ABC News(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- The longest-serving Independent senator in U.S. history, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, kicked-off his presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination Tuesday with a colorful and lively event in Burlington.
With blue-grass music, tie-dye and free ice cream, the afternoon event felt half like a summer festival and half like a political rally.
A self-identified "Democratic Socialist," Sanders is known on Capitol Hill for speaking about income inequality and higher tax rates for corporations and the nation’s top earners. Sanders wasted little time getting to his favorite issues.
“Today, we say clearly enough is enough,” he said. “This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not just a handful of billionaires.”
“There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much as wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This has got to change and, as your president, together we will change it," Sanders said.
In addition to campaign finance reform, Sanders made sure to hit on other hot-button progressive issues too, including equal pay for women and climate change.
When asked why they like him, many of the more than 5,000 Sanders fans gathered were quick to point to trustworthiness. Some said they feel like they know him. One of the senator’s first -- and most fun -- endorsements came from Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s, the popular Vermont-based ice cream company.
Speaking at the event, Cohen reiterated this idea of authenticity.
“Unlike some other Johnny-come-latelys, Bernie is the real thing. He has been saying the same thing and doing the same thing for 30 years,” Cohen said.
Kathy Granai, who works in Burlington, where Sanders was mayor for four terms, agreed. “He is speaking the truth,” she said. “He is the only one willing to say what’s what and what matters.”
Another Burlington local, Jacob Albee, said the question of trustworthiness was the reason he preferred Sanders to Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state.
“He is willing to speak the truth when others are unwilling,” Albee said. “I don’t think she speaks the truth."
During the rally, Sanders said his campaign was not about him, “Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush,” but “the needs of the American people.”
“As someone who has never ran a never negative political ad in my life. My campaign will not be run by political gossip. These are serious times, we need serious debates," he said.
While Sanders might be the best known politician here, he is relatively unknown in other parts of the country. He is polling in single digits nationwide. The Sanders team said its strategy for breaking through will focus on small, town hall-style events.
For supporters of Sanders, it’s about the rest of the country meeting the Bernie they know and love.
“For those of us that have been sitting on the sidelines, finally a candidate worth voting for,” Cohen said. “Sometimes the underdog wins.”
marcnorman/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -– More than 100,000 taxpayers may of had some of their private information stolen from IRS computers during this tax season.
The agency said on Tuesday that sophisticated thieves managed to steal some of that information outside the IRS to get in and get illegal refunds.
According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the thieves got into their system through the front door, using social security and other numbers they found outside the IRS.
The thieves reportedly used an online service provided by the agency to gain access to information from more than one-hundred-thousand taxpayers. The service called “Get Transcript” has been temporarily shut down.
The commissioner told reporters in a teleconference that “of the 200,000 that tried and the 104,000 that got through, it’s likely that it’s gonna turn out that fewer than 15,000 fraudulent returns made it through as a result of this activity.”
The majority of the breaches happened from mid-February to mid-May when it was discovered.
Commissioner Koskinen reassured reporters on a conference call on Tuesday that his agency is getting better at detecting fraud, but it’s not perfect.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is not disputing Defense Secretary Ash Carter's contention that the Iraqi Army lacks the will to fight.
“Well, that certainly has been a problem we’ve seen in the past; that's what allowed ISIL to make such significant gains last summer,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told ABC News in Tuesday’s press briefing when pressed on whether the White House agreed with Carter's assessment about why Ramadi, the capital city of Iraq’s largest province, fell to ISIS.
Carter said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, “What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not out-numbered but in fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight.”
It initially appeared Monday that Vice President Joe Biden was patching up Carter's remark by placing a call to Iraq’s prime minister to “reaffirm U.S. support” and recognize “the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces.” But there was no hint of an apology in Tuesday's briefing.
“What the Iraqi government has acknowledged is that the setback that they experienced in Ramadi was at least in part attributable to a breakdown in some military command and planning,” Earnest told reporters on Tuesday.
Earnest did not directly answer the question when asked whether the president agreed with Carter and instead listed a variety of factors that he said contributed to a weak security situation in Ramadi.
“The first is that the Iraqi security forces who were fighting in Ramadi and had been fighting in Ramadi didn’t have benefit of the training of the US and our coalition partners,” Earnest said. “There were clearly, as the Iraqis have indicated, some military command and planning problems that occurred. And we saw a pretty effective tactic used by ISIL, and all of that led to a not unsubstantial setback in Ramadi.”
The White House press secretary went on to praise the offensive launched by Iraq Tuesday morning to reclaim western Anbar province but reiterated the administration’s intention to stay the course with its supporting role.
“This is not something the United States is willing to do for the Iraqi people,” Earnest said. “And the Iraqi central government, Prime Minister Abadi has made crystal clear on a number of occasions, he doesn't want anybody to step in and do this for them.”
US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- As popular Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain seeks a sixth term in the U.S. Senate, a potential Democratic opponent emerged on Tuesday after Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a three-term lawmaker from Flagstaff, entered the race.
"In Arizona we tell it straight, so let’s get right to it,” Kirkpatrick said in a campaign video announcement. “I’m announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate. I love this state."
McCain, who would turn 80 before Election Day, is unlikely to draw any Republican House members into a primary -- but facing off against Kirkpatrick, who is well-funded, could possibly prove to be a tough race for the former Republican presidential nominee.
Later in the video announcement, Kirkpatrick, 65, addressed the elephant in the room.
"I respect John McCain’s service to our nation. I just believe our state’s changing,” she said. “Arizonans should have a real choice who they send to the United States Senate."
A McCain spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kirkpatrick’s candidacy was received with open arms by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
“Since 2008 John McCain has supported plans to gut Medicare and Social Security, repeatedly voted to shut down the government, and been the bitter, angry face of Washington's partisan dysfunction,” Justin Barasky, communications director for the DSCC, said. “If John McCain wins the Arizona GOP nomination, Democrats are committed to running a strong campaign against him.”
As for Arizona's first congressional district that Kirkpatrick leaves open? It is certain to be one of the most hotly contested House races of the 2016 cycle, but Democrats believe that a presidential election year will increase voter turnout to their benefit.
“Democrats know what it takes to win in this district, as we have proven repeatedly,” Matt Thornton of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said. “We are confident we will have a strong candidate who will keep this district in the Democratic column in 2016.”
News of Kirkpatrick’s Senate candidacy was first reported by Roll Call.
Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department on Tuesday is expected to file its schedule for releasing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails as requested by a judge last week.
The judge requested the department release them in batches every 60 days, and on Tuesday, we should find out when that will start.
Campaign reporters and Clinton have been demanding to know when the emails would finally be made public.
The State Department’s Office of Information Programs and Services and its lawyers -- better known as the FOIA office, which stands for Freedom of Information Act -- have been tasked with sorting, reading, redacting and reviewing paper copies of what now amounts to hundreds of thousands of pages of documents.
They’ve established a full-time staff, with one project manager, two case analysts, nine FOIA reviewers and a slew of additional information analysts who have been working since April.
The text they must analyze includes 55,000 pages encompassing more than 30,000 emails from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account, spanning from 2009 to 2013.
They’ve also been tasked with first finding and then reviewing any all documents and communications from all of 2011 and 2012 authored by or sent to 10 separate senior State Department officials having anything to do with Libya (and not limited to Benghazi).
Mark Wilson/Getty Images(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- Vermont Sen. and Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders will hold a campaign kick-off event in Vermont Tuesday evening.
“My hometown of Burlington and the people of Vermont have a special place in my heart,” Sanders said in a statement. “There is nowhere else in the world where I would hold an event this important.”
According to his campaign, the event will feature free Ben and Jerry's ice cream and music by Mango Jam, the Vermont Zydeco/Cajun band. But along with the ice cream, Sanders, who describes himself as a “Democratic socialist,” will also be serving up some big ideas this week too.
“The formal kickoff will set the stage for the campaign to come. I will lay out an ‘Agenda for America’ which addresses the major crises we face and a vision of a government which works for all of our people and not just the billionaire class,” the senator said.
The White House hopeful plans to campaign in New Hampshire and Iowa this week.
Feng Li/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “H” swag is now officially for sale.
Hillary for America launched its online store Tuesday morning for supporters to buy “everyday gear” -- sweatshirts, tee-shirts, mugs, pillows, signs, etc. -- to show support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.
Many of the products they’re selling have the “H” logo on them. Among the offerings: “The Everyday Pansuit Tee”; “The Trailblazer Tee” (Reads: "...let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all."); “The Future Voter Onesie”; “Stitch by Stich Throwpillow" (Reads: “A Woman’s place is in the White House”).
According to the campaign, all of the products offered are 100 percent American made, and the people modeling the store items are all Hillary for America staff (one exception being the onesie, which is modeled by the baby of a staff member).
ABC News(CHAPPAQUA, N.Y.) -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took a short break from the campaign trail on Monday to participate in her favorite Memorial Day tradition: the annual New Castle Memorial Day Parade in Chappaqua, New York.
Clinton, who loves the parade (like “really, really, really” loves it), was joined this year by her husband, Bill Clinton -- marking their first public appearance together since the announcement of her presidential campaign.
The two arrived in Clinton’s famous Scooby van just before 11 a.m., when the parade was scheduled to start, and were instantly swarmed by crowds of locals, young and old, clamoring for a moment with their town’s most famous couple.
“Hi! Oh, hi! Hi! So good to see you! Mwah!” Clinton called out as one after the next, she greeted friends and neighbors.
The crowds were eventually asked to step aside so the Clintons could take their position at the front of the parade, where they walked alongside friends and other local elected officials.
“It's a wonderful tradition,” Clinton said as she began walking. “Obviously it happens in towns and cities across our country but it's a good way to remember our veterans particularly those who gave their lives or were grievously injured, and we just need to, you know, make sure that it continues from year to year, generation to generation."
Hillary Clinton has attended the parade nearly every single year since she and Bill Clinton moved into the town, about an hour north of New York City, in 1999 -- and it’s something she does not like to miss no matter what.
"I put this on my calendar every year, and I basically tell my staff I really, really, really want to do this," the then-secretary of state told the New York Times on Memorial Day in 2012. "So unless there's some crisis of significant proportions, I'll be here, and I've had a few crises where I've had to take phone calls as I've marched."
This year, Clinton was greeted by crowds cheering their support for 2016, some even wearing t-shirts reading: “It Takes a Village: Chappaqua for Hillary.”
But when asked by a reporter about the signs of support along the parade route, Clinton didn’t engage.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama honored the sacrifice of U.S. servicemen and women Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, the first Memorial Day observance where the country "is not engaged in a major ground war" and the 70th since the end of World War II, the president said.
Here are the five most powerful moments from the president's speech:
1. On Arlington National Cemetery
"My fellow Americans, this hallowed ground is more than the final resting place of heroes; it is a reflection of America itself. It's a reflection of our history: the wars we've waged for democracy, the peace we've laid to preserve it. It's a reflection of our diversity: men and women of all backgrounds, all races and creeds and circumstances and faiths, willing to defend and die for the ideals that bind us as one nation."
2. On serving in the military
"Most Americans don't fully see, don't fully understand the sacrifice made by the one percent who serve in this all-volunteer armed forces - a sacrifice that preserves the freedoms we too often take for granted. Few know that it's like to take a bullet for a buddy, or to live with the fact that he or she took one for you."
3. On sacrifice
"These sons and daughters, these brothers and sisters who lay down their lives for us - they belong to us all. They're our children, too. We benefit from their light, their positive influence on the world."
4. On honoring service in the U.S. military
"It's our duty, our eternal obligation, to be there for them too; to make sure our troops always have what they need to carry out the mission; to make sure we care for all those who have served; to make sure we honor all those whom we've lost." 5. On America's debt to fallen U.S. soldiers
"The Americans who rest beneath these beautiful hills and in sacred ground across our country and around the world, they are why our nation endures. Each simple stone marker arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay. But it is a debt well never stop trying to fully repay, by remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice. By living our own lives the way the fallen lived theirs - a testament that greater love has no other than this than to lay down your life for your friends."
Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden spent his Memorial Day morning taking selfies with veterans before sending them off on their annual “Ride 2 Recovery” bike ride.
Billy Gadbury/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As tourists packed the National Mall during a busy Memorial Day weekend, a parked vehicle with several suspicious items inside alarmed a Capitol Police patrol unit enough to dispatch a bomb squad and shutdown part of downtown Washington for several hours, authorities said.
Officers on routine patrol late Sunday afternoon observed a parked and unoccupied vehicle that it described as “suspicious in nature," just blocks from the Capitol where a crowd was gathering for the National Memorial Day Concert.
U.S. Capitol Police say its Hazardous Devices Section was called to investigate and ultimately disrupted the suspicious vehicle, triggering a loud band that echoed throughout the Mall.
U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider confirmed that there was a pressure cooker located inside the vehicle, but it was ultimately deemed not to be hazardous.
“The USCP bomb squad safely disrupted the items of concern in the vehicle including the pressure cooker, at about 7:45 p.m., and performed a thorough hand search,” Schneider wrote in a news release Sunday evening. “At about 8:20 p.m., the USCP concluded its investigation of the suspicious vehicle with negative results and nothing hazardous found.”
The owner of the vehicle was located and identified as Israel Shimeles of Alexandria, Virginia. Shimeles was arrested and charged with Operating After Revocation, according to Schneider.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Ohio's Republican Gov. John Kasich said he's "getting closer" to jumping into the 2016 race for the White House, but dismissed the idea of being a vice presidential candidate should he fail to secure the GOP nomination for president.
"Forget it, Jon. I don't play for second," Kasich told ABC News' Jonathan Karl Sunday on This Week.
As he weighs whether to join an already-crowded Republican field for president, Kasich said he was "very optimistic" about his potential campaign, based on his recent visits to early primary states.
"I am very pleased with what we have seen over the course of the last month. I've been very pleased with what I found out on the ground in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan. ... I have to tell you that I'm increasingly optimistic about all of this," Kasich said.
Kasich touted his "deep experience" as both a governor and former leader in Congress as assets in a potential run for the presidency, saying "I'm pretty qualified for this kind of a job."
"I'm the most experienced in the field with being an executive, running a big state like Ohio, dealing with problems like Cleveland; at the same time being in Congress, balancing the budget," Kasich said.
"[W]e need somebody who has deep experience, executive experience who has made decisions where there is a bottom line who has a deep knowledge of foreign affairs, because it's pretty clear that America's position in the world is being questioned and it leaves us less secure at home," Kasich added.
Kasich was hesitant to directly criticize his fellow Republicans already running for the nation's highest office, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, when he had the opportunity. But he did take aim at the foreign policy of the sitting president over his strategy to defeat ISIS, calling it "feckless." In recent days the extremist Sunni group has gained control of the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the Syrian city of Palmyra.
"I said months ago that we ought to have a coalition of our Western partners and our -- any of our allies in the Middle East to form a coalition to knock ISIS out. And if that includes American boots on the ground, so be it," Kasich said. "But at the end of the day, you just can't let them continue to make all this progress.
"Look, three big problems," Kasich added. "One, we disbanded the Iraqi army and we have nothing but chaos since we started. Two, we failed to arm the opposition in Syria to push Assad out, which would have been strategic because of the support for Iran and Russia in regard to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. Then we had a red line and we ignored that. And now we find out that over in Syria, they're dropping barrel chlorine bombs on people. So, you know, it's been a feckless foreign policy."
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- ISIS would "of course" use a nuclear weapon if given the chance, House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Mac Thornberry said on Sunday, responding to reports of ISIS claiming they had the resources to acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan within a year.
Despite the reports that ISIS hopes to obtain a nuclear weapon, Thornberry, R-Texas, told ABC News' Jonathan Karl on This Week that the jihadist group has not taken steps yet, saying that there is "no evidence that it has happened."
"Would they do it if they had the opportunity? Of course. Would they use it if they had it? I don't think there's any doubt," Thornberry said.
"We don't wait until they get it before we take action that seriously degrades and destroys ISIS," Thornberry added. "Secondly, we keep pushing at their finances to lower the amount of money they have."
While the White House is arguing that the U.S. is not losing the war against ISIS even as they gained strongholds in the cities of Ramadi in Iraqi and Palmyra in Syria, Thornberry said that ISIS "has a lot of momentum on their side."
"I don't know about the president resists, saying we're losing it. We're not winning. We know that," Thornberry said.
"You see not only ISIS gaining territory in Iraq and in Syria and I think the map, like you showed, gives it very graphically about their territory expanding," he added.
While Thornberry said he would prefer not having U.S. ground troops fight alongside the Iraqi military, he called for greater intelligence capability and on-the-ground advisers to help combat ISIS.
"Some of our military folks believe, however, if we'd had some advisers on the ground we could have called in effective airstrikes, that it would have at least made the battle for Ramadi more competitive," Thornberry said.
"But the other thing we've got to do is improve our intelligence capability," he said.
Thornberry voted earlier this month for the USA Freedom Act, which would have reformed the government's bulk data collection process. The measure was blocked in a late-night vote in the Senate this weekend, leaving the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1.
"We passed what I think is an imperfect bill out of the House, but it's better than letting it expire," he said. "So we need to have that crucial intelligence capability continue."