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  • Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- NextGen America president Tom Steyer announced the group’s "Blue Wave Volunteer Program" Thursday to “organize and mobilize Americans” to vote for Democratic candidates in this year’s midterm elections.“The Blue Wave program is basically a way for people around the country to focus their energies on the congressional districts and the states that are going to make the difference in 2018,” Steyer said during a Facebook Live announcement.Five years ago, Steyer founded NextGen America, a civic action group whose focus includes impeaching President Donald Trump -- a cause that more moderate Democrats aren’t so sure about.Now, the group seeks to take its efforts to the midterms with the Blue Wave program, which aims to help Democrats regain control of the House by engaging volunteers to call and text voters in swing districts from the “comforts of [their] own home.” “It’s really a chance for us to have a more effective democracy and to promote the kind of grassroots voter-to-voter conversation and contact that’s driven American democracy since the very start of our country,” Steyer said.Despite Steyer’s efforts to help Democratic candidates win this fall, he has clashed with party leaders over his pro-impeachment campaign, a cause that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi allegedly called a “distraction.” She urged Democrats to focus on policy issues instead, such as the party’s “Better Deal” economic agenda.But as Steyer tours the country hosting town halls on behalf of Need to Impeach, an organization he founded last fall, the California billionaire did not appear to heed to Pelosi’s advice.Complete with big rallies, direct voter engagement, and a point-blank message, his campaign to fuel anti-Trump sentiment may, in itself, be “downright Trumpian,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.It could even symbolize a possible 2020 presidential bid by Steyer, who previously considered running for Senate or governor this year in California but decided against it.National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director Matt Gorman mocked Steyer’s Blue Wave program on Twitter.“Do we have to report this as an in-kind contribution?” he tweeted Thursday morning, implying that the initiative could actually help Republicans this election season.During the Facebook Live announcement, Steyer spoke of saving the country from a “radical right-wing conspiracy that’s taken over our government.”“Republicans control Congress, Senate, White House, Supreme Court, two-thirds of governorships, and two-thirds of legislatures, so we are starting from the very bottom,” he said. “What we can do in November is take that first step back to start to get the people’s rights recognized again.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- FBI Director Christopher Wray, responding Thursday to the Justice Department inspector general's report highly-critical of how former director James Comey and other officials handled controversial decisions during the 2106 election, said: “I take this report very seriously. And we accept its findings and recommendations." But he quickly added, "It’s also important to note what the Inspector General did not find. This report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review.""The report does identify errors of judgment, violations of or even disregard for policy, and decisions that at the very least — with the benefit of hindsight — were not the best choices,” Wray said.Wray said the FBI is going to review the inspector generals' findings and the FBI will take appropriate action to hold people accountable if need be.“The OIG makes clear that we’ve got some work to do. But let’s also be clear on the scope of this report. It’s focused on a specific set of events back in 2016, and a small number of FBI employees connected with those events. Nothing, nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution.”
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  • Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Less than 24 hours after a prominent Republican Trump-critic became the second sitting member of Congress to lose a primary this year, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted what some viewed to be an ominous warning. "Anyone that does not embrace the @realDonaldTrump agenda of making America great again will be making a mistake," McDaniel's tweet, which came the day after South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford lost the GOP primary in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District to a pro-Trump challenger, State Representative Katie Arrington. McDaniel clarified the tweet Wednesday morning, which originally came from an interview McDaniel gave to Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs, saying that the full context did not "translate well with a 240-character limit." But the clarifications comes at a particularly charged time for the Republican Party, a party that is clinging to a 51-49 majority in the United States Senate and the real possibility of losing their majority in the U.S. House in November. Sanford's loss this week, and the upcoming runoff election facing another Republican who was critical of Trump, Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, have put into stark terms the very real backlash anti-Trump Republicans are facing with their voters. "Being a Trump critic is a hard position to be in in the Republican Party, and I don’t think Sanford’s sometimes criticism of Trump helped him, that’s for sure," Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told ABC News.In addition to Roby, Staten Island Republican Rep. Dan Donovan is facing a challenge from an opponent, disgraced former Congressman Michael Grimm, who says he has not shown sufficient loyalty to President Trump. All across the country, Republican primaries up and down the ballot have and continue to be litmus tests for a candidates adherence to Trump and his policy agenda."We are the party of President Donald J. Trump," Arrington, a one-term South Carolina state lawmaker, said in her victory speech Tuesday night.  "I won the primary because I’m a strong supporter of President Trump," Virginia GOP U.S. Senate nominee Corey Stewart, told CNN's Chris Cuomo Wednesday in an interview.The tweet from McDaniel also comes almost simultaneously as one of the most prominent critics of Trump in the Republican Party took another shot at the commander-in-chief."It's almost becoming a cultish thing, isn't it?" Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker told reporters Wednesday, "And it's not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be, purportedly, of the same party."Corker was venting frustration about his bill that would require Congressional approval of any tariffs imposed over national security concerns, but the alarming nature of his commentsThe RNC declined to comment further on the tweet and subsequent clarification from McDaniel.Reaction from prominent conservative pundits who are often critical of President Trump, including two ABC News political commentators -– Meghan McCain and Ana Navarro -- was swift.  The Democratic Party has not hesitated to portray the coming midterms as a referendum on Trump, and a representative from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said the party looks forward to litigating the President's agenda in the Fall."The Trump agenda is the mistake. It's hurting millions of families every day. And Ronna McDaniel can rest assured that voters will hold Republicans accountable for it in November," Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the DNC, told ABC News.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Twitter/@dschapira(PHOENIX) -- A state lawmaker in Arizona is in hot water over comments that he made about immigration and the racial makeup of the border state.A video clip of David Stringer, a representative in the Arizona State House, has been shared online showing a portion of a speech he gave to a local Republican group.Stringer, a Republican, is heard saying "there aren't enough white kids to go around" and "the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed."Stringer said that 60 percent of Arizona's public school children are minorities, and argued that statistic showed that the state and country are in for massive change."That complicates racial integration because there aren't enough white kids to go around," Stringer said Monday at a local Republican group's event."Now when you look at that 60 percent number for our public school students, just carry that forward 10 years, 15 years: it's going to change the demographic voting base of this state and that's what's going on around this country. Immigration is politically destabilizing. President Trump has talked about this. I’m very concerned about this."Immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States. If we don't do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country. We will not be the country you were born in," he is heard saying on the video.The video was shared by David Schapira, a candidate for the state's public school superintendent. Schapira told ABC News that he first saw a roughly 20-minute video which included the 51-second clip was originally posted on Stringer's own Facebook page on Tuesday, but has since been deleted. Stringer posted a statement Wednesday afternoon, attempting to characterize the story as "fake news" and a distortion of his views."My political opponents have taken 51 seconds out of a 16 minute speech to try to distort my message and mislead voters. We recognize the tactic. I'm not interested in taking the fake news bait," Stringer said in a statement on his Facebook page."My comments about school integration were factually accurate and were intended to illustrate the challenges facing successful integration when white students are a rapidly declining percentage of the whole. This issue cries out for honest and open public discussion. Regrettably, my political opponents seek to shut down discussion with name calling and vile accusations," he said in the statement.The controversial comments prompted criticism from both sides of the aisle.Arizona Republican Party chairman Jonathan Lines issued a statement this afternoon calling for Stringer to resign, saying “these words have no place in our party, or in our state.”Earlier, Arizona Republican Party spokesperson Ayshia Connors issued a statement calling on Stringer to “apologize to his constituents, and to the people of Arizona. We are proud of our diverse, vibrant state and believe that Mr. Stringer’s comments have no place in our party, or in the state of Arizona."Ed Gogek, a Democrat running for Stringer's seat, told ABC News that he thinks Stringer is "clueless.""I don't think he really understands how racist this is," Gogek told ABC News. "The people he's talking about, these are American citizens but because they're not white he doesn't see them that way."Jan Manolis, another Democrat running for Stringer’s seat, called him “an extreme right-winger” and told ABC News she found his comments “disgusting.”Carlos Galindo-Elvira, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that the group found the comments "shockingly inappropriate.""Quite frankly there's no place within our state government for this kind of type of hateful messaging by an elected official," Galindo-Elvira told ABC News.
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  • Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors and Paul Manafort meet in court on Friday, there is a chance the former Trump campaign chairman could leave in handcuffs. Manafort’s freedom has become more precarious in the run-up to his scheduled appearance at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Judge Amy Berman Jackson will consider whether to revise or revoke Manafort’s bail conditions – a decision that could land him behind bars pending trial.The hearing is the latest in a series of moves by the prosecutors that applies immense pressure on the 69-year-old lobbyist and political operative, who has pleaded not guilty to a heavy raft of tax and financial crimes. The goal, his friends and legal experts tell ABC News, is to persuade him to cut a deal for lenience in exchange for testimony about others, possibly including President Donald Trump,."Every gram of weight that they're putting on Paul Manafort is designed to get him to give information to hurt the president," Michael Caputo, a longtime friend of Manafort’s told ABC News.The stepped up pressure has included three superseding indictments in two federal courts, amounting to more than 40 charges related to money laundering, tax and bank fraud, conspiracy, and other financial crimes that largely predate his time on the Trump campaign. Prosecutors have repeatedly sought to challenge Manafort’s proposals to make bail, and confined him to his home, where he is monitored by an ankle bracelet.Prosecutors have brought charges against two of Manafort’s former colleagues. One, former business partner Rick Gates, has already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the federal probe of possible campaign collusion with the Russians.Last week, government prosecutors argued in a new court filing that Manafort abused that home confinement by contacting and, they allege, seeking to tamper with potential witnesses. Two former federal prosecutors who are now white collar criminal defense attorneys, Shanlon Wu and Peter Zeidenberg, agreed that the tough tactics employed by Mueller were either designed to pressure Manafort into providing incriminating evidence against other potential targets, including the president, or intended to produce a swift guilty plea to simply save time and resources on a trial.Manafort “must know a lot of stuff about a lot of Russians doing a lot of bad stuff,” Zeidenberg, the former federal prosecutor, told ABC News. “I’m sure he has a lot of information they would like to get.”Manafort was one of the highest-ranking Trump campaign aides charged as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential campaign. The investigation that has already issued nine indictments covering 20 individuals and three businesses, and securing five guilty pleas.Having served as Trump’s campaign chairman for nearly six months in 2016, Manafort was involved in some capacity with a number of events the special counsel is said to be investigating, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between members of the Trump campaign and several Russians, including a Kremlin-connected lawyer.For Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, the stakes on Friday couldn’t be higher. In March, the federal judge overseeing Manafort’s case in Virginia, T.S. Ellis III, warned that if the 69-year-old is found guilty of any or all charges stacked against him, he “faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.”Earlier this year, Manafort’s legal team mounted a promising effort to have his $10 million bail deal revised in an Manafort off home confinement, but the effort was ultimately derailed over disputes about the actual value of his properties – some of which are also under investigation by the special counsel. But in the past week, the special counsel has attemp
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