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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi are set to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday morning in the hopes they can come to a budget agreement to avoid a partial government shutdown next week.

In recent weeks, talks on funding matters have stalled over funding for a border wall.

Trump drew some rhetorical lines in the sand in early morning tweets Tuesday -- repeating a series of questionable claims.

He again pushed to make good on his campaign promise to build what he's now calling a "Great Wall."

He continued to attack Democrats for wanting "open borders," despite Democrats agreeing to spend billions of dollars for border security to repair or replace existing fencing -- but not for Trump's proposed wall.

He claimed that "large new sections" of his wall had been built although that is not the case, and he touted success in barring the "large Caravans" of Central American migrants seeking refugee that Trump used to gin up fears about illegal immigration leading up to the 2018 midterm elections.

.....Ice, Border Patrol and our Military have done a FANTASTIC job of securing our Southern Border. A Great Wall would be, however, a far easier & less expensive solution. We have already built large new sections & fully renovated others, making them like new. The Democrats,.....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018

....however, for strictly political reasons and because they have been pulled so far left, do NOT want Border Security. They want Open Borders for anyone to come in. This brings large scale crime and disease. Our Southern Border is now Secure and will remain that way.......

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018

In another tweet, he claimed that if Democrats don't agree to funding, the military will build the wall.

"If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!" Trump tweeted.

....People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018

"I look forward to my meeting with Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi," Trump added.

The funding fight represents the last time Trump can push through legislation while still holding a Republican-controlled majority. Come January, Democrats will take over the House, making it much harder for Congress to pass any legislation that Trump backs.

Trump has repeated his demands for $5 billion toward building a wall at the southern border, threatening to shut down the government if Congress sends him an appropriations bill that does not include funding for border security.

"[A shutdown] could happen over border security. The wall is just a part of border security -- a very important part -- probably the most important part," Trump told reporters last month. "But could there be a shutdown? There certainly could, and it will be about border security, of which the wall is a part.

Republicans leading the House and Senate support Trump’s aggressive push for funding. But they need Democrats to support the proposal in the Senate to pass the 60-vote threshold, complicating any funding negotiations.

Senate Democrats are holding firm and have refused to budge from the $1.6 billion that’s currently approved in the bipartisan Senate funding bill.

If Trump won’t accept the $1.6 billion offer, Democrats will push for Trump to support a continuing resolution for Department of Homeland Security appropriations that maintains current levels of funding, or $1.3 billion, through the end of next September, a Democratic aide told ABC News.

Republicans think Trump isn’t planning on backing down from his demands.

“I haven’t heard it, no. I haven’t heard any indication of it, no,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters Monday afternoon.

Congress has already succeeded with the low-hanging fruit -- sending Trump bipartisan legislation to fund five of 12 areas of appropriations. But there are still seven bills that have not advanced all the way through Congress and require consideration by Dec. 21, when current funding expires.

A shutdown would be the second of the year, following a three-day partial government shutdown last January over the status of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

A shutdown this time around would only impact certain government agencies and departments, including the departments of Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, State and Agriculture.

While essential government functions and employees would continue to work, a shutdown would impact tens of thousands of others, and slow down key government functions.

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tupungato/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives is expected to pass a resolution Tuesday to declare the violence against Myanmar's Rohingya a genocide, a move the Trump administration still has not made despite mounting evidence and a cavalcade of voices saying so.

The resolution's expected passage is particularly striking because it brings Democrats together with House Republicans who rarely break with President Donald Trump on legislation or messaging. Republican House leadership pushed for the vote to come up before the end of the year, a House aide told ABC News, sending a signal to the White House that more should be done to punish Myanmar for the atrocities.

The resolution also condemns the arrest of two Reuters journalists who helped uncover one of the Myanmar military's mass graves and calls for their immediate release. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested nearly a year ago on Dec. 12, 2017 and sentenced in September to seven years in prison for breaching a law on state secrets -- charges that have been roundly criticized and described as trumped up.

Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar has long oppressed the majority Muslim ethnic minority Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. Starting last August, it began what the United Nations called a systematic campaign to eradicate the Rohingya and drive them from their homes into neighboring Bangladesh. More than 700,000 refugees escaped to make the journey and joined hundreds of thousands who already lived in camps in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh. There are now close to one million there.

Since then, the United Nations, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and others have labeled that campaign a genocide.

Last November, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called it "ethnic cleansing" and ordered a detailed investigation into what occurred, the scope of which was unprecedented. But after investigators interviewed over a thousand Rohingya and provided their detailed report to the State Department, Secretary Mike Pompeo never made a genocide designation.

Instead, he quietly released the report in September, with its grisly, detailed account of what happened and no legal determination. Even after the law firm that helped conduct the department's investigation made their own genocide determination last week, there was no change in its findings.

While Trump administration officials like Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley have spoken forcefully about the violence, critics say their label of "ethnic cleansing" does not do enough, especially because that term is not defined by international law and is seen as a lesser charge.

Genocide, on the other hand, is defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a 1948 treaty signed by the U.S. and other countries after the Holocaust. It defined genocide as killing, harming or seeking measures to prevent the births or transfer children of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group with intent to destroy them entirely or in part -- although the treaty is unclear about what, if any, real legal responsibilities signatories like the U.S. have to act on it outside of their borders.

The last time the U.S. declared a genocide was in March 2016. The Obama administration declared the Islamic State's violence against Iraqi religious minorities a genocide, but determined it did not obligate them to take further action.

"It is time we call these atrocities against the Rohingya what they are: genocide," said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, in a statement in September. He even cited the State Department's own report, saying, "If this determination wasn't obvious before, the recent report ... should leave little doubt in anyone's mind. The perpetrators must be held accountable."

Chabot introduced the resolution being considered Tuesday with a bipartisan group of cosponsors, including the top Republican and Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce of California and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York. While the legislation has faced some stops and starts, including a delay last week because of former President George H.W. Bush's funeral, it finally got its vote at the request of leadership like Royce, a GOP House aide said.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday's vote.

"Every day the United States stalls and drags its feet to make a legal determination -- despite multiple opportunities -- makes the U.S. complicit in covering up what actually happened," Francisco Bencosme, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific advocacy manager, told ABC News. "It is clear, from what has been reported, that Trump's policy on Myanmar is paralyzed and failing to help alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya."

The U.S. has provided nearly $300 million in aid for Rohingya refugees. But Myanmar's government has blocked humanitarian access to the northern Rakhine state, where much of the violence took place, in part to prevent international investigators from collecting evidence and accessing Rohingya victims and villages.

Still, a genocide determination by the U.S. could galvanize international action to investigate Myanmar's atrocities.

"By passing this bill in the House, Congress is going on the record with the kind of moral clarity and leadership worthy of such an institution," said Bencosme.

While the House takes action, the Senate has yet to hold a similar vote on the Rohingya crisis. That's in part because of the close relationship between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Myanmar's top civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a longtime political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was eventually freed from house arrest and allowed to join the new civilian-military, power-sharing government.

Suu Kyi has dismissed criticism of the Rohingya crisis, in particular telling Pence last month that her government better understands their country than outsiders like the U.S. That's spurred a global outcry and public rebukes by the human rights groups that once lauded her as a democracy icon.

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TR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Maria Butina, a 30-year-old Russian gun rights activist who stands accused developing a covert influence operation in the United States, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in any ongoing investigations.

She admits, as part of the deal, according to a copy obtained by ABC News that is expected to be filed to the court, that she and an unnamed “U.S. Person 1,” which sources have identified as longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson, with whom she had a multiyear romantic relationship, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (“Russian Official”) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”

Based on the description, the “Russian Official” appears to be Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under his direction, the agreement said, she “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.”

The agreement, which Butina signed on Saturday, Dec. 8, also notes that the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, but the deal could see Butina receive a lesser sentence, depending on the level of her cooperation, before likely being deported back to Russia.

It is unclear what Butina’s cooperation might entail, but federal prosecutors have reportedly notified Erickson that he is a target of an ongoing investigation. The target letter sent to Erickson is from federal prosecutors in Washington, sources familiar with the case told ABC News, and separate from any South Dakota-based federal fraud investigation into his business dealings that has been the subject of earlier media reports.

Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, declined to comment. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, declined to comment. An attorney for Erickson declined to comment.

Butina was arrested in July and accused of ensnaring Erickson in a “duplicitous relationship,” using him for cover and connections as she developed an influence operation designed to “advance the agenda of the Russian Federation.” She pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and failure to register as a foreign agent.

But now, according to the agreement, Butina has acknowledged that with U.S. Person 1’s assistance, she drafted a proposal called “Description of the Diplomacy Project” in March of 2015 which was later sent to the Russian Official, in which she said that she had already “laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration” and requested $125,000 from a Russian billionaire to attend conferences and meetings to further develop those ties. The Russian Official, the agreement said, confirmed that her proposal would be at least partially supported.

The government has alleged that U.S. Person 1 “worked with Butina to arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence in American politics,” including high-ranking members of the National Rifle Association and organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast, that would ultimately give her a surprising level of access to conservative politicians, including — in one memorable interaction captured on video — to then-candidate Donald Trump.

Most notably, Butina’s Russian gun rights group “Right to Bear Arms” hosted a delegation of former NRA presidents, board members and major donors in Moscow in 2015, where she appears to have succeeded in arranging a meeting between NRA insides and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, raising the prospect of a discussion between conservative political operatives and a powerful member of Russian President Putin’s inner circle in the midst of a presidential campaign.

After that now infamous meeting, the agreement said, Butina sent the Russian Official a message, which was translated as saying “We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later.”

It would appear that, even as Erickson was helping Butina forge those connections, he may have been aware of the political implications.

“Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns,” Erickson wrote in an October 2016 email to an acquaintance that was later obtained by the FBI, “I’ve been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key [unnamed political party] leaders through, of all conduits, the [unnamed gun-rights organization].”

And during an FBI raid of Erickson’s South Dakota home, investigators discovered a handwritten note suggesting Erickson may have been aware of a possible job offer from Russian intelligence services: “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?” Erickson scratched, an apparent reference to the Russian equivalent of the CIA.

Butina’s attorney Driscoll has described her as a promising graduate student whose career has been derailed by this case, but prosecutors claimed that was just a “cover while she continued to work on behalf the Russian Official.”

Butina allegedly maintained that cover with the assistance of Erickson. He supported her financially, telling McClatchy DC he established a South Dakota-based company Bridges LLC with Butina in order to help defray her educational expenses, and according to court filings, assisted with her coursework “by editing papers and answering exam questions.”

Meanwhile, prosecutors claim, Butina “appear[ed] to treat [her relationship with Erickson] as simply a necessary aspect of her activities” and privately expressed “disdain” for continuing to live with him.

Driscoll, however, had insisted that Butina and Erickson, despite the government’s claims to the contrary, were engaged in a mutual and genuine cross-cultural romance.

“I think in some ways it’s a classic love story,” Driscoll said. “I think [reporters] are filling in a lot of the gaps with a lot of spy novels.”

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Kirkikis/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- With current White House chief of staff John Kelly set to depart by year's end, President Donald Trump is scrambling to fill the top White House position after Kelly's expected replacement announced unexpectedly he would not take the job.

The uncertainty comes at a critical time as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation appears to be focusing more on the president himself and Democrats taking over the House in January are more openly talking about the possibility of impeachment.

Whoever ultimately replaces Kelly in the role will become the third person to fill the position within the first two years of the Trump presidency, marking an unprecedented level of turnover for the top White House job within the first two years.

Sources with direct knowledge of the president's thinking told ABC News that the president has a list of five potential replacements for John Kelly, though some on the list have expressed hesitation to take on the role: Rep. Mark Meadows, Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, one-time deputy campaign manager David Bossie, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

Meadows, currently the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has formed some enemies on Capitol Hill and would be viewed as a controversial choice among establishment forces.

Meadows issued a statement Monday expressing his openness to filling the role should it be offered, calling the possibility "an incredible offer."

"Serving as Chief of Staff would be an incredible honor. The President has a long list of qualified candidates and I know he'll make the best selection for his administration and for the country," Meadows said.

Vice President Mike Pence's 36-year-old chief of staff Nick Ayers had been widely expected to assume the role with Kelly's departure, but said in a surprise announcement over the weekend he is set to leave the administration altogether and will move to a pro-Trump Super PAC.

Ayers' withdrawal from consideration seemed to be a sudden decision, coming after he had extensive conversations with the president about the role.

On Saturday, Trump seemed confident he could name a successor.

"John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year. We’ll be announcing who will be taking John’s place, it might be on an interim basis," Trump said. "I’ll be announcing that over the next day or two," Trump told reporters on Saturday as he departed for the Army-Navy game.

After those remarks, reports surfaced that Ayers was only willing to accept the role on a temporary basis.

Sources familiar with the deliberations say President Trump had been favored Ayers for the role because of what he saw as his political acumen, a quality that the president saw as lacking with John Kelly.

Kelly has served in the role of chief of staff since July 2017 and was initially credited with bringing order to a chaotic White House after the president's first chief of staff Reince Priebus lasted in the role for less than 200 days.

Earlier this year President Trump had asked Kelly to remain in the job through his 2020 reelection campaign. However, Kelly's departure is not unexpected.

Kelly's relationship with the president has been at times strained over the course of his 16 months on the job and his eventual departure has been speculated for the last several weeks.

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ronniechua/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Several major figures in the ongoing Trump-Russia drama have lined up in opposition to a lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee, arguing a federal judge should dismiss accusations of an international conspiracy ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

A group of defendants -- including the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and a member of President Donald Trump’s family -- unleashed a wave of court filings late last week, a deluge of documents totaling more than 150 pages. It amounts to the most comprehensive legal defense yet presented in the Russia probe, seeking to have the Democrats’ case thrown out.

The DNC filed the civil suit in April accusing a long list of defendants of being part of a conspiracy involving Russia’s effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including the Russian government itself, its military intelligence agency, the 2016 Trump campaign and several campaign officials, Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange, among others. President Trump is not named as a defendant.

The conspiracy, the suit alleges, “constituted an act of previously unimaginable treachery: the campaign of the presidential nominee of a major party in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the Presidency” in part through the hacking of emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and the subsequent publication of the hacked material.

The 2016 Trump campaign, distinct from Trump’s already-formed 2020 campaign committees, fought back Friday, saying in court documents that the suit should be dismissed and echoing Trump’s oft-repeated claim that the Russia accusations only seek to “explain away [the DNC] candidate’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election.”

The filings generally do not contest the basic events laid out in what the Trump campaign’s filing refers to as the DNC’s “factual theory” -- that the DNC was hacked by the Russian government, that Trump associates had contact with Russia-linked figures and that the hacked DNC files were then leaked by WikiLeaks ultimately to Trump’s political benefit.

But the various defendants maintained that while the hacking may have been against the law, it was allegedly done by the Russians before the particular contacts with the Trump campaign, which the DNC suggests concerned the stolen material, a timeline that they said immediately challenged the basis and scope of the conspiracy as alleged in the lawsuit.

“The DNC thus alleges -- unburdened by any actual facts -- that President Trump’s campaign… conspired with Russia and a hodgepodge of others to publish materials stolen from the DNC’s computer systems,” the campaign’s filing says. “But the DNC does not claim the Campaign had any role in hacking its systems and stealing the materials -- it attributes that only to Russia. Nor does the DNC claim the Campaign played any part in publishing the stolen materials -- it attributes that only to Russia and WikiLeaks.”

The Trump campaign also said the DNC failed to show it “aided and abetted Russia” after the hack, as alleged, even if campaign officials and then-candidate Trump himself enthusiastically promoted WikiLeaks’ DNC and Podesta releases.

The DNC suit specifically cites Trump’s comment on July 27, 2016 at a press conference when he said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” a reference to emails Clinton had deleted from her server after deeming them personal. That same day Russian operatives began targeting email accounts used by Clinton’s office, according to special counsel Robert Mueller.

But the campaign argued that “praising the results of others’ efforts… is not tantamount to directing those affairs. If it were, every journalist that credited the disclosures with providing useful information could similarly be said to have directed” the leak campaign.

“But that is obviously nonsense (and contrary to the First Amendment),” the filing says.

As part of its filings, the Trump campaign requested an oral hearing to argue its motion to dismiss at a date yet to be determined.

In its own motion to dismiss Friday, WikiLeaks argued that it is not alleged to have had any part in the actual hacking, and that it published the DNC material on First Amendment grounds. WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristenn Hrafnsson told ABC News in a statement Friday, “The DNC lawsuit is a litmus test for press freedoms. The suit claims that the scandalous emails of powerful political operatives are 'trade secrets' and cannot be published. If this precedent is set it will be the end of serious journalism as we know it.” Assange, WikiLeaks’ founder, did not enter a simultaneous filing.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner’s filing defended his at a now-infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian attorney who had offered damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton – evidence, the DNC said, of a Trump-Russia conspiracy. In his defense, the filing says that the DNC suit does not allege that Kushner, an adviser to Trump, knew about the prior communication regarding damaging material, that he knew the material had been obtained illegally nor that he “did anything other than attend and listen, or that he agreed to do anything following the meeting.”

Donald Trump Jr., another named defendant who attended the meeting and knew about the potentially damaging information on Clinton, did not enter a filing with the others. Trump Jr. previously said the meeting was “nonsense.”

Other figures in the Russia probe, like former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, a purported intermediary between the Trump campaign and Russia-linked individuals, and Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser who boasted of communications with Assange, also filed documents challenging the DNC suit and casting their roles as innocuous.

The Russian government, for its part, has declined to answer the accusations against it in the court case. It previously sent a letter to the court and to the State Department arguing that even if it did hack the DNC, such an action should be considered a state action and therefore shielded by American law from civil suits.

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uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Hundreds of pro-environment activists lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill Monday, in an attempt to pressure Democratic leaders to endorse a Green New Deal for the new majority’s agenda in the next Congress.

They staged sit-ins at the congressional offices of Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim McGovern and called for a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and urged Democrats to leverage their power in the 116th Congress to enact green legislative proposals championed by progressives.

“The U.N. says we have 12 years to transform our economy and avert catastrophe,” said Varshini Prakash, Sunrise co-founder, as the sit-in began at Pelosi’s office. “Over 1,000 young people took over Capitol Hill today because we all deserve good jobs and a livable future. The Democrats need a plan to make it happen.”

Another speaker at the demonstration, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., said Americans of all backgrounds “are fighting for existence” in the face of climate change.

“This is not about Republican. This is not about Democrat. This is about humanity!” Yearwood, Jr., the president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, exclaimed. “Climate change is a civil rights issue. We have a right to clean air, we have a right to clean water and we will fight not for ourselves but for the next generation.”

Jeremy Ornstein, 18, of Watertown, Massachusetts, called on House Democratic leaders to “step up for my generation” and support the Green New Deal.

“We’re fighting for survival and we’re also fighting for dignity,” Ornstein said. “The Democrats might say that they’re our climate champions but they’ve gotta step up and back a Green New Deal if they wanna prove it.”

Pelosi, who is facing a test of her leadership as she builds support in her bid for House speaker, has already announced plans to reconvene a select committee on climate change in the next Congress. After Monday’s demonstration, Taylor Griffin, a spokeswoman for Pelosi reiterated that “addressing climate change remains a top priority” for Pelosi.

“She has proposed reinstating a select committee on climate and looks forward to caucus-wide discussions with the committees of jurisdiction to determine the appropriate path forward,” Griffin stated.

Hoyer, D-Maryland, also expressed harmony with the activists who targeted him.

Of the targeted lawmakers, Sunrise Movement said McGovern addressed the demonstrators and pledged his support. None of the other lawmakers were present during the sit-ins.

Each of the Democratic leaders has an office in the U.S. Capitol and access is restricted to official business. But access for the public is not limited in the House office buildings, forcing Sunrise organizers to execute their protests there.

Initial reactions from Democrats did not satisfy many of the activists marching around Capitol Hill Monday.

“Speaker Pelosi proposed bringing a committee back from years ago -- a committee that would gather evidence. We don’t have time to gather evidence anymore,” Ornstein said. “We need climate action and we have all the evidence we need.”

U.S. Capitol Police eventually moved into position, warning protesters to leave or face arrest.

According to Sunrise, 143 of its protesters, who refused to comply with police orders, were arrested for unlawfully demonstrating in the Cannon House Office Building and could face an additional charge. U.S. Capitol Police did not respond to a request for comment.

Last month, a similar protest in Pelosi's office led to 51 people being arrested. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, visited the protest, but she did not participate on Monday.

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Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Michael Bloomberg, the former New York Mayor who is mulling running as a Democrat in the 2020 presidential election cycle, said Monday the GOP is suffering the consequences of unconditionally supporting an unpopular president.

“Republicans did not execute the checks and balances on the White House that the constitution calls for,” Bloomberg said on ABC’s The View.

Bloomberg promoted his documentary Paris to Pittsburgh, about the United State’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement's efforts to combat climate change and blasted what he sees as the Trump administration's rolling back of progress in addressing the issue.

“How can you look out the window and see all the wildfires,” among other occurrences, and still believe that “nothing is changing?” he said.

Bloomberg announced in October that he re-registered as a Democrat after being an Independent and, before that, a Republican. Last week the billionaire reportedly held meetings with top Iowa Democrats during a multi-city tour through the first state that has a say in a presidential race.

President Donald Trump mocked Bloomberg’s presidential ambitions in the New York Post last month, dismissing the former mayor with a derisive nickname.

“I’d love to run against Little Michael,” Trump told the Post. “I’d love to run against Michael. He’s been fighting me hard. He spent $100 million against me – that didn’t work. He spent a lot of money last night against Cindy Hyde-Smith. That didn’t work out so well.”

After the fellow billionaire criticized Trump’s business credentials at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, Trump fired back on Twitter, saying Bloomberg’s final term as mayor was a “disaster.”

"Little" Michael Bloomberg, who never had the guts to run for president, knows nothing about me. His last term as Mayor was a disaster!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2016

However, Trump and Bloomberg weren't always at odds. The president vocally supported the mayor’s administration, tweeting in 2012 that Bloomberg was “doing a great job.”

Mike Bloomberg is doing a great job as Mayor of New York City. Ray Kelly is a great Police Commissioner. @MikeBloomberg

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2012

Bloomberg said Friday that he will make a decision regarding the presidential bid early next year.

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Carsten Koall/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former F.B.I. Director James Comey, in an interview in New York on Sunday, responded to recent criticisms from President Donald Trump, who called him dishonest and accused him of lying in a Congressional hearing last week.

Comey also said Democrats "have to win" the 2020 presidential election.

Trump posted several tweets attacking Comey over the weekend after he testified before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in a closed session on Friday, but the ousted F.B.I. chief said he mostly shrugged it off.

"We have to remind ourselves that the president of the United States of America is publicly announcing that people are committing crimes, they should be in jail -- private citizens -- that's not OK," Comey told an audience at 92Y in Manhattan. "And if we become numb to it, we risk surrendering the norm."

His comments came just hours after Trump claimed, without evidence, that "leakin'" Comey had lied in his House testimony.

"On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn't know, didn't recall or couldn't remember things when asked," Trump tweeted Sunday. "Leakin' James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful."

In another tweet on Friday, Trump said: "It is being reported that Leakin' James Comey was told by Department of Justice attorneys not to answer the most important questions. Total bias and corruption at the highest levels of previous Administration. Force him to answer the questions under oath!"

Comey said the president's tweets were "disturbing," but he stopped short of saying they should be counted as witness tampering in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia collusion probe.

"I'm not prepared to judge it," Comey told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace at the event. "I'm a witness, potentially. I don't know how the special counsel thinks about it, but if I were a prosecutor and a public figure started attacking the credibility of one of my witnesses in a pending investigation that's something I would look at very closely."

Comey, who was fired by the president in 2017 over his handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, urged Americans to hold Trump accountable in the lead up to the 2020 election.

"I can tell you that all of us should use every breath we have to make sure the lying stops on January 20, 2021," he said. "I understand the Democrats have important debates now over who their candidate should be ... but they have to win. They have to win."

However, Comey stressed he doesn't want the president to be impeached because to do so would let "the country off the hook."

"Removal by impeachment would muddy that. ... We need a clear jump upward," Comey said. "It will come from tens of millions of Americans who don't vote, voting their values."

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Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nick Ayers, who was widely speculated to be the next White House chief of staff, will not be stepping into John Kelly's role, ABC News has confirmed.

Instead, Vice President Mike Pence's 35-year-old chief of staff will go to a pro-Trump super PAC.

Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. 🇺🇸 #Georgia

— Nick Ayers (@nick_ayers) December 9, 2018


President Donald Trump, who announced Kelly's departure Saturday, announced on Twitter Sunday that he will be making a decision soon.

I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff. Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda. I will be making a decision soon!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018


ABC News has learned Trump is considering four different people for the chief of staff position.

Congressman Mark Meadows, former Trump deputy campaign manager Dave Bossie, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney are all being considered, according to sources with direct knowledge of Trump's thinking.

A replacement will be named, possibly on an interim basis, Trump told reporters Saturday on the South Lawn of the White House before departing for the Army-Navy football game.

"John Kelly will be leaving, I don’t know if I can say retiring. But he’s a great guy," Trump said Saturday, adding he would announce Kelly's replacement "over the next day or two."

The leading candidate to take over was Ayers, sources told ABC News.

A senior White House source said Ayers has been clear for weeks that he was planning on moving his young family back to Georgia in December, and a time frame on being chief of staff had been a part of his discussions with the president.

Kelly departs after 17 months on the job. He was appointed by Trump to replace Reince Priebus in July 2017. He previously served as the president's Department of Homeland Security secretary.

"I appreciate his service very much," Trump said Saturday.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that new filings in federal investigations into Russian interference and campaign finance crimes in the 2016 election "totally" cleared him. But Chris Christie said, on This Week, that the president is "not totally clear."

"My view would be that you're not totally clear -- nor is anyone -- until Bob Mueller shuts down his office and hands in the keys,” the ABC News contributor, former New Jersey governor and U.S. attorney told This Week Co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

Special counsel Robert Mueller recently reached a plea agreement with Trump's former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, in which he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in exchange for cooperation with the investigation. In addition to new filings by Mueller in the Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort cases on Friday, the Southern District of New York recommended that Cohen be sentenced to a "substantial prison term" for his campaign finance violations.

Friday's sentencing memo by the Southern District of New York for the first time publicly leveled the accusation that Cohen acted "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump.

The president tweeted on Friday in response to the filings that the new information "totally clears" him, though the court documents say otherwise. Federal prosecutors in New York have implicated Trump in a scheme to silence women who alleged that they had extramarital affairs with him before he became president, ABC News reported.

Christie said that while he's always thought that the "Michael Cohen situation was much more perilous for the White House than was Bob Mueller," the Mueller investigation remains a threat to Trump.

He added that "There's no way you can make this shorter but there’s lots of ways you can make it longer, and one of the ways to do that is to say you’re in the clear when the prosecutor still has subpoena authority."

Christie -- who ran for president unsuccessfully in 2016, endorsed Trump and later briefly served as the head of the Trump transition team -- said the new filing sounds "very definitive," and that the U.S. attorney investigating Cohen’s campaign finance crimes must have solid corroboration, given Cohen's lack of credibility.

Cohen will be sentenced in New York this week for the campaign finance felonies. Mueller's office recommended that Cohen be able to serve his sentence for lying to Congress concurrently with the campaign finance sentence.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said the publicly available facts from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe indicate that President Donald Trump’s actions are “beyond the stage” of what led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.

On This Week Sunday, Murphy left the question of whether to move to impeach the president to the House and cautioned against drawing too many conclusions without all the facts of the investigation, but told This Week Co-anchor Martha Raddatz that Mueller’s investigation has reached a “new level.”

“I think you are beyond the stage that led to the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, whether or not you think that that was worthy of impeachment,” Murphy said.

Murphy compared Trump’s status in the investigation -- with the special counsel linking the president to illegal activity -- to that of former President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

“The president has now stepped into the same territory that ultimately led to President Nixon resigning the office. President Nixon was an unindicted co-conspirator. Was certainly a different set of facts, but this investigation is now starting to put the president in serious legal crosshairs, and he should be worried and the whole country should be worried,” Murphy said.

Murphy was responding to the most recent revelations from the special counsel’s investigation, including multiple filings documenting criminal activity committed by the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and former campaign chair, Paul Manafort.

Cohen’s filing from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York indicated that Trump, named in the filing as “Individual-1,” directed Cohen to make hush-money payments before the 2016 election to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal to silence them and keep their allegations of extramarital affairs with Trump private.

The special counsel alleges that Manafort, meanwhile, lied on multiple occasions to prosecutors about the extent of his contact with a Russian national during the 2016 campaign and with Trump administration officials in 2018.

While sources tell ABC News that Mueller is in the process of writing his final report, there are questions about when the final report will be made public.

“I would also counsel the special investigator to show his cards soon," Murphy said. "I mean, I think it's important for the special investigator to give Congress what he has sometime early in 2019 so that Congress can make a determination. If the president did, in fact, collude with the Russians to try to manipulate the election or engage in multiple felonies with Michael Cohen, it doesn't really make sense for Congress to get that report from the special investigator in 2020. We need that next year. We need that as soon as possible."

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Zach Gibson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said repeatedly that President Donald Trump pardoning former campaign chairman Paul Manafort would be a “terrible mistake,” and that doing so could possibly “trigger a debate about whether the pardon powers should be amended.”

“I think that would be a terrible mistake" if Trump pardoned Manafort, Rubio said on This Week Sunday. “I really do. I believe it'd be a terrible mistake. Pardons should be used judiciously. They're used for cases with extraordinary circumstances.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller has accused Manafort of lying about his contacts with administration officials in 2018 and at least four other details related to his probe of Russian election meddling during the 2016 campaign.

As ABC News confirmed, Manafort’s legal team had been sharing information about his interactions with the special counsel with the president’s legal team -- a story that was first reported by The New York Times.

This reignited speculation that Manafort could be angling for a pardon from Trump.

Trump last week told the New York Post that though a pardon for Manafort had never been discussed, he “wouldn’t take it off the table.”

“I don't believe that any pardons should be used with relation to these particular cases, frankly,” Rubio told This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz. “Not only does it not pass the smell test, I just think it undermines the reason why we have presidential pardons in the first place. And I think, in fact, that if something like that were to happen, it could trigger a debate about whether the pardon powers should be amended given these circumstances, so I hope that they don't do that. It would be a terrible mistake if they did.”

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Sen. Cory Booker hasn't made a decision yet on whether he'll run for president in 2020, but he said in New Hampshire on Saturday that he'll make a verdict in about a month.

Booker, D-N.J., was in the country's first primary state on Saturday for a number of events. He was the key speaker at the state's Democratic post-midterm celebration in a crowded auditorium at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester. He was also guest of honor at a house party in Nashua hosted by former state Sen. Bette Lasky -- alongside Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess and state Sen. Cindy Rosenwald.

He was in a spirited mood at both, but talked little about his presidential ambitions. He was more candid about his plans Saturday morning.

"During the holidays, I'm gonna sit down and take a lot of stock about what I want to do next -- whether I want to run for president or stay in the Senate and help this continued movement in our country to reinvigorate our democracy," Booker told Manchester ABC affiliate WMUR-TV in a one-on-one interview.

That he's considering a run for the top of the ticket is hardly a surprise. He's been testing the waters in both Iowa -- the first caucus state -- and New Hampshire for months. Booker was in Iowa on Oct. 6, exactly one month before the midterm elections.

There, he railed against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after grabbing national headlines during the confirmation hearings.

On Saturday, Booker echoed the last Democratic president speaking about "hope."

"The definition of hope isn't that you see some light at the end of the tunnel, or something on the horizon that gives you hope. Hope is generated from within," he told the overflow crowd in Manchester.

In Nashua, Booker spoke at length about his own personal story growing up in New Jersey split between inner-city Newark and suburban Upper Saddle River, and the issues facing New Hampshire, including the opioid crisis. New Hampshire has the second-highest number of overdose deaths in the nation: 35.8 people per 100,000 in 2016, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"This incredible city is struggling with opioid addiction, struggling with mental health issues," Booker said, referring to Nashua. "They're struggling with what my region is struggling with."

The house party also drew a large number of people in the very same place Barack Obama held a similar event in 2007 when he was a senator.

"We've never seen it as packed as this, and we've hosted quite a number of political people here," Elliot Lasky, an optometrist in Nashua who attended the party, told WMUR-TV.

Booker will spend a second day in the state on Sunday in Keene.

The senator is part of a crowded field of potential Democratic contenders -- though none have thrown their hats in the ring officially. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are among some of the top contenders to take on Donald Trump in 2020.

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ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) --  President Trump conducted the coin toss at the 119th Army-Navy game on Saturday, one of the oldest rivalries in college football.

Navy correctly called tails, winning the toss.

The president was joined by Sec. of Defense James Mattis on the field for the national anthem and coin toss. He shook hands with teach team's captains and sat on the Navy side to start the game.

Later, the president switched sides of the field to show his impartiality.

It was the president's first visit to the game as commander-in-chief, though he had visited as president-elect in 2016 and made an appearance on CBS Sports.

Since the storied match-up between the Black Knights and Midshipmen began in 1890, 10 sitting presidents have attended including President Barack Obama in 2011.

Before the coin toss, the stadium joined in a moment of silence for the late President George H.W. Bush, a former Navy aviator.

Joining President Trump and Sec. of Defense Mattis at the game were Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dunford and his replacement, Gen. Mark Milley, Sec. of State Pompeo, Sec of Interior Zinke, Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, and Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma.

Army won the game 17-10, their third consecutive win over Navy. With the victory, Army retained the "Commander in Chief" trophy, which is awarded to the three-way series between Army, Navy and the Air Force Academy.

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Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Federal prosecutors have implicated Donald Trump in a scheme to silence women who alleged during the 2016 campaign that they had extramarital affairs with him before he became president, according to court documents.

In court filings submitted Friday afternoon by federal prosecutors in New York, the government alleged that President Trump, at the time a candidate, directed his longtime personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, to make payments in an effort to silence adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal.

Cohen had leveled this accusation against the president during his plea hearing in New York in August, saying then-candidate Trump directed the hush money deals that were made in the closing weeks of the 2016 election. Cohen told the court he acted “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” referring to then-candidate Trump.

But Friday’s sentencing memo by the Southern District of New York marked the first time federal prosecutors sought to directly connect the president to those campaign finance violations, writing that Cohen acted “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump.

“While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows,” prosecutors in New York wrote Friday. “He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1,” referring to President Trump.

“In the process,” prosecutors continued, “Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”

Cohen pleaded guilty last August to two counts of campaign-related violations, as well as several felony charges of making false statements to a bank and tax evasion.

Last week, Cohen reached a deal with special prosecutors looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election to plead guilty to making misstatements to Congress.

Allegations laid out in Cohen’s sentencing documents in that case Friday provide only a narrow window into the special counsel probe, which has largely been conducted in secret over the past 18 months. It remains unclear whether prosecutors are examining President Trump’s conduct beyond the possible campaign finance violations described in the New York case.

On Twitter Friday, President Trump suggested he was exonerated by Friday’s court filings, writing: “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”

He referred to the investigation again Saturday, this time saying, "AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!"

But the documents filed in New York Friday night tell a different story, appearing for the first time to implicate Trump directly in a potentially criminal act. Federal election laws require proof that violations were committed knowingly and willfully.

It's clear the New York prosecutors believe Cohen had the requisite knowledge of the law, but the court documents are silent on whether Trump knew at the time that such payments were possibly illegal.

“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” prosecutors wrote. “Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.”

“In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” according to New York prosecutors, again referring to Trump.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, responded to Trump’s declaration of exoneration on Twitter, writing, “Presumably, this is a response to the Cohen filing. Of course, the complete opposite is true. @SDNY says @realdonaldtrump directed Cohen to commit a felony.”

Nadler is expected to oversee the committee when Democrats take control of the House in January and gain subpoena power. It plans to examine the president's role in the hush money payments, a House Judiciary Committee aide told ABC News last month.

In his own sentencing memo filed last week, Cohen asked the judge to spare him a prison term, contending that his extensive cooperation in multiple investigations and the “gargantuan cost” he said he has already endured because of the criminal investigation warrant leniency.

“This case has caused deep and lasting strain for Michael and his family,” Cohen’s attorneys wrote. “They have been subjected to daily public scrutiny and moral opprobrium in a media cauldron of exceptional heat and intensity.”

While the special counsel in Washington acknowledged Cohen's help with the Russian investigation, the New York prosecutors said Cohen’s cooperation was modest and incomplete -- paling in comparison to the crimes to which he pleaded guilty.

“Now [Cohen] seeks extraordinary leniency -- a sentence of no jail time,” they wrote Friday. “But the crimes committed by Cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life ... these were knowing and calculated acts -- acts Cohen executed in order to profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence.”

The combined statutory maximum penalty for those crimes is up to 65 years in prison, though the parties agreed that sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of between 46 and 63 months, before any post-conviction cooperation was factored into the recommendation.

A federal judge in New York is scheduled to sentence Cohen next week

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