Review Category : Top Stories

POLL: Sixty-Eight Percent of Cops Think Protests After Police Shootings Show Bias

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A new survey indicates that more than two-thirds of police officers believe that protests that typically follow high-profile police shootings are “motivated to a great extent by anti-police bias” — one of several findings that appear to highlight deep divisions between law enforcement and the citizens they protect.

The survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform and published by the Pew Research Center, polled nearly 8,000 police officers from 54 police and sheriff’s departments across the United States.

Because of the way the survey was conducted, margins of error varied from question.

Some 68 percent of officers say protests after fatal police shootings of black citizens, like the ones that dominated headlines this July following the fatal police shootings of Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, reflect anti-police bias.

By contrast, the survey indicates that only 10 percent of the officers believe that protesters were motivated “a great deal” by the desire to hold officers accountable for their actions.

Some 86 percent say that high-profile incidents between police and African-Americans have made police work harder, and seven in 10 say they’ve made officers in their department less willing to stop and question “suspicious persons,” the data show.

And, perhaps most notably, while six in 10 Americans see these incidents as signs of broader problems between the police and the black community, according to a separate Pew research study, fewer than a third of police officers agree with their assessment.

The Pew study also highlights apparent racial divisions within the ranks of the police officers themselves.

Only about a quarter of white officers, but close to seven-in-ten of their black colleagues, believe that the protests that followed fatal encounters between police and black citizens were sincere attempts to make police more accountable, the survey said.

Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of white officers (92 percent) but less than a third of their black colleagues say that the country has made the changes needed to assure equal rights for black citizens, according to the data.

The survey also has some potentially bad news for advocates of police reform.

More than half of the officers surveyed said that “in some neighborhoods” being aggressive is a more effective approach than demonstrating courtesy and 44 percent agree or strongly agree that “hard, physical tactics” are needed to deal with certain people.

But there are areas of agreement between the police and the public, according to the survey.

Large majorities of both believe anti-police bias is part of why police protests occur, the appear to agree on the need for body cameras as well as tracking gun sales federally and making private gun shows subject to background checks.

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Six Children Missing in Baltimore House Fire

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — Six children are missing and four people are in the hospital after a fire tore through a home in Baltimore, Maryland, early Thursday morning, officials said.

The blaze started at the three-story home in northeast Baltimore just after midnight, Roman Clark of the Baltimore City Fire Department told ABC News.

Three children and a woman escaped the blaze; the woman and two of the children were hospitalized in critical condition and the third child was hospitalized in serious condition, Clark said.

Six other children are missing. The home’s third floor collapsed into the second floor, making the search difficult, Clark said.

The ages of the missing and hospitalized children range from 8 months to 11, Clark said.

The rescued woman is believed to be the mother of all nine children, Clark said.

The rescue operation is ongoing; an excavator is at the scene to remove some of the heavy debris so crews can more easily search for the missing children, Clark said.

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Georgia Deputy in Dramatic Shootout Caught on Dashcam

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — A Georgia sheriff’s deputy is thankful for his life after exchanging fire with a suspect while on a welfare call at a private residence in rural Troup County.

The officer’s dashcam captured dramatic video of the shootout, which took place on Monday.

Deputy Michael Hockett was dispatched to the residence to check on an individual whose father called police to report a mental health episode, ABC affiliate WSB-TV reported.

In the video, Hockett is heard yelling at the suspect, “Drop the gun now!”

Moments later he’s seen running away as the armed suspect chases him. Hockett jumps a fence and the suspect begins firing at him.

Hockett returns fire, hitting the suspect in the shoulder. Hockett was also hit in his forehead, elbow and waist by pellets from a shotgun blast during the shootout.

The suspect, identified as Matthew Edmondson, then engaged several local and state law enforcement agencies in a standoff that lasted more than six hours.

“I’m thankful that the Lord seen me through it. I’ve replayed it in my head and I know in my heart that I did everything I could to do the best I could with the situation I’d been placed in,” Hockett told WSB-TV.

Edmondson’s mother witnessed part of the shootout and frantically called 911.

“I need an ambulance. Please hurry. My son’s been shot,” she said. “There was a deputy here we had just came in. and I don’t know if the deputy was shot or not. I don’t know what’s going on but I’m scared to death.”

Edmondson eventually surrendered and is now facing several charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

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NTSB: Lake Erie Plane Crash Caught on Cockpit Voice Recorder

Thinkstock/iStock(CLEVELAND) — The final moments of a small plane that crashed into Lake Erie last month, killing six, were captured on the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder, the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday.

Following a long search, divers located and began to recover the wreckage on Friday after receiving reports from the Cessna 525 Citation’s emergency transmitting beacon, officials confirmed. The cockpit voice recorder was still inside the fuselage.

According to officials, the plane, which took off from Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport, was en route to Columbus, after its pilot and the passengers had attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game earlier on Dec. 29.

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Dog Back Home After Getting Stuck on Utah Cliff

Utah County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue(Utah County, Utah) — Mary, an American foxhound, is back home, safe and sound, after surviving several nights perched on the side of a cliff this past weekend in Provo, Utah, according to rescuers.

Armed with a camera, supplies and treats, of course, volunteer Shaun Roundy and members of the Utah County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team set out last Friday, hiking half a mile up steep terrain, to remove the 3-year-old canine from the mountainside.

It was not clear how Mary had made it to the cliff with the 60-foot drop. Rescuers said he’d been there since last Thursday.

“We’ve got a dog harness. We’re going to propel down, put that on [Mary and] bring [her] back down to safety,” Roundy said in a video posted on YouTube by the Utah rescue team.

Roundy and his team, however, quickly learned that would not be the case with Mary the stubborn beagle.

Despite Roundy feeding her treats and trying to coax her to him, the dog refused to let the rescuer put the harness on or even touch her.

“We thought this dog’s been [here], overnight, on the coldest night of the year. It’s going to be hungry. It’s going to be happy to see us,” Roundy told ABC affiliate

In the more than 21 minute video posted by the team, Roundy’s camera captured his harrowing attempts to rescue the beagle from a perch.

“Don’t go jumping off any cliffs now. Come here, Mary,” Roundy could be heard saying on the video. “OK, Mary. Hang on, girl. Good girl. Got some treats for you.”

Roundy said he fed Mary dog treats and even had the owner speak to the canine on a walkie-talkie, but to no avail. The team spent two hours trying to rescue Mary, until the sun set and the temperatures started dropping.

“I thought if I take one more step closer, it’s going to fall off,” Roundy said.

In the YouTube video, the team said that before abandoning efforts for the night, it fed Mary jerky, sardines and a granola bar and even left her a bag with hand warmers inside to sit on.

The team said it planned to try again Saturday, but this time with a net. When they returned, however, Mary was gone.

“The owner did return the following morning and coaxed her down,” John Luke, a Utah County spokesman, said Wednesday. “She had some scrapes and minor cuts but was otherwise OK.”
The owners did not want to be identified.

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School Bus Rolls Over On Massachusetts Highway

Thinkstock/Ingram Publishing(Waltham, Mass.) — Crews responded to a crash Wednesday that left a school bus on its side on Route 95 in Waltham, Massachusetts. State police tweeted that the school bus was involved in a collision with a pickup truck, and rolled over a guardrail.

Police later confirmed via Twitter that all occupants got off the bus, which was carrying 22 students from Grade 6 through Grade 8 at Curtis Middle School in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Ten of the children were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, and the other 12 were evaluated for precautionary reasons.

All students had been examined and released, or were expected to be released, by late Wednesday afternoon, according to the police.

In a press release Wednesday afternoon, the Massachusetts State Patrol said the cause of the crash remained under investigation, and the bus had been removed from the scene.

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Firefighters Rescue Family Trapped in Hillside Home by Landslide

KGO-TV(FAIRFAX, Calif.) — Heavy rains that have been pummeling the Bay Area in California recently caused a landslide that temporarily trapped two young girls and their grandparents in a hillside home.

Jenie Chang told ABC News Wednesday that she had just pulled up to her parents’ house in Fairfax, California, on Tuesday evening to pick up her two girls, ages 10 and 4, when she realized a “massive fallen tree” was blocking the way up to the house.

“It was surreal,” Chang said. “I had to use my high beams to make sure I was really seeing what I was seeing.”

The massive tree had “completely crushed the detached garage” next to home, Chang said, adding that it — along with other smaller trees and shrubs — “completely covered” the 64 stairs leading up to home’s main entrance.

Chang said she immediately called her parents inside, who told her they were all safe but had been unaware of the mess just outside their door. Chang’s parents then called for help, and within minutes, a unit from the Marin County Fire Department was on the scene, she said.

Firefighters used chainsaws to cut through several fallen trees, and they created a makeshift path up the muddy hill to the house’s front door, according to Battalion Chief Bret McTigue, public information officer for the Marin County Fire Department.

Firefighters then escorted the girls and their grandparents one by one down the path to safety, McTigue told ABC News Wednesday. He added that all four family members were OK and that no one suffered any injuries.

Chang said her two young girls were good-spirited about the whole ordeal and saw the experience as “a great adventure.”

The full extent of the damage to Chang’s parents’ home is not yet known, McTigue said, adding that building inspectors were still working to assess the property this morning.

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Arms and Airports: Ft. Lauderdale Renews Concerns over Guns in the Terminal

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Not only is it legal in America to transport unloaded, cased and locked firearms as checked luggage on airlines, but to the dismay of airport security officers it is also legal to carry a loaded weapon into 11 of the top 20 major airports including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Phoenix and Las Vegas — which all have had incidents, an ABC News has found.

The killing of five travelers inside a Florida airport last week allegedly by a man who legally transported a handgun from Alaska in his checked luggage has renewed concerns over state laws that allow firearms to be carried into baggage claim and ticketing areas in half of the busiest U.S. airports.

While airport security has been significantly tightened since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, gun-friendly state laws nationwide allow law-abiding citizens to possess firearms in areas outside of the Transportation Security Administration passenger screening security bubble like the check-in lounge and baggage claim, even in major terminals.

In some instances, gun rights advocates carrying loaded AR-15 assault rifles through public areas of major American airports have caused a stir, despite having a legal right to openly carry their weapons.

Some airports allow only “open carry,” while others require that weapons be concealed by individuals who hold state gun permits that are given to those who pass background checks.

Either way, it’s a practice that doesn’t sit well with some lawmakers and law enforcement officials, particularly in the wake of violent attacks by terrorists last year at airports in Brussels and Istanbul, and on Friday by a gunman, Esteban Santiago, who was arrested in the fatal shootings at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

“As with much about guns in America, the scandal is what is legal,” said Mark Glaze, a gun control activist and former executive director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “Airports are filled with security personnel trained in the use of firearms, so the idea that an armed and untrained person with a gun is going to reduce the death toll is a fantasy.”

For critics, the concerns boil down to: How do you distinguish between a terrorist or a deranged gunman out to inflict mass casualties, and a gun rights activist like those who have walked around with loaded rifles in airports in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon in recent years? And why allow what amounts to self-deputized, armed citizens to walk around airports where security is equal to or greater than any other public space?

Inside the senior levels of federal law enforcement and aviation security, opinions vary about state laws that allow firearms to be carried in non-secure areas outside of the TSA security bubble like baggage claims and ticket counters.

“In the interest of public safety, this defies common sense,” one federal law enforcement official told ABC News.

But on the contrary, argues a former senior U.S. official, who oversaw federal security at many major U.S. airports, “It would be great if people were carrying legally in the non-sterile areas. It would be a deterrent.”

“Can you imagine some idiot trying to do in Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport what we saw in Fort Lauderdale, when there’s a bunch of Arizonans walking around with holstered handguns plainly visible? No way would someone attempt an attack,” the former official said.

The current and former officials requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.

In some cases, the debate has come down to what is perceived to be safer: to carry a concealed firearm or openly carry once inside an airport.

In Nevada, for instance, gun owners can open carry at airports but are not allowed to have a concealed weapon there even if they hold a state permit.

Two years ago, state legislators considered changing that by lifting a ban on carrying concealed guns in airports such as McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, where 43 million travelers pass through each year.

Local officials said they opposed the move, as did major airlines.

“The consensus from the law enforcement agencies that work in and with the airport is that they would rather know who has a weapon coming into the terminal building,” Rosemary Vassiliadis, the director of aviation in Clark County, who oversees McCarran, told the state senate’s judiciary committee in March 2015.

“The presence of concealed weapons in airports makes it difficult for law enforcement to identify armed suspects during an active shooting,” she said.

Interestingly, some lawmakers didn’t even realize it was legal to bring a gun to the airport.

“Before I took a look at this area of the law in preparation for this hearing, I had assumed that weapons were not allowed,” said the committee’s chair at the time, Greg Bower, a Reno Republican who now works as an FBI counsel.

The proposed Nevada law did not move out of committee.

Although there had been no reported incidents of anyone carrying firearms openly in McCarran for many years, a man entered the airport twice last spring carrying an AR-15 while picking up and dropping off passengers, an airport official told ABC News.

Law enforcement officials suspected that the man — who wasn’t detained — had been affiliated with anti-government activists facing trial last year after standoffs on federal land and that he did not pose an immediate threat to travelers.

Then, last fall, an estranged husband, Jeffrey K. Brown, 68, was charged with shooting and wounding his wife and a man she was with while they walked to a car in a long-term parking at McCarran.

Gun advocates like Jerry Henry, executive director of, defends the state laws, telling ABC News: “I carry a gun to protect myself from some bad person who might do me some harm. I think I should have the right to defend myself anywhere I go.”

He, like many others, argue that only law-abiding citizens would adhere to a gun ban in the public spaces of airports, leaving them vulnerable to the bad guys who ignore such restrictions — which is what law enforcement officials say Santiago did last week when he removed a handgun from his checked luggage after retrieving it in baggage claim and then opened fire.

The Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport prohibits the carrying of guns in non-secure areas of the airport. Florida lawmakers had been considering a bill to repeal those restrictions days before the shootings.

While some have questioned whether guns should be completely banned from U.S. flights — even though they must be locked, and declared to the TSA and the airline — doing so could prevent or severely complicate travel for law-abiding sportsmen and permit holders who wish to participate in hunting holidays and other recreational activities.

“Unsecured areas of an airport are exactly what their name states — unsecured,” says Jennifer Baker, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association. “And law-abiding concealed carry permit holders are exactly that — law-abiding. Their right to self-defense should not be taken away simply because they choose to say goodbye or greet a family member in an airport lobby.”

But Joshua Horwitz, who leads the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said that “unsecured” areas are patrolled by police who have at times been faced with a split-second decision about whether a person exercising their gun rights poses a terrorist or criminal threat.

“It puts law enforcement in an untenable position,” Horwitz said. “You need to make sure that the airport environment is secured. The trade-off [with allowing guns in airports] is to put law enforcement on the defensive.”

Some states — such as Arizona and West Virginia — have passed “constitutional carry” laws which allow anyone to carry a firearm in public either openly or concealed without a state permit and background check.

While airport authority police in Tucson, Arizona have told ABC News that they will observe but won’t stop anyone who carries a firearm in a non-threatening manner inside the non-sterile areas of the terminal, police two hours up the highway in Phoenix say they will likely detain anyone who carries a gun into Sky Harbor airport — for scaring people.

That’s what happened to controversial Phoenix brain researcher Peter Steinmetz in 2014, when he walked into the airport there with a loaded AR-15 as a political protest in support of gun rights. He was quickly arrested but not charged and says his arrest record is in the process of being expunged.

“The recent tragic events in Fort Lauderdale unfortunately illustrate the danger of creating victim disarmament zones where otherwise law-abiding citizens are prevented from being able to defend themselves,” Steinmetz told ABC News on Sunday. “Sky Harbor airport is a safer and freer place because it does not attempt to disarm citizens who are passing through the pre-screening portions of the airport.”

Rafi Ron, former security chief at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel — often regarded as the gold standard for airport security — disagrees, arguing that, “There’s no room for private guns at the airport. On the other hand, I do understand the argument that some people are making. The public sees parts of the airport that are widely neglected as far as security is concerned.”

“It certainly would be chaotic, and I don’t want to think what would happen if one bad guy would start to shoot and 20 good guys started shooting each other,” says Ron, a founding partner of New Age Security Solutions (NASS) based in Northern Virginia.

He added that security officers at the airport might end up shooting the good guys, mistaking them for an attacker.

Ron and others oppose expanding the screening to airport entrances, arguing that it would leave more people exposed outside to a possible attack. He suggested that U.S. airports need to have a greater security presence in non-secure areas, particularly in light of the attacks in Brussels, Istanbul and Fort Lauderdale. He also says that better trained security officers should be stationed there to spot suspicious behavior. The non-secure areas are controlled by local authorities.

John S. Pistole, the former head of the Transportation Security Administration from 2010 to 2014, said he opposes the idea of guns in public spaces at airports, but added that while he was at the helm of the agency, Congress had little appetite to challenge the gun-rights groups and pass federal legislation for all airports.

“I think most legislators are reluctant to do something nationwide because of the NRA,” said Pistole, who is currently president of Anderson University in Indiana. Passing a federal gun ban law for airports, he adds, “is just a huge political lift.”

There have been a number of other nonviolent incidents which still raised concerns about legally carrying in airports.

One occurred in Atlanta in June 2015, when gun rights advocate Jim Cooley dropped off his Chicago-bound daughter at the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and accompanied her inside the non-secure area with a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder.

He posted his appearance on YouTube, and the video went viral. No one was harmed but frightened people in the airport called police, who responded and filled out a report but were unable to do anything more than that.

In the YouTube video, an airport security officer is seen confronting Cooley and tells him that “calls are coming in left and right” about his weapon.

“People’s fear are not my responsibility,” Cooley tells the officer.

The high-profile prance through the airport came a year after the Republican-controlled Georgia legislature passed the Safe Carry Protection Act, which gave gun rights activist greater access to public spaces and allowed someone who mistakenly brings a gun to a TSA security checkpoint to retreat with the weapon without arrest and take it home or put in the car.

Republican State Rep. Rick Jasperse of Georgia, who sponsored the bill, concedes — as have other gun rights advocates — that openly carrying the AR-15 at the airport was “over the top.”

However, he says “it showed it doesn’t really harm anything to let people exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

His Democratic colleague, state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, who has tried to push for gun control legislation, doesn’t see it that way when it comes to guns and airports.

“Yes, that’s disturbing to me,” she told ABC News last year. “Unfortunately we have the inability to have a rational discussion about gun safety and legislation in Georgia.”

In Washington, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) in 2015 introduced legislation — dubbed the Airport Security Act of 2015 — that would ban guns anywhere in airports except for law enforcement. It was the third time he’d introduced similar legislation, the first time being in 2010.

The legislation has gone nowhere.

“It’s clear in the aftermath of the Brussels attack and other recent incidents of guns in U.S. airports — including at LAX and here in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson — that we need to tighten up security at pickup and drop-off zones outside airports and in areas inside airports currently not covered by the TSA, including the baggage claim areas, ticket counters and lobbies,” Johnson said in a statement to ABC News.

Just how vulnerable non-secure areas of U.S. airports are was demonstrated during incidents at Los Angeles International Airport in recent years.

On July 4, 2002, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, 41, an Egyptian national, opened fire at LAX at the ticket counter of El Al airlines, killing two people and wounding four others.

On Nov. 1, 2013, Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, walked into Terminal 3 and opened fire, killing a TSA officer and wounding several others.

It’s unclear, however, if tougher gun laws or better security would have prevented those episodes of violence.

In November, in Oklahoma City, a former Southwest Airlines employee shot and killed Michael Winchester — who worked at the airline — in the parking lot of the Will Rogers World Airport. The shooter, Lloyd Dean Buie, 45, then shot himself.

Outside the United States, there have been instances of violence in the non-sterile areas of major airports.

Last March, 16 were killed in an ISIS attack on the international terminal in Brussels, Belgium.

In June of this year, a gun and bomb attack at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul resulted in 45 deaths and hundreds injured.

Michael Bouchard, former assistant director the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a security expert, understands the argument put forth by gun rights activists. But, he says: “The only reason to carry is to draw attention and to get people wound up. There’s no other reason to carry an assault rifle.”

Ladd Everett, director of One Pulse for America, a gun violence prevention group, said there’s no reason to bring a gun to the airport.

“It’s hard to fathom why anyone would need to bring a loaded gun to an airport particularly given the level of security at the airport. It’s another one of those things that that is really turning gun-toters into super citizens who have more rights than the rest of us, and it’s offensive,” he said.

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Former Sen. Al D’Amato Speaks Out on His Removal from JetBlue Flight

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two days after he was escorted of a JetBlue plane, former Sen. Al D’Amato spoke to ABC News’ Good Morning America about what happened on board the long-delayed flight.

According to passengers on board JetBlue Flight 1002 headed to New York from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which had been delayed at the gate for more than five hours, the captain had asked 10 passengers from the plane’s first nine rows to move to the back of the aircraft due to “weight and balance issues.”

When only a few would budge, D’Amato, 79, got up to encourage them to move, the passengers said. Only a couple more did.

According to D’Amato, that’s when he said to the captain, “You said you were going to do something, why don’t you do it?”

The captain responded to D’Amato, “You’re outta here,” according to the former senator.

Not long after, deputies with Broward Sheriff’s Office boarded and escorted D’Amato off the aircraft, which was still at the gate.

“It was a total overreaction, probably on both parts,” D’Amato said on GMA.

JetBlue defended its response in a statement.

“The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. If a customer is causing a conflict on the aircraft, it is standard procedure to ask the customer to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs a risk of escalation in-flight,” the statement read.

A spokesman for D’Amto responded, “Anyone who knows Senator D’Amato knows he speaks his mind – but in this case he spoke after a long and demanding trip to Florida to visit an ailing friend, a five hour airport ground delay, additional delays as the crew sought to deal with weight and balance issues and then sleep deprivation.”

The rep added that the airline apologized for “overreacting” and the senator apologized for speaking out “when he clearly had left his patience at the gate.”

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Trump to Nominate David Shulkin for Secretary of Veterans Affairs

DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — President-elect Donald Trump says he intends to nominate David Shulkin to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Shulkin is the department’s undersecretary for health. Trump made the announcement at a news conference Wednesday morning.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been plagued by controversy over the past several years. One of the largest bureaucracies in the federal government, the department’s health system employs more than 300,000 people who serve nearly nine million veterans per year, according to the agency’s website.

The position was one of Trump’s final cabinet-level roles yet to be announced.

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