Ex-GOP Lawmaker: It’s Time To Vote Republicans Out So We Can Get Gun Control

Ed Mazza

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Ex-GOP Lawmaker: It’s Time To Vote Republicans Out So We Can Get Gun Control
“Republicans will never do anything on gun control,” says former GOP Rep. David Jolly.
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“Republicans will never do anything on gun control,” says former GOP Rep. David Jolly. “The idea of gun policy in the Republican party is to try to get a speaking slot at the NRA and prove to that constituency that you are further right.”

If Americans want gun control legislation in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school, they need to vote Republicans out of office, a former GOP lawmaker said.

“Republicans will never do anything on gun control,” former Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) said on CNN Wednesday.

Jolly said Republicans refuse to enact any gun control laws, even after a member of Congress was shot at a baseball practice last year.

“The idea of gun policy in the Republican party is to try to get a speaking slot at the NRA and prove to that constituency that you are further right than generations past on guns,” Jolly said.

Then, he called on voters to take to the ballot box in November:

“If this is the issue that defines your ideology as a voter, there are two things I would suggest tonight. First, flip the House. Flip the House. Republicans are not going to do a single thing after this shooting we saw today.”

Democrats should then bypass Republicans and go directly to the law enforcement community and work on real solutions for gun control, Jolly said. He also suggested it might be time to give his party the boot since Republicans in Congress have done little to keep President Donald Trump in check.

“We do know that we have a president who very well might put this nation at risk and this Republican Congress has done nothing to check his power,” Jolly added. “Democrats could, and we might be better off as a republic if they take the House in 2018.”

Courtesy: Yahoo News

For Republicans, the Tea Party Is Over

Photo

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and the architect of Friday’s one-man government shutdown, called out his own party for renewed profligacy after years of penny-pinching during the Obama administration. CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senator Rand Paul was right — Republicans can be hypocrites when it comes to spending.

Mr. Paul, the architect of Friday’s one-man shutdown, called out his own party for renewed profligacy after years of penny-pinching during the Obama administration, accusing Republicans of forming “an unholy alliance and spending free-for-all with Democrats at the expense of the American people and our party’s supposed principles.”

But Mr. Paul, a Kentucky Republican, had his own obvious inconsistencies. He was bemoaning a surge in deficit spending after enthusiastically voting in December for a deficit-ballooning $1.5 trillion tax cut. He then forced a brief and avoidable government shutdown that threw federal agencies into confusion, even though he had zero chance of blocking the budget measure.

Still, the underlying truth exposed by Mr. Paul and the predawn bipartisan approval of the budget package is that most lawmakers like to spend money, even when they say they don’t. That is what many came to Washington to do — to win federal resources to apply to solving big problems in their districts and states, problems like an epidemic of opioid abuse deaths, crumbling highways and bridges, and lack of access to health care.

They want to invest billions of dollars in a badly stretched military and fix embarrassing shortcomings in the system that is supposed to be treating veterans. They want to show frustrated and unhappy voters they are capable of doing something

Republicans who supported the measure emphasized the added $165 billion over two years for the Pentagon. But they weren’t shy about proclaiming back-home benefits as well.

“This budget agreement will directly benefit the First District of Georgia,” Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, the Republican who represents that area, said in a statement. “It invests in American infrastructure and will be vital in the fight to secure resources for our ports and the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.”

The spending push reflected years of pent-up demand that resulted from Republican adherence to Tea Party-driven fiscal restraint, along with the party’s animosity for President Obama and a pronounced unwillingness to fund his priorities.

Republican defense hawks said the restrictions imposed by formal spending caps were badly weakening the military. To get those restrictions lifted, top Republicans cut a deal with Democrats who were happy to take advantage and get a plethora of their own top proposals paid for in the bill.

Not to be forgotten in assessing the deal is the fact that Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, who co-wrote the agreement, is deep in his congressional heart an appropriator — a member of the once-powerful panel that took immense satisfaction in doling out the federal dollars.

Until he found his anti-earmark religion when funding such pet projects fell out of favor, Mr. McConnell used to celebrate his spending skills, running back home to trumpet all the projects he had delivered to a state that was badly in need of federal largess. Mr. McConnell is not afraid to spend federal dollars.

Some Republicans warned that their party had made a huge miscalculation in getting behind the budget measure.

“With the passage of this spending package, I fear Republicans have ceded our moral authority to lead our nation away from eventual national insolvency,” said Representative Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican and longtime deficit hawk, who is retiring.

Democrats, led by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, seized on the opportunity provided by the measure to win a level of domestic spending that seemed almost unthinkable just a few days ago — an increase of $131 billion.

It was a victory for them in most respects, but there was one big exception — the bill ignored the plight of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. In agreeing to fund the government, Democrats lost their best leverage to win immigration concessions. It was that outcome that drove dozens of Democrats in the House and the Senate to oppose the measure.

After inflating the deficit during the administration of George W. Bush and subsequently losing control of Congress and the White House, Republicans were sheepishly apologetic, admitting that they had let their spending urges get the better of them. They promised they wouldn’t do it again, and those pledges helped them slowly win their way back to unified control of Washington.

Now they have done it again. Republicans might earn a bit of gratitude from voters who support a beefed-up Pentagon budget and see some helpful federal investment in their own backyards, as well as an end to a debilitating cycle of government shutdowns and dysfunction.

But Republicans may also pay a price at the hands of fiscal conservatives who believe that party leaders have fallen back into bad habits and betrayed bedrock beliefs by joining with Democrats in a spending spree.

Courtesy: The New York Times

US Congress could clash with Trump administration on new Russia sanctions

As it made clear by its recent handling of the so-called “oligarch report,” the Trump administration is in no rush to impose new sanctions on Russia. But Congress might force its hand on the issue soon.

Wrench with US colors holding ruble coin (picture alliance/dpa)

When the US Treasury Department earlier this week published its required report on “oligarchs” considered to be closely linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, the list of more than 200 officials and oligarchs was widely criticized as sloppy and inconsistent.

Read moreMoscow laughs off Washington’s ‘Kremlin Report’

A main charge was that the list omitted some key figures, while including some who should not have been named. The Trump administration also did not follow up the release of the public part of the report (a classified part was not published) with a recommendation of additional sanctions against Russia, as some had expected or hoped for.

This latest episode reveals that at the beginning of the second year of the Trump presidency, the current administration and Congress continue to hold very different views on the relationship with Russia in general and the sanctions regime against the country in particular. It could, experts note, also foreshadow a coming clash between Congress and the White House that sees lawmakers trying to push new Russia sanctions on a reluctant administration.

“If I had to bet money, I would say that a bill for new sanctions will be introduced in the Senate probably by Senator Ben Cardin or by others in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee within the month,” said Richard Nephew, who led US sanctions policy at the State Department during the Obama administration and is now a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Read more: Trump administration refuses to impose new Russia sanctions despite law

USA Donald Trump (picture alliance/AP/E. Vucci)Trump campaigned on improving ties with Russia

New sanctions bill soon

Nephew added that the introduction of a new Russia sanctions bill in Congress did not necessarily mean it would be passed quickly, as the Senate was busy with many other issues, but, he said, “I am convinced that we will see the new sanctions drafting get to work very soon.”

Jeffrey Edmonds, a former director of Russia policy on the National Security Council under President Obama and now a fellow at the Wilson Center, would not bet money on Congress introducing a new sanctions bill within weeks. But he agrees that lawmakers view Russia through a very different lens than the Trump administration, led by a president who made better relations with Moscow a key campaign theme.

While President Trump, despite assessments by US intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the US election process, was hoping to quickly improve the deeply fraught relationship with the Kremlin after taking office, the Republican-led Congress was not having any of it.

It passed legislation last year that effectively thwarted Trump’s ability to conduct his desired Russia policy and lift sanctions as he had envisaged. And with various probes into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin only gaining steam as his first year in office wound down, any hope on Trump’s part for improved ties with Russia vanished.

Read moreAustralian diplomat’s tip led to Trump Russia probe: US paper

Robert Mueller (picture-alliance/AP/C. Dharapak)Ex-FBI head Robert Mueller is looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia

As a consequence, said Edmonds, “They are no longer calling for a withdrawal of sanctions or a reset with Russia, but they are certainly not looking to expand on them.”

“Both from Trump’s point of view and from the Russians point of view, the passing of sanctions by Congress confirmed for both that there was one large bureaucratic body here in the United States that is not very favorable when it comes to Russia.”

Polls show support for sanctions

Various opinion polls have shown that a solid majority of Americans support sanctions against Russia, thus appearing to indicate that on this issue people side with their lawmakers, but not their president.

“It’s hard to think of any constituencies that would be very happy for their representative being friendly towards Russia – especially not after meddling in our election”, said Edmonds. “It’s a very clear policy choice for most of them.”

And that assessment, which is underpinned by the commonly held view that Russia is at least hostile toward if not a threat to US interests, is unlikely to change anytime soon, experts say. It is also, to a certain degree, independent of the leaders in both countries.

Watch video01:08

Europe doesn’t want ‘permanent’ sanctions

No reset

Most of the current fissures between Washington and Moscow are simply the consequence of Russia trying to find its place in a post-Cold War world, said Nephew. “I think there was always going to be some degree of tension there, but I think that Putin, with his own kind of mindset, has made that all much worse.”

“I don’t see any positive trends in the relationship really regardless of how much Trump wanted to improve things,” said Edmonds. “It’s beyond Trump and Putin.”

That’s because there are fundamental differences in the way senior leaders in each country view the world and the way the world should be, he added.

“The Russians value stability over freedom in a certain sense,” said Edmonds, noting that he was using an oversimplification to make a basic point about how Americans and Russian view the world.  “You are not going to see a reset.” 

COURTESY: DW

Republican Rep. Meehan, who settled sexual harassment complaint, won’t seek re-election

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who settled a former aide’s sexual harassment complaint with taxpayer money told Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday that he will not seek re-election, according to a spokesman for Ryan.

The complaint by a former aide three decades younger than U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan came to light Jan. 20 in a New York Times report, citing unnamed people. The accuser’s lawyer, Alexis Ronickher, called the allegations “well-grounded” and a “serious sexual harassment claim.”

Meehan, 62, is a four-term congressman and former U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. The married father of three had described the woman in an interview as a “soul mate,” and acknowledged that he had lashed out when he discovered she had begun dating another man. But he contended he had done nothing wrong and had never sought a romantic relationship with her.

Image: Rep. Patrick Meehan
Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on June 7, 2017. Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP Images file

The Times report spurred Ryan to call for an Ethics Committee investigation and Meehan’s removal from the committee. Ryan also told Meehan to repay the money and the Ethics Committee opened an investigation into whether Meehan sexually harassed the woman and misused official resources.

Meehan is the fifth member of Congress to resign or say he won’t run again amid a national reckoning over sexual misconduct in the workplace.

The former aide made the complaint last summer to the congressional Office of Compliance after Meehan became hostile toward her when she did not reciprocate his romantic interest in her, and she left the job, the Times reported.

Related: House unveils landmark sexual harassment overhaul bill

The settlement had been kept secret, and Meehan refused to say how much taxpayer money he paid as part of the agreement. Meehan said he followed the advice of House lawyers and Ethics Committee guidance in agreeing to the payment.

He said he had developed strong feelings for the woman in the seven years she had worked for him, and that he reacted badly when he discovered that she had a romantic interest in another man.

He told reporters that while he had struggled with his feelings, he also insisted that he had kept their relationship professional. Meehan represents a closely divided district in moderate southeastern Pennsylvania that has been criticized as being among the nation’s most gerrymandered districts.

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 NOV. 20: On Capitol Hill, a sexual harassment complaint is a long process 1:40

Initially, Meehan had said he would run for a fifth term. But even after he aired his side of the story, Republicans quietly looked for other candidates, believing that Meehan could not regain voter confidence after he had used taxpayer money to settle the case.

The badly contorted district — drawn by Republicans before the 2012 election in a bid to help Meehan win re-election — is a huge liability for Republicans and could change dramatically in a court-ordered redrawing of Pennsylvania’s congressional boundaries.

Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly won the district in the 2016 presidential election, and winning it likely becomes an even bigger target for Democrats riding an anti-Trump wave in Philadelphia’s suburbs.

Trump backs citizenship for Dreamers, while slashing legal immigration

 

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said he will support a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, according to a telephone briefing by the White House for Republican congressional staff members. His remarks could move negotiations on an immigration deal that is stalled in Congress but Democrats have signaled that his proposal is a non-starter.

The call, hosted by White House adviser Stephen Miller, outlined the demands for any deal on DACA, which includes a $25 billion “trust fund” for a border wall, an end to family reunification, also called “chain migration” by conservatives, and an end to the diversity visa lottery.

Play

 Trump to back pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers1:59

But in a more detailed outline of the proposal released by the White House later on Thursday, it calls for a massive increase in border security and a massive decrease in legal immigration by aiming to “protect the nuclear family migration” by only allowing family immigration sponsorships to include spouses or children, rather than extended family members.

In addition to $25 billion in border security, it would appropriate funds to add new enforcement officers, immigration judges and prosecutors – efforts to more quickly deport people who are in the country without legal papers.

The path to citizenship would be provided to DACA recipients via a “10-12 year path” that includes “requirements for work, education and good moral character.”

A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers is a significant concession for Democrats, most of whom say they will not support any deal that does not provide for citizenship. It’s similar to a bipartisan proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also includes a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

But Democrats say that the massive increase in border security, elimination of most family migration and the end to the diversity visa lottery is a lopsided deal.

“Dreamers should not be held hostage to President Trump’s crusade to tear families apart and waste billions of American tax dollars on an ineffective wall,” Durbin said in a statement. “This plan would put the administration’s entire hard-line immigration agenda — including massive cuts to legal immigration — on the backs of these young people.”

Trump told reporters Wednesday night before leaving for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he’d support legalization that would “morph” into citizenship.

Many on Capitol Hill have been waiting for specifics from the president on what he wants to see in an immigration bill. He has expressed requirements in line with conservative principles while also signaling his openness to a more lenient plan, confusing the topic for lawmakers attempting to draft legislation.

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 Dreamer: The goalpost keeps moving for our families 5:18

“We’re grateful for the president showing leadership on this issue, and believe his ideas will help us ultimately reach a balanced solution,” Michael Ricci, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, told NBC News.

Some Republicans, especially those with more hard-line views on immigration, praised the plan.

“The president’s framework is generous and humane, while also being responsible,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said.

Immigration activists, however, blasted the plan for ending family reunification, and vowed to oppose it.

“They think that by offering up a spoonful of sugar — relief for Dreamers — they can get Congress and the American people to swallow the bitter medicine of radical nativism,” Frank Sharry, founder of America’s Voice, an immigration rights group. “We are going to fight this tooth and nail.”

United We Dream Advocacy Director Greisa Martínez Rosas, who would be a DACA beneficiary, went further in a statement.

“Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note,” she said. “Trump and Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youths are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity.”

The ACLU also did not pull any punches, saying that “the only community that benefits from this supposed generosity are white supremacists.”

The nonprofit advocacy organizationadded that the “proposal is clearly an effort to sabotage bipartisan talks on the issue by continuing to put issues on the table that are non-starters.”

Play

 Schumer pulls offer to to fund border wall 13:04

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, said in a tweet that Trump’s proposal didn’t “pass the laugh test.”

$25 billion as ransom for Dreamers with cuts to legal immigration and increases to deportations doesn’t pass the laugh test.

And Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., excoriated the bill in a statement.

“We cannot allow the lives of young people who have done everything right to be used as bargaining chips for sweeping anti-immigrant policies,” she said. “The White House is using Dreamers to mask their underlying xenophobic, isolationist, and un-American policies, which will harm millions of immigrants living in the United States and millions of others who want to legally immigrate and contribute to our country.”

Meanwhile, other Democrats in the House and Senate — as well as liberal advocates — shared their continued displeasure with Trump’s proposal on social media.

The White House’s immigration framework is not a serious attempt to reach an agreement on . It is Stephen Miller’s nativist wishlist, which pits children against children and immigrants against immigrants. We need a !

By ending DACA, @realdonaldtrump subjected 800k Dreamers to deportation. Now he wants to hold them hostage to Steven Miller’s anti-immigrant wish list. It’s insulting. We already have a bipartisan solution to the Trump-created crisis: it’s called the Dream Act.

‘s immigration plan is about one thing: white supremacy. It is about fundamentally changing the makeup of our country by removing people of color and preventing them from coming in the first place.

Democrats shut down the government over the issue of immigration for three days, demanding progress on the issue of protecting Dreamers. Trump, who announced he was ending the Obama-era DACA program in September, gave Congress until March 5 to find a legislative solution for the people who were brought to the U.S. as young children by their parents and whose legal status remains in limbo.

To end the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to take up DACA if no deal is reached between the White House, the Senate and the House before February 8, which is when the next government funding bill runs out.

In a statement Thursday, McConnell thanked Trump for putting forth the framework.

“I am hopeful that as discussions continue in the Senate on the subject of immigration, Members on both sides of the aisle will look to this framework for guidance as they work towards an agreement,” he said.

A White House official told reporters that they would like to see their proposal, which is likely to be more conservative than anything the Senate would devise, brought up the week of February 5, just days before the funding deadline.

Opinion: US Tax bill crowns Donald Trump king of the swamp

The US tax bill, the first key measure passed by the Republicans, does not even try to cloak its intent. It’s an unashamed enrichment scheme for the wealthy and slap in the face for the poor, says DW’s Michael Knigge.

USA Washington - Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Kevin Brady (picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Vucci)

After numerous embarrassing false starts, Congressional Republicans, goaded by President Donald Trump’s relentless tweets, finally scored their first major legislative victory Tuesday by passing a massive tax bill.

Trump and his party will surely spend the next months touting the measure as the fulfillment of a campaign promise that will help “Make America Great Again.” That is, as several independent studies of the Republican tax plan have clearly shown, not true.

Instead, what the tax bill will overwhelmingly do is make rich Americans richer. Under the revised joint Congressional bill, the top 1 percent of Americans would get 82 percent of its benefits in 2027, the bill’s last year, according to a study by the Tax Policy Center. That is because most of the other provisions included in the measure are temporary and will have expired by then. But even when the bill takes effect next year with comprehensive tax cuts across the board, 5 percent of Americans will be paying more taxes than now while the wealthiest Americans reap most of the benefits.

Gutting the Affordable Care Act

But the Republican bill does not stop at providing massive tax breaks for corporations, wealthy Americans like themselves and the Trump family. An often overlooked part of the legislation actively hurts lower middle class and poor Americans, who stand to gain little from the tax scheme in the first place.

Michael Knigge AppMichael Knigge is DW’s correspondent in Washington

That part is the gutting of a key element of the Affordable Care Act, the so-called individual mandate, which imposes a financial penalty on people who do not purchase health care coverage. Without the requirement, insurance premiums are expected to skyrocket and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that more 10 million people could drop out of the system. That would in turn lead to a rising number of uninsured Americans (again) and thereby threaten the viability of the Affordable Care Act as a whole.

Killing the dreaded Affordable Care Act, which despite its problems, has enabled millions of Americans to get health insurance, has been a primary goal for Republicans for a long time. The tax bill brings them one step closer to achieving that end.

But the bill hurts average Americans in another way that is also often overlooked. It is estimated to increase the deficit by more than 1 trillion dollars over the next 10 years, which will cause the same politicians who engineered the tax scheme in the first place to demand drastic cuts in government spending in programs benefiting primarily the poor and elderly to make up for it.

Unmasking of Trump

Still, as important as it is to debunk the obscene Republican tax scheme, which the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights recently (and rightly) slammed as “America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world,” it is equally essential to consider what it means politically for the future and how this money grab can be reversed.

First, for Trump the tax bill serves as his official abdication from his self-proclaimed role as the defender of working class Americans and his crowning as the “king of the swamp.” Trump styling himself as the spokesman for regular Americans was of course always a ruse devoid of any real meaning. But this giant giveaway to US corporations and the richest Americans like himself, which was preceded by what The New York Times called a “lobbying frenzy,” finally makes clear to everyone where the president’s real sympathies lie.

Second, the tax bill shows that the Republican Party, despite all the huffing and puffing from some of its hardline Tea Party members, has the back of big corporations. While that is not necessarily a new development, the fact that Republicans — who once prided themselves on fiscal responsibility — have trashed that concept and opted for a bill which will lead to a new massive deficit, is noteworthy.

Time for the Democrats?

And finally, the bill gives the opposition Democrats ample fodder for next year’s midterm election and the coming presidential race in 2020, as it exposes that the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans are beholden to the very corporate interests, the wealthy elites and the so-called Washington swamp they routinely decry.

Undoing the noxious tax bill can be done by a simple Congressional vote. Getting there and convincing Americans that they not only oppose Trump, but actually have a realistic plan of helping working Americans, is the hard part for a Democratic Party that is still struggling to find itself.

COURTESY: DW

5 key moments from Jeff Sessions’ testimony before House Judiciary Committee

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied suggestions Tuesday that he misled Congress in previous appearances before Senate committees in which he was asked about Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials.

Questions about Sessions’ prior answers to Congress came during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers asked about the latest developments in the investigations into Russian interference in last year’s U.S. presidential election — including a guilty plea by Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to a charge of misleading investigators.

The questions focused on Papadopoulos’ attempts to coordinate a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Papadopoulos’ presence at a March 2016 gathering also attended by Sessions. The attorney general’s responses to questions about communication with Russia drew scrutiny from Democrats who believed that he may have known more than he previously disclosed.

Sessions authorizes Justice Department to consider investigating Clinton Foundation

Sessions says he has not been interviewed by special counsel in Russia probe

Sessions said that he now recalled the 2016 meeting, after recent news reports on the matter, and that he “always told the truth” in his appearances on Capitol Hill. He added that he “wanted to make clear to [Papadopoulos] that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government.”

“But I did not recall this event, which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few weeks ago,” he said.

Here’s a look at five key moments from Sessions’ testimony Tuesday:

Sessions claims he has ‘always told the truth’ and now recalls Papadopoulos meeting

In his opening statement, the attorney general told the committee he has “always told the truth,” referring to his criticized appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.

On the subject of meetings attended by Papadopoulos and campaign aide Carter Page, Sessions said he “had no recollection” of the meetings until he saw recent news reports. He previously told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was “not aware” of attempts by the campaign to communicate with Russia.

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions said. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

He continued that he “gladly would have reported it,” had he remembered it. Sessions said he “pushed back” against what he thought was an improper suggestion by Papadopoulos — that Trump meet with Putin.

NEW: AG Jeff Sessions says he now recalls meeting with George Papadopoulos, “but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said.” http://abcn.ws/2htbyes 

Sessions says he has ‘no reason to doubt’ accusers of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore

AG Jeff Sessions on Roy Moore’s accusers: “I have no reason to doubt these young women.” http://abcn.ws/2yZZA77 

Though he said he believes he should not be involved in the race for his former U.S. Senate seat representing Alabama, Sessions said he has “no reason to doubt” the women accusing Republican candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct.

Moore is accused of pursuing relationships with teenage girls in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including attempting to engage in sexual activity with one girl as young as 14.

PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington, on oversight of the U.S. Justice Department. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington, on oversight of the U.S. Justice Department. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, asked Sessions whether he would push for a Justice Department investigation into the alleged actions should Moore win the election.

Sessions would not comment on the hypothetical situation but pledged of his department, “We will do our duty.”

Sessions says DOJ shouldn’t ‘retaliate politically against opponents’

After the committee’s ranking member, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., showed Sessions several of Trump’s tweets suggesting the Justice Department investigate former campaign rival Hillary Clinton, the attorney general was asked whether it was “common” for a country’s leader to “retaliate against his political opponents.”

PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives on Capitol Hill for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives on Capitol Hill for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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“The Department of Justice can never be used to retaliate politically against opponents, and that would be wrong,” Sessions said. He added, after additional questioning, that the president should “take great care” not to influence a pending investigation.

Sessions admitted, however, he could not entirely control Trump’s seemingly off-the-cuff remarks.

“The president speaks his mind,” Sessions said.

Rep. Jordan asks about additional special counsel

Rep. Jordan: “What’s it going to take to actually get a special counsel” on FBI/DOJ handling of Clinton probe?

Jeff Sessions: “It would take a factual basis.” http://abcn.ws/2z0fej4 

After Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ran through a timeline of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server and the related actions of then–FBI Director James Comey and then–Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sessions explained that the matter did not automatically warrant a special counsel, as Jordan suggested was necessary.

“It would take a factual basis that meets the standards of the appointment of a special counsel,” Sessions said, an answer that did not appear to quell Jordan’s concerns.

In a letter to the committee Monday, Sessions said he authorized Justice Department prosecutors to look into whether the sale of a uranium company during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state warranted investigation by a special counsel. Republicans have raised alarm over donations to the Clinton Foundation made by people related to the deal.

Sessions cautioned Tuesday that the step outlined in his letter did not guarantee an independent investigator would be appointed.

“You can have your idea, but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it … meets the standard required for a special counsel,” he said.

Sessions admits he hasn’t ‘followed through’ on election interference mitigation efforts

Asked what steps he’s taken to protect elections, Attorney General Sessions says, “I have not followed through to see where we are on that.”

After telling the Senate Judiciary Committee in October that the U.S. was not prepared to prevent interference in its elections, Sessions admitted he has “not followed through to see where we are on that.”

“I will personally take action to do so,” he said. “A lot of things have been happening. We are working on a lot of great agenda items. But this one is important, and I acknowledge that.”

“I should be able to give you better information today than I am,” Sessions conceded.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. asked Sessions last month about preparations for upcoming elections. Sessions said it would require a “specific review” but that no such efforts were underway at the time.

ABC News’ Mike Levine, Benjamin Siegel and Trish Truner contributed to this report.

Courtesy: GMA

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