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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for a closed door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee.

Bannon is expected to face questions about the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

This meeting comes after Bannon resigned as executive chairman of Breitbart News following the release of Michael Wolff’s tell-all Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The book, which includes harsh comments from Bannon on the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, renewed questions about Trump’s campaign activity.

Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign in August of 2016, brandished the Trump Tower meeting as "treasonous," according to Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

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Metropolitan Baptist Church/Facebook(LARGO, Maryland) -- A pastor in Maryland who had Vice President Mike Pence as a captive audience on Sunday took the opportunity to attack the politician's boss, calling President Donald Trump's comments on Haiti and Africa "hurtful," "dehumanizing" and "vulgar."

Dr. Maurice Watson, pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, Maryland, ripped into Trump's reported negative comments about Haiti and African countries, though he never specifically mentioned Trump's name.

Pence and his wife, Karen, were sitting in the front pew.

"It is alleged that a hurtful, dehumanizing, visceral, guttural, ugly adjective that I cannot repeat in church, was allegedly used to characterize some of the nations of Africa," Watson said in his Sunday sermon, which was posted on the church's Facebook page. "And a statement was made that we ought to welcome people from Norway more than we should welcome people from Haiti. I stand here today as your pastor to vehemently denounce and reject such characterizations. Whoever said it is wrong, and they oughta be held accountable.

"You are owed an apology, but you probably won't get one," Watson added.

The congregation loudly applauded Watson's words.

WUSA said Pence was left "red-faced" by the comments. A spokesperson for Pence denied that to The Associated Press. Pence and his wife were in attendance at the church for the congregation's honoring of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Trump has also denied he called Haiti and African nations "s---hole countries" in a meeting with various politicians who were trying to negotiate a deal on DACA last Thursday. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was in the meeting, said there was no question the president said these "hate-filled things."

Watson appeared on CNN on Monday night, where he said he didn't see the vice president's reaction to his comments, but said they had nothing to do with Pence being in attendance.

"It didn't have anything to do with the vice president, it had to do with the fact that I'm a pastor," Watson told CNN. "As a pastor, I have to speak up for my people. And the vice president just happened to have been there."

Pence did not refer to the visit on his social media pages, though he did share photos of he and wife wife laying a wreath at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., later in the day.

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Twitter/@ColbertLateShow(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump found himself in the hot seat on Monday after he decided to go golfing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, breaking with a years-long tradition set by previous presidents who commemorated the holiday by performing civic duties.

The late-night shows found the topic rich for attack on Monday night.

"In the past, Presidents Obama and Bush did volunteer work on this day to honor Dr. King. President Trump today played golf to honor him," Jimmy Kimmel said Monday on Live. "He made his 95th visit since becoming president to one of the golf courses he owns: the Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach. Just as Dr. King would have wanted, which is especially glaring considering the fact people have been calling Trump a racist all weekend."

The criticism came just one day after Trump declared that he is "not a racist" as he denied reports that he referred to Haiti and African countries as "s---hole countries."

"No, no, I'm not a racist," Trump told reporters on Sunday. "I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you."

The comments were reportedly made during a closed-door meeting with members of Congress to discuss immigration on Thursday.

According to the reports, Trump also said the United States should accept more immigrants from countries like Norway.

Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, tried to find humor in the situation -- now referred to as 's---hole-gate.'"

"'I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed' seems like a ridiculous statement from Donald Trump, until you realize he was speaking to the chief reporter from the Klu Klux Kronicle," Noah said Monday evening.

He pointed out that two U.S. lawmakers claimed they personally heard Trump make the vulgar remark, but he said the president’s alleged vulgarity was not his main concern.

"Him having a poo-poo mouth is not the story for me," Noah said. "The president of the United States condemning entire groups of people as worthless and undesirable based on what country they happen to be born in, that's the story."

Over on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert asked his guest, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., if he thought Trump made the controversial comments.

"I have no doubts," Schumer replied. "Donald Trump has lied so many times it's hard to believe him on anything let alone this.

"His comments over and over and over again can be described as nothing but racist and obnoxious," he added.

Schumer also presented the president with a challenge that he said would prove that he wasn't racist.

"Actions speak louder than words," Schumer said. "If you want to just begin the long road back to proving you're not racist or bigoted, support the bipartisan compromise three Democrats and three Republicans put on the floor, everyone gave, and get the Dreamers safety here in America.

"That's what he should do," he added.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department has long been a lightning rod for political criticism, but this past year brought it to a new level — with a Republican president taking sharp aim at the Republican attorney general he nominated.

Even as Attorney General Jeff Sessions pressed forward on some of President Donald Trump’s top priorities — such as immigration enforcement — Sessions was sharp criticism from Trump, who was reportedly angered by Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and alleged collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives.

For much of the summer of 2017, it was unclear if Sessions would last until fall.

But Sessions held on, and in doing so he was able to continue addressing issues he has championed such as going after so-called “sanctuary cities,” promoting marijuana enforcement, fighting the growing opioid epidemic and gang-related violence, and changing civil rights enforcement policies.

Early in his tenure as attorney general, Sessions backed a Trump administration decision to overturn Obama-era policies that said federal anti-discrimination laws meant students at schools across the country must be allowed to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. He has also made other moves that have angered the LGBTQ community.

At the same time, he has committed federal resources to investigate murders of transgender individuals around the country.

Sessions has gone further than any recent attorney general to target “sanctuary cities,” threatening to pull federal grants from any jurisdiction that doesn’t cooperate with federal authorities to detain and turn over undocumented immigrants.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department under Sessions is sending millions of federal dollars toward initiatives to help state and local police battle the opioid epidemic, which Sessions repeatedly notes is killing Americans at record levels. Sessions has also pushed U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country to refocus on prosecuting drug-related crimes.

Similarly, in early January, Sessions announced that the Justice Department was "rescinding" Obama-era guidance over how federal authorities should go after marijuana-related crimes, touting the move as "a return to the rule of law." However, senior Justice Department officials struggled to explain how the new policy would actually differ from that of their predecessors.

Over the past year, while Sessions has promised to go after gangs like MS-13, he has also faced tough questions over whether the federal government is doing enough to prevent gun violence like the deadly assault launched in Las Vegas last year. 58 people were killed and hundreds of others injured.

Many lawmakers and others have called for stricter regulation of “bump stocks,” which were used in the deadly Las Vegas attack and allow gunmen to turn semiautomatic rifles into near-automatic weapons.

During an event with Justice Department interns last summer, one intern asked Sessions why he supports "pretty harsh policies for marijuana and pretty lax gun control laws" when "statistically guns kill significantly more people than marijuana does."

In response, Sessions noted that more fatal accidents are now caused by drugs than by alcohol, and he said the American Medical Association "is crystal clear" that "marijuana is not a healthy substance." "I don't think America's going to be a better place if marijuana's sold in every corner grocery store," Sessions said.

This story is part of a weeklong series examining the first year of the Trump administration.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly one year after he took his own oath of office, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has defied all the major headlines about him: He’s still here.

But his record at the State Department is, at best, mixed, with fierce, vocal critics decrying his “hollowing out” of the esteemed agency and steady supporters praising him for being one of the “adults in the room” across from a president with whom he has major disagreements.

If either side makes one thing clear, it’s that Tillerson has a tough job working for a president who has made clear that he makes the decisions.

“The one that matters is me,” Trump told Fox News in November, when asked by the conservative commentator Laura Ingraham why he hadn’t appointed more of his own “people” at the State Department.

“We don’t need all the people that they want,” Trump continued. “I’m the only one that matters because, when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”

That’s a neat summary of where things stand at State — an agency with many of its top roles still unfilled, with what some describe as low morale and others say has an uncertain future, and with a leader who boldly barrels on, but is often undercut by his own boss.

Since the beginning, Tillerson and his team have had to do battle with the White House over personnel picks, slowing the process down. But a couple weeks shy of Tillerson’s one-year anniversary, there are still 54 senior positions vacant — although the secretary announced in August he would eliminate 20 of those in his “redesign” of the department.

But that redesign process has left many scratching their head — with a deeply unpopular hiring freeze still in place and the first wave of minor changes to personnel and IT policy announced only last month.

It’s led to some very public criticisms, from retired ambassadors or fleeing foreign service officers — and even the president of the foreign service union, who questioned if there were ulterior motives at work.

Among the other senior roles, 22 are filled by officials in an acting capacity. Although there are people doing the work, they do not enjoy the full legal authority of their role or the image of speaking on the administration’s behalf to the world. There were about a half dozen more, but they were in acting roles so long, that they were required to return to their original roles by law.

It’s not just in Washington either. Some 30 ambassador posts are still empty, with the embassy’s second-in-command, or charge d’affaires, leading the U.S. mission. Those include ambassadors to key allies where there is a desperate need for diplomacy, like South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

“People don’t know who to contact at State anymore or in the administration in general,” one European source told ABC News. “It’s hurting the U.S. diplomatically — and others are quick to step into that power gap.”

By year’s end, Tillerson had made some progress, according to top aides, who point in particular to the case of Susan Thornton. The acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs is a career diplomat who hit the ground running with Tillerson on the North Korea threat.

The two developed a rapport, but despite Tillerson’s intention to give her the job full-time, he was blocked by the Steve Bannon, and the nationalist-wing of the White House who saw her as too weak on China.

Last month, the White House announced Trump’s nomination of Thornton in what Tillerson aides touted as a victory — one symbolic of his intention to stay, they said.

That’s the looming question that has dogged the former ExxonMobil CEO for more than half of his tenure now. It’s no secret he disagrees with his boss on the Iran nuclear deal, climate change and the Paris accord, the Gulf crisis, North Korea, and Russia — among other things.

He has also been repeatedly undercut or caught off guard by Trump’s tweets and statements and, perhaps more critically, made some enemies in the White House, sources tell ABC News.

That lead to a series of leaks that painted an unflattering portrait of the Tillerson-Trump relationship, however accurate, that hit a low-point after NBC News reported that Tillerson called Trump a “moron” and threatened to quit after a meeting at the Pentagon. The press-averse Tillerson held a special press conference that morning to trash the report, although critics like to point out he refused to specifically deny calling Trump a “moron.”

The cycle was renewed in late November when the New York Times reported a White House plan to imminently fire Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a Trump favorite. Almost immediately, several other outlets, including ABC News, were able to confirm the report citing senior White House officials.

But Tillerson did not budge: “You all need to get some new sources because your story keeps being wrong,” he told reporters days later.

More than a month since then, he seems to be partially right, as he remains standing as secretary with no plans to quit: “I intend to be here for the whole year,” he told CNN in what aides say will be the first of many more interviews in 2018, as he prepares for a more public role, with two big trips planned to Latin America and Africa soon.

Still, it remains an open question how effective the nation’s top diplomat can be when he doesn’t seem to have the support of the president or his department’s people. 2018 will require a lot of work on both those relationships.

This story is part of a weeklong series examining the first year of the Trump administration.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon is expected to meet behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, a congressional source and two sources close to Bannon tell ABC News.

Bannon will field questions from congressional Russia investigators for the first time as he continues to face backlash for his comments in a controversial new book about the Trump White House by author Michael Wolff that has renewed questions about the president's mental fitness and campaign activity.

Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign in August of 2016, said the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer thought to have dirt on Hillary Clinton was "treasonous," according to "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House."

"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers," Bannon said, according to Wolff. "Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic ... you should have called the FBI immediately."

In the book, he also suggested Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would focus on money laundering - something the panel has spent time investigating abroad.

Bannon, who stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart News last week amid the fallout over his comments, has since regretted his comments in the book and has called Donald Trump Jr., one of the campaign officials who participated in the meeting, a "patriot and a good man."

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the panel has questions about Bannon's comments in the book - including his suggestion that Trump Jr. brought the participants to meet with then-candidate Donald Trump.

“Specifically what's the basis for his assertion that the president met with the participants in the Trump Tower meeting,” Schiff said in an interview with ABC News' Pierre Thomas. “What [Bannon] knows about the president’s knowledge of that meeting, as well as his concerns over money laundering which has been a persistent concern of ours as well.”

The committee first reached out to Bannon with a request for documents and an interview before the release of "Fire and Fury." Trump's former political adviser is also expected to face questions about his knowledge of Russian contacts during the transition.

“We know from the Erik Prince testimony…that [Prince] had a meeting with Steve Bannon before he made that trip to the Seychelles traveling halfway around the world to have what he described essentially as a coincidental meeting with a Russian in a bar,” Schiff said. “Which just happened to be a head of one of the Russian Investment Banks, so we'd like to know whether Steve Bannon was involved in establishing any kind of a back channel of with the Russians.”

Bannon isn't the only Trump associate expected before the committee this week: Corey Lewandowski, Trump's first presidential campaign manager, is expected before the panel later this week.

"I have nothing to hide. I didn't collude or cooperate or coordinate with any Russian, Russian agency, Russian government or anybody else, to try and impact this election," he told WABC Radio's Rita Cosby in a recent interview.

Bannon's interview comes as the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees continue their investigations into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, are also seeking interviews with Justice Department officials involved with the Hillary Clinton email investigation and initial Russia probe.

So far there is no indication that Bannon is being investigated by the Special Counsel Mueller.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Congress has until midnight Friday to strike a deal on a host of thorny issues before government funding is set to run out, but talks appear to be at a standstill and a stopgap spending bill is looking more likely.

At the heart of it: the fate of nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants.

Democrats insist that if Republicans want their support for a spending deal, it must include a legislative fix to help DACA recipients. Republicans maintain that DACA must be dealt with separately from spending negotiations.

While a bipartisan group of senators claimed to have struck a deal that would shield DACA recipients from deportations and address border security, President Donald Trump roundly rejected their plan at an Oval Office meeting late last week.

Talks got even more complicated after sources said -- and at least one Democratic lawmaker at the meeting publicly claimed -- that Trump had made disparaging remarks about accepting immigrants from African nations.

On Sunday, Trump emphatically denied calling them "s---hole countries," adding that he is the "least racist person" reporters "have ever interviewed."

He went on to blame Democrats for holding up negotiations, telling reporters, "Honestly, I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal. I think they talk about DACA, but they don't want to help the DACA people."

And on Monday Trump tweeted, "Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military."

With Congress heading towards another government shutdown, all eyes are on negotiators as they scramble to come up with a spending deal that will placate members on both sides of the aisle.

The spending bill

Just two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seemed confident Democrats and Republicans could work together on spending.

"I am optimistic that we can begin 2018 with a bipartisan, two-year funding agreement that meets several critically-important objectives," McConnell said at the beginning of the new year.

Congressional leaders are scrambling to negotiate a funding bill that sets spending caps, reauthorizes the Children's Health Insurance Program, and provides supplemental disaster relief for communities ravaged by hurricanes last fall.

Republicans and Democrats both want to lift spending caps, which limit the amount of money the government can spend without adding to the deficit.

While Republicans are calling for a boost in defense spending, Democrats insist that any military spending increase be matched by an equal increase in spending on domestic programs. Republicans have said this notion of “parity” is a non-starter.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said negotiators on both sides of the aisle are “making progress” on establishing spending caps, and downplayed the chances of a government shutdown.

But he acknowledged another short-term spending bill was likely in the cards in order to give lawmakers more time to strike a deal on a long-term spending bill.

“We will have to do something short-term,” Ryan admitted last week during remarks at the University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee.

GOP defense hawks say a short-term spending bill cripples the military and the country's national security.

Democrats, for their part, are loathe to support a spending bill that doesn’t include a legislative fix to help the so-called Dreamers – the nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Fate of the Dreamers

The lone bipartisan plan to address DACA recipients and border security is now on the cutting room floor, but negotiators say they plan to whip up support from their colleagues.

"President Trump called on Congress to solve the DACA challenge. We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act—the areas outlined by the President. We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress," the bipartisan group of six senators said in a joint statement last week.

The Trump administration has set March 5 as the deadline to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young undocumented immigrants if Congress fails to come up with its own solution.

Republicans say Democrats are holding spending negotiations "hostage" and have said the DACA program must be addressed separately and in a standalone bill.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and other Democrats are pushing for a DACA fix to be included in a spending agreement this week because they fear if it's delayed any longer than that, Republicans won't put any legislation on the floor for a vote.

Republican leadership have said they intend to bring a vote to the floor in February or March.

"We’ve heard that before and it never happens," Schumer said last week.

Immigration hardliners in the Senate have already said their colleagues' bipartisan plan "isn't serious."

“There has been no deal reached yet on the future of DACA in the Senate. Some of our colleagues have floated a potential plan that, simply put, isn’t serious. It is disingenuous to discuss providing status to, potentially, millions of individuals without taking credible steps to truly protect our borders and secure the interior," Sens. Cotton, Grassley, and Perdue said in a statement last week.

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Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A public he-said, they-said debate has been unfolding for days in the wake of last week’s Oval Office meeting where President Donald Trump reportedly used a derogatory term to refer to certain countries.

The White House initially offered no denial of the charge that Trump questioned why the United States would want to accept immigrants from "s---hole countries.” But Trump is now denying that he made that specific remark, also citing claims from two people at the meeting that he says support his version of events.

Here is a timeline of how the issue has unfolded:

Thursday Jan. 11

In an immigration meeting at the White House Thursday afternoon, Trump grew frustrated at a proposed bipartisan immigration plan that would scale back the visa lottery program, but not eliminate it, asking those in the room why they would want people from "s---hole countries" like some in Africa coming to the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.

The president suggested instead that the United States should welcome more people from places like Norway, whose prime minister he had met with the day before, according to the sources.

The White House did not deny that the president made the remarks.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah issued this statement to ABC News, saying, "Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. The President will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation. He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”

A senior White House official acknowledged to ABC News that the president "grew frustrated when the conversation turned to the issue of the visa lottery deal," which allows a certain number of immigrants from qualifying countries every year.

White House aides appeared unfazed, with some there arguing the remark could actually help the president despite drawing bipartisan condemnation.

But it was “not the best way” for the president to convey his position, a senior White House official conceded, calling it a “classic Trump moment,” though arguing, “he’s making a point that people agree with, with words that are controversial.”

“This is a gaffe,” the official said. “It may not have been the best way to convey his position.”

Another White House official told ABC News the comment reflects the president’s “America First” policy.

“I don't think anyone is worried about it,” the official said. “I haven't seen or heard anyone worried about it. In this instance, our statement reflects our thinking here. America First."

Friday Jan. 12

Trump posted a tweet, making a vague denial of something that was being reported but not specifying the language with which he took issue.

"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!" he tweeted.

In the first public, on-camera reaction from someone in the room, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said there is no question the president said these "hate-filled things."

"To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words,” he said. “It is not true."

"When I mentioned that fact to him, he said, ‘Haitians, do we need more Haitians?’ Then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from shitholes. The exact word used by the president. Not just once but repeatedly."

Two Republican senators who were also in the meeting, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, issued a joint statement saying they did not “recall” the president’s use of the derogatory word.

“In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the resident saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest,” the joint statement read.

Another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, weighed in but revealed little about what was or wasn’t said.

“Following comments by the president, I said my piece directly to him yesterday,” he said in a statement. “The president and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel. I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.”

Sunday Jan. 15

In addition to Cotton, who again denied the use of the word during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” another person who was in the room during the meeting came to Trump’s defense.

The newly appointed Department of Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said on “Fox News Sunday” she didn’t remember hearing the word used.

"I don't recall him saying that exact phrase. I think he has been clear and I would certainly say undoubtedly the president will use, continue to use strong language when it comes to this issue. He feels very passionate about it," she said.

During an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Perdue doubled down on his earlier claims that he didn’t recall hearing the word used.

“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George,” Perdue told host George Stephanopoulos. “And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation.”

Before a dinner with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., at Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, the president denied making the “s---hole” remark.

“Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments? They weren’t made,” Trump said.

Asked about those who accuse him of being a racist, Trump replied: “No, no, I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.”

Monday Jan. 15

While attending an event in Chicago to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Durbin dismissed questions that have been raised by some who said that Trump didn't say "s---hole" but actually said "s---house" instead.

"I don’t know that changing the word from “hole” to “house” changes the impact which this has. This speaks to America and its view toward immigration and his message to the world," Durbin said. "I don’t believe the majority of America agrees with the president, whichever word was used."

Durbin said "I stick with my original interpretation. I am stunned that this is their defense" of suggesting that it was a slightly different word used.

In an interview with the Charleston Post & Courier, Sen. Lindsey Graham said his memory "hasn't evolved" since Thursday's controversial Oval Office meeting.

He told fellow South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott last week that media accounts of Trump's remarks were "basically accurate."

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's schedule Monday marks a break in presidential tradition.

Though it isn't unusual for Trump to visit his golf course while spending time at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, the timing of it Monday, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, shows a break from the actions of past presidents.

While Trump urged Americans last Friday to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with acts of civic work and community service to honor the life of the civil rights legend, it doesn’t appear he'll be doing the same, with no public events listed on his schedule. The White House didn't immediately respond to requests for further details on how Trump spent his day.

Past Republican and Democratic presidents have done some form of commemoration for King's life of service on the holiday during their time in office.

In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed legislation to designate the federal holiday as a national day of service. He also did volunteer work himself in subsequent years, including a day he spent painting the walls at a Washington, D.C., high school in 1998 and joining AmeriCorps volunteers in painting a senior center in 2001.

During his eight years in office, then-President George W. Bush participated in service events, invited African-American clergy to the White House for lunch and attended church and cultural services honoring King.

And former President Barack Obama and his family made it an annual tradition to participate in some type of service event, from working at a soup kitchen to painting a mural at a family shelter.

Hundreds of demonstrators, including many from the Haitian community, greeted Trump Monday in West Palm Beach. They called for the president to apologize for his controversial comments reportedly made during a recent Oval Office meeting on immigration reform.

"Mr. Trump, we want him to know what he said was not who we are and he needs to apologize," Byrnes Guillaume, organizer of the protest, told ABC affiliate WPBF-TV. "It was unbecoming of a president."

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Lou Rocco /ABC(NEW YORK) -- Rep. John Lewis, who boycotted President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year, said Martin Luther King Jr. “would have taken the same position I did.”

Lewis, one of the last surviving leaders of the U.S. civil rights movement, was among the original 13 Freedom Riders and was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a major organization of the movement in the 1960s.

Lewis has served as the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 5th district since 1987.

He told The View Monday that he originally decided not to attend Trump's inauguration a year ago because he “never felt that his election was legitimate.” He also has not met with the president and does not plan to.

"I couldn't be at home with myself if I had to participate or be part of [Trump's inauguration]," Lewis said. "The movement told us to withdraw from evil."

Lewis also said on This Week on Sunday that he will not attend Trump’s first State of the Union later this month, saying that “in good conscience” he “cannot sit there and listen to him.”

Trump attacked Lewis on Twitter two days before the inauguration last year in response to Lewis' claim that Trump was not a “legitimate” president because of alleged Russian interference in the election.

 Lewis said today that he disagreed with a contention by King’s daughter, Bernice King, that her father would have met with President Trump.

Bernice King said on WSB radio in early 2017: “Unlike some people, my father would try to meet with President-elect Trump because he recognizes that in order to move the agenda of justice, freedom, and equality forward, you can’t just protest and resist. You also have to negotiate as well.”

Lewis said, “I knew her father very, very well. Meeting him, working with him, and getting to know him — I think he would have taken the same position that I did.”

He added that he believes Trump wouldn’t have been elected had Martin Luther King Jr. still been alive: “Dr. King would have been able to lead us to a different place and our country would have been different and the world community would have been different.”

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There was a slew of high-profile departures from the Trump White House over a three-week period this past summer--but they were hardly the only ones during the first year.

Some of the highest-profile positions have been part of White House shakeups--including chief of staff, press secretary, and communications director.

At the same time, a number of key aides who've stayed have been on the so-called Trump train since the beginning.

Here's a rundown of the biggest departures:

Mike Flynn, former national security adviser

Flynn's departure came less than a month into his tenure as the president's national security adviser.

He lasted just over three weeks before being forced to resign Feb. 13 after it was revealed he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of multiple contacts with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak before Trump's inauguration.

On Dec. 1, Flynn pleaded to one felony count of making false statements to the FBI.

Reince Priebus, former White House chief of staff

Amid tensions with the then-new communications director Anthony Scaramucci, Trump decided to replace Reince Priebus.

Priebus came into the White House with Trump, having served as chairman of the Republican National Committee during the campaign. Given his background in Republican politics, Priebus was widely seen as one of the more ‘establishment’ figures in the administration.

On July 28, Trump announced then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly would replace Priebus.

Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary

Sean Spicer became one of the best-known figures in the early Trump administration for his combative press briefings and an outlandish imitation on “Saturday Night Live.” That all ended on July 21, just over six months into the administration.

A few hours after Anthony Scaramucci was brought on the team as communications director, Spicer resigned. Spicer told ABC News that he felt "relieved" and that "organizationally" the White House communications team needed a "fresh start."

Spicer has made a handful of public appearances since his departure, including a controversial moment at the Emmy Awards when he mocked his own claims about the size of the crowd at Trump's inauguration.

Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director

A former investment banker briefly became the head of the White House communications operation--before a profanity-laced conversation with a reporter led to his ouster.

The hiring of Anthony Scaramucci ruffled feathers within the White House, and prompted the resignation of a beleaguered Spicer, and the replacement of Trump's then-chief of staff Priebus a week later.

With Scaramucci just days into his role, The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza published a detailed account of an expletive-ridden phone conversation he had with Scaramucci. Scaramucci resigned four days after the article's publication.

All told, Scaramucci officially held the role of communications director for a little more than a week.

Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist

Critics opposed Bannon's purported nationalist views and former position as executive chairman of the website Breitbart News, which published articles that promoted the so-called alt-right movement.

Bannon's firing came as a result of Trump's increasing frustration with him, according to one senior White House official.

He returned to Breitbart News after leaving the White House, and publicly supported certain far-right candidates including Roy Moore in Alabama who made a failed run for U.S. Senate. He came under fire from Trump in January 2018 for comments he made to the author of "Fire and Fury" - a revealing book about the administration, and days later it was announced that Bannon was stepping down from his role at Breitbart.

Mike Dubke, former White House communications director

Dubke wasn't part of the Trump team for long, joining the White House in early March and announcing his departure only a little more than two months later.

His lack of roots within the Trump team may have contributed to his departure-- Axios reporting that he didn't gel with those who had been part of the campaign.

He reportedly left on good terms June 2.

Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president

Sebastian Gorka attracted an extraordinary amount of scrutiny during his time in the White House for his alleged ties to a far-right Hungarian nationalist group and his questionable national security resume.

Known for his combative television appearances, he courted controversy in early August with an interview just a week prior to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in which he criticized the news media for focusing too much on white supremacists.

Gorka wrote a lengthy letter obtained by The Federalist in which he stated he had resigned his post-- saying he was frustrated with national security adviser H.R. McMaster's leadership and his moves to push out some close allies of former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Omarosa Manigualt-Newman, former communications director for the Office of Public Liaison

She was fired three times from various seasons of "The Apprentice," but former reality star and Trump confidante Omarosa Manigualt-Newman insists she resigned from her role at the White House, denying reports she was fired and had to be escorted from the building. A White House official said in a statement on Dec. 13 that Manigault-Newman resigned “to pursue other opportunities.”

Manigualt-Newman spoke about her departure on "Good Morning America" the next day, saying she and chief of staff John Kelly "had a very straightforward discussion of concerns that I had, issues that I raised and, as a result, I resigned."

The White House announced that while Manigault-Newman will not have the same level of security clearance, she will officially stay on in her role until Jan. 20 and would continue to get paid during that time.

She was in charge of outreach to the leaders of HBCUs--historically black colleges and universities--and also oversaw the president’s visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. But Manigault's day-to-day duties could not be pinpointed and, according to Politico, she used the White House as a backdrop for her 39-person bridal party to take wedding photos.

Katie Walsh, former deputy chief of staff

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh left the White House in March to consult for an outside group that aims to help with Trump’s agenda.

Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser

Powell is set to leave the White House in early 2018. The announcement of her departure came on Dec. 8 and her final day of work in the administration has not been publicly released.

Powell has been a key player in the administration’s Middle East policy, with senior adviser Jared Kushner releasing a statement saying that she "has been a valued member of the Israeli-Palestinian peace team."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement saying Powell has been "a key, trusted advisor" and "has always planned to serve one year before returning home to New York, where she will continue to support the president's agenda and work on Middle East policy."

The kind words didn't end there, as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also released a statement asserting that "she is one of the most talented and effective leaders with whom I have ever served."

Who’s still around

Not everyone has left, however, and a number of familiar faces have stayed on to help achieve Trump administration goals into 2018.

One reason why the list of those who date back to the campaign is on the shorter side stems from the fact that the campaign was a relatively lean operation and not everyone involved stayed on after the election and transition.

Others, including all but one cabinet member, have remained part of the administration.

Here are the key players who have been there since the beginning:

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, had been a key player in the presidential campaign and translated that into a powerful role inside the White House. Kushner was named head of the new White House Office of American Innovation and was tasked with leading projects ranging from prison reform to restarting Middle East peace efforts.

The role held by his wife Ivanka, Trump’s elder daughter, has grown over the first year. While she didn’t have an official role at first, she drew controversy for regularly attending White House and public events with her father, and then in March her position as an unpaid special adviser was formalized and she was given a White House office. Ivanka Trump has since made her own version of state visits to Japan and India and has pushed for some of the administration’s biggest policy proposals, including tax reform.

Hope Hicks, White House communications director

One person who has been a near constant presence around Trump from the very beginning is Hope Hicks.

A former public relations consultant, Hicks was Trump’s press secretary during the campaign and followed him into the White House.

Starting as director of strategic communications, it was announced in September that she had been promoted to White House communications director.

Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary

Sarah Sanders is now one of the most public faces of the administration as the press secretary.

Sanders regularly conducted press briefings during the first six months of Trump's term--but most frequently off camera as the White House faced questions over the possibility of Sean Spicer's role changing.

During the 2016 campaign, she worked first for her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and then, after his presidential bid failed, she joined the Trump campaign. She began working as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign in February 2016 but then joined the campaign’s communications team in September 2016.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president

Trump’s former campaign manager is one of the familiar faces still working closely with Trump as counselor to the president.

She regularly speaks for the White House on television, but some appearances have been highly controversial, including one when she cited a terrorist attack that never happened and anotehr in which she defended Spicer’s characterization of Trump inauguration crowd size by saying he used “alternative facts.”

Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser

Another campaign carryover is Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser who has played a central role in some of the more controversial administration moves.

Miller has been a key player in the attempts to implement a travel ban and in February doubled down on the president’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the election. Earlier this month, the administration disbanded the presidential voter fraud commission.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- President Trump on Sunday emphatically denied saying Haiti and other African countries were "s---hole countries," adding that he is the "least racist person" reporters "have ever interviewed."

The president finally addressed the disparaging remarks in person as he was headed to dinner at his golf club in West Palm Beach with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Despite news reports and accounts from elected officials inside the room, the president pointed to two senators -- Tom Cotton and David Perdue, both Republicans, who were also present -- who maintained he hadn't slurred Haiti and Africa.

"Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments?" he asked reporters. "They weren't made."

Trump denied being racist, too.

"No, no, I'm not a racist," he said. "I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you."

The president's remarks come after a weekend of non-stop criticism and calls for him to apologize. The remarks were reportedly made during a closed-door meeting with members of Congress to discuss immigration on Thursday.

The president, according to the reports, also said the United States should accept more immigrants from places like Norway.

Beyond his denial about the comments, Trump touched on topics ranging from DACA to North Korea.

He blamed Democrats for failing to reach a deal on DACA, the Obama-era policy that offers protection for children who were brought to the U.S. illegally.

"Honestly, I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal," he said. "I think they talk about DACA but they don’t want to help the DACA people."

He responded "I don't know" when asked whether there would a government shutdown, but warned it would hurt the military, which he said is unacceptable.

On the false missile alert sent by Hawaiian officials, which triggered panic and confusion in the state, the president said he "love[s] that they took responsibility."

"They took total responsibility. But we are going to get involved. Their attitude...I think it is terrific," he said. "They took responsibility. They made a mistake."

He added, "We hope it won't happen again."

And on North Korea, Trump was optimistic about recent and future talks with its neighboring country, South Korea.

"We're gonna see what happens," he said. "Hopefully it's all gonna work out."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Republican strategists have turned decidedly pessimistic about their prospects for the 2018 midterm elections.

Prominent Republicans are now saying privately that Democrats are virtually certain to win control of the House of Representatives.

As one senior Republican on Capitol Hill told ABC News, “If the election were held today, the House would be gone. Fortunately, the election is not today.”

Another prominent Republican strategist working on the midterm elections went further, telling ABC News point-blank that Republicans will lose the House and that this prospect unlikely to change.

“The only question is whether Democrats win narrowly by picking up 25 seats or whether it is a blowout of more than 35 seats,” the strategist said.

Allies of President Donald Trump are convinced the president will quickly face impeachment hearings if Democrats take control of the House.

One Republican close to Trump predicted that not only will there be impeachment hearings but that the prospects for the president would be grim.

“Consider what happened with Bill Clinton,” the Trump ally said. “Clinton was disciplined; he had a strategy and still he was impeached.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Republican senator said President Donald Trump did not use the word "s---hole" in reference to immigrants from Haiti and Africa in a meeting at the White House last week.

Senator David Perdue of Georgia told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that reports have misrepresented the president's comments during a meeting on immigration on Thursday.

“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George,” said Perdue, who was among the senators at the meeting with Trump. “And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation.”

Stephanopoulos pressed Perdue, saying that multiple sources have confirmed the president’s language, of whom the most outspoken has been Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

“Multiple sources? There were six of us in the room,” Perdue responded to Stephanopoulos. “I haven’t heard any of those six sources other than Senator Durbin talk about what was said.”

Perdue also seemed to question Senator Durbin’s intentions, saying “it is not the first time” that the Illinois senator has accused someone of inflammatory language.

“In 2013, Senator Durbin also made the same accusation against a Republican leader in a meeting with President Obama, and said that ... he chewed out the president, it was so disrespectful to President Obama, we couldn’t even have the meeting,” Perdue said.

“That’s what he (Durbin) said in 2013. Later that day, the president’s own press secretary came out and said, and I quote, 'It did not happen.' This is about a gross misrepresentation. It’s not the first time.”

Durbin's communications director tweeted a response to Perdue's apparent questioning of the credibility of the Illinois senator's account of what Trump said.

Credibility is something that’s built over time, Durbin spokesman Ben Marter tweeted. "Senator Durbin has it. Senator Perdue does not. Ask anyone who’s dealt with both."

Perdue maintained on "This Week" that the focus on what Trump allegedly said was being used to prevent any deals on immigration.

“These people have been trying for 35 years to solve this immigration problem without success, for one reason, and that is I don’t believe they’re serious about trying to solve that right now,” Perdue said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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