About the author  ⁄ 

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee says he has new documents that appear to show former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn lied to investigators who were conducting his security clearance review.

In a letter Monday to the committee’s chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., urged the oversight chairman to subpoena the White House for documents that detail its process for vetting Flynn.

While the White House has largely blamed the Obama administration for failing to vet Flynn, Cummings, citing investigators’ records, claims Flynn lied to officials who interviewed him in February of 2016 as part of his security clearance renewal.

Flynn appeared to tell investigators his trips to Russia and other countries were paid for by American companies. The former Trump adviser has publicly claimed he was paid by a speakers’ bureau for his appearance at a Moscow gala for Russian television network RT, but documents previously obtained by the committee indicate the government-funded channel paid Flynn more than $45,000 for his 2015 appearance.

“General Flynn had a duty to be truthful on his security clearance renewal form and during his interview with security clearance investigators,” Cummings wrote in his letter to Chaffetz, which quoted the report.

According to the investigators’ report, Flynn also claimed he had “insubstantial contact” with foreign nationals, though he sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is difficult to understand how General Flynn could have believed that his dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin was ‘insubstantial contact,'” Cummings wrote.

The letter from the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee comes hours after Flynn refused to comply with a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. The panel had requested documents from Flynn.

“While we recognize General Flynn’s constitutional right to invoke the Fifth Amendment, we are disappointed he has chosen to disregard the Committee’s subpoena request for documents relevant and necessary to our investigation,” Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a statement. “We will vigorously pursue General Flynn’s testimony and his production of any and all pertinent materials pursuant to the Committee’s authorities.”

An aide to Chaffetz declined to comment on the letter.

Flynn’s attorney declined multiple requests for comment Monday from ABC News.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BETHLEHEM, West Bank) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday called out the “evil losers” who he said were behind a massive explosion that brought “death to innocent young people” who were attending a pop concert in Manchester, England Monday night.

“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life,” Trump said early Tuesday morning, speaking just hours after a suspected terrorist attacker carried out a deadly explosion at an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people and injuring 59 others on Monday night.

“I won’t call them monsters because they’d like that term. They’d think that’s a great name,” he added.

The comments were the president’s first on the bombing at the Manchester Arena, one of Europe’s largest indoor arenas. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said earlier that Trump has been receiving updates from his national security team on the situation through the morning.

“I would like to extend my condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack, to the many killed and the families, so many families of the victims,” Trump said. “We stand in absolute solidarity with people of the United Kingdom.”

The remarks came as Trump met with Palestinian President Abbas in Bethlehem, where the two are expected to discuss a possible peace deal in the Middle East.

“And interesting that our meeting took place on this horrible morning of death to innocent young people,” Trump said. “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded. We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single unified voice.”

Revisiting remarks from his address to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Trump again called for nations to “drive out” extremists and terrorists from their societies.

“We cannot stand a moment longer for the slaughter of innocent people and in today’s attack it was mostly innocent children,” Trump said. “The terrorists and extremists and those who give them aid and comfort must be driven out from our society forever.”

Trump is currently in the middle of his first foreign trip as president. He is also scheduled to meet with the European Union and Belgian leaders in Brussels and attend a NATO summit as a part of the eight-day trip.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

© 2016 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC(NEW YORK) — Zack Snyder is stepping down as director of Justice League in the wake of his daughter’s recent suicide, ABC News has confirmed. Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon will step in to finish the film.

Snyder’s 20-year-old daughter, Autumn, took her life in March but it was only recently publicly revealed. Snyder tells The Hollywood Reporter after he and his wife, Justice League co-producer Deborah Snyder, took two weeks off to deal with the family tragedy, they returned to the film.

“In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was the way through it,” Snyder said. “And in the last two months, I’ve come to the realization…I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”

Snyder said Whedon was brought into the project to write some additional scenes following early screenings of Justice League. He’ll now also guide the film through post-production, The Hollywood Reporter says.

Snyder directed both Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Justice League — starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller, is still scheduled for a November 17 release.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Natiom(NEW YORK) — Celebrities are reacting in horror at the news that 22 people are dead and nearly 60 others are injured after a reported explosion took place at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in England on Monday.

Ariana’s duet partner Nicki Minaj tweeted: “My heart hurts for my sister, Ariana & every family affected by this tragic event in the U.K. Innocent lives lost. I’m so sorry to hear this”

Harry Styles wrote: “I’m heartbroken over what happened in Manchester tonight. Sending love to everyone involved. H”

Taylor Swift tweeted: “My thoughts, prayers and tears for all those affected by the Manchester tragedy tonight. I’m sending all my love.”

Pink wrote: “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Manchester, any one affected, @ArianaGrande and the entire crew. Heartbreaking”

Katy Perry tweeted: “Praying for everyone at @ArianaGrande’s show”

Cher tweeted: “MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO PPL OF MANCHESTER…HAD SPECIAL TIMES THERE FROM YOUTH & BEYOND”

Demi Lovato wrote: “Tearing up imagining innocent concert goers losing their lives.. praying for everyone and all #arianators.” Adding, “My prayers are with you Manchester”

Niall Horan tweeted: “Absolutely Horrendous what happened in Manchester tonight. My thoughts are with the great people of Manchester and also Ari and her team xx”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wrote: “Our prayers and strengh to the victims and their families involved in this tragedy in Manchester. Stay strong. @ArianaGrande”

Bruno Mars tweeted: “No words can describe how I feel about what happened in Manchester. I don’t wanna believe that the world we live in could be so cruel.”

Lorde wrote: “every musician feels sick & responsible tonight—shows should be safe for you. truly a worst nightmare. sending love to manchester & ari”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.(NEW YORK) — “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

That’s the first public reaction from Ariana Grande to the explosion outside of her concert in Manchester, England Monday night. The blast, believed to be the work of a suicide bomber, killed 19 people and injured 50.

broken.
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.

— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017

Grande tweeted her message just before 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Her manager, Scooter Braun, shared a longer message, tweeted about twenty minutes before Ariana’s.

“Tonight, our hearts are broken. Words cannot express out sorrow for the victims and families harmed in this senseless attack,” Braun’s message reads.

pic.twitter.com/BOHKwMx4wW

— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) May 23, 2017

It goes on: “We mourn the lives of children and loved ones taken by this cowardly act. We are thankful for the selfless service tonight of Manchester’s first responders who rushed towards danger to help save lives. We ask all of you to hold the victims, their families, and all those affected in your hearts and prayers.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Image Group LA/ABCAt least 19 people are dead and about 50 others injured after reports of an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, according to Greater Manchester Police.

Police said the situation “is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise.”

A rep for Ariana tells ABC News that Ariana is OK and that they are investigating what happened.

In a statement, Manchester Arena confirmed that there had been an incident but said it occurred outside the venue. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims,” it tweeted.

Concertgoer Josh Elliot tells the BBC, “Basically, she finished her last song. ‘Dangerous Woman,’ and the house lights came up and everyone started to walk out, and we heard like, a really like big bang – there was only one bang, people are saying there was two, we only heard one.” He added, “It was just, it was absolutely hectic, it was.. unreal – it was like, it was something out of a film, everyone was just charging towards… the doors.”

Abby Barker, who was at the concert, tells ABC News, “Ariana had just gone off stage and finished the show, all the music had cut off and the lights had gone on. People started getting up and leaving the arena. Next minute there was this extremely loud bang and I looked across the arena and everyone over there started running in different directions, screaming in panic. We all started panicking too and ran out the doors and ran down the stairs out of the arena. We got outside and children were crying their eyes out, people talking about it being a bomb/gunshots, there were many parents running towards the arena but no one knew exactly what it was”

Another concertgoer, Rebecca Beatty tells the BBC, “There was a lot of people pushing and really trying to get out quickly and obviously because of the congestion of people, I can understand there being injuries.”

Some fans posted video of the incident on Twitter.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


EXPLOSION AT MANCHESTER ARENA AND EVERYONE RAN OUT SO SCARY😭 pic.twitter.com/pJbUBoELtE

— ♡♡ (@hannawwh) May 22, 2017

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) — Tampa police are investigating after a man allegedly admitted to killing his two roommates because he believes they disrespected his Muslim faith.

Devon Arthurs, 18, was arrested Friday and faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of armed kidnapping.

Around 5:29 p.m. local time on May 19, Arthurs entered Green Planet Smoke Shop in Tampa armed with a black semiautomatic pistol, according to a police report on the incident. He allegedly demanded that the employee and one customer who were in the store at the time get on the ground as he pointed the gun at one of the captives.

“Why shouldn’t I kill you?” one victim says Arthurs yelled while holding them captive, according to the police report.

About two to three minutes after Arthurs entered the shop, a second customer entered and was also ordered to get on the ground.

“Arthurs informed all three victims in the store that he had already killed somebody,” said the police report. “He further informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries.”

Approximately five minutes after the third victim entered the store, two Tampa police officers arrived to the scene and confronted Arthurs.

According to the police report, one victim was able to run away from the scene, while the officers convinced Arthurs to let the remaining two victims go. After minutes of negotiating, Arthurs surrendered and allowed officers to arrest him.

While being walked to the police car, Arthurs made references to “Allah Mohammed” and stated, “I had to do it. This wouldn’t have had to happen if your country didn’t bomb my country,” according to the police report.

While under arrest, Arthurs was asked if anyone else was hurt, to which he replied, “The people in the apartment, but they aren’t hurt, they’re dead,” according to the police report.

Arthurs then directed police to the apartment, where two male victims were found dead. He identified the victims to police as his roommates Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk,18, and provided details of the shooting, including the rifle he used, the sequence of events, and the exact location of the shooting and the placement of the shot on each victim, according to the police report.

Arthurs stated that he had once shared a common neo-Nazi belief with his two roommates before converting to Islam, and that the shooting deaths were caused by the individuals disrespecting his Muslim faith.

Arthurs’ fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, was also arrested May 21 after allegedly being linked to explosive devices found in the apartment.

When police arrived to the apartment where Himmelman and Oneschuk were found dead, Russell was seen outside of the apartment dressed in full U.S. Army camouflage “crying and visibly upset,” according to the police report.

“That’s my roommate (Russell),” Arthurs said, according to the report. “He doesn’t know what’s going on and just found them like you guys did.”

Arthurs also told police that before the murders he had been aware of “Russell participating in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure,” according to the report.

“From our point of view, there was a double homicide and we arrested the guy who did the homicide,” a spokesperson for Tampa Police Department told ABC News. “When we started talking to him and got info about neo-Nazi and stuff in the apartment we called the FBI and we are certainly working with [them].”

Tampa police obtained a state search warrant for the apartment, where law enforcement discovered a cooler in the garage with a white, cake-like substance. Two FBI and Tampa Police Department bomb squad officials identified the substance as an explosive known as hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, according to a criminal report from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Other bomb-making materials and firearms were also found in the apartment. Nazi and white supremacist propaganda were discovered in Russell’s bedroom, including a framed photo of Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Russell, who is associated with the Army National Guard, allegedly admitted to law enforcement officials that he was a national socialist, a neo-Nazi and a member of a self-organized group called “Atom Waffen,” which is German for atomic weapon, according to the criminal report. They say he also admitted to owning the explosive devices found in the garage, and said they were used to make homemade rockets in 2013 when he was in an engineering club at the University of South Florida.

Russell was arrested by the FBI on May 21 and is charged with possession of unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. It is unclear if he is represented by an attorney and has not been scheduled a court date yet.

Arthurs, who is represented by a public defender, has a hearing set for May 24 at 10 a.m. local time.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than half a million foreigners stayed in the United States after their visas expired during the last fiscal year, according to a new report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Monday.

Of the more than 50 million foreigners that entered the U.S., 1.47 percent — or 739,478 people — stayed in the country past the length of their visa. That includes those who stay one day over their allowable time, as well as people who have no intention of ever leaving the U.S.

This report shows that “we have a problem with visa overstays in the United States,” said a senior DHS official Monday, pointing out that the number of people who stayed in the U.S. illegally is close to the population of Seattle.

“The integrity of our immigration system is at stake,” the official added.

Of the total number of overstays last year, 628,799 people or 1.25 percent had no record of departure, known as an “in-country” overstay at the end of the fiscal year, according to DHS. However, due to continued departures and changes to immigration status, that number decreased over time. By January 10, the official number of people who overstayed visas in the fiscal year of 2016 had dropped to 544,676.

This is the second year that DHS has formally released these numbers.

The report, which is only a snapshot in time, represents about 96 percent of all people entering the U.S. on a temporary visa, including temporary workers, students, exchange visitors, personal travel and business travel – a larger pool of people than the 2015 report. The only exceptionsin 2016 were airline crews and transiting passengers.

However, the report does not include people entering the U.S through land checkpoints, but in some cases departures to Canada or Mexico are included to close out a case.

When determining if someone overstayed a visa, DHS needs to take into account whether they applied for a more permanent immigration benefit or legally extended their stay in the U.S.

The U.K. followed by Germany, Italy and France had the largest total number of people overstaying their travel visas for business or pleasure, among countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism without a visa.

The visa waiver program promotes commerce and ease of travel, but it also creates national security risks, as Europeans from those countries who have fought with ISIS in the Middle East return home.

“They have learned how to make IEDs, employ drones to drop ordnance, and acquired experience on the battlefield that by all reports they are bringing back home,” said DHS Sec. John Kelly at a recent speech.

“They can more easily travel to the United States which makes us a prime target for their exported violence,” he added.

This has been a national security concern for years. For example, two of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were visa overstays, prompting the 9/11 Commission to call for the government to track visitors to the U.S. on entry and exit.

Brazil had by far the most total overstays from countries that do not participate in the visa waiver program – followed by Venezuela, China, Colombia and Nigeria.

While DHS says it is confident in its data, there is a chance that someone could leave the U.S. as an “imposter” because departures are currently only tracked using biographic data, like an airplanes manifest.

Without biometric data – like fingerprints, facial recognition — there is a chance that someone could lie about leaving.

Despite Congressional mandate and years of officials calling for biometric exit data, it still remains a challenge for DHS.

Airports were never designed to control customs departure from within the U.S., according to DHS. For example, international departures and domestic departures coming at airports.

In addition, if you scan someone too early in the check-in process, there is still a chance they could lie about leaving and if you scan at the gate, you run into time and space constraints.

There is currently a pilot program at the Atlanta airport that is using facial recognition to match people with their photos as they leave the country.

When people overstay their visas the data is shared with ICE to carry out enforcement. It’s provided daily and in conjunction with ICE’s priorities, like national security and law enforcement needs.

However, a DHS inspector general report earlier this month found that a “fragmented, ineffective” set of information technology (IT) systems hinder efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track visa overstays.

ICE relies on IT systems that lack integration and information-sharing capabilities, forcing ICE personnel to piece together information from up to 27 distinct DHS information systems and databases to accurately determine an individual’s overstay status.

This inefficient process has contributed to a backlog of more than 1.2 million visa overstay cases – taking months for ICE to determine a visa holder’s status and whether someone poses a national security threat, found the report.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — President Trump’s first budget proposal to Congress includes $1.7 trillion in mandatory spending cuts over 10 years, including $800 billion from Medicaid and $193 billion from food stamps, in an effort to balance the federal budget.

The proposal for Fiscal Year 2018, called “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” also includes sunny projections for economic growth and tax revenue, and factors in the passage of the GOP health care bill recently approved by the House.

“What Trumponomics is and what this budget is a part of, is trying to get to sustained three percent economic growth in this country again,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said in a briefing with reporters on Monday. “We do not believe that is something fanciful.”

In addition to the cuts, the proposal, set to be delivered to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning, also includes a boost to military spending, $25 billion over 10 years for Ivanka Trump’s paid family leave proposal — six weeks for new/adoptive parents — and $1 billion for construction of a border all on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We’re not going to measure success by how much money we spend, but by how many people we help,” Mulvaney said of the reduced spending, adding that the White House believes in the “social safety net.”

Like every presidential budget proposal, Trump’s first budget blueprint is expected to be dead on arrival in the House and Senate, with many members reluctant to approve deep cuts to Medicaid and foreign aid, among other programs.

Democrats are criticizing the White House proposal, and accusing Trump of going back on his promise to his campaign supporters not to touch Medicaid and Social Security.

“Candidate Trump campaigned as a populist,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said on the Senate floor Monday. “Since he has taken office he has governed like a hard-right conservative — pushing policies that help the uber wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”

“Based on what we know about this budget, the good news — the only good news — is that it’s likely to be roundly rejected by members of both parties here in the Senate — just as the last budget was,” Schumer said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) — The Turkish national who forced the emergency landing of American Airlines flight 31 in Honolulu on Friday allegedly told FBI agents “we all have” terroristic ideas, and pantomimed shooting an agent during his interview, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hawaii on Monday.

En route from Los Angeles to Honolulu, 25-year-old Anil Uskanli alarmed passengers and crewmembers while acting “strange,” forcing the pilot lock down the flight deck and prompting the U.S. Pacific Command to send two F-22 fighter jets to escort the aircraft into Hawaii.

F22’s taking off from Honolulu to escort American Airlines flight 31 #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/8cauepQ7Yt

— Anthony Quintano 🌴 (@AnthonyQuintano) May 19, 2017

“We all have those ideas,” he said when asked if he ever had terroristic thoughts.

According to the complaint, Uskanli boarded the plane without any luggage, carrying only a phone, laptop, charger, and miscellaneous items in his pockets.

Not long after he was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing at LAX after breaching a security door while under the influence, crew escorted him down the jet bridge in a wheelchair.

Once aboard the Airbus 321, he plopped into a seat in first class. At a flight attendant’s repeated urging, Uskanli eventually moved to 35B, his assigned seat.

After the flight took off, Uskanli began repeatedly moving his laptop from the seatback pocket to the space under the seat, “uttering things and talking to himself,” one passenger told FBI agents.

He then got up to use the lavatory, but failed to lock the door, the complaint adds. When another passenger attempted to enter the lavatory, Uskanli allegedly began “yelling and pounding on the walls.”

After flight attendants escorted him back to his seat, they found what appeared to be cigarette pieces around the toilet.

A short time later, Uskanli “wrapped a blanket around his head, picked up his laptop,” and shuffled towards the front of the aircraft.

A flight attendant used a beverage cart to block the aisle, but Uskanli shoved back, then set his laptop on the cart, triggering immediate alarm among the crew. The flight attendant was concerned following reports that terrorists are attempting to target aircraft with explosives concealed inside electronics, the complaint explains.

While an off-duty law enforcement officer steered Uskanli back to his seat, a flight attendant barricaded the laptop in the rear of the aircraft — standard procedure for handling a possible explosive device. To further mitigate the impact of a potential in-flight bomb, the pilot descended to 5,000 feet, according to the complaint.

Uskanli was restrained with duct tape, witnesses say.

Upon landing, Uskanli was escorted off the flight by law enforcement, and bomb technicians and canine units seized the laptop and secured the plane. No explosives were found inside the laptop, authorities say.

Uskanli’s urinalysis came back positive for benzodiazepine. Other field sobriety tests indicated he may have been high on stimulants or cannabis, according to the complaint.

During a post-incident interview with FBI agents, Uskanli “made a gun shape with his fingers and pretended to shoot,”simulated a ‘chopping motion'” at an agent’s neck, and threatened to kill a female agent, according to the complaint.

Asked if he planned to hurt anyone, he told agents, “it depends on the day.”

He was charged with interfering with a flight crew, and was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →