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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Sens. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, and Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, introduced a bill Thursday intended to protect the laws of states that have legalized some form of marijuana from federal intervention.The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act would ensure that states can make and enforce their own laws pertaining to the production and distribution of marijuana as long as states comply with a few federally-mandated basic protections.Currently, 46 states and additional territories have laws permitting medical and/or recreational marijuana. Both Colorado and Massachusetts have legalized recreational marijuana. But on the federal level, the drug is still listed as a controlled substance with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” and it has been up to the Justice Department to decide how rigorously to enforce that definition.The new bill follows an agreement Gardner reached with President Donald Trump in April, in which the Colorado senator dropped his hold on Justice Department nominees being confirmed in exchange for the president’s assurance that the DOJ would not target Colorado’s marijuana industry.“Our Founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy and many states right now find themselves deep in the heart of that laboratory. But it's created significant conflict between state law, federal law and how we move forward,” Gardner, who said he had spoken with Trump about the bill Thursday morning, said during a press conference with Warren.His agreement with Trump came a few months after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that his department would reverse Obama-era guidance that limited the prosecution of marijuana sales in states where it had been legalized.At the time, Sessions said the previous guidance “undermines the rule of law.”Warren noted that Sessions’ position on marijuana had actually spurred lawmakers to act to protect their states’ discretion on the issue.“Thanks to the Attorney General, more people feel the urgency of the moment in changing federal law on marijuana,” Warren said. “Go Jeff Sessions,” she quipped. If this bill were to pass, states would no longer have to “rely on the Justice Department to be more forgiving,” she added.The bill would make clear that states have the right to determine for themselves the best way to approach marijuana within their borders. It would abide by the federal requirements that are already in place, including prohibiting people under the age of 18 from working in the industry and prohibiting the distribution of marijuana at transportation safety facilities like rest stops and truck stops.It would also maintain a prohibition on the sale of marijuana to people under age 21 other than for medical purposes.But the bill would make clear that marijuana businesses in states where it is legal are engaged in legitimate commerce and would allow them to take advantage of all of the trappings of commercial activity, including using the banking system and claiming business tax deductions.“Clarity's important. Important for the businesses and important for the people who use marijuana,” Warren said.Gardner said he wouldn’t speak for the president but suggested that it would make sense for him to support the effort.“I think this will be an opportunity for us to fulfill what is that federalism approach,” he said.The Marijuana Policy Project, a legalization advocacy group, called Gardner and Warren’s bill “the most significant piece of marijuana-related legislation ever introduced in Congress.”“While we look forward to the day when there is full acceptance of cannabis at the federal level, we heartily embrace the states’ rights approach proposed by this bill,” Don Murphy, conservative outreach d
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  • Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Amid ongoing turmoil at the Environmental Protection Agency, two of administrator Scott Pruitt’s top aides have submitted their resignations, two EPA officials said.Millan Hupp and Sarah Greenwalt, loyalists from Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma, both had benefitted from large raises earlier this year, according to a report issued by the EPA's inspector general. Sources told ABC News on Wednesday that both Hupp and Greenwald had resigned.Democrats on the House Oversight Committee also released a letter on Monday showing that another of Pruitt's schedulers, Millan Hupp, helped him find a new apartment and even contacted the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., about purchasing a mattress for Pruitt. Hupp confirmed in the transcribed interview that she helped Pruitt during her personal time, but emails released by the Democrats show that Hupp emailed a realtor on Pruitt's behalf during the workday on at least one occasion and using her EPA email address. It is unclear why Hupp and Greenwalt resigned.The resignations were first reported by The New York Times.In a statement to ABC News, Pruitt thanked Hupp for her work at the agency and said she would be “sorely missed.”“I’ve had the opportunity to know Millan for the last several years as a colleague, friend and trusted partner,” Pruitt said. “I wish her all the best.”As ABC previously reported, an investigation from the EPA’s inspector general revealed that Pruitt’s Chief of Staff, Ryan Jackson, directly oversaw and approved the pay raises for Sarah Greenwalt, Hupp and Hupp’s sister, Sydney Hupp, the latter who left the agency last year.Greenwalt received a raise of over $50,000, which would have brought her salary to more than $164,000. and that a nearly $30,000 raise was approved for Millan Hupp, which would have brought her salary to more than $114,000.Shortly after the raises became public, Pruitt told Fox News in an interview that he didn't know anything about the raises and that he had taken action to reverse them. But Pruitt later told a congressional committee that he gave a top aide permission to give at least two EPA employees big raises, deviating from how he characterized authorization for these raises in the past.In her testimony provided the House Oversight Committee, Hupp said she spent several hours a week at work discussing housing accommodations for Pruitt with realtors and visited at least 10 properties on behalf of Pruitt, who asked her verbally to assist him in finding housing options, according to the testimony.Hupp also said that she reached out the managing director of the Trump International Hotel in D.C. on Pruitt's behalf to see about acquiring an old mattress from the hotel for Pruitt’s personal use.An EPA official said Hupp’s last day will be Friday, June 8, and a source said Greenwalt’s resignation will take effect in the coming weeks.
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  • ABCNews.com(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- Rudy Giuliani took aim at Stormy Daniels on Wednesday, saying that her career as an adult-film star and director undermines her "credibility" in her lawsuit against the president over their alleged affair."So Stormy, you want to bring a case, let me cross-examine you. Because the business you were in entitles you to no degree of giving your credibility any weight," Giuliani told an audience in Tel Aviv, adding later, "I'm sorry I don't respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a woman who ... isn't going to sell her body for sexual exploitation."Giuliani made the comments during the "Globes" Capital Market conference during which he also discussed the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Giuliani said Trump is "optimistic" about the meeting, which is back on for June 12 after being postponed following a war of words between the two."So that’s why he had the capacity of canceling the meeting with Kim Jong Un, only to find that Kim Jong Un is begging him now for, for a meeting. We changed the whole dynamic of that negotiation," Giuliani said.His comments about Daniels were made in response to a question about whether Trump respects women."Globes" editor-in-chief Naama Sikuler, one of the event's moderators, then interjected that "on this stage, we respect women."Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, responded to Giuliani's comments on Twitter, calling him a "misogynist.""Mr. Giuliani is a misogynist. His most recent comments regarding my client, who passed a lie detector test and who the American people believe, are disgusting and a disgrace. His client Mr. Trump didn’t seem to have any 'moral' issues with her and others back in 2006 and beyond," Avenatti wrote on Twitter.Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex with Trump once in 2006 and was later threatened to keep quiet about it. Trump's then-attorney, Michael Cohen, had Daniels sign a non-disclosure agreement about the alleged affair days before the 2016 election. Trump has denied the affair occurred.On Wednesday, Daniels and Avenatti filed a new lawsuit in California's Superior Court against Cohen and Daniels's former lawyer, Keith Davidson. The suit alleges Davidson betrayed Daniels by communicating with Cohen in order to benefit Cohen and Trump.Davidson responded to the lawsuit in a statement Wednesday.“This outrageously frivolous lawsuit is yet another desperate attempt by Michael Avenatti to continue his ‘publicity tour,’ as well as divert attention from the recent allegations against him relating to bankruptcy proceedings and the failure to withhold millions of federal employee taxes," the statement read."That said, Attorney Davidson is very happy that he has filed this lawsuit because he strongly believes that the filing constitutes a full and complete waiver of the attorney-client privilege. Thankfully, the truth can now finally come out to rebut the false narrative about Attorney Davidson that Mr. Avenatti has been pushing in his more than 175 television appearances and countless other media interviews. Attorney Davidson believes that the American people deserve to know the entire truth - and they soon will. This lawsuit has made that happen," the statement continued.Cohen has admitted he paid Daniels $130,000 in 2016. In a statement to ABC News in February, Cohen said it was a private transaction using his "own personal funds" that were paid to Daniels.But Giuliani recently appeared to contradict that, telling Fox News last month that Trump had repaid Cohen the $130,000.Brent Blakely, who represents Michael Cohen in a California lawsuit over the non-disclosure agreement, issued a statement Wednesday: “This new lawsuit filed by Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels has no merit whatsoever as to my client, Michael Cohen, and appears to be yet another publicity stunt. We look forward to d
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  • Emilie Richardson/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said that he and his wife "love Chick-fil-A" a day after a report he asked an EPA aide to set up a meeting with the company to discuss a possible franchise for his wife.Federal law says that government officials can't use their public office for personal gain or to benefit family members. If Pruitt told his aides to do personal favors for him or his family on government time it could be a violation of federal law.Pruitt did not address the concern that the overture, regardless of whether it was made through staff, could be an abuse of his authority when asked about it on Wednesday.But he did say he and his wife are fans of Chick-fil-A."I think with great change comes, I think you know, opposition. There's significant changes happening not only at the EPA but across the administration and it's needed," Pruitt told a reporter from Nextstar TV in Washington D.C. "Look, My wife is an entrepreneur herself, I love, she loves, we love Chick-fil-A as a franchise of faith and it's one of the best in the country and that's something we were very excited about and we need more of them in Tulsa and we need more of them across the country. So anyway, it's an exciting time," Pruitt told a reporter from Nextstar TV in Washington D.C.Documents released recently and reviewed by ABC News show that Pruitt aides helped him look for an apartment, set up meetings about financial opportunities for his wife, and even shopped for a mattress, raising questions about whether Pruitt violated federal rules by asking his employees to do personal favors for him on the government's time. If Pruitt asked his aides to do personal favors for him or his family on government time it could be a violation of federal law.Two of Pruitt's close aides resigned this week, including one who was involved in helping him with his real estate search.Emails from one of Pruitt's former schedulers Sydney Hupp show that she reached out to officials from Chick-fil-A to schedule a meeting with Pruitt last summer.The company told The Washington Post, which first reported the emails on Tuesday, that the call was to discuss a franchise opportunity for Pruitt's wife.The emails about the meeting with Chick-fil-A were obtained by the Sierra Club through a public records request and lawsuit and were reviewed by ABC News. The Post also reported that Pruitt's wife did not complete the franchise application. Pruitt's wife, Marlyn, could not be reached for comment.ABC News was not able to confirm what was discussed in that meeting. EPA did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment on the meeting. A representative for Chick-fil-A confirmed that the quotes in the Washington Post were accurate but declined to provide any additional information.A search of business records in Oklahoma and Kentucky did not show any businesses registered under Marlyn Pruitt's name, or under her maiden name, in the last 15 years. Pruitt's financial disclosure filed with the Office of Government Ethics in December 2016 listed no assets or income from his wife's employment. An Oklahoma state financial disclosure form from 2015, while Pruitt was the state attorney general, also does not list any contracts or financial interests in connection with his wife. Marlyn Pruitt could not immediately be reached for comment.It's unclear if she was involved in any other businesses that would not be listed by the secretary of states' offices.The White House and President Donald Trump did not address Pruitt's inquiring about the franchise Wednesday, but the president said the EPA 'is doing really well' in a meeting at FEMA headquarters."Administrator Scott Pruitt, thank you. EPA is doing really well. You know, somebody has to say that about you a little bit, you know that Scott, but I tell you the EPA is doing so well," Trump said a briefing about the current hurricane season at FEMA headquarters on Wednesday.White House press
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  • ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s move to scrap the month-long August recess due to what he called the Democrats’ “historic obstruction” of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda, could potentially deprive vulnerable incumbent Democrats running for re-election from crucial campaign time ahead of the midterm elections.But Democrats say they are welcoming the change with a message to McConnell: Bring it on.“We Democrats welcome this additional time because it gives us the opportunity to address an issue that's on the top of the minds of so many of the American people, and one that Republicans have badly mishandled at this point: health care,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday.Their plan, highlighted in a letter Schumer sent to McConnell on Wednesday, is to push for votes on legislation that would lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.The shift to health care is a notable strategy Democrats are hoping to capitalize on as they gear up for November’s midterm elections – by reminding American voters that Republicans are “deliberately sabotaging” the health care system, as Schumer put it in his letter to McConnell.“President Trump promised the American people health care that is “far less expensive and far better.” Unfortunately, today the situation is far worse,” Schumer wrote in the letter. “After 18 months of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deliberately sabotaging our health care system, Republican policies have resulted in major premium increases for millions of Americans. This sabotage also has those with pre-existing conditions once again facing the prospect of denied coverage, increased costs, and medical bankruptcy."Republicans have tried endlessly to the repeal the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010. They were successful in repealing the individual mandate that requires all Americans to have health insurance after it was included in the GOP’s tax reform legislation that Trump signed into law in December.But McConnell has signaled Republicans plan to spend August confirming Trump’s judicial and executive-level nominees and pass appropriation bills before the end of the fiscal year.On Tuesday, McConnell hit Democrats for dragging their feet on confirming Trump’s nominees and said even if Democrats were to cooperate in the coming months, the Senate should expect to remain in Washington for most of August.“Mitch McConnell can't have it both ways. He spends all his time bragging to his base that they've appointed more judges than anyone else, and now he's saying they haven't appointed enough. It just doesn't pass the laugh test,” Schumer said Tuesday.Trump joined in on the attack on Democrats with a tweet on Tuesday: “Mitch McConnell announced he will cancel the Senate’s August Recess. Great, maybe the Democrats will finally get something done other than their acceptance of High Crime and High Taxes. We need Border Security!”Schumer responded: “As usual the president's tweet makes little sense, given that Republicans control both houses of Congress. But I agree with the president on one thing: canceling recess is a great opportunity to get something done.”
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