pass.

During his remarks, Trump then moved on to placing some blame for the failure to come up with a replacement health care bill on the Democrats.

"The problem is we have zero help from the Democrats they're obstructionists. That's all they are good at, obstructionism. Making things not work," he said.


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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, is expected to deny that he colluded with Russia during the presidential campaign in a closed-door interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday morning.

"I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts," Kushner is expected to tell congressional investigators, according to an 11-page statement he released Monday morning detailing his four meetings with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and transition period.

"I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 [security clearance] form, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest," the statement said.

 Accompanied by his attorney Abbe Lowell, Kushner arrived on Capitol Hill this morning for the committee meeting, flashing a smile and giving a quick wave but not answering questions from reporters. The meeting was conducted in a SCIF, or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, and lasted more than two hours.

As Kushner was walking out of the committee meeting, a protester tried to force a Russian flag into his hand, asking Kushner to sign it. The man was pushed back by security.

Arriving for Senate Intel interview, Jared Kushner ignores question from @marykbruce on whether he regrets meeting with Russian lawyer. pic.twitter.com/GvPxb8q6lh

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 24, 2017


The panel, which is one of several congressional committees investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, has interviewed dozens of individuals as part of its probe.

Kushner is one of Trump's closest confidants, an adviser who has been at his side since the beginning of the campaign. Kushner is the first member of Trump's family to appear before Congress as part of a Russia probe.

His contacts with Russian officials are a focus of congressional investigators and for investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a separate probe into Russian election interference.

On the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russian lawyer

Kushner was one of several Trump associates to meet with a Russian attorney linked to the Kremlin in Trump Tower in New York in June 2016.

Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, organized the meeting with Russia lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after receiving a message from a business associate who said the attorney promised to share incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, according to an email exchange he released.

He invited Kushner and Paul Manafort, the then-campaign chairman, to the meeting.

Though Donald Trump Jr. has said nothing came of the controversial meeting, lawmakers hope to interview all the participants as they continue to investigate whether Trump's campaign worked with Russia during the presidential election.

"The committee's going to reach out to everybody we feel has some contribution to make," Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said to reporters last week.

Kushner, in his statement, said he did not know who would be attending the meeting and described it as a "waste of our time." He arrived to the meeting late, as participants were discussing Russian adoptions. He also said he asked his assistant to call him 10 minutes into the meeting to give him an excuse to leave early.

"No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted," he wrote in his statement.

Manafort and Trump Jr. are in discussions with the Senate Judiciary Committee about sitting for closed-door interviews. Both men have expressed a willingness to cooperate with congressional investigators.

ABC News first reported Kushner's interview with Senate investigators last week.

Kushner, who has been cooperating with investigators, is also expected to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

"There is a lot we want to know," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Cali., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "His counsel has said they will make him available for two hours, so we expect this is just going to be the first interview."

On his meeting with Russian banker

Kushner is also expected to face questions about a meeting he had after the election last fall with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russian bank Vnesheconombank, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

The White House and the bank initially provided conflicting explanations for the meeting.

Kushner, in his statement, said the meeting lasted less than half an hour, and that he "expressed the same sentiments I had with other foreign officials I met."

"There were no specific policies discussed," he said. "We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind."

Kushner served as Trump's liaison to foreign governments during the transition.

On his meeting with Russian ambassador

In December, Kushner met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, at Trump Tower and discussed establishing a possible secret back channel for diplomatic communications between Russian and the United States.

Kushner denied discussing "an on-going secret form of communication" or "a 'secret back channel'" with Kislyak in his statement Monday.

"During the meeting, after pleasantries were exchanged, as I had done in many of the meetings I had and would have with foreign officials, I stated our desire for a fresh start in relations," he said.

After Kislyak asked if he could convey information regarding Syria to Kushner and now-former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, Kushner "asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to Gen. Flynn," according to his statement.

"The ambassador said that would not be possible, and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the inauguration. Nothing else occurred," Kushner said.


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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democratic congressional leaders are launching a revamped messaging campaign Monday as part of the party's new appeal to voters before the 2018 midterm elections.

The campaign features a new package of economic priorities Democrats are calling A Better Deal.

Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, progressive champion Sen. Elizabeth Warren and several other Democratic leaders will rally in a swing Virginia district Monday to roll out the new platform.

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," previewing Monday’s event and the future focus on this agenda, Schumer was introspective about the mistakes Democrats made during last year's presidential election.

“We didn’t tell people what we stood for,” he said. “I don’t know why it didn’t happen in the campaign,” he said. “We all take blame, not any one person.”

Monday’s event represents their first stab at laying out what the party says it stands for, beginning with a three-pronged legislative agenda: increasing minimum wage, providing tax credits for worker training, going after prescription drug costs and reviewing corporate mergers and monopolies.

Schumer said the focus on these sorts of pocketbook issues resonates both with the so-called Obama coalition and also Democratic voters who abandoned their party to vote for Trump.

“We were too cautious, we were too namby-pamby. This is sharp, bold and will appeal to both the old Obama coalition ... and the Democratic voters who deserted us for Trump.”

The plan appears to have the blessing of the progressive wing of the party. Sen. Bernie Sanders will appear in a video message supporting the party's new campaign.

However, one of the key ideas supported by Sanders -- a single payer health care system -- isn’t going to be a focus. Schumer said the single-payer proposals remained on the table and in discussion among his peers.

Schumer said for now he hopes to work with Republicans to stabilize individual insurance markets, but only after Republicans fully put aside their Obamacare repeal and replace plan.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) --  President Trump Monday morning called Attorney General Jeff Sessions "beleaguered" following his public criticism of Sessions in a recent interview with The New York Times.

"After 1 year of investigation with Zero evidence being found, Chuck Schumer just stated that 'Democrats should blame ourselves, not Russia,'" Trump said in a tweet.

"So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?" Trump wrote, referring to his Democratic opponent from the election, Hillary Clinton.

So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017

Trump on Saturday slammed what he called "a new intelligence leak" against Sessions, referring to The Washington Post's reporting on Friday that Sessions discussed campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.

Sessions was one of Trump's earliest supporters during the presidential campaign but the president continues to air his frustrations with Sessions. Trump told The New York Times last Wednesday that he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general if he knew Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. He also criticized Sessions for "[giving] some bad answers" during his confirmation hearing in January.

ABC News also learned from sources that Sessions had offered to resign in June. However, despite Trump's comments to The Times, Sessions said last week during a Justice Department press conference that he intends to serve as attorney general "as long as that is appropriate."

Trump has called investigations of his campaign associates and their potential ties to Russia a "witch hunt" and, according to his new White House communications director, still questions whether Russia was behind the 2016 U.S. election hacking.

Trump also attacked California Rep. Adam Schiff today. The Democratic lawmaker is the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating whether associates of Trump conspired with Russia during the campaign.

Schiff responded to Trump that the "problem" is how often he watches TV and his "comments and actions."

Sleazy Adam Schiff, the totally biased Congressman looking into "Russia," spends all of his time on television pushing the Dem loss excuse!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017

With respect Mr. President, the problem is how often you watch TV, and that your comments and actions are beneath the dignity of the office. https://t.co/NvZydYbnyW

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) July 24, 2017


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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, is expected on Capitol Hill Monday for a closed-door interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The panel, which is one of several congressional committees investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, has interviewed dozens of individuals as part of its probe.

Kushner is one of Trump's closest confidants, an adviser who has been at his side since the campaign trail and the transition to the White House. He is the first member of Trump's family to appear on Capitol Hill as part of the Russia probe.

His contacts with Russian officials are a focus of congressional investigators and of the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a separate probe into Russian election interference.

Kushner was one of several Trump associates to meet with a Russian attorney linked to the Kremlin in Trump Tower in June 2016.

Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, organized the meeting with Russia lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after receiving a message from a business associate who promised to share incriminating information about Hillary Clinton passed along from a Russian government official, according to an email exchange he released.

He invited Kushner and Paul Manafort, then Trump's campaign chairman, to the meeting.

Though Donald Trump Jr. has said nothing came of the controversial meeting, lawmakers hope to interview all the participants as they continue to investigate whether Trump's campaign worked with Russia during the presidential election. Kushner did not stay for the entire meeting and left early.

"The committee's going to reach out to everybody we feel has some contribution to make," Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said to reporters last week.

Manafort and Trump Jr. are in discussions with the Senate Judiciary Committee about sitting for closed-door interviews. Both men have expressed a willingness to cooperate with congressional investigators.

ABC News first reported Kushner's interview with Senate investigators last week.

Kushner, who has been cooperating with investigators, is also expected to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

He's also expected to face questions about a meeting he had after the election last fall with Sergey Gorkov, the head of the Russian bank VneshEconombank, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

The White House and the bank provided conflicting explanations for the meeting.

In December, Kushner met with then Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower, and discussed establishing a possible secret back channel for diplomatic communications between Russian and the United States.

Kushner served as Trump's liaison to foreign governments during the transition.

"There is a lot we want to know," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "His counsel has said they will make him available for two hours so we expect this is just going to be the first interview."

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- The president’s new press secretary dismissed the media’s focus on the Russia investigation, what she called “Russia fever,” as an attempt to delegitimize Trump’s election victory.

“There's a ton of focus on what I like to call Russia fever,” press secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday.

She said the allegations swirling around Russia and Trump associates is a “total made-up story about the president, trying to take away the legitimacy of his victory in November.”

Instead, she said the focus should be on leaks of sensitive information to the media. “We need to focus on these leaks. This is the only illegal thing that has taken place, and it's a real serious problem.”

Sanders was responding to a question by Stephanopoulos about a tweet by the president Saturday decrying what Trump called "a new intelligence leak" about Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

 

A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey's, must stop!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017

 

Stephanopoulos pressed Sanders on the tweet: "That appears to be a confirmation that the attorney general was talking to the Russian ambassador about the campaign" during the 2016 presidential race.

Sanders disagreed.

"I think the president's point is that there's a real problem with leaks, whether they're actual leaks or not. There's an issue that there are constant stories, sometimes true, sometimes not, that are being leaked out of the intelligence community," she said.

Earlier this week, President Trump, in a lengthy interview with The New York Times, said he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general if he knew the former Alabama senator would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

Sanders said on "This Week," "The president knows the attorney general is trying hard and he appreciates that. But at the same time, he's disappointed that he chose to recuse himself. I don't think that that's inconsistent or hard to understand, that there would be frustration with that."

The president’s spokeswoman also said Trump will support proposed legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia.

“The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place,” she said.

The House and Senate struck a deal on a bill that puts new sanctions on Russia for its interference in the U.S. 2016 election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

The bill also gives Congress the power to review any effort by the Trump administration to ease or end sanctions against Moscow. The legislation includes stiff economic penalties against Iran and North Korea as well.

“The original piece of legislation was poorly written, but we were able to work with the House and Senate, and the administration is happy with the ability to do that, and make those changes that were necessary, and we support where the legislation is now,” Sanders said.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Jay Sekulow, a member of President Trump’s legal team, said it’s an open question whether the president has the authority to pardon himself.

Sekulow was responding to a question from ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday.

“We have not, and continue to not have conversations with the president of the United States regarding pardons. Pardons have not been discussed. And pardons are not on the table. With regard to the issue of a president pardoning himself, there’s a big academic discussion going on right now,” Sekulow said. “From a constitutional, legal perspective you can’t dismiss it one way or the other."

He added that he thinks such a question would ultimately have to go before the Supreme Court.

But Sekulow emphasized that the president's legal team is not looking into the question of pardons.

"We're not researching the issue because the issue of pardons is not on the table. There's nothing to pardon from,” Sekulow said. “We’re not researching it; I haven’t researched it because it’s not an issue we're concerned with or dealing with.”

Trump himself, however, brought up the issue of pardons in a tweet Saturday asserting that the president has "complete power to pardon."

In a later interview on “This Week,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., warned that if President Trump were to pardon himself or to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, “I think it would cause a cataclysm in Washington.”

“I cannot imagine our Republican colleagues, including [House Speaker Paul] Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell, just standing by if he were to do either of those things,” the Senate minority leader said

In the Sekulow interview, Stephanopoulos pressed the lawyer about another of Trump’s tweets Saturday that asked why Attorney General Sessions and Mueller aren’t looking into what the president called "crimes" by former FBI Director James Comey and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"[What] Comey crimes does the president believe the Justice Department or Mueller should be investigating?" Stephanopoulos asked.

Sekulow said the memos that Comey had written about his conversations with Trump and which he leaked through an associate after the president fired him were written on a “government computer” and were “in fact government property.”

“He took government property … and leaked them to the press,” Sekulow said.

In addition, the Trump lawyer said that Comey’s conversations with the president “would have been covered by executive privilege.”“James Comey ignored that, did not give the president or anyone else at that point when he leaked the information the opportunity to assert that privilege,” Sekulow continued. “And I think that was not only a dereliction of his duties, I think it was a violation of his constitutional oath, and violated criminal statutes.”

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Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump Jr.'s legal team is expanding its operation, bringing on D.C.-based attorney and longtime regulatory lawyer Karina Lynch, his team told ABC News.

Lynch also confirmed to ABC News that she is joining the team.

Donald Trump Jr. is one of the people connected to the Trump administration whom the Senate Judiciary Committee has said it wants to interview as part of its investigation into possible Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

Lynch had been at the law firm Williams and Jensen since 2000, and became a principal in 2005, according to the firm's website.

She "concentrates on legislative, regulatory, and oversight issues affecting various sectors of the health care industry and clients with an interest in education and tax policy," her bio says.

Before that, she spent five years on Capitol Hill, serving as counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Government Affairs, which was chaired by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

She had previously served as investigative counsel for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic Party will consider proposing a single-payer health insurance system, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said.

“We’re going to look at broader things [for the nation’s health care system.] Single-payer is one of them,” Schumer said to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday.

The top Democrat in the Senate added that single-payer is among a number of health insurance options.

“Many things are on the table,” Schumer said. “Medicare for people above 55 is on the table. A buy-in to Medicare is on the table. Buy-in to Medicaid is on the table.”

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort have both agreed to negotiate with the Senate Judiciary Committee to provide documents "and be interviewed... prior to a public hearing" in regards to its Russia probe, according to statement from the office of committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.

Representatives for both Trump Jr. and Manafort did not respond to requests for comment from ABC but previously said they are cooperating with the Congressional investigations.

The announcement comes a day after senators threatened to subpoena the pair in pursuit of their investigation into Russian election interference. Both Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had expressed confidence on Thursday in achieving cooperation with the president's son and former campaign chair.

“I’m not concerned, because if they don’t they will be subpoenaed," said Feinstein.

On Wednesday, the committee invited the men -- who have come under scrutiny for their attendance at a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which Trump Jr. believed they would receive incriminating information about Hillary Clinton -- to appear at a hearing next week and turn over documents related to their contacts with Russian nationals. They will not appear at Wednesday's session in light of their willingness to cooperate, according to an aide to Feinstein.

Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, a research firm hired by Trump political opponents to investigate the GOP nominee's Russia ties, was also invited to next week's hearing, but declined, according to the statement from Grassley's office.

"A subpoena has been issued to compel his attendance," the statement said.

"Simpson's attorney has asserted that his client will invoke First and Fifth Amendment rights in response to the subpoena," continued the statement.

While Trump and Manafort will be cooperating with the committee, the statement adds that the panel "reserve[s] the right" to issue subpoenas for each in the future.

 

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Anthony Scaramucci, the newest member of the Trump administration, took to Twitter Saturday to say he’s deleting some old tweets that “shouldn’t be a distraction.”

 

Full transparency: I'm deleting old tweets. Past views evolved & shouldn't be a distraction. I serve @POTUS agenda & that's all that matters

— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) July 22, 2017

 

On Friday, Scaramucci was announced as President Trump’s new White House communications director, a position that’s been open since Mike Dubke resigned in May. Scaramucci, a well-known Wall Street financier who was a member of Trump’s transition team, will officially begin the job on Aug. 15, reporting directly to the president, according to the White House.

While Scaramucci has tweeted many comments in support of Trump in the past -- before, during and after Trump’s campaign -- he has also tweeted many opinions that are at odds with the administration’s agenda.

Though he's purging his Twitter feed, most of the deleted tweets have already been archived and are viewable on the Wayback Machine web archive.

Scaramucci has tweeted multiple times about increasing gun control in the U.S. In August 2012, he tweeted, and has since deleted, "We (the USA) has 5% of the world's population but 50% of the world's guns. Enough is enough. It is just common sense it apply more controls(.)"

On July 8, 2015, he tweeted, “Daily liquidity in alts = keeping a gun in home. Illusion of security, but more likely to cause you harm.” That tweet was deleted but it has been archived on the Trump Twitter Archive. The Wayback Machine did not archive this tweet.

In that tweet, he also linked to an article he wrote about daily liquidity and alternative investments that begins with the line, “Daily liquidity in alternative investments is like keeping a gun in your home – it might provide the illusion of security but statistics show it’s more likely to cause you harm.”

Trump is a strong supporter of gun rights -- in Atlanta in April, he told National Rifle Association members that he “will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

In December 2015, Scaramucci tweeted (and has since deleted) a photo of the Berlin Wall preserved in the Newseum in Washington and wrote, “Walls don't work. Never have never will. The Berlin Wall 1961-1989 don't fall for it.”

Building a “big, beautiful wall” along the United States-Mexico border was one of Trump’s key campaign promises.

Scaramucci has also in the past voiced his feelings on climate change.

In February 2016, he retweeted an Associated Press article titled, "The heat goes on: Earth sets 9th straight monthly record." In his tweet, he wrote, "(D)on't stand on the wrong side of history #climatechange". Then, in March 2016, he tweeted, “You can take steps to combat climate change without crippling the economy. The fact many people still believe CC is a hoax is disheartening.” That tweet has now been deleted.

Most recently, in December, he tweeted, “No matter your view on climate science, we can take common sense steps that spur econ growth & US energy security w/out harming environment.” This tweet has not been deleted.

In June, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, saying it “is very unfair at the highest level to the United States,” and that he would try to renegotiate it to “see if we can make a deal that’s fair."

The goal of the agreement is to slow and perhaps reverse global climate change. Syria and Nicaragua are the only other United Nations member countries that didn’t sign the deal.

In a statement announcing Scaramucci’s appointment, Trump said, “He has been a great supporter and will now help implement key aspects of our agenda while leading the communications team. We have accomplished so much, and we are being given credit for so little. The good news is the people get it, even if the media doesn’t.”

In his own statement, Scaramucci said that he’s “proud to join [Trump’s] Administration as he continues to deliver for the American people.”

At the beginning of the 2016 presidential election cycle, Scaramucci was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's fundraising chairman. When Walker's campaign ended, he then joined Jeb Bush's campaign. When Bush dropped out of the race, he then joined Trump's campaign.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that Scaramucci would've supported him originally if he had known he was running.

 

In all fairness to Anthony Scaramucci, he wanted to endorse me 1st, before the Republican Primaries started, but didn't think I was running!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017

 

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Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump, in a long tweetstorm on Saturday morning, slammed what he called "a new intelligence leak" against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an apparent reference to a report that Sessions discussed campaign-related matters with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential race.

A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey's, must stop!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017


The Washington Post reported Friday evening that Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, told Russian officials that during the presidential election he and Sessions talked about the campaign and policy matters when Sessions served as an adviser to Trump's campaign.

The report does not say that that Sessions discussed with the ambassador Russia's interference in the election, and the Department of Justice in a statement responding to the Post report said Sessions had no meetings or discussions with foreign officials "concerning any type of interference" with the U.S. election.

The president also in one of his many tweets Saturday morning brought up his power to issue pardons, apparently in the context of the Russia probe.

While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017


Trump's highlighting his power as president to issue pardons comes on the heels of his legal team's assertions that the question of pardons related to the Russia investigation is "not on the table."

"Pardons are not being discussed and are not on the table,” Jay Sekulow, a member of President Trump’s legal team, told ABC News.

Sekulow's comment came in response to a Washington Post report Friday that Trump was asking people on his team about the extent of his ability as president to pardon people in relation to the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the election and possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign.

The president also, in his Twitter rant Saturday, defended his son, Donald Trump Jr., who has come under scrutiny for his meeting with a Russian lawyer during the election, and returned to a campaign theme on alleged wrongs by Hillary Clinton and her associates.

My son Donald openly gave his e-mails to the media & authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017

...What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia, including Podesta Company, Uranium deal, Russian Reset, big dollar speeches etc.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017

So many people are asking why isn't the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017

In contrast to President Trump's ongoing criticism of the nation's news media, which he often calls "fake news," former CIA Director John Brennan in his remarks at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday night said a free press is "one of the real foundational pillars" of U.S. democracy and that the intelligence community has a responsibility to defend it.

"The effort to delegitimize the press and the media ... is something that we should not ever allow," said Brennan, who headed the CIA under President Obama. "Part of what the intelligence community's mission was, was to make sure that this great country can have a free and open press. And it's something that we have fought for and many people have died for."

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Zach Gibson/Getty Images(ASPEN, Colo.) -- In unusually passionate and stark terms, the head of the nation’s top spy agency made clear on Saturday in Colorado that he will stand up to anyone -- even the president of the United States -- who asks him to use the U.S. intelligence community as a political prop.

“We are not about particular viewpoints. We are not about particular parties. We just can’t work that way,” National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers said at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado.

Rogers added that the U.S. intelligence community owes U.S. citizens “honesty and integrity.”

Saturday’s remarks come only months after Rogers and at least two other senior U.S. officials were personally asked by President Trump to publicly rebut news reports laying out details of the federal government’s probe into Russia’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Although Rogers has refused to publicly discuss his private conversations with Trump, he has previously vowed to keep politics out of his agency’s work. But his remarks on Saturday at the annual gathering of senior officials, reporters and others tied to the U.S. intelligence community were noteworthy in their intensity and passion.

Punctuating each word -- one by one -- the U.S. Navy admiral said, “I will not violate the oath that I have taken in the 36 years as a commission officer.”

Rogers’ face hardened and his voice cracked as he added: “I won’t do that.”

He went on to say that he often relays this message to his workforce: “We are intelligence professionals. We raise our right hand and we take an oath to defend the citizens of this nation and the values that are embodied in the Constitution …” he said. “Your integrity isn’t worth the price of me or anybody else. You stand up and you remember that oath that we take.”

Rogers’ comments drew a round of applause inside the room.

Nevertheless, Rogers added he has “never been directed to do anything that I felt was illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate. Nor have I felt pressured to do so. Nor would I do so.”

Rogers also said he’s more than willing to offer Trump his assessment even when he knows the president disagrees.

“He has never shut me down,” Rogers said. “He gives me good, direct feedback, sometimes, ‘Mike I don’t agree with that. Mike I’m in a different place than you are.’”

“That’s exactly the way this is supposed to work,” Rogers insisted.

Rogers joined other senior officials at the Aspen Security Forum in affirming the U.S. government’s conclusion that Russia is to blame for a cyber assault on the 2016 election.

“No doubt at all,” Rogers said.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sean Spicer resigned as White House press secretary on Friday, and members of the Trump administration, lawmakers, celebrities and Spicer himself quickly took to Twitter to comment on the move.

Spicer called it "an honor and a privilege" to serve the president and said he would stay on through August.

It's been an honor & a privilege to serve @POTUS @realDonaldTrump & this amazing country. I will continue my service through August

— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) July 21, 2017

President Trump made a statement thanking Spicer for his service, which was read by the new White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“I am grateful for Sean's work on behalf of the administration and the American people. I wish him continued success as he moves on to other opportunities. Just look at his great television ratings. Sean will continue to serve the administration through August," the statement read.

In an interview Friday with ABC Kansas City affiliate KMBC-TV, political reporter Mike Mahoney said to Vice President Mike Pence that Spicer's resignation "sounds like it's a resignation under protest."

Pence responded, "Well, look, Sean Spicer has been a friend of mine for many years. He is a great guy. He served his country in uniform and served this administration in our first 6 months. And I respect his decision to step aside. I just wish him every continued success. And we’re just going to continue at this White House and to continue to focus on the agenda that carried President Trump to victory last fall."

Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, said of Spicer: "He's a military serviceman, he's got a great family, and he's done a great job," adding that "this is a difficult situation to be in and I applaud his efforts."

For her part, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, tweeted about Spicer before welcoming Scaramucci to the West Wing.

Big Respect. Wishing colleague & patriot @PressSec Sean Spicer all BEST.
Welcoming @SHSanders45 to the podium & @Scaramucci to West Wing. https://t.co/C7w9CB9S65

— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) July 21, 2017

California Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat and outspoken critic of the Trump administration, was quick to jump on the news.

Congratulations Sean Spicer. You've got more guts than Jeff Sessions!

— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) July 21, 2017

Comedians weighed in on Twitter, too.

Host Jimmy Kimmel wrote, saying Spicer should "immediately” write a book.

Dear @SeanSpicer Please write a book. Immediately.

— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 21, 2017

Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show on CBS, chimed in too.

The fact is, Sean Spicer had the largest group ever to attend a going away party. Period.

— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) July 21, 2017

Others lamented that Spicer’s departure from the White House meant actress Melissa McCarthy would no longer have the chance to parody him on NBC's “Saturday Night Live.”

.@melissamccarthy must also be out of her SNL job. Well, we'll always have Youtube.

— Rep. Marc Veasey (@RepVeasey) July 21, 2017

Actor George Takei kept his message short and sweet, tweeting: “Spikey out.”

Spicey out. pic.twitter.com/e4ZNgMZjms

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) July 21, 2017

 Some were already suggesting replacements to fill Spicer’s role.

.@ChrisChristie for White House Press Secretary

— Josh Schwerin (@JoshSchwerin) July 21, 2017

Prominent Black Lives Matter activist Deray Mckesson took Spicer's resignation as an opportunity to address the Trump team, tweeting, “It was clear that Sean Spicer was in over his head from the beginning, just like the entire administration.”

It was clear that Sean Spicer was in over his head from the beginning, just like the entire administration.

— deray mckesson (@deray) July 21, 2017

Others suggested they sympathized with Spicer.

David Axelrod, an Obama administration senior adviser, tweeted that Spicer “was in an impossible position from the start, trying to make sense of the nonsensical.”

.@PressSec was in an impossible position from the start, trying to make sense of the nonsensical.1/2

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) July 21, 2017

Chandler Thornton, national chairman of the College Republicans National Committee, tweeted that Spicer "has been one of the strongest and most effective advocates" for Trump.

.@seanspicer has been one of the strongest and most effective advocates for @POTUS, and previously @GOP. Grateful for his service in the WH. https://t.co/bx552ynQKa

— Chandler Thornton (@chandlerUSA) July 21, 2017

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday after six months on the job as President Trump's spokesman, during which he became one of the most well-known presidential representatives.

From his first appearance in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, Spicer, who will continue in the role through August, gained a reputation for verbal stumbles and terse confrontations with reporters, making his press conferences a live staple on cable news networks and leading to his portrayal on Saturday Night Live by actress Melissa McCarthy.

Though his role was to speak on the president's behalf, Spicer often made headlines for his own words when he made missteps and for the absence of words, regularly conceding that he did not know the answers to reporters' questions or that he would "get back" to them.

Spicer faced calls for his firing, including from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after invoking Adolf Hitler during a briefing in April, and recently responded to rumors in June that his role could change in the wake of Communications Director Michael Dubke's resignation.

The press secretary's resignation came the same day that financier Anthony Scaramucci accepted an offer to replace Dubke.

Here's a look at some of the notable moments featuring Spicer since Trump's inauguration:

Inauguration crowd size

In his first opportunity to address the media -- the day following Trump's inauguration -- Spicer unleashed a blistering attack on the press' portrayal of the size of the crowd on the National Mall at the event.

Spicer lambasted news organizations for using images "intentionally framed" to diminish the size of the audience and made several factually incorrect statements about the use of coverings on the grass at the Mall during President Barack Obama's first inauguration and metro ridership numbers from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after reports the day prior noted that attendance appeared down from 2008.

After not taking questions while giving the statement, Spicer answered for his comments two days later, responding to inquiries about the information he provided by saying, "Sometimes we can disagree with the facts, but our intention is never to lie."

'It's not a travel ban'

As controversy swirled over the initial version of Trump's January executive order limiting travel and immigration from seven countries in Africa and the Middle East, Spicer found himself in a war of words with the media and -- indirectly -- the president himself.

At the press briefing on Jan. 31, April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks alluded to the order as she asked a question, referring to it as "this travel ban."

"Well, first of all, it’s not a travel ban," said Spicer, who attempted to make a point about the word "ban" only applying to an order that completely halts something, rather than merely limiting it, as the president's action did.

However, Trump himself called the order a "ban" a day earlier in a tweet referring to the executive order. After Spicer again protested the word's inclusion in a question from Yahoo News' Hunter Walker, NBC News' Kristen Welker called attention to the language in the president's own tweet.

"He says it's a 'ban,' " said Welker, to which Spicer claimed that Trump was only using the word because the media was using it.

"I think that the words that are being used to describe it are derived from what the media is calling this," Spicer said.

Exclusive gaggle

In lieu of a formal press briefing on Feb. 24, Spicer instead decided to hold an informal gathering with reporters known as a gaggle, and took the additional step of only inviting certain news outlets.

Joining the press secretary in his office were the Washington Times, One America News Network, Breitbart News, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, as well as television networks including ABC, CBS, Fox News and NBC, among others.

Those left out included the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and CNN. After learning those organizations would not have a representative, journalists from The Associated Press and Time magazine boycotted the conversation.

Spicer defended himself by saying the gaggle was originally supposed to be composed of a smaller group and he simply chose to expand it, but the White House Correspondents' Association, which represents the press corps, cried foul, saying they disapproved of the way the situation was handled.

'Stop shaking your head'

Throughout his tenure, Spicer, who has been lampooned as a kindergarten teacher on The Daily Show, often chided reporters for talking over one another and dismissively referred to questions as "cute." He took his actions a step further on March 28 when he chastised American Urban Radio Networks' April Ryan for her body language.

As Ryan posed a question about the number of impediments the administration was encountering in its first months, Spicer cut her off, accused her of harboring an agenda and encouraged her to "report the facts." During his response, he also noted that she was shaking her head.

The pair continued their exchange, but shortly after, Spicer again took note of Ryan's movements.

"Please stop shaking your head again," said Spicer.

After the briefing, Ryan expressed her frustration with a tweet, writing, "Lawd!!!!" At the next day's news conference, in what appeared to be an act of goodwill, Spicer called on Ryan first.

Hitler comparison

In April, Spicer addressed the U.S. airstrikes in Syria, launched in response to a chemical attack in the country that was blamed on its government.

Seemingly attempting to justify Trump's order of the missile launch, Spicer compared the cruelty of the Syrian chemical attack to the actions of Hitler during World War II.

Spicer said Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons," neglecting the millions killed in the gas chambers of Nazi concentration and extermination camps. He further referred to the camps as "Holocaust centers."

Facing nearly universal scorn for the remarks, Spicer eventually apologized, telling CNN, "It was insensitive and inappropriate" and that he "shouldn't have done it."

'He gets beat up'

Commenting publicly about the difficulties faced by his press secretary, Trump defended Spicer and principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a Fox News interview in which he also threatened to cancel "all future press briefings."

"You have a level of hostility that’s incredible, and it's very unfair," said Trump. "Sarah Huckabee is a lovely young woman. You know Sean Spicer -- he’s a wonderful human being. He’s a nice man."

Trump wouldn't go so far as to say Spicer should be replaced when prompted by interviewer Jeanine Pirro, but conceded that the aide faced his share of difficulties.

"He’s doing a good job, but he gets beat up," said Trump.

Covfefe

Just after midnight on May 31, Trump sent a tweet that read: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe." The apparent misspelling of the word "coverage" quickly became a meme as social media users joked about the meaning of "covfefe" and why the president published the incomplete post.

After an unusually long amount of time for a post containing an error -- a fact that fed the newfound meme -- the post was deleted and Trump himself joined in on the humor.

"Who can figure out the true meaning of 'covfefe' ??? Enjoy!" he wrote later that day.

When asked about the missive, Spicer responded: "The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant." Many were left wondering whether he was serious or making a joke.

Rumors about his role

After Dubke resigned in June, rumors swirled that Spicer could relinquish his public role as press secretary to focus on communications in a behind-the-scenes capacity. Spicer held the communications director title at the start of Trump's presidency before Dubke took the job in March.

Spicer addressed the growing reports after he was asked about them at the June 20 briefing and whether he could share any changes to the communications team.

"I’m right here," said Spicer on June 20, adding, "We’re always looking for ways to do a better job of articulating the president’s message and his agenda, and we’ll continue to have those discussions internally. When we have an announcement of a personnel nature, we’ll let you know."

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