CDC(ATLANTA) -- The mysterious death of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist -- whose body was found along the banks of a river weeks after he disappeared -- has been ruled a suicide by drowning, officials said.
Cunningham, 35, a Harvard graduate and commander in the U.S. Public Health Service who responded to public health emergencies including the Ebola and Zika viruses, disappeared Feb. 12 after saying he was sick before leaving his Atlanta office.
All of Cunningham's belongings, including his dog, were left at his home.
Cunningham's concerned family reported him missing, and after weeks of searching, authorities found his body April 2 along the banks of the Chattahoochee River.
Cunningham’s parents told investigators that he had mood swings but had not been diagnosed with depression, documents released by the medical examiner’s office said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate has released its version of a landmark measure that would hold lawmakers personally accountable for sexual harassment, including making them pay for claims out of their own pockets and making those payments public.
The Senate bill seeks to expand options for employees seeking to make a complaint and has broad bipartisan support.
“With this agreement, both parties are coming together to update the laws governing how the Congress addresses workplace claims and protecting staff and others from harassment,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement, predicting the measure would pass the Senate quickly.
The Senate bill gives accusers 90 days after filing a claim to request a hearing or filing a civil action in federal district court. It scraps a mandatory 30-day “cooling off period” before such claims can proceed, and it would establish a dedicated advocate who would be available for consultation throughout the process.
It requires members of both chambers to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for awards and settlements arising from harassment they themselves commit – including members who leave office – and requires annual public reporting of those payments.
The House of Representatives passed its own sexual harassment bill in February. It includes a 45-day period for claimants to take action, in federal court, half the time in the Senate bill.
“This legislation will help bring accountability and transparency to a broken process, ensure victims can immediately seek justice, and hold Members of Congress accountable,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee said in a statement released with committee chairman Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., had expressed frustration that it took so much time for the Senate to pass its bill after the House’s efforts three months ago. After news broke that Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, who resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal, was refusing to repay Treasury an $84,000 settlement, she reiterated her calls for the Senate to take up the bill.
Both versions of the bill will have to be reconciled and passed before a final version can be signed into law.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump fired off another allegation that a “Criminal Deep State" within the FBI and Department of Justice is pursuing him, after media reports that an FBI informant was embedded in his 2016 presidential campaign.
The president tweeted Wednesday morning, "Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!"
His tweet appears to reference New York Times and Washington Post reporting that the FBI planted an informant to make contact with members of his campaign, only after the agency obtained information that members of the Trump team had suspicious contacts with Russians during the 2016 election.
The tweet continued his attack on the so-called deep state, the unfounded theory that career public servants are attempting to undermine his administration, which he claims lies within the very law enforcement agencies that he leads. But such efforts to target him and his presidency have backfired, he asserts.
Continuing his early-morning rant, Trump added, "SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!"
Despite his comments, there is no evidence to support any notion that Trump's campaign was improperly infiltrated, as he has alleged, although the Department of Justice inspector general is looking into the matter at the president's request.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/Thinkstock(LANGLEY, Virginia) -- The Defense Department has decided it will continue allowing the use of cellphones at the Pentagon, but it will strictly enforce existing rules to prevent cell phones from being brought into secure areas at the nation's military headquarters.
The new policy issued Tuesday is far short of early speculation that Defense Secretary James Mattis might ban all cellphones from the Pentagon.
“Today the Department of Defense announces a policy regarding the use of mobile devices within the Pentagon and supported buildings,” said a Pentagon statement. “The policy, which applies to DoD personnel, contractors, and Pentagon visitors, clarifies restrictions for mobile devices anywhere within the Pentagon designated or accredited for the processing, handling or discussion of classified information."
Late last year Defense Secretary Mattis initiated a review of cellphone use at the Pentagon because of what a U.S. official characterized as ways of improving information security concern in the building.
A memo signed by Patrick Shanahan, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, outlined the new policy that enforces existing requirements that cell phones be placed in small storage boxes or lockers outside of sensitive parts of the building.
Mobile devices are defined in the memo as cell phones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches, and other devices that are portable, can wirelessly transmit or receive information and have a self-contained power source.
"Mobile devices must be stored in daily-use storage containers that are located outside the secure space," said the memo.
The new rules mean there will likely be many more cellphone lockboxes throughout the building in order to comply with the new policy.
The 23,000 military and civilian employees at the Pentagon will still be allowed to bring their personal or work cellphones into the building - although as a practical matter there is no cellphone reception throughout most of the building.
“Mobile devices may be used in common areas and spaces that are not designated or accredited for the processing, handling, or discussion of classified information,” said the memo.
The Defense Department is still updating a separate comprehensive policy for fitness trackers and other wearable electronics that have GPS capability.
That review was triggered in January after it was discovered that a heat map generated by the Strava exercise fitness tracking app identified exercise routes used by U.S. military personnel worldwide, even at some U.S. facilities that were not public.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt says the agency will move to regulate as "hazardous" a type of harmful chemical found in the drinking water of millions of Americans, calling it a "national priority."
The type of chemical is commonly known as PFAS or PFOS and is used in nonstick pans, making furniture and carpets stain resistant, absorbing grease in products like pizza boxes as is contained as well in firefighting foam commonly used at airports.
EPA first published rules about the chemical in 2002 when the 3M company agreed to phase them out. The EPA studied the health effects of exposure for several years and published a health advisory in 2016.
Some state and local advocacy groups in areas contaminated by PFAS chemicals say the EPA has taken too long to act on the risk and has not done enough to provide help or research to clean up the chemicals.
The EPA says the chemical can cause health problems and even cancer if it people are exposed to it in soil or water.
This type of chemical has attracted more attention after a Politico report that officials from EPA, the Pentagon, and the White House sought to delay a report from an agency within the Centers for Disease Control that evaluates whether chemicals are toxic. Emails referenced in that story, and obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists through public records requests, indicated that the study found PFAS chemicals are hazardous at lower levels than currently recommended.
Pruitt said Tuesday that the agency has a four-step plan for labeling the chemicals as hazardous and setting a maximum level for when it needs to be cleaned up. But the announcement was partly overshadowed after the Associated Press and other news outlets said their reporters were not allowed into the event.
Some facilities that used these chemicals in manufacturing have released them into the soil or water in the area, which causes them to accumulate because they are difficult to clean up and remain in the environment for a long time. Research shows that people exposed to the chemicals through drinking water or who eat food grown in contaminated soil can be more likely to get cancer or face health problems like hormone disruption.
"As we've used those chemicals over the course of many decades there are concerns across the country about these chemicals because of the persistence, their durability getting into the environment and impacting communities in an adverse way. That's the reason we're here today," Pruitt said in remarks at a summit on PFAS chemicals at the EPA on Tuesday.
An analysis from the non-partisan advocacy group Environmental Working Group found that some level of the chemicals are present in drinking water for up to 110 million Americans. Drinking water systems for at least 16 million people tested with PFAS levels higher than the limit recommended by the EPA.
Multiple states have found PFAS chemicals in drinking water, including Michigan where the state is still recovering from the lead crisis in Flint. Pruitt said Tuesday that he will travel to Michigan and other states to discuss the issue with local communities.
The EPA has published advisories that PFAS chemicals are dangerous at a level of 70 parts per trillion, but some researchers and advocacy groups have said the level should be much lower. The EPA's recommended level is not an official limit but is often used as the level for when states or companies need to take action to clean up the chemical
When asked about the delayed study on the danger of the chemicals Pruitt recently said in a hearing that he didn't know the study was delayed and that he thinks it should be released, but told at least one member of Congress in a letter that EPA does not have the authority to release the study.
The office within CDC that evaluates toxic chemicals, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said in a statement that they are working with other agencies to finalize the report but do not have a date for when it will be released.
The EPA will be visiting communities impacted by PFAS contamination in the next few months and says on its website a plan will be developed by Fall of this year.
Some groups also posted on social media that members of the public weren't invited to participate in the summit. The EPA live-streamed the opening remarks and posted a docket for public comments but the live stream stopped when the participants broke up into working sessions. Reporters at the event tweeted that they were told to leave after Pruitt and others spoke and the Associated Press reported that its reporter and some from other news outlets were blocked from attending at that they were forced out of the building by a security guard.
The EPA later said that the afternoon sessions of the summit would be open to press.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump continued to fuel GOP accusations that an informant was embedded in his presidential campaign for political purposes, saying Tuesday that “a lot of people are saying” there were spies.
“A lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign,” President Trump said during his wide-ranging comments in the Oval Office during a press spray of a meeting with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.
“If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country,” Trump continued. “It would be very illegal aside from everything else. It would make probably every political event ever look like small potatoes so we want to make sure there weren't. I hope there weren't frankly.”
“If they had spies in my campaign, during my campaign for political purposes, that would be unprecedented in the history of our country,” he later added.
The president has seized on reports from the New York Times and Washington Post that the FBI sent an informant to meet with members of his campaign. The Times cited unnamed sources that these contacts were made only after the FBI had gathered information that the source’s targets had made suspicious contacts with Russians during the campaign.
The FBI has not confirmed that it used an informant and so far there is no evidence that was one embedded in the Trump campaign.
The president rebuffed ABC News' question about whether he continues to have confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who on Sunday said the DOJ would look into whether there was any improper activities related to the Trump campaign after the president ordered DOJ probe the issue.
“What is your next question, please,” Trump said, passing over the question. “I have the president of South Korea here. He doesn't want to hear these questions, if you don't mind.”
On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to issue a "demand" that the DOJ "look into" whether there was any improper surveillance of his campaign "for political purposes."
Later Sunday, Rosenstein issued a statement saying, “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action."
Following the weekend tweet, President Trump met on Monday with Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Despite the timing of the meeting the day after his tweet demand, the president said Tuesday that the meeting was “very routine."
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer is among critics who have called it highly inappropriate.
Speaking of the alleged informant, the president said he’s read in news reports that “some person got paid a lot of money” and “that is not a normal situation, the kind of money you are talking about.”
“I think the Department of Justice wants to get down to it and Congress does so hopefully they will all be able to get together,” Trump said. “General Kelly will be setting up a meeting between Congress and the various representatives and they will be able to open up documents, take a look and find out what happened.”
Democrats have raised objections to that meeting as well – demanding to be included and questioning whether Trump and Kelly would be allowed to review classified information about the Mueller investigation that include the identify of any informant.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Reporters have filled Twitter feeds with jokes and puns about the small sinkhole that formed on the White House North Lawn near the briefing room entrance.
To prevent any incidents, White House groundskeepers covered the sinkhole with a wooden board and sectioned off with traffic cones and police tape.
While some on social media have questioned whether the erosion constitutes a legitimate sinkhole, National Park Service spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles put the controversy to rest.
"On Sunday, May 20, a small sinkhole was found on the north White House grounds near the entrance to the press briefing room," Anzelmo-Sarles said in a statement to ABC News. "The National Park Service has been monitoring the situation and is bringing in some additional experts to help best determine a remedy. Sinkholes, like this one, are common occurrences in the Washington area following heavy rain like the DC metro area has experienced in the last week. We do not believe it poses any risk to the White House or is representative of a larger problem."
The National Park Service will conduct further assessments of the sinkhole over the next five to ten days.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A group of House Republicans called Tuesday for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate concerns about the Department of Justice and FBI, just days after Trump first called for an investigation into whether his campaign was “infiltrated or surveilled” for by an alleged FBI informant.
At least 19 House Republicans critical of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation signed on to the new 12-page resolution on Tuesday calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate “misconduct at the highest levels” of the DOJ and FBI, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., said.
Zeldin said the resolution, which would be introduced later on Tuesday, is necessary because the Justice Department “cannot be expected to investigate itself.”
House GOP leadership had not committed to bringing up their measure for a vote on the House floor, the Republicans said.
While some Republicans have previously pushed for the appointment of a second special counsel earlier this year, Sessions selected the top federal prosecutor in Utah to work with the Justice Department inspector general to investigate concerns raised by congressional Republicans.
Since then, conservatives have seized on new reports from the Washington Post and New York Times reporting that the FBI sent an informant to talk to several campaign aides during the 2016 election as evidence that a second special counsel.
“It’s a drastic step, but quite frankly these are drastic facts that continue to bubble to the surface and its time that we get a response,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said.
The group, some of the president’s most vocal supporters on Capitol Hill, have vented about the Mueller investigation and DOJ for months, accusing the department of not fulfilling requests for documents and information and its senior officials and some investigators of political bias, citing some members' donations to Democrats and Democratic causes.
Mueller and the Trump-appointed Rosenstein are registered Republicans, and the special counsel's team is made up of members affiliated with both parties. Justice Department guidelines do not allow consideration of party affiliation to affect personnel decisions.
“We need a special prosecutor to investigate the special prosecutor, to investigate Rosenstein,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said.
Gohmert, a loud critic of the special counsel, recalled telling Trump in June of 2017 “nobody needs firing more than Robert Mueller.”
“But you can’t be the one to fire him because we’ve got some weak-kneed Republicans out there who will come after you for firing the guy who needed firing,” he recalled while holding a photo of himself whispering in Trump’s ear last summer.
Trump also weighed in on the informant allegations again Tuesday, after meeting with FBI Director Wray and Rosenstein at the White House on Monday.
“If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country, that would be one of the biggest insults that anyone’s ever seen, and it would be very illegal," Trump said at the White House.
The Justice Department said the agency’s inspector general tasked with conducting oversight of the department would look into the questions raised by Trump as part of its ongoing investigation into the government surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page during the presidential campaign.
The White House announced Monday that congressional leaders will also be invited to a meeting organized by chief of staff John Kelly to review the classified information related to the reported intelligence source. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday the meeting would be Thursday.
Meadows said Tuesday that Democrats should be able to view the documents, in addition to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. He also said that Trump did not request a second special counsel.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he and GOP chairman Richard Burr declined the offer of a DOJ briefing on the documents, citing their sensitive nature.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called the briefing arranged by the White House “another serious abuse of power.”
"I don’t think any of us have any idea what the White House is doing, except that they want to use any mechanism they can to get their hands on materials they think will be useful for their legal defense team and they’re willing to break down the wall of independence between the White House and the Justice Department to do it," he said.
"Sadly they have allies in Congress who are all too happy to help in destroying these institutions," Schiff said.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen raised eyebrows Tuesday when she told reporters on Capitol Hill that she is "not aware" of a conclusion by the U.S. intelligence community that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.
Nielsen's statement appeared to directly contradict the findings of a 2017 intelligence assessment on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election that concluded Putin was interested in hurting Clinton's chances and later helping those of Donald Trump.
She made the remarks in response to a reporter's question after holding a classified meeting on 2018 election security with members of the House of Representatives.
Asked if she had any reason to doubt Vladimir Putin tried to help President Trump win, Nielsen answered she was "not aware" of the conclusion that Putin's "specific intent was to help President Trump win."
A spokesman for Nielsen later said told ABC News that Nielsen has been consistent in her support of the intelligence community findings on Russian meddling and that she was simply taking issue with the premise of the question.
"The Secretary agrees with that [intelligence] assessment, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement to ABC News. "But the question asked by the reporter did not reflect the specific language in the assessment itself, so the Secretary correctly stated she had not seen the conclusion as characterized by the reporter."
A declassified version of the January 2017 report, "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections," found that Russia's goals "were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency." The report also says clearly that, as the influence campaign evolved, "Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."
It does not say, however, that Putin's aim was to help Trump from the outset but instead says at that point, the Russians were intent on hurting Clinton. Therefore, Nielsen may have simply been taking issue with the reporter's question, without saying so directly.
But given a chance to clarify her remark moments later, she would not directly answer whether she believed Putin ever tried to help Donald Trump, which the intelligence assessment clearly says he eventually did.
"I do believe that Russia did and will continue to try to manipulate Americans' perspective on a whole variety of issues," Nielsen said.
President Trump has always expressed disdain for any suggestion that Vladimir Putin helped him get elected. He calls accusations of campaign collusion an "excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election."
Nevertheless, the intelligence assessment was clear on the point that, eventually, Putin's aim was to help Trump. "We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him," the assessment read.
Last week, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said, "the Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton."
However, Republicans on the deeply divided House Intelligence Committee recently broke with the assessment of their counterparts in the Senate as well as the intelligence community, issuing a report late last month that concluded Putin did not favor a particular candidate.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
DHS secretary 'not aware' Putin tried to help Trump win 2016 election
Education Images/UIG via Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- The hair stylist who claims Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens used partially nude photos of her to blackmail her into keeping quiet about their love affair told a St. Louis TV station, "I'm not lying."
In her first media interview, the woman told NBC affiliate KSDK-TV that she regrets having the brief fling with Greitens and wishes she could apologize to the Republican governor's wife.
"I'm in the middle of the most difficult, crazy fight that I didn't ask to be a part of," she said. "And I feel like I'm this easy punching bag, yet I haven't thrown any punches.
"I didn't want this," said the woman, who was only identified in court filings by her initials as K.S. and declined to show her face on camera. "I wasn't out to get anyone. I really was just trying to live my life."
Greitens, the married father of two young children, has admitted to having a consensual sexual relationship with the woman in 2015, months before he successfully ran for governor on a platform of family values. He has adamantly rejected any criminal wrongdoing, denying his accuser's allegation that he surreptitiously took cellphone photos of her blindfolded and partially nude during a rendezvous in the basement of his home on March 21, 2015.
"There's no blackmail. The mistake I made was I engaged in a consensual relationship with a woman who wasn't my wife. It is a mistake that I'm deeply sorry for. Sorry to Sheena, my boys and everybody who relied on us," Greitens said in a January interview with Fox affiliate KTVI-TV.
Greitens' former mistress said the governor's denials about parts of their relationship prompted her to speak out.
"The second that he denied the things that were the most hurtful, that were the most hurtful for me to now have to relive, I just realized: now I have this decision," the woman told KSDK. "The only ethical thing I felt that I could do was to tell the truth."
While the compromising photos have never surfaced, Greitens had been scheduled to go on trial this month on a felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from the allegations. The case against Greitens was dropped May 14 by St. Louis prosecutors.
A special prosecutor was appointed this week to determine if the case should be re-filed against Greitens, a former Navy SEAL.
The woman's affair with Greitens was first publicly exposed by her ex-husband, who secretly recorded her admitting to the affair.
Earlier this year, she testified behind closed doors to the Missouri House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight. The committee released excerpts of her testimony this month and said she was a credible witness.
In her testimony, she claimed that Greitens blindfolded her and bound her hands to pull-up rings before he allegedly ripped open her shirt and pulled her pants down. She claimed she then heard what sounded like a picture being taken.
She testified that Greitens later told her, "Don't even mention my name to anybody at all because if you do, I'm going to take these pictures, and I'm going to put them everywhere I can."
In the interview with KSDK, she stood by her story.
“Yes, I do stand by them. They were hard to talk about. Really, really, really hard to talk about, but I absolutely stand by it,” she said. "I have no ill intention, other than not being made to be a liar. I'm not lying. This was hard. It was hard at the time, it's hard to talk about now. I'm not lying. That's it. I want to move on. I want to heal."
She said her one big regret is that she hurt Greitens' wife, Sheena Greitens.
"I would absolutely apologize," she said when asked what she would say if she could speak to the governor's wife. "I shouldn't have been involved with him. I shouldn't have gone into her home. I know that."
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Lucy McBath for Congress(NEW YORK) -- As the nation watched Friday's high school shooting unfold in Texas – the sixth since the attack in Parkland, Fla. – Lucy McBath was on the campaign trail in Georgia.
She knew what the parents were going through.
“I was just as angry and devastated on Friday with Santa Fe as I was for Parkland because Jordan was the same age as all these children that have been gunned down,” she said.
Her son Jordan was 17 when he was shot and killed in 2012 by a stranger at a gas station.
Now, McBath is part of a growing movement: parents who've lost a child to gun violence running for office.
“I never expected this to happen but I know that in light of all my experiences, to not to do anything is a tragedy in itself,” McBath said in an interview with ABC News.
McBath, a former flight attendant and spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety, is running for Congress in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
She was originally running for state House but she switched to run for U.S. House in March, after the Parkland shooting.
That deadly shooting inspired others to run as well, including two parents whose teenage daughters were killed at the Florida high school and are now running for seats on their county’s school board.
“I’m sure you'll continue to see more parents like myself who are losing their children standing up. It's just going to happen,” McBath said.
If Georgia’s 6th district sounds familiar, that’s because a special election there last year was widely reported on and viewed as a barometer of public opinion on President Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton nearly turned the district blue in 2016, losing by less than two percentage points to Trump in a district that hasn’t been represented by a Democrat in Congress since 1979.
Democratic hopes were defeated by Republican Rep. Karen Handel, who beat opponent Jon Ossoff and made history by becoming Georgia’s first ever woman to represent the state in Congress. Since that June 2017 special election, however, Democratic enthusiasm has led to pickups in states like Pennsylvania and Alabama.
“We know the eyes and ears of the nation are here, we’re really trying to make sure that democracy works here in our state and make sure that it works for everybody,” McBath said. “At least I am,” the candidate added with a laugh.
McBath will face three other Democratic candidates on Tuesday: former TV news anchor Bobby Kaple, businessman Kevin Abel and management consultant Steve Knight Griffin. Kaple, who had $290,000 in the bank at the end of the pre-primary reporting period, has the endorsement of Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, and numerous prominent Democrats in the state.
McBath finished the pre-primary reporting period with about $69,000 in the bank but recently received a donation a large $540,000 donation from Everytown for Gun Violence for television ads.
Georgia is a red state, which makes it a tough for a candidate running on a platform of stricter gun control.
But Georgia is also a state that faces more firearms deaths than the national average. In 2016, 1,571 people died in Georgia from firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — bringing the rate of deaths to 15 per every 100,000 residents. The national average in 2016 was 11.8 per 100,000 population.
But McBath is adamant that she is not an anti-gun candidate. According to her campaign, McBath wants background checks for all gun sales, the defeat of conceal carry reciprocity, a higher minimum age of purchase and laws that ban domestic abusers and criminals from buying guns.
“The thing about it is that I'm not against guns. I’m not against the Second Amendment. I’m not against law-abiding gun owners and hunters owning their guns,” she said.
What she is against, she said, is people who “want to use their guns in a way that is criminal.”
“We have to get a grip on keeping the guns out of hands of people who should not have them,” McBath said.
Throughout her campaign, she’s tried to push back on claims that she’s a one-issue candidate. Knowing what it's like to lose a son, she said, she can understand other issues that hurt families – such as immigration and the fear of losing someone to deportation.
“I know what it's like to tear families apart from gun violence — we shouldn’t be doing that with immigration,” McBath said.
Other parts of her platform are inspired by her experience raising her son and being a single mother. At one point, she was so disappointed in the education system she decided she had to homeschool him.
“I recognized my neighborhood wasn't going to be able to give Jordan the education I wanted him to have,” she said.
“So, yes, guns is a huge part of my platform,” McBath said. “But it's not the only part of my platform because a lot of what I’m talking about I’ve experienced myself. That’s been my reality.”
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is forcefully pushing back on a report that asserts that President Donald Trump’s cell phones are not equipped with sufficiently advanced security features and that the president has resisted efforts to swap out the phones as frequently as they should be.
“The White House is confident in the security protocols in place for the President’s use of communications devices,” a senior White House official told ABC News.
POLITICO reported Monday that the president has resisted efforts to swap out his phone on a monthly basis because it was inconvenient. While the White House declined to say exactly how frequently the president’s devices are rotated, citing security concerns, the senior official stressed that the process is routine and regular.
“The president has accepted every device and process related to mobile phones recommended by White House Information Technology,” the official said.
The president uses at least two separate devices at any given time, according to the White House, with one device being used specifically for Twitter and a separate device used for making calls.
“The call-capable phones are seamlessly swapped out on a regular basis through routine support operations,” said the official, who noted that the phone used for tweeting does not have to be swapped out with as much frequency as the phone for calls.
“Because of the security controls of the Twitter phone and the Twitter account, it does not necessitate regular change out,” the official said.
The POLITICO report further asserted that the president’s cell phone security procedures are a break from the protocols followed by his predecessors. But a White House official insisted that, due to the fast-paced evolution in cell phone technology and security, comparisons can’t be fairly drawn between President Trump’s phone security protocols and those utilized during the Obama-era.
“Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama era devices,” the official said.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats could ask the Department of Justice to prosecute Blackwater founder Erik Prince on charges he misled Congress about his relationship with the Trump campaign, amid new reports about foreign efforts to influence the campaign, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Monday In an interview with ABC News.
Schiff said Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are weighing whether to send criminal referrals to the Justice Department for several witnesses they believe lied in testimony in the panel’s Russia investigation.
“We are in the process of doing our research into how we ought to handle the situation when we’re concerned people testified falsely to the committee,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in an interview to ABC News, adding that criminal referrals could “potentially” be one way Democrats handle the issue.
Prince arranged and attended an August 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., an adviser to the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and an Israeli social media specialist who had an offer to help the Trump campaign, according to a New York Times report confirmed by ABC News.
Two sources familiar with the meeting told ABC News that Prince arranged the Trump Tower huddle just weeks before Election Day. A spokesman for Prince, who is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' brother. declined to comment on the meeting.
Prince, speaking to the committee behind closed doors in November of 2017, told lawmakers he had only met Trump Jr. "at a campaign event" during the election, and “played no official, or, really, unofficial role” with the Trump campaign, according to a transcript released by the committee.
“If the allegations are true that there was this second Trump Tower meeting that Erik Prince participated in, then clearly he wasn’t forthcoming with our committee,” Schiff said.
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who led the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, declined to comment on questions about Prince’s testimony and said he wasn’t familiar with reports of the August 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
This isn't the first time Prince's testimony to Congress has been questioned: Previously, special counsel Robert Mueller obtained evidence that Prince's January 2017 meeting with a Russian financier in the Seychelles was more than the casual encounter over drinks he described to lawmakers, sources told ABC News.
Prince told congressional investigators he didn’t travel to the Seychelles “to meet any Russian guy” and testified that his trip was there for a meeting with officials from the United Arab Emirates about future business opportunities.
George Nader, a well-connected Lebanese-American businessman, has told Mueller’s investigators that he set up Prince’s meeting with Kiril Dmitriev, the CEO of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, and briefed Prince on Dmitriev in New York City before Prince traveled to Africa for the meeting, sources familiar with the investigation said.
“If the previous allegations that George Nader set up the meeting in the Seychelles for the purpose of Prince meeting with this Russian banker, if those allegations are true then clearly Prince testified falsely before our committee,” Schiff said.
Republicans have already issued criminal referrals to DOJ for Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey and former British spy Christopher Steele, among others associated with the presidential campaign and Russia probe.
Even if Democrats decide to ask DOJ to prosecute witnesses -- lying to Congress is a federal crime that comes with up to five years in prison -- the department isn’t required to take up a referral. Anyone can make a criminal referral, but the decision to launch an investigation still rests with federal prosecutors.
But the Justice Department has prosecuted individuals for allegedly lying to Congress in the past, including former pitcher Roger Clemens and Reagan national security adviser John Poindexter.
Clemens, who was charged with lying to lawmakers in 2008 for claiming he never used performance-enhancing drugs, was acquitted four years later of all charges. Poindexter’s conviction for lying to Congress about elements of the Iran-Contra scandal was overturned by a federal appeals court.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Democratic Party is still getting its footing this primary season in its quest to capitalize on a favorable political environment and retake the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and governorships across the country this November.
When voters in Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia and Texas head to the polls Tuesday, some of the more contentious battles Democrats have been fighting this year will finally be settled. The results will provide insights into a key debate within the Democratic Party as the midterms draw near: should the focus be on inspiring the base or winning over independents?
Expensive and high-profile primaries for U.S. House seats have been raging from suburban Houston to central Kentucky to the same Georgia district where Democrats narrowly failed to flip the seat that once belonged to President Trump's former Secretary of Health and Human Services -- Tom Price.
In Texas, runoff elections for a number of competitive U.S. House seats will be settled, including in the three GOP-held congressional districts Hillary Clinton captured in the 2016 presidential election. Observers will likely keep the closest eye on Texas' 7th Congressional District -- where Democrats Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and Laura Moser will square off one last time in a race marred by clumsy meddling by the campaign arm of national Democrats.
Also in Georgia, a state national Democrats have been trying to turn blue on the presidential level in recent years, the gubernatorial race highlights tensions in both parties, with Democrats divided between two women with the same first name and Republicans grappling with ultra-conservative candidates talking up their conservative credentials and undying loyalty to President Trump. With crowded primaries aplenty, many races in the state are expected to move to runoff elections in July.
Here is a closer look at some of Tuesday's key races.
A messy Democratic primary in suburban Houston comes to a head
All eyes were on TX-07 in the state’s March primary and the outcome of the runoff will continue to be a crucial barometer of the sentiments of Democratic voters. In Houston’s 7th Congressional District, Democrats are hoping to flip a House seat the GOP has held for 50 years in a district that is at the center of immigration, changing demographics and hurricane reconstruction. It’s one of three districts that Clinton marginally won in the 2016 election which has led it to be a top target amongst the Democratic party.
TX-07 Two democrats – former journalist Laura Moser and lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher – will go head to head in the May runoff in hopes of unseating Rep. John Culberson, who is running for re-election.
This district made national headlines when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee came out against Moser, a progressive candidate from its own party. In the organization's website post, Moser was described as a “Washington insider who begrudgingly moved to Houston to run for Congress.”
The organization also cited an article in which she reportedly stated she would rather have her teeth pulled out without anesthesia than live in Texas, a comment Moser says was taken out of context. Despite the attacks, Moser advanced in the runoffs.
“In an electorate where many people were voting as much to cast a vote against President Trump as to choose a nominee, Moser served as a great vehicle for that protest,” Rice political science professor Mark Jones said. This race exemplifies “the growing civil war within the Democratic party nationally,” Jones explained.
Since then, it seems the DCCC has quieted its attacks.
“It seemed to many voters here, both Fletcher and Moser supporters that it was unjustified,” Stein said.
While the organization has identified the district as competitive they have not backed a specific candidate in its “Red to Blue” program which sets out to arm candidates with organizational and fundraising support.
Moser is seen as a Democrat who will promote and advocate for a progressive agenda while Fletcher is more to the center. Many Democrats are worried that if Moser advances past the runoff, her views are too progressive to win against Culberson in the November election.
“If Democratic voters are inclined to vote with their hearts and vote for Moser, they’re likely to undercut their ability to defeat John Culberson in the fall. If voters vote with their head instead of their hearts then they’ve increased their possibility of defeating John Culberson in November and eventually helping Democrats retake the majority in the House,” Jones said. But Moser sees it differently “I believe if you stand strong on progressive values you will get more people to the polls,” she told ABC News following the DCCC’s attack.
Another thing to watch in this district is how much the recent shooting at Santa Fe High School will drive voters to the polls.
“More than half of the votes in the runoff have already been cast,” Jones pointed out.
While early voter turnout was high leading up to the primary, political analysts are only expecting six percent of registered voters to participate in the runoff.
“If any of the progressive gun control activists in the Democratic party start turning out, Moser might see a last-minute surge there,” Stein said.
Regardless of which candidate takes the race – a woman will be challenging Culberson in the fall highlighting the so-called “pink wave” and spike in female candidates running for office.
“We have an unprecedented amount of women competing for high profile positions on the Democratic side. It’s pretty much business as usual on the Republican side with a scattering of women no real increase and also a pretty small number,” Jones said.
Georgia governor primaries present a test for both parties
Regardless of the winner in Georgia's Democratic primary for governor on Tuesday, history will be made when the party nominates its first female candidate for governor in the state's history. It just so happens that that woman will have the same first name no matter who comes out victorious.
Stacey Abrams, the African-American former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, has been locked in a tight battle with former Georgia State Representative Stacey Evans, who is white.
Abrams has the support of a number of prominent black political leaders in the state, including U.S. congressmen John Lewis, Hank Johnson and David Scott. Abrams also has the backing of U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California, and Hillary Clinton recently recorded a robocall in support of her according to the New York Times.
The daughter of a poor, single mother, she went to college using a popular state scholarship granted to every Georgia high-schooler who graduates with a B average, Evans has portrayed herself as the more centrist option in the race. She has the backing of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former Atlanta mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, and Elaine Lucas, whose husband David is the longest-serving member in the Georgia General Assembly.
On the Republican side, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has been the presumptive front-runner for months but is also fending off insurgent primary challengers who have embraced President Trump and are offering up heaps of red meat to Georgia Republican primary voters. State Senator Michael Williams has been making noise by driving around the state in a "Deportation Bus" to show his support for Trump's immigration policy, while Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is airing ads highlighting his support for the Second Amendment, much to the concern of one young man who is interested in dating Kemp's daughter.
Cagle made national news with his forceful response to Delta Airlines' decision to end its relationship with the National Rifle Association. In response to Delta's move, Cagle threatened to end a tax break for the company, which is based in Atlanta.
Two Kentucky Democrats battle to lead party's push into red America
Openly gay Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and former U.S. Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath have been fiercely battling to lead the party's push into redder districts and potentially unseat GOP Congressman Andy Barr in this central Kentucky district.
McGrath burst onto the national political scene with her campaign announcement video that highlighted her barrier-breaking career as the first woman to fly an F-18 in combat. Gray has the benefit of being a known commodity to 6th Congressional District voters. He has been the Mayor of Lexington since 2011 and ran statewide in 2016 in an unsuccessful bid against Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul.
The candidates have sparred over who is the "establishment" pick in the race.
While the national party has not officially weighed in on the race, McGrath has attempted to portray Gray as the party's preferred choice. Gray calls claims that he is the "establishment" candidate in the race "delusional."
While Gray may be familiar to voters in the 6th district, LGBTQ individuals make up just 1.3 percent of Members of Congress, according to Nathan Gonzales, the Editor and Publisher of Inside Elections, a non-partisan outlet that analyzes U.S House, Senate and gubernatorial races.
In the last days of the campaign, Gray has launched a TV ad painting McGrath as a carpetbagger who has never lived in the district. Gray also told ABC News in an interview last week that McGrath's large amount of out-of-state campaign donations indicate that she is "new to Kentucky."
Other key races to watch on Tuesday
Texas' 23rd Congressional District
Immigration is taking center stage in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District which stretches from San Antonio to the Mexico border immigration. Rep. Will Hurd, who won reelection in 2016 by only 1.3 points, has earned a reputation for bipartisanship and working across the aisle, including with Rep. Pete Aguilar, a Democrat, on "Dreamer" legislation.
Gina Ortiz Jones, a gay Air Force veteran, is looking to defeat Rick Treviño, a progressive teacher in the Democratic runoff. If she succeeds she would become the first Filipina-American congresswoman. Ortiz Jones has outraised Treviño $1.2 million to $49,000. While she didn’t garner more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, she did beat Trevino 41 percent to 17 percent.
Texas' 32nd Congressional District
This suburban Dallas district represented by longtime GOP Rep. Pete Sessions is the third and final district Hillary Clinton managed to win in the 2016 election. Sessions has held the seat since 2003, and the House Rules Committee chairman has proved himself a prolific fundraiser and strong campaigner over the years.
Former NFL player Collin Allred, who is part of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's (DCCC) "Red to Blue" program for top-tier candidates, is hoping to defeat former Obama administration Agriculture Department staffer Lillian Salerno. Salerno is endorsed by EMILY's List and is hoping to join the field of 12 women that already advanced to November during the first round of primaries back in March.
Texas governor Democratic primary
Onto the race for governor in the state. Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott won the Republican nomination for governor. Democratic candidates Lupe Valdez, a former sheriff who identifies as a gay Latina and Andrew White, the son of former Gov. Mark White.
“Andrew White comes from a much more conservative part of the Democratic party. Most people like Andrew White are Republicans in Texas not Democrats,” Jones said. As White has tried to move more towards the center, it’s not sticking with Democrats, Jones explains. “He has not convinced the Democratic elite who are sticking with Valdez,” he said.
Valdez received 43 percent of the vote in the March primary but political analysts say she has been garnered little support from editorial boards in the state. “All of the major editorial boards who want to support somebody like Lupe Valdez simply could not endorse her because she doesn’t have a grasp of the public policy challenges facing Texas,” Jones said.
Open seats fuel Democratic hopes
Eight members of Texas' congressional delegation decided not to seek re-election to their seats this cycle, which resulted in an influx of candidates in red and blue districts alike.
But even in longtime Republican seats, like the state's 21st Congressional District where GOP Rep. Lamar Smith is retiring, Democrats see an opportunity to expand the 2018 battleground and put more seats in play. Both parties are facing runoffs in the 21st district.
Democrats are choosing between Army veteran and tech entrepreneur Joseph Kopser and social justice activist Mary Street Wilson. Wilson narrowly edged Kopser in the first round of primary voting, but Kopser has massively outpaced her in fundraising. According to FEC records, Kopser has raised nearly $1.2 million this cycle, while Wilson has failed to top $100,000.
The Republican race is between former Chief of Staff to Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz and perennial candidate Matt McCall.
Another open seat to keep an eye on is the state's 27th Congressional District. The seat is currently vacant after GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations, and a June special election in the Corpus Christi congressional seat was called by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Tuesday's runoff is to decide candidates for the November general election but may give an early indication as to which candidates are in the strongest position heading into the summer.
Georgia's 2nd Congressional District
Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop has represented this southwestern Georgia district (that is also the home of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter) in Congress since 1992, is not expected to face a serious race in November. However, Bishop's likely Republican opponent sports a familiar last name to political observers in the south.
Herman West, Jr., a pastor and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is the brother of former Florida Congressman and conservative firebrand Allen West. Like his brother, West does not shy away from embracing staunchly conservative positions on social and economic issues.
"We cannot continue to allow others to dictate our destiny. It is time for all of us, like the Phoenix, to rise up from our mental ashes," West writes on his campaign website, "Together we must rebuild our lives to make this district great again."
Georgia's 6th Congressional District
Democrats are eyeing the 6th Congressional District, situated in the affluent suburbs north of Atlanta, as a possible pickup opportunity in 2018. Incumbent GOP Rep. Karen Handel narrowly won a 2017 special election over Democrat Jon Ossoff. Handel now faces a potentially tougher race in a year where Democrats have begun to translate their motivated base into electoral progress, winning a special election in Pennsylvania and narrowing the gap in deep red districts across the country.
Four Democrats are hoping to nab the nomination — former TV news anchor Bobby Kaple, businessman Kevin Abel, businesswoman and social justice activist Lucy McBath and management consultant Steve Knight Griffin. Kaple has the endorsement of Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, and numerous prominent Democrats in the state, while McBath — who lost her son to gun violence in 2012 and is an activist for gun control — has the backing of EMILY’s List.
Everytown for Gun Safety recently placed a $540,000 ad buy in support of McBath, who is a national spokeswoman for the organization, hoping to boost her chances of heading to a July runoff.
Georgia's 7th Congressional District
The other suburban Atlanta district held by a Republican in Congress, the state's 7th district is the site of another competitive and crowded Democratic primary. Six Democrats are vying for the nomination to try and unseat GOP Rep. Rob Woodall.
Georgia State University professor Carolyn Bourdeaux has the endorsement of EMILY's List, an outside group that supports female candidates for office and has found considerable success in Pennsylvania and elsewhere this cycle.
Bourdeaux's main opponents on Tuesday include businessman David Kim and attorney Ethan Pham, who have raised $755,000 and $362,000 this cycle respectively, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.
Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District
While Arkansas' Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson is up for re-election this year and facing a primary challenger, most expect him to cruise through the fall in this deeply red state that backed President Trump by 27 points in the 2016 presidential election.
The only race expected to be competitive this cycle is in the state's 2nd Congressional District, where national Democrats are eyeing the Little Rock-based seat currently held by GOP Rep. French Hill.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has added State Representative Clarke Tucker to the "Red to Blue" program for top-tier candidates in a sign that they believe he is their best shot to flip the seat and add another ripple to the "blue wave" that could sweep them back into power in the House. Clarke has raised over $600,000 according to filings with the FEC, further bolstering the argument that he is in the best position to beat Hill in November.
Tucker faces a trio of more liberal primary challengers, including two teachers in Gwen Combs and Paul Spencer.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.b
Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain is nothing if not outspoken.
And the Arizona Republican is true to his reputation in his new book, "The Restless Wave: Good times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations," in which he provides insights into his historic 2008 presidential race against Barack Obama, his thoughts on Donald Trump's presidency, and his hopes for a return to "regular order" in American politics.
Here are some key takeaways:
McCain suggests his garbled questioning of Comey was related to his brain tumor
In June 2017, former FBI Director James Comey was testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
McCain had just returned from a multi-nation overseas congressional delegation trip just days before Comey was to testify. As an ex-officio member of the committee, McCain was given the courtesy of asking Comey questions at the end of the hearing.
“Something was off. I didn't know exactly what. Fatigue mainly. I felt unusually tired," McCain writes in his memoir, rehashing the days leading up to the hearing.
At one point during the hearing, McCain made a reference to "President Comey." McCain's bizarre performance confused not only viewers but seemingly Comey himself.
"Something happened between reading the question and asking it," McCain writes. "To this day, I'm really not sure what caused it. But as was widely noted at the time, I was incomprehensible. It was a high-profile hearing, carried live by the cable news networks. My strange performance was the focus of commentary on cable and fuel for Twitter. I felt embarrassed for myself and sorry for confusing Comey. It was one of the more mortifying experiences of my public career. Even now, I wince at the memory of it."
At the time, McCain's staff said he had stayed up late watching an Arizona Diamondbacks game.
But in his memoir, McCain suggests his garbled questioning was related to the glioblastoma, which was undiagnosed at the time.
McCain said he tried to "put the whole thing down to a bad bout of jet lag," but "a small concern nagged at me."
Just a few weeks later, a regular physical at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale revealed the need for immediate cranial surgery, which led to his brain-cancer diagnoses.
Steele dossier critics "can go to hell"
McCain acknowledged in January 2017 that he delivered a dossier of "sensitive information" to then-FBI Director Comey.
McCain writes that he "did what duty demanded I do" in passing on the documents.
"I discharged that obligation, and I would do it again. Anyone who doesn't like it can go to hell," McCain said.
"I agreed to receive a copy of what is now referred to as 'the dossier.' I reviewed its contents. The allegations were disturbing, but I had no idea which if any were true. I could not independently verify any of it, and so I did what any American who cares about our nation's security should have done," he writes.
McCain recounts how he put the dossier in a safe in his office and called Comey's office to request a meeting: "I went to see him at his earliest convenience, handed him the dossier, explained how it had come into my possession."
"I said I didn't know what to make of it, and I trusted the FBI would examine it carefully and investigate its claims. With that, I thanked the director and left. The entire meeting had probably not lasted longer than ten minutes. I did what duty demanded I do," McCain concludes.
McCain regrets not tapping Joe Lieberman as his VP candidate
During the 2008 presidential campaign, McCain was set on picking his friend, Joe Lieberman, the Democratic-turned-Independent senator from Connecticut, as his running mate.
He was eventually talked out of the idea by campaign advisers.
"The reality of Republican politics set in. Even were Joe to give assurances that he would be duty bound to uphold my positions on all issues were he to assume the presidency, it wouldn't stop the intraparty brawl that would be the only story coming out of the Republican convention, and would dominate coverage of our campaign in the critical first weeks of the fall campaign," McCain writes.
"They were giving me their best counsel. It was sound advice that I could reason for myself," McCain writes. "But my gut told me to ignore it, and I wished I had. America's security and standing in the world were my principal concerns and the main reason, other than personal ambition, that I ran for President. Joe and I share those priorities, and on most related issues we agree on how best to serve them. I completely trusted, liked, and worked well with Joe."
After his advisers convinced him to nix the idea of tapping Lieberman, McCain writes, "I sulked about it for a little while."
When his advisers raised the possibility of running with Sarah Palin, McCain writes, "I was intrigued."
Despite Palin’s widely-panned performance on the campaign trail, McCain defends her.
"She stumbled in some interviews, and had a few misjudgments in the glare of the ceaseless spotlight and unblinking cameras," McCain writes. "Those missteps, too, are on me. She didn't put herself on the ticket. I did. I asked her to go through an experience that was wearing me down, that wears every candidate down. I made mistakes and misjudgments, too."
This will be McCain’s final term
"This is my last term," he writes.
"If I hadn’t admitted that to myself before this summer, a stage 4 cancer diagnosis acts as ungentle persuasion," McCain continues.
The senator was re-elected in 2016. Senators serve six-year terms.
McCain has spent the last several months in his home state of Arizona recuperating from the side effects of brain-cancer treatment. He was admitted to the hospital in April after undergoing surgery to treat an intestinal infection related to diverticulitis. His office confirmed he is now in stable condition and resting at home.
"I don't know how much longer I'll be here. Maybe I'll have another five years. Maybe with the advances in oncology, they'll find new treatments for my cancer that will extend my life," he writes.
"Maybe I'll be gone before you hear this," he added. "I’m freer than colleagues who will face the voters again. I can speak my mind without fearing the consequences much. And I can vote my conscience without worry. I don't think I'm free to disregard my constituents' wishes, far from it. I don't feel excused from keeping pledges I made. Nor do I wish to harm my party's prospects. But I do feel a pressing responsibility to give Americans my best judgment."
Obama called McCain to thank him for his "thumbs down" vote on health care
McCain details how he received a phone call from Obama following his now-famous "thumbs down" vote on Senate Republicans' attempt to repeal Obama's signature health care law last July.
"Among the people who called to thank me was President Obama," McCain writes.
"I appreciated his call, but, as I said, my purpose hadn't been to preserve his signature accomplishment but to insist on a better alternative, and to give the Senate an opportunity to work together to find one," he writes.
"He hadn't called to lobby me before the vote, which I had appreciated. He had last called me not long after the November election, during the transition to the Trump administration, to congratulate me on my re-election. He added that he was counting on me to be an outspoken and independent voice for the causes I believed in as I had been during his presidency. I thanked him, and said I would try to be."
McCain takes sharp jabs at Trump
In his memoir, McCain has blistering criticisms of Donald Trump's presidency, from his lack of empathy for immigrants and refugees to his praise for "some of the world's worst tyrants."
"I'm not sure what to make of President Trump's convictions," McCain writes. "His lack of empathy for refugees, innocent, persecuted, desperate men, women, and children, is disturbing. The way he speaks about them is appalling, as if welfare or terrorism were the only purposes they could have in coming to our country.
"He has declined to distinguish the actions of our government from the crimes of despotic ones. The appearance of toughness, or a reality show facsimile of toughness, seems to matter more than any of our values. The world expects us to be concerned with the condition of humanity. We should be proud of that reputation. I’m not sure the president understands that."
But McCain writes that "before I leave I'd like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations.
"I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different."
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.