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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump denounced anti-Semitism Tuesday after facing criticism that he has not come out strongly enough against recent threats directed at U.S. Jewish centers.

"The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," Trump remarked after touring the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

"This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms," Trump said from a podium set up at the museum.

Steven Goldstein, the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, found fault with Trump's statement, arguing that his "too little, too late acknowledgement of anti-Semitism" is "not enough."

"The president's sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own administration," Goldstein wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.

He accused the Trump administration of committing "grotesque acts and omissions reflecting anti-Semitism."

"It was only yesterday, Presidents Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the president said absolutely nothing," Goldstein said.

The FBI announced it would investigate, along with the Justice Department, the bomb threats made at Jewish centers across the country, including the 11 threats made yesterday.

Responding to a question about the Anne Frank Center's statement at Tuesday's White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said he wished the group had delivered a different message.

"I wish that they had praised the president for his leadership in this area and I think that hopefully, as time continues to go by, they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans," said Spicer.

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, who is Jewish, tweeted last night that America must protect its houses of worship and religious centers.

Spicer said in a statement Monday, "Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The president has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable."

In a press conference last week, Trump was asked by a Jewish reporter about the recent wave of threats.

"I haven't seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or — anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven't really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it," Jake Turx of Ami magazine began.

Donald Trump cut off Turx and dismissed the question as unfair and "very insulting."

"No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person," Trump said, apparently interpreting the question as a personal attack.

"I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question," he said.

Trump was criticized last month for a statement he released on Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention Jews or anti-Semitism.

"It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust," he said in the statement. "In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good."

Spicer defended the statement in a press briefing a few days later, saying it was "written with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendant of Holocaust survivors."

"To suggest that remembering the Holocaust and acknowledging all of the people — Jewish, gypsies, priests, disabled, gays and lesbians — it is pathetic that people are picking on a statement," Spicer said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- New memos unveiled by the Trump administration Tuesday outline a sweeping plan to detain and deport certain undocumented immigrants as well as add more than 15,000 immigration, border patrol and customs agents, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer said mass deportation is not the goal.

One of the memos -- signed by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly -- says that the agency will "no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement" with certain exceptions including children.

That memo calls President Obama's prioritization of deporting certain undocumented immigrants "failed" and says that "Department personnel may initiate enforcement actions against removable aliens encountered during the performance of their duties."

The memos, released publicly Tuesday morning, offer the clearest picture yet of how the Trump administration plans to tackle the issue of undocumented immigration, including calling for enlistment of local law enforcement to help detain and remove unauthorized individuals, construction of the promised border wall and expansion of detention facilities at the southern border.

In an exchange with ABC News' Cecilia Vega, Spicer insisted Tuesday that the priority would be placed on those who Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deem a threat or have committed crimes.

"The message from this White House and the DHS is that those people who are in this country and pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go and we will be aggressively making sure that that occurs. That is what the priority is," he said.

"What the order sets out today is ensures that the million or so people that have been adjudicated already, that ICE prioritizes creates a system of prioritization and makes sure that we walk through that system in a way that protects the country."

Spicer went on to say that by removing protocols prioritizing certain immigrants for removal that were in place during the Obama administration, "the president wanted to take the shackles off" law enforcement and immigration officials.

"The INA § 287(g) Program has been a highly successful force multiplier that allows a qualified state or local law enforcement officer to be designated as an "immigration officer" for purposes of enforcing federal immigration law," one of the memos says.

One of the memos states that "detention ... is the most efficient means by which to enforce the immigration laws at our borders" as opposed to the "catch-and-release" policies of the past.

"Detention also prevents such aliens from committing crimes while at large in the United States, ensures that aliens will appear for their removal proceedings, and substantially increases the likelihood that aliens lawfully ordered removed will be removed," the memo says.

That memo calls for the Director of ICE and the Commissioner of CBP to "take all necessary action and allocate all available resources to expand their detention capabilities and capacities at or near the border with Mexico to the greatest extent practicable" and tasks the border patrol with expanding short-term detention facilities and ICE with "all other detention capabilities."

The plans stated in the memos have raised concern among immigrants' rights and civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

"These memos confirm that the Trump administration is willing to trample on due process, human decency, the well-being of our communities and even protections for vulnerable children in pursuit of a hyperaggressive mass deportation policy," Omar Jadwat, the director of the ACLU's immigrants' rights project, said in a statement.

The memos address Trump's planned construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, stating that the administration has all the authority it needs to get started and that the DHS will "immediately begin planning, design, construction and maintenance of a wall, including the attendant lighting, technology (including sensors), as well as patrol and access roads, along the land border with Mexico."

On a call with reporters Tuesday morning, DHS officials emphasized that the memos have no impact on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and the memos make no mention of using any National Guard troops for enforcement.

Kelly has directed ICE to hire 10,000 officers and agents and Customs and Border Patrol to hire 5,000 additional border patrol agents and 500 air and marine agents and officers.

The hiring of 5,000 new border patrol agents was something that Trump touted during the presidential campaign as part of his plan to fight illegal immigration.

Additionally, the memos order the establishment of an office for victims of immigration crime, though few details have been revealed.

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NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The position of National Security Adviser does not require Senate confirmation, but when three-star generals like Trump's pick for the position, H.R. McMaster, change jobs within the service they do need the approval.

The rule has nothing to do with the White House, but rather the military: all three and four-star generals must receive Senate confirmation whenever they seek to change jobs.

What does this mean for McMaster?

If McMaster wanted to keep his lieutenant general status, President Donald Trump would need to reappoint him and then wait for him to get a confirmation vote on the Senate floor, according to a Senate Armed Services Committee aide.

This happened to Gen. Colin Powell when he served as President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser. The Armed Services committee held a hearing on him, then referred his nomination to the Senate, and then the full Senate voted on him.

But that doesn't necessarily mean McMaster has to go through the confirmation gauntlet.

There are two options that would allow him to serve as national security adviser without needing to be confirmed, according to the committee aide: he could either revert to two-star major general status to lead Trump’s National Security Council, or he could simply retire from active military duty.

Those were the options Powell faced. In the end, as he wrote in his memoir, "My American Journey," he chose to keep his higher ranking and go through confirmation.

"The post of National Security Advisor did not require Senate confirmation. But as a three-star general, I would have to be confirmed for any job in order to hold on to my rank. If I dropped back to two stars, I could be appointed without Senate confirmation. But I was not eager to be demoted in the Army so that I could be promoted in a civilian post," he wrote.

It's not clear how many committee hoops McMaster would have to jump through if he decides to stay a lieutenant general. Committee aides would not yet comment on whether they would require a hearing, if McMaster chooses to remain a three-star general, given that the position does not otherwise require one.

At the end of Tuesday's White House briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said McMaster would not require Senate confirmation, but did not explain further. He was not asked specifically about the rules governing three and four-star generals.

The White House has not yet returned ABC News' request for more information.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The naming of Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster to be President Trump's new National Security Adviser has raised some questions about how an active duty officer can serve in the job.

But, it has been done before. McMaster will be the fourth active duty military officer to serve in the role as National Security Adviser.

There are some challenges that an Army three star general could face in the role, while remaining on active duty.

ABC News looks at some of the potential issue facing McMaster.

The National Security Council

The job of the National Security Adviser evolved in the 1950's from the 1947 National Security Act that created the National Security Council. The Adviser oversees the Council, which coordinates policy between the Pentagon, the State Department, the intelligence services and other government agencies involved in national security. The Adviser is typically one of the President's closest aides and the position does not require Senate confirmation.

Originally a small staff, over the last few decades the National Security Council has ballooned in size to several hundred employees.

Its staffers are typically detailed from the military or relevant agencies to work in their field of expertise.

National Security Advisers have typically been civilians, though three military officers have served in the role.

In late 1975, when Brent Scrowcroft was named to be Gerald Ford's National Security Adviser, he was an active duty Air Force Lieutenant General who was serving as the Deputy National Security Adviser. But a month after being named to the top job, Scrowcroft retired from the Air Force because he felt the job should be held by a civilian. He continued in the post through the end of the Ford administration as a civilian.

Navy Vice Admiral John Poindexter and Army Lieutenant General Colin Powell both remained on active duty when each served as National Security Adviser for Ronald Reagan.

Though Senate confirmation is not required for the post, Powell did have a confirmation hearing so he could retain his three star rank.

The White House has said that McMaster will remain on active duty during his tenure. But if he is asked to serve in the role as a three star general a Senate Armed Services Committee aide told ABC News Tuesday "the law requires that General McMaster would have to be reappointed by the president and reconfirmed by the Senate in that grade for his new position.”

Otherwise, to avoid Senate confirmation the aide said McMaster "could serve as National Security Adviser in his permanent rank of major general [2-star], or retire. Neither of those require any Senate action."

What Will McMaster's Role Be?

Judging by the service of his active duty predecessors, McMaster's rank will not be an impediment in dealing with officers of superior rank.

McMaster's main task will be to coordinate the Trump administration's foreign policy and national security decisions amongst the relevant agencies of the federal government.

McMaster's active duty rank will not affect their relationship to the National Security Adviser, who reports directly to the President. That level of access will allow McMaster to voice his opinions freely and directly to the commander in chief, which should not be a stretch for McMaster, who is known as an independent thinker willing to speak his mind.

Currently, he is known as a noted military strategist and pioneer in the counterinsurgency doctrine that helped turn the tide in Iraq.

McMaster's military advancement had once seemed to have stalled -- namely after his 1997 book "Dereliction of Duty" that criticized military officers for not challenging political decisions during the early years of the Vietnam War was published.

His career path regained an upward trajectory after success in stabilizing the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar and developing counterinsurgency strategy.

In his new role, McMaster will probably demonstrate some of his candor with respect to Russia, whose military moves in recent years he has viewed warily.

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SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump visited the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture Tuesday, touring various exhibits including the "Paradox of Liberty" and one profiling Dr. Ben Carson, the president's nominee for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Joining the president for the tour was daughter Ivanka Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and wife Candy Carson and Trump adviser Omarosa Manigault. The group was accompanied by museum director Lonnie Bunch.

“Honestly, it’s fantastic," the president said of the museum before posing for a photo with Carson, adding he was "very proud" of Carson. "I've learned and I've seen and they've done an incredible job."

The president was initially scheduled to visit the museum in observance of Martin Luther King Day but ABC News later learned that the visit was removed from his calendar due to scheduling issues and was not fully planned out.

In brief remarks following the tour, President Trump stressed unity in the country after quoting Martin Luther King Jr.

“We're going to bring this country together, maybe bring some of the world together, but we're going to bring this country together," he said. "We have a divided country, it's been divided for many, many years, but we're going to bring it together."

Last week, following the joint Trump-Netanyahu press conference at the White House, First Lady Melania Trump hosted Sara Netanyahu on a visit to the museum.

The wives were accompanied by museum director Lonnie Bunch and Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton.

"Mrs Sara Netanyahu met at the White House with @FLOTUS Melania Trump, who surprised her with a visit to @NMAAHC," read a tweet from Netanyahu's office, along with a trio of photos of the leaders' wives at the museum and the White House.

The first lady reportedly said in a statement afterwards of the visit, "As we remember, with deep humility and reverence, the historic plight of slavery which the Jewish and African-American people have known all too well, we rededicate ourselves to those powerful words that both our nations hold dear: "NEVER AGAIN!"

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a West Point graduate who was awarded the Silver Star during the Gulf War, was chosen to be Donald Trump's new national security adviser, replacing Michael Flynn, who resigned last week following the revelation that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia.

McMaster, who will remain on active duty, joins former generals James Mattis, the secretary of Defense, and John Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security. He’s considered a creative thinker in intelligence circles, and his counterinsurgency strategies in Iraq led to the U.S. Army securing the city of Tal Afar in 2005.

He also took a critical look at the prosecution of the Vietnam War for his Ph.D. thesis, which he later published as a book.

Here is what you need to know about McMaster, who is expected to remain on active duty while working with Trump:

Name: Herbert Raymond McMaster

Age: 54

His last job: McMaster has been the director of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Capabilities Integration Center since July 2014, which is tasked as the lead architect of the Army.

What he used to do: He made a name for himself as a cavalry commander in the Gulf War, where he was awarded a Silver Star for his leadership in destroying more than 80 Iraqi tanks using nine American ones. He later led troops in the Iraq War, where in 2005 he helped recover the city of Tal Afar using innovative military strategies. He was the director of Concept Development and Learning at the Army Training and Doctrine Command from 2008-2010, and served as the commanding general at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning before taking the director position at the Army Capabilities Integration Center.

Hometown: Philadelphia

Family: McMaster is married to Kathleen Trotter McMaster. In Tom Clancy’s 1994 book “Armored Cav,” McMaster said he met his wife while he was playing rugby for the Army team at West Point in 1983. They have three daughters, Katharine, Colleen and Caragh.

Education: He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1984, and received his Ph.D. in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What you might not know about him: He also worked as an assistant professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy in the mid-90s.

What he has said or written about national security objectives:


McMaster has been known to speak his mind on military strategy, even when it goes against the status quo. He’s faced delays in promotions at the level of major and colonel, which some suspect were a result of his iconoclastic views.

His doctoral dissertation on the Vietnam War became his first book, Dereliction of Duty. The book is a blistering critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who he argued failed to provide necessary military advice to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

In the conclusion to the book, McMaster wrote, “The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times or the college campuses. It was lost in Washington, D.C."

Dereliction of Duty has been recommended reading for Army officers since it was published in 1997.

He’s also notably criticized the way the Bush administration entered the war in Iraq, and last year he told a Senate panel that he feared the Army might become too small to adequately secure the country.

While he has been praised for his military strategy and his willingness to speak up, both McMaster and National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg have little experience with government outside of the Army.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump announced Monday that Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is his new national security adviser -- and White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he would remain on active duty while filling the post.

This comes after Trump's first appointee to the post, Michael Flynn, resigned after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Trump said Pence played a role in McMaster's selection.

Trump made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and said Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who has been acting national security adviser since Flynn left, will remain as the chief of staff for the National Security Council.

"That combination is something very, very special," Trump said of McMaster and Kellogg.

Trump said he has "tremendous respect for the people I met with" for the role, including former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, who Trump said will work with his administration in a "somewhat different capacity."

Retired admiral and Navy SEAL Robert Harward, an ABC News contributor, was offered the job after Flynn's departure but turned down the position for personal reasons, according to a senior administration source.

McMaster, a West Point graduate who hold a Ph.D., was awarded the Silver Star for his leadership in the Gulf War. He is considered a leader in strategic thinking and was instrumental in counterinsurgency during the Iraq War.

McMaster isn't the first NSA to remain on active military duty during his term. Brent Scowcroft did under Gerald Ford as did Colin Powell under Ronald Reagan.

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Alex Scott/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- On this Presidents' Day, which celebrates the achievements of America's past leaders, thousands of protesters rallied to send a message of defiance to the current president.

"Not My President's Day" protests took place in dozens of cities across the country. Demonstrators gathered to oppose President Donald Trump's agenda on a number of issues ranging from immigration to LGBTQ rights to the environment.

"Donald Trump does not represent our values, and therefore we refuse to honor him on President's Day," organizers of the Chicago rally wrote in their event description. "Instead, we will honor the principles of democracy for which our previous Presidents fought valiantly: the right to assemble, and the right to fight for those of our brothers and sisters who have not yet been included in the word 'equal.'"

In New York City, thousands took to the streets in front of Trump International Hotel, according to ABC station WABC-TV.

"I'm not Muslim, I'm not an immigrant, I'm not undocumented," one speaker said. "But I am heartbroken when I see the fear in friends who are those things, and it's empathy. I came out to say that I'm with you."

Hundreds more reportedly gathered in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.

The rally in the nation’s capital drew several hundred protesters to Dupont Circle.

"I am here to stand up for what's right, to stand up against what's wrong," one protester, Miriam Bowden, said. "And what’s wrong is Donald Trump and all of his cronies who are infecting Washington, D.C."

Following the rally, the protesters took their message directly to the White House, marching through the streets with chants of "This is what democracy looks like!" and "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!"

The protests were largely peaceful. However, protesters and police reportedly clashed in Portland, Oregon, and several arrests were made.

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ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- Controversial Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos will not be the keynote speaker at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the group that organizes the event said Monday.

Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, the group that organizes the event, said in a statement that the decision was "due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia."

Simon & Schuster also dropped Yiannopoulos' book deal following the release of the controversial video.

 

"@ACUConservative has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at #CPAC2017." pic.twitter.com/sVWGnPCW7C

— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) February 20, 2017

 

Yiannopoulos -- whose scheduled appearance last month at the University of California Berkeley sparked riots and was cancelled -- responded to the allegation that he appeared to be defending pedophilia in a post on Facebook, saying: "I do not support pedophilia. Period. It is a vile and disgusting crime, perhaps the very worst. There are selectively edited videos doing the rounds, as part of a co-ordinated effort to discredit me from establishment Republicans, that suggest I am soft on the subject."

In the statement disinviting Yiannapoulos, Schlapp called his defense "insufficient," and called on him to more fully address the issues raised by his comments.

Some conservatives expressed immediate outrage at the invitation to Yiannopoulos, who's been a staunch supporter of President Trump but has alienated many on the right with his ultra-conservative views on issues such as immigration and race relations.

 

If you mention Jesus in your bio but are defending Milo, please tell us where you go to church so the rest of us know not to go there.

— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) February 20, 2017

 

CPAC is an annual gathering for the nation's top conservative thinkers. It is scheduled to take place later this week in National Harbor, Maryland. Confirmed speakers include Vice President Mike Pence and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

 

How do you lecture about the war on men while suggesting 13 y/o boys can be “predators” and consent to adult “relationships?” You can’t.

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 20, 2017

 

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MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is set to visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture Tuesday.

The president was initially scheduled to visit the museum in observance of Martin Luther King Day but ABC News later learned that the visit was removed from his calendar due to scheduling issues and was not fully planned out.

Last week, following the joint Trump-Netanyahu press conference at the White House, First Lady Melania Trump hosted Sara Netanyahu on a visit to the museum.

The wives were accompanied by museum director Lonnie Bunch and Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton.

"Mrs Sara Netanyahu met at the White House with @FLOTUS Melania Trump, who surprised her with a visit to @NMAAHC," read a tweet from Netanyahu's office, along with a trio of photos of the leaders' wives at the museum and the White House.

Mrs Sara Netanyahu met at the White House with @FLOTUS Melania Trump, who surprised her with a visit to @NMAAHC pic.twitter.com/c607mj9SBa

— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 15, 2017

The first lady reportedly said in a statement afterwards of the visit, "As we remember, with deep humility and reverence, the historic plight of slavery which the Jewish and African-American people have known all too well, we rededicate ourselves to those powerful words that both our nations hold dear: "NEVER AGAIN!"

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A revised version of President Trump's executive order on immigration and refugee admittance is expected to contain language again targeting seven Muslim-majority countries deemed "terror-prone," but exclude an automatic ban on Syrian refugees, senior administration officials told ABC News Monday.

The countries are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.

Syrian refugees were banned under the president’s initial immigration order, which has failed to overcome legal challenges.

The new draft also contains an exemption for existing green card holders and dual U.S. citizens from the seven countries, one of the officials said, an explicit difference from the original order signed last month.

Another senior administration official said Trump is expected to sign the order "by the end of the week."

Trump has openly expressed frustration in person and on social media over his stalled initial travel ban, often directly targeting the courts and judges who have repeatedly ruled against provisions of the order.

"The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision," Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday, referring to a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled against his order.

Trump and his administration have argued repeatedly that the first order fell within the president's authority to ban any class of “aliens” deemed a potential threat to the security of the United States. But the federal judges unanimously ruled to uphold a restraining order delaying the ban, which the administration elected not to pursue in that form.

In their ruling, the judges said the president's previous remarks about a Muslim ban potentially could be used as evidence, and that the government did not present evidence that nationals from the affected countries perpetrated attacks in the United States.

The rocky rollout of the first executive order resulted in extended detentions of immigrants at airports and sparked protests around the country, though the president and other White House officials have repeatedly called the rollout "a success."

As of Monday afternoon, the revised order is still considered to be in initial drafting stages, according to the administration officials.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Mike Pence today said he was "disappointed" that former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled him about the nature of his conversations with Russian officials during the presidential transition period.

"I was disappointed to learn that the facts that had been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate," Pence told reporters at a joint news conference with the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels. "I fully support the president's decision to ask for his resignation."

It was the vice president’s first time speaking about President Trump’s asking retired Lt. Gen. Flynn to resign as national security adviser.

"I'm very grateful for the close working relationship I have with the president of the United States," Pence said. "It was the proper decision. It was handled properly and in a timely way. And I have great confidence in the national security team of this administration going forward."

Trump asked for Flynn's resignation after learning he did, in fact, have communications with the Russian ambassador about pending sanctions by the Obama administration in December, after initially believing there was no such discussion.

Pence was kept in the dark for two weeks, according to Pence's press secretary.

Pence repeated the incorrect claim in January that Flynn had not discussed the sanctions but eventually learned Flynn had misled him through media reports.

In his resignation letter, Flynn said he "inadvertently" gave "incomplete information" about multiple calls with the Russian ambassador. Flynn had previously said he did not speak with Russian officials about the pending sanctions.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer cited the "eroding relationship" between Trump and Flynn as the reason Trump asked for his resignation.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  President Trump was speaking "in general," not about a specific incident when he referred to "what's happening last night in Sweden" at a campaign-style event, a White House spokeswoman said Sunday.

The specific reference was to a report he had seen the night before, but he was talking about "rising crime and recent incidents, in general," Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

The president tweeted that his remark was "in reference to a story that was broadcast on Fox News."

 

My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2017

 

Trump made the remark Saturday while criticizing refugee policies in Europe during a rally in Florida.

"Here's the bottom line we have to keep our country safe," Trump started, before pivoting to the subject of Europe. "When you look at what's happening in Germany, when you look at what's happening last night in Sweden -- Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers, they're having problems like they never thought possible."

Trump then listed several European cities that have suffered high profile terror attacks, including Paris and Brussels.

The context of his remarks led many social media users, including Carl Bildt, a former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden, to assume that Trump meant there had been a terror attack in Sweden the night before.

"Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound," Bildt wrote on Twitter, referring to the fact that no high profile attack had occurred in Sweden the night before his speech.

Sweden's embassy in Washington contacted the State Department Sunday to ask for clarification about Trump's comment, Catarina Axelsson, a spokeswoman for Sweden's ministry of foreign affairs, told ABC News.

"We just contacted the State Department just to get some clarification of what he's referring to," she said.

Axelsson said it was unclear to the ministry what Trump was talking about. She said there were no incidents that they were aware of, nor has any terror threat level gone up in Sweden.

A local newspaper in Sweden published a list of events that happened on Friday that appeared to have no connections to any terror-like activity, The Associated Press reported.

Sweden's Security Police said that nothing had happened to change the country's terror threat level.

But conservatives defended Trump, noting that he never said that a terror attack had occurred in Sweden, only that the country was "having problems like they never thought possible" as a result of admitting refugees.

Other analysts noted that Trump was possibly attempting to discuss something entirely different: a purported rise in crime that has occurred in Sweden.

One night earlier, FOX News aired a segment about a documentary that highlights alleged problems that have occurred as a result of admitting refugees, including rape and gun violence.

Trump has frequently praised FOX News, and made favorable references to the network in a recent press conference.

The comment about Sweden is not the first time that the administration has created a degree of confusion by either misspeaking or including incomplete information in remarks centered around refugees or terrorism.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, was forced to clarify a statement she made in an interview earlier this month on MSNBC when she referred to the "Bowling Green massacre," an event that never occurred.

Conway wrote on Twitter that she meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists."

White House press secretary Sean Spicer also repeatedly referred to a terror attack in Atlanta before later clarifying that he meant to say Orlando.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee sent letters to at least a dozen agencies, individuals and organizations on Friday directing them to preserve records and information related to the committee's investigation of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, according to a Senate aide.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees previously announced investigations focused on Russian interference in the election.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, said last week the committee would "aggressively" continue its oversight of possible contact between the Trump campaign and transition teams with Russian government officials.

"We will cast a wide net to look at individuals who can provide us additional insight into what went on," Burr told reporters on Tuesday.

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee also called on the White House, Department of Justice and FBI to preserve documents related to the investigations last week. Democrats asked White House Counsel Don McGahn to confirm that White House and Trump staff are being told to preserve all materials related to contacts with Russia.

It's possible that the committee will call on Gen. Mike Flynn to testify in the investigation. Flynn recently resigned as National Security Adviser after reports surfaced that he discussed sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition and possibly misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of that conversation.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A former campaign manager for President Trump said he knows of no one on the campaign who "ever had a contact with a Russian agent or a Russian affiliate."

Corey Lewandowski -- who served as Trump's campaign manager until he was fired in June 2016 amid reports of tension between him and campaign chairman Paul Manafort -- squared off on This Week Sunday with Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook on questions around Russia and Trump.

“I don't know of any person working on the campaign that ever had a contact with a Russian agent or a Russian affiliate or anybody that has to do with Russia. None whatsoever," Lewandowski told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Karl pressed, "But you can't speak for Paul Manafort" or others?

Lewandowski replied, "Listen, I don't know what people do when they're not in my presence. I don't know what they're doing in their own private time. I can tell you that, unequivocally, I have never seen anybody who I have directed, or the president directed, ever reach out to someone from Russia. Never been instructed to do so ever. Never."

Manafort resigned from the campaign in the wake of scrutiny over his previous work as a lobbyist and political consultant in Ukraine.

Mook said on This Week that while he believes Lewandowski never reached out to Russia, “Paul Manafort’s connections to the Russians are clear. They paid him a lot of money to help get candidates elected that they wanted in the Ukraine. It’s not surprising to me that they might be trying to do the same thing in the United States.”

“What's particularly frightening to me about the situation is that these phone calls that Trump associates had with Russian agents were picked up because the [National Security Agency] taps these Russian agents regularly," Mook added. "This isn't speculation. These are phone calls that were actually picked up."

"What's also scary is that you saw the president kind of deflect the question [about possible contacts between people in his campaign and Russia]. He won't answer it. And the more we learn about this, the closer and closer it gets to President Trump,” Mook said.

Karl also asked about overall U.S. relations with Russia.

President Trump said at his press conference Thursday: "Does anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump? Does anybody in this room really believe that, OK?"
Mook told Karl he "absolutely" thinks Clinton would have been tougher on Russia.

Referring to alleged Russian interference in the election, Mook said, "The reason Vladimir Putin did this is because Hillary Clinton spoke out against him ... And when Donald Trump has been asked about Vladimir Putin, he's praised him. He's called him a strong leader. Gave him an A rating."

But Lewandowski defended Trump's wanting to collaborate with Russia in fighting ISIS.

"Why, as the world's greatest superpower that we are, don't we want to work with another superpower to eradicate ISIS and ISIL in places where we have a common goal?" Lewandowski said. "Why isn't that a good thing? I'm missing it.”

Mook and Lewandowski also disagreed over the impact of Russian interference in the election.

"The problem is that Vladimir Putin devastates and destroys his enemies ... And Hillary Clinton spoke out against that. She had the courage to do that and she paid a price because Vladimir Putin interceded in this election," Mook said.

Lewandowski shot back, "Hillary Clinton did not lose this election because of Vladimir Putin. Hillary Clinton lost this election because she couldn't connect with females. She lost this election because the African-American vote was down from the historic proportion where it was four and eight years ago. Hillary Clinton did this because she was a terrible campaigner. They ran a terrible campaign. They lost in states that Democrats hadn't lost in 30 years. That's a fact."

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