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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump spoke publicly about embattled Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore for the first time Tuesday, saying of the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him: "You have to listen to him also" and "He totally denies it."

Speaking to reporters on the White House South Lawn before leaving Washington to travel to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday, Trump stopped short of fully endorsing Moore — whose candidacy and two stints as Alabama chief justice attracted controversy even before the sexual impropriety allegations — but attacked Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.

"We don't need a liberal person in there," said Trump. "Jones — I've looked at his record, it's terrible on crime. It's terrible on the border. It's terrible on the military."

The White House earlier said that Trump believes that "the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their senator should be" but added that "if the allegations are true," he believes Moore would step aside.

Trump called attention to the position Moore has taken since the accusations emerged two weeks ago.

"Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That's all I can say. He denies it. By the way, he totally denies it," Trump said.

He teased that he will let reporters know "next week" whether he will campaign for Moore.

Asked if he had a message for women as he addressed the accusations, Trump called it "a very special time because a lot of things are coming out," referring to the numerous public figures who have been accused of sexual misconduct over the past several weeks.

"I think it's very, very good for women," he said. "And I'm very happy a lot of these things are coming out. I'm very happy it's being exposed."

The allegations against Moore began with the publication of a Washington Post report on Nov. 9, in which it was claimed he made sexual advances on a 14-year-old girl in the late 1970s. Moore has since been accused of sexual misconduct by additional women and has had several prominent members of his party call for him to withdraw from the Senate race. Moore has denied all the allegations against him.

Trump was accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women during last year's presidential campaign, claims he has denied.

On the allegations facing Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Trump said he only recently learned about the ones against Conyers and, on Franken, said he would let the senator "speak for himself."

Conyers said in a statement Tuesday that he "expressly and vehemently" denies a report that he harassed a female aide and that the accusation was resolved with an "express denial of liability."


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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is facing a new ethics investigation after denying a report on Tuesday that alleges he sexually harassed a female aide, leading to a five-figure payout funded by taxpayers.

"The committee is aware of public allegations that Representative John Conyers, Jr. may have engaged in sexual harassment of members of his staff, discriminated against certain staff on the basis of age, and used official resources for impermissible personal purposes," Reps. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the chair and ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, announced Tuesday. "The committee ... has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding these allegations."

Conyers, the longest-serving current member in the House of Representatives, said in a statement that he “expressly and vehemently” denies the allegations, which were first reported by Buzzfeed.

On Monday, Buzzfeed published a report that said Conyers' office paid a female aide more than $27,000 as part of a confidentiality agreement to settle a complaint.

In his statement, Conyers, 88, said that his office “resolved the allegations,” though with an “express denial of liability, in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation.”

“The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment,” Conyers said.

Prior to the ethics committee's announcement, several Democrats demanded an investigation, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. -- two of Conyers’ colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee -- as well as Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

“As members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives and to ensure a climate of dignity and respect, with zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying or abuse,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “As I have said before, any credible allegation of sexual harassment must be investigated by the ethics committee.”

Speier called into question the amount of money that is used to settle sexual harassment cases, and whether members have used their taxpayer-funded office budgets “to make settlements under the guise of severance payments."

"If this is true, the amount of taxpayer money used to settle these cases is even higher than the number that’s been provided by the Office of Compliance,” she said.

Lofgren released her own statement on the allegations, writing, “The reports about Congressman Conyers are as serious as they get. The Committee on Ethics should take up this matter immediately with a goal of promptly assessing the validity of the news account. This reported behavior cannot be tolerated in the House of Representatives or anywhere else.”

Conyers pledged to “fully cooperate with an investigation” before the committee's announcement Tuesday afternoon.

“The process must be fair to both the employee and the accused. The current media environment is bringing a much-needed focus to the important issue of preventing harassment in workplaces across the country,” he said. “However, equally important to keep in mind in this particular moment is the principle of due process and that those accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until an investigation establishes otherwise. In our country, we strive to honor this fundamental principle that all are entitled to due process.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the Conyers report “extremely troubling,” and pointed to an ongoing review of “all policies and procedures related to workplace harassment and discrimination.”

“People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination,” Ryan stated.

Although Buzzfeed reports that the settlement was paid during John Boehner’s tenure as House speaker, Boehner spokesman Dave Schnittger said the Ohio Republican was not aware of the Conyers settlement.

"Speaker Boehner was not aware of this,” Schnittger said, adding that he asked Boehner about it on Tuesday.

Pelosi said she was not aware of the settlement.

“The current process includes the signing of non-disclosure agreements by the parties involved. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced legislation that will provide much-needed transparency on these agreements and make other critical reforms,” Pelosi said in a statement. “I strongly support her efforts.”

A spokesman did not immediately say whether Pelosi supports stripping Conyers of his post as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A federal court ordered a halt Tuesday to President Donald Trump's proposed ban of transgender service members from serving in the military.

The court issued a preliminary injunction, which was publicly announced by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is a part of the lawsuit fighting against the ban.

The legal move stops any ban on transgender individuals from serving in or being recruited by the military and allows any transition-related surgeries to take place, if those are a part of the individual's medical plan.

The ACLU views the preliminary injunction as a win.

"Today is a victory for transgender service members across the country," said Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, in a statement. "We’re pleased that the courts have stepped in to ensure that trans service members are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve."

ABC News has reached out to the Pentagon but did not immediately receive a response.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said the department is considering its next move.

“We disagree with the courts ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps. Plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging military service requirements is premature for many reasons, including that the Defense Department is actively reviewing such service requirements, as the president ordered, and because none of the plaintiffs have established that they will be impacted by current policies on military service," Ehrsam said.

In a statement, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley, said: "The president's directive is legal and promotes our national security. The Department of Justice will vigorously defend it."

This is the second legal blockage that Trump's proposed ban has faced. When ABC News reached the Department of Justice in late October about the first temporary blockage that stopped any ban on recruiting, a spokesperson said, "We disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps."

Trump's proposed ban was first announced in a series of tweets, in which the commander-in-chief said that transgender service members would be banned from serving in any capacity.

Immediately following those July 26 tweets, military leaders worked quickly to assuage some of their service members’ concerns without directly contradicting Trump.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued his own guidance the next day, saying there would be no immediate changes until further instructions were handed down from the president. "In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect," Dunford said at the time.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday made his first pardons since wiping Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s contempt of court conviction in August.

One pardonee, referred to as "Drumstick" by the White House, is a heavy-set, white male with a wingspan of about five feet. A gorgeous gobbler of the species Meleagris gallapavo, Drumstick beat out fellow fowl Wishbone to be honored at the annual presidential turkey pardon ceremony, stuffing his opponent in a landslide 20-point victory on a White House Twitter poll.

"Today, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will grant a presidential pardon to a Turkey," said President Trump, flanked by wife, Melania, and son, Barron, at the Rose Garden ceremony.

The two providential poultry will join last year's lucky birds, Tater and Tot, at Virginia Tech's Gobbler's Rest exhibit, "to live out their days in the folds of the Blue Ridge Mountains," according to the university.

“As many of you know I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor,” Trump said. “I have been informed by the White House counsel's office that Tater and Tot's pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked so we are not going to revoke them. Tater and Tot, you can rest easy.”

The focus then turned back to the turkey of honor.

"Drumstick, you are hereby pardoned," Trump told the bird. As applause erupted, the bird lifted his head to gobble at the crowd.

According to the White House Historical Association (WHHA), the practice of presidents saving turkeys from becoming holiday meals may date back to Abraham Lincoln.

In 1865, White House reporter Noah Brooks recounted an anecdote Lincoln told him: A live turkey was brought home for Christmas dinner, but Lincoln's son interceded on behalf of the animal.

"The argument was that the turkey had as good a right to live as any body else, and his plea was admitted and the turkey's life spared," Brooks wrote.

President Harry Truman was the first to be given birds by the National Turkey Federation, the same organization that presented President Trump with Wishbone and Drumstick -- but Truman likely dined on his.

"It was 70 years ago that the national Turkey federation first presented the national Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman, who I might add did not grant the pardon," Trump said. "He refused; he was a tough cookie."

The Kennedy, Nixon and Carter administrations reportedly turned away turkeys they were presented with, and sending them off to farms became common practice under President Reagan, according to the WHHA. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush became the first to make the pardon explicit.

"But let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table, not this guy — he's granted a residential pardon as of right now — and allow him to live out his days on a children's farm not far from here," Bush said.

President Obama began the current tradition of pardoning two turkeys in 2009. But just as today, only one bird is honored at the annual ceremony. Recent honorees were chosen by vote on social media.

 

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, spoke over the phone for "more than one hour" Tuesday, discussing efforts to combat terrorism and the situations in North Korea, Ukraine and Syria, according to details provided by the White House.

The conversation came a day after Putin met with Syrian leader Bashar al Assad Monday evening in Sochi, Russia.

Trump and Putin had met for an informal meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in Vietnam on Nov. 11, as Trump was on a five-country tour of Asia.

The president's interactions with Putin continue to be scrutinized by administration critics as special counsel Robert Mueller and committees in the House and Senate continue to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

During the Asia trip, Trump said Putin told him Russia did not meddle in the election, and that he "believes that [Putin] believes that." But Trump added that he trusted the U.S. intelligence community, which determined in January that Russia, guided by Putin, took efforts to interfere in the election.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates have been given a limited release from house arrest to allow them to travel for Thanksgiving.

Manafort and Gates were indicted on charges including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and working as unregistered foreign agents. They both surrendered to authorities on Oct. 30 and pleaded not guilty on all charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

Tuesday, a U.S. district court judge granted both Manafort and Gates "limited release" but sealed the portion of the proceedings that detail the specifics of their travel. Neither will be allowed to consume alcohol during their release and must wear their GPS devices throughout.
Manafort, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, has requested that he be able to travel locally for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Gates requested the ability to travel away from home for 18 hours to family gatherings in Virginia for the Thanksgiving holiday. Eleven hours are on Thanksgiving Day, eight the day after.
Neither of the men were in the court hearing Tuesday.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK ) -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, compared President Donald Trump's presidency to "dog years" in an interview with "The Late Show" on Monday.

The comment came after "The Late Show" host Stephen Colbert pointed out that she hadn’t been on the show since the start of Trump’s presidency.

“Oh, I remember those days,” Warren said with a smile. “How long has he been president now?”

“Forty-five years ... If my bone density is any indication,” Colbert replied.

“That's right. They were dog years, now they're Trump years. It's going to be hard,” Warren joked.”

Warren also hit back at Trump for referring to her as “Pocahontas” in a tweet earlier this month.

“Donald Trump thinks if he's going to start every one of these tweets to me with some kind of racist slur here that he's going to shut me up,” the senator said. “It didn't work in the past, it's not going to work in the future.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The tax plan advanced by House Republicans last week will spur economic growth, but still add more than $1 trillion to the deficit, according to a new study released Monday.

The macroeconomic analysis from the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, finds that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would boost economic output by .6 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, and .3 percent in a decade.

The economic growth would provide $169 billion in additional tax revenue for the federal government over the next decade, according to the analysis. The entire tax package is expected to add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the same period of time.

The White House and congressional Republicans, who have criticized the Tax Policy Center’s findings in the past, have said passing the plan will spur economic growth that will offset the tax cuts in the package.

The TPC had to revise its initial analysis of the House plan over a computing error.

The House plan will not make it to President Donald Trump’s desk unchanged: Senate Republicans will vote next week on their own version of the tax bill, which will then be reconciled with the House-passed proposal.

While Senate Republicans and the White House also support repealing Obamacare’s individual health insurance mandate as part of the plan, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that Trump could also forego the mandate repeal to help the proposal clear the House and Senate.

“If a good tax bill can pass with that Obamacare mandate repeal as part of it, great. If it needs to come out in order for that good tax bill to pass, we can live with that as well,” Mulvaney said in an interview with CBS News’ "Face the Nation."

In a separate study released Monday, the Tax Policy Center found that the Senate proposal would reduce taxes on average for all income groups in 2019 and 2025.

Roughly 10 percent of taxpayers would pay higher taxes compared to current law under the proposal in 2019, a number that would rise to 50 percent in 2027, according to the analysis.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's namesake charitable foundation is being shut down, in keeping with previously announced plans.

In a filing with the IRS last week, the foundation said it intends to dissolve and is seeking approval to distribute its remaining funds. The documents were posted publicly on Guidestar.org and reviewed by ABC News.

"The foundation continues to cooperate with the New York attorney general's charities division, and as previously announced by the president, his advisers are working with the charities division to wind up the affairs of the foundation. The foundation looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organizations," a spokesperson for the Trump Foundation told ABC News.

In December, when Trump was president-elect, he announced plans to shutter the Trump Foundation "to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president."

"I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways," he added.

The organization had come under scrutiny for its practices.

Last year the Trump Foundation conceded that it gave "income or assets" to a "disqualified person" — a prohibited practice known as self-dealing — according to a 2015 tax filing obtained by ABC News. It was not clear from the filing how much was given or to whom.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched the investigation into the Trump Foundation in 2016 over a donation that was made to a political fundraising group associated with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. He ordered that the foundation stop fundraising late last year.

In a statement Monday evening, the New York Attorney General's Office said: "Our investigation into the Donald J. Trump Foundation remains ongoing. Its fundraising activities remain suspended following the AG’s notice of violation last year. As the foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete.”

At the end of 2016, the Trump Foundation had a little more than $970,000 in assets, according to last week's filing.

Even though his name is the basis for the charity, Trump was never the biggest contributor, according to the organization's 990 forms for 2001 through 2014.

Trump made contributions to the foundation from 2001 to 2008, but he is not listed as making any financial contributions since then. His contributions ranged from $713,000 in 2004 to $30,000 in 2008; his total contributions to his foundation are in excess of $2.7 million.

Earlier this year, the New York Attorney General's Office also launched an investigation into the Eric Trump Foundation after questions were raised about the charity in light of a media report that it paid large sums to use Trump-owned properties for fundraisers.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Travels by Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to meet with senior officials in Hungary during the 2016 presidential election are being closely examined by congressional investigators, given the increasingly close ties between Hungary and Russia and the role of the country as a hub for Russian intelligence activity. The Hungarian prime minister was the first foreign leader to endorse Donald Trump’s candidacy.

Though characterized as a low-level volunteer, Page held high-level foreign policy meetings with Hungarian officials before the 2016 presidential election, ABC News has learned.

The meetings included a 45-minute session in September 2016 with Jeno Megyesy, who is a close adviser to the Hungarian prime minister and focuses on relations with the United States, at his office in Budapest, where Page presented himself as a member of then-candidate Donald Trump’s foreign policy team.

Megyesy confirmed to ABC News in an interview Friday that he met with Page at the request of Reka Szemerkenyi, the Hungarian ambassador to the U.S. Megyesy said he did most of the talking at the meeting because Page did not appear to be well versed on the issues facing the region.

“I had the impression he didn’t deal with these issues on a regular basis,” Megyesy said.

Page’s visit to Budapest drew notice from members of the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Hungary’s prime minister, who was the first world leader to endorse then-candidate Trump, has become increasingly aligned with Russian President Vladamir Putin, and Budapest is considered by experts to be a central hub for Russian intelligence activity.

When questioned by Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, during a hearing in early November, however, Page had only hazy memories of the trip. He said that he remembered seeing a Hungarian official, but he could not recall who it was.

“You don’t remember the names of anyone you met with or what their positions were in the Hungarian government?” Schiff asked, according to transcripts of the closed-door session.

“Not right now,” Page replied. “I can’t recall.”

Page told the members he could only barely remember the visit, saying “the detailed specifics of that are a distant memory,” but Schiff was incredulous.

“You went all the way to Budapest, and you can’t remember who you met with and what you hoped to accomplish?” he asked.

According to Megyesy, he spoke to Page in his office in the ornate parliament building, a sprawling landmark along the Danube River that draws legions of tourists. Their conversation covered a range of topics, Megyesy said, including the recent strain in relations between the U.S. and Hungary.

“I walked him through the politics and the issues with respect to Hungary,” Megyesy said.

Page held another meeting in Budapest, this one with Szemerkenyi, who was also in the city at the time, for coffee at a hotel, according to one person familiar with the meeting. Page initially met Szemerkenyi at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The two met a third time in October at an embassy function in Washington, she said.

“When Mr. Page went to Budapest, I was on a scheduled visit back home and met with him for courtesy meetings,” Szemerkenyi told ABC News in a written statement. “Our conversations were friendly, discussing only general foreign policy issues.”

The infamous 35-page dossier detailing unverified intelligence gathered by a former British spy hired to dig up damaging information on then-candidate Trump, contains allegations that Page held secret meetings with Russian officials during a visit to Moscow in July. Page has flatly denied the dossier’s assertion and frequently derides the document as the “dodgy dossier.”

Megyesy said no outsiders attended his meeting with Page, but when Schiff asked Page directly if he met with any Russians during his visit to Hungary, his answer was a bit more vague.

“There may have been one Russian person passing through there,” Page responded. “But I have no recollection because it was totally immaterial and nothing serious was discussed.”

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Department of Homeland Security(WASHINGTON) -- Department of Homeland Security official Jamie Johnson resigned Thursday, stepping down from his role as director of faith-based and neighborhood partnerships for the DHS after his past comments on the black community and Islam surfaced.

On Thursday, CNN published the remarks, which Johnson made during radio appearances from 2008 to 2016. In a clip that CNN said is from 2008, he is asked why "a lot of blacks" are anti-Semitic.

"I think one of the reasons why is because Jewish people, from their coming to America in great waves in the early part of the 1800s, immediately rolled up their sleeves and began to work so hard and applied themselves to education and other means of improvement," Johnson responded, adding that the example is "an indictment of America's black community that has turned America's major cities into slums because of laziness, drug use and sexual promiscuity."

He differentiated between black people born in the United States with black immigrants, who he suggested are especially hard working.

On Iowa's "Mickelson in the Morning" radio show, Johnson said he agreed with the sentiment that "really all that Islam has ever given us is oil and dead bodies," according to a clip published by CNN.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke accepted his resignation Thursday.

"His comments were made prior to joining the Department of Homeland Security and clearly do not reflect the values of DHS and the administration," DHS acting press secretary Tyler Houlton told ABC News. "The department thanks him for his recent work assisting disaster victims and the interfaith community."

Johnson joined the DHS at the beginning of Trump's administration after working for his campaign in Iowa and was appointed by White House chief of staff John Kelly, who was the homeland security secretary at the time.

"Before accepting his appointment, he worked for many years in international humanitarian relief, helping charities provide food, water, clothing and medical care to those suffering from natural disaster, famine and poverty," read Johnson's DHS bio, which has been pulled from FEMA's website.

Johnson did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating whether President Donald Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, ABC News has learned.

In particular, Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter, according to a source who has not seen the specific request but was told about it.

Issued within the past month, the directive marks the special counsel's first records request to the Justice Department, and it means Mueller is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein played key roles in Comey's removal. And Sessions has since faced withering criticism from Trump over his recusal and Rosenstein's subsequent appointment of Mueller.

Mueller's investigators now seek not only communications between Justice Department officials themselves, but also any communications with White House counterparts, the source said. Before this request, investigators asked former senior Justice Department officials for information from their time at the department, ABC News was told.

The latest move suggests the Special Counsel is still actively digging into, among other matters, whether Trump or any other administration official improperly tried to influence an ongoing investigation.

Last month, Sessions told lawmakers he would cooperate with any requests from Mueller and is willing to meet with him.

"I want him to complete his investigation professionally," Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Trump, however, has openly expressed disdain for the federal probe, and since his days on the campaign trail he has questioned the U.S. intelligence community's unanimous conclusion that Russia tried to meddle in last year's presidential election.

Shortly before firing Comey, Trump secretly drafted a memo laying out his reasons for wanting the FBI chief ousted. The New York Times described it as an "angry, meandering" missive.

The draft memo was never publicly released, but a copy was shared with Rosenstein, who had taken command of the Russia-related probe, according to the Times.

To publicly bolster Trump's decision on Comey, the White House released two memos written separately by Sessions and Rosenstein, with both faulting Comey for his handling of the FBI's probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

During a House hearing in June, Rosenstein refused to say whether he consulted with the White House ahead of Comey's firing or whether anyone asked him to write his memo, insisting such questions "may well be within the scope of the special counsel's investigation."

Rosenstein still maintains final supervision over the case, even though he was interviewed by Mueller's team as a witness for his own role in Comey's firing.

Meanwhile, Trump has taken aim at Sessions for the recusal, launching such biting personal attacks months ago that it appeared as though Sessions possibly would not last the summer as attorney general.

At one point, Trump told reporters he wouldn't have nominated Sessions to run the Justice Department had he known the attorney general was going to give up oversight authority of the long-running investigation.

In July, Trump posted a Tweet demanding to know why "our beleaguered" attorney general wasn't "looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations."

In announcing his recusal four months earlier, Sessions said he and "senior career department officials" spent "several weeks" discussing whether his role as top foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign last year meant his "impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

His work leading the campaign's foreign policy team has left Sessions on the defensive in other ways.

Last week, Senate and House Democrats hammered Sessions for previously telling Congress -- under oath -- that no Trump campaign associates ever communicated with Russian operatives or intermediaries.

But in the first known charges brought by Mueller, announced last month, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos admitted he told Sessions and Trump during a meeting last year that he was working with Russians to orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some Democrats accused Sessions of deliberately lying to lawmakers, though Sessions has vehemently denied the charge, citing a memory lapse generated in part by the "chaos" of the campaign.

During a House hearing Wednesday, Sessions said he now remembers dismissing the adviser's proposal during the meeting last year.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian nationals.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his former business partner, Rick Gates, have been indicted on money-laundering and other charges tied to their previous lobbying efforts. They have each pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, other Trump associates, such as former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, are still in Mueller's crosshairs.

Flynn was fired in February after then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House officials that Flynn had lied to them about his own contacts with Russian officials.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment for this article. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department also declined to comment.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A key moderate Senate Republican said the Senate’s tax bill needs revisions before it is put to a vote.

"I want to see changes in that bill, and I think there will be changes," Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday.

She said one problem with the bill is the inclusion of a provision that would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people have health insurance.

Collins called that provision "the biggest mistake" in the tax act. "I hope it will be dropped," she said.

The Senate Finance Committee last week approved the Senate GOP leadership's tax-cut bill after the GOP-led House passed its version of a $1.5 trillion overhaul of business and personal taxes.

Republican congressional leaders want to get tax-cut legislation to the president to sign before Christmas.

Collins said she prefers the House version of the bill for some of its provisions, such as keeping the tax rate on people who make $1 million or more per year at 39.6 percent.

“That’s a change I’d like to see be made in the Senate bill so that we can skew more of the relief to middle-income taxes,” the senator said.

Other changes that Collins said she would like to see in the Senate version include making individual tax breaks, not just corporate tax breaks, permanent, she said.

"The House made both of them permanent," she said. "I think that is a far better way to go. I also think the reduction in the business tax rate is too steep, and that we could go to 22 percent, and then use that money, which is about $200 billion, to restore the tax deduction for state and local property taxes. That would really help middle-income taxpayers."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON)-- Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett Packard who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, said the current wave of sexual harassment allegations from Hollywood to Capitol Hill "will only be a watershed moment if men decide to step forward."

Fiorina told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday, "What needs to happen now is the guys need to man up, the guys who know this is happening."

"Most men are good, decent, respectful men. But enough men are not, and all the other men around them know they are not," said Fiorina, who was part of a "This Week" panel addressing the wave of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations. "I think it's men's turn now to say, 'You know what, we're not going to respect someone who disrespects women. And when that starts to happen, if that starts to happen, then we will have reached a watershed moment."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Sen. Susan Collins said sexual misconduct allegations against President Donald Trump that surfaced during the 2016 campaign "remain very disturbing."

"President Trump was not my choice for the Republican nominee for president, and I did not support him in part because of the way that all of these reports about how he was treating women," the Maine senator told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday. "He is president now and I’m working with him on some issues. But those allegations remain very disturbing."

At least 16 women have come forward alleging misconduct by Trump, ranging from sexual assault to harassment to inappropriate behavior.

Collins made her remarks after Stephanopoulos asked if she expected that the country will now see real change on sexual harassment with the current wave of allegations against prominent men from Hollywood to Washington, D.C.

The senator responded that one problem is that some of the women making the allegations are getting attacked. "Their credibility is undermined," she said.

Stephanopoulos brought up President Trump, saying, "More than a dozen women came forward during the campaign; [Trump] says that every single one of them are lying." "He did say that," Collins said.

At least eight women have accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior, which Moore has repeatedly denied. Collins said she believes Moore’s accusers and hopes Alabama will not elect him to the Senate.

"I did not find him to be credible," Collins said of Moore. "As more and more allegations come forward, that adds to the weight of evidence against him. ... I hope that the good voters of Alabama decide not to send him to the United States Senate."

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