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Asked Tuesday if former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have broken the law by failing to disclose information on his security clearance application, White House press secretary Sean Spicer dodged.

“That would be a question for him,” Spicer said at the daily press briefing.
“I don’t know what he filled out or what he did or did not do.”

The bipartisan leaders of the House Oversight Committee announced Tuesday that there was “no evidence” that Flynn made the appropriate disclosures about payments he accepted from foreign governments, which he is forbidden from accepting as a former military officer. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said Flynn failed to note the $45,000 he was paid by Russian state media outlet RT to give a speech in Moscow in 2015 on his January 2016 security clearance application.

Spicer argued that Flynn filled out that form during the Obama administration, and brushed aside questions about the White House refusing the committee’s request for any documents “referring or relating to Lieutenant General Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals.”

Spicer’s argument was three-pronged. One, the Department of Defense also received a request for some of those documents and complied. Two, Flynn’s communications simply amounted to too much information for the White House to sift through. And three, the Trump team wasn’t aware of Flynn’s activities prior to Inauguration Day, though he served as a top campaign adviser and was a named national security adviser for the administration at the time.

“To say we want the national security adviser, whose job it is to talk with foreign counterparts on a daily basis, to document every call he may or may not have made is not a request that is able to be filled,” Spicer said, calling the request “outlandish.”

Journalists pointed out that all of Flynn’s calls were made as a representative of Trump, and that it was the transition team’s responsibility to properly investigate the background of an individual who would have access to the nation’s highest-level intelligence secrets.

“Why wasn’t he more closely vetted during the transition period?” one reporter asked.

“You fill out the forms and do a background check,” Spicer responded. “And they have a security clearance and fill it out and that’s how everyone operates under the same guise.”

As CNN reported, former government officials like Flynn would be asked to re-apply for national security clearances when they return to public service, and would have to detail any payments received by foreign governments.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday fervently denied that funding and the beginning of construction on President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the United States’ border with Mexico will be delayed.

“Yesterday, President Trump reportedly said that he’s going to delay pushing the wall through. Can you just clarify what the status is?” Associated Press reporter Vivian Salama asked Spicer at his daily briefing.

“I think he tweeted about this earlier,” Spicer replied. “His priorities have not changed. There will be a wall built.”

Spicer said that there is “plenty of planning that can be done” in the current fiscal year.

“Our priorities are clear going into FY17, the remainder of budgeting for that, and we’ll continue to ask for more in FY18,” he said, referring to fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

“So it’s delayed for now,” Salama pressed.

“No, I didn’t — no, no, no, no. I never — no one said delayed. No, no,” Spicer said.

White House officials over the weekend signaled uncertainty as to whether Trump would be willing to sign a must-pass spending bill to avert a government shutdown if it did not include funding for his proposed border wall.

The Washington Post reported on Monday, citing an unnamed White House official, that Trump privately told conservative journalists he “was open to delaying funding for wall construction.”

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday morning that funding the wall “can happen later this year and into next year.”

Spicer appeared to remain adamant, however, telling ABC’s Jon Karl that Trump has not backed down.

Trump himself took to Twitter to exhort followers: “Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL.”

“So is the President no longer insisting that there is money for the wall in this current appropriations bill?” Karl asked Spicer during the briefing.

“The President’s priorities are clear for FY17. There’s a lot of things that we can do in the remaining months,” Spicer said again. “And then as we go into FY18 we’ll continue to ask for more.”

“So the President is not insisting that he has money for actual construction of the wall?” Karl asked.

“Look, I’m not going to get — we are still in discussions with the House and Senate leadership. But I think the President’s been very clear that he wants a wall,” Spicer said. “He wants it done as soon as we can do it.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is set to name Randolph Alles as the new director of the Secret Service.

That’s according to an administration official speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak on the record before the formal announcement.

Alles is acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection and previously spent 35 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The agency has faced a number of high-profile incidents in recent weeks, including a fence jumper last month who spent more than 15 minutes roaming the White House grounds.

Secret Service spokesman Joe Casey declined to comment on the pending announcement and referred comments to the White House.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The panel that approves media credentials to cover Congress declined to grant permanent credentials to Breitbart News Network, LLC.

The Standing Committee of Correspondents voted unanimously Tuesday to table an application from Breitbart and declined to extend temporary credentials beyond May 31.

News organizations seeking credentials for its reporters must be editorially independent of any institution or interest group that lobbies the federal government. The committee can reject applicants that fail to provide the information needed to make that verification.

Breitbart is a conservative media outlet that was headed by Steve Bannon before he joined the Trump administration as a chief strategist and senior counselor.

Committee chairman Billy House says questions have centered on whether several top editors at Breitbart are actively engaged by or affiliated with advocacy groups.

“We did not single Breitbart out for special review. But we are not going to single them out for special treatment,” House said. “The gallery rules predate any of us on the board.”

Chad Wilkinson, a spokesman for Breitbart News, said the outlet is “unequivocally entitled to permanent Senate Press Gallery credentials and is determined to secure them.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Progressive advocacy group Common Cause filed a complaint Tuesday after the State Department posted promotional materials about President Donald Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club on government websites.

ShareAmerica, part of the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, posted “Mar-a-Lago: The winter White House” on April 4. The article contained a brief history of Trump’s property, including his hosting of diplomatic meetings there. It was later posted on the U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom’s website and the U.S. Embassy in Albania’s Facebook page, though all posts have since been removed.

“State Department use of resources to promote a private business owned by President Trump constitutes a misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars,” Common Cause wrote in their complaint. It added later that the post and its promotion by the embassies “clearly warrant investigation.”

The Office of Government Ethics did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment. Common Cause’s letter was addressed to that office, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the inspector general of the State Department and the department’s designated agency ethics official, Katherine D. McManus.

The watchdog group American Oversight filed a similar complaint with the State Department inspector general Tuesday, noting that, if the idea to promote Mar-al-Lago originated with White House or State Department political leadership, “this would raise more serious questions about whether ethical rules and possibly prohibitions backed by criminal penalties were violated.”

“This Administration’s refusal to set clear boundaries between the business of the American people and the businesses of Donald Trump has metastasized into the federal agencies,” Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn said in a statement accompanying her group’s complaint.

After the “winter White House” post was removed from Share America Monday, ShareAmerica left a note left in its place:

The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders. We regret any misperception and have removed the post.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — White extremists, almost by nature, are seldom good at working together.

Creating consensus among white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen and the like is akin to herding rattlesnakes, given the caustic personalities often involved. Members typically get mad at each other and split, sometimes within days, resulting in the near-constant creation of new groups and a churning of both leaders and followers.

That’s why it’s something of a feat that an alliance of white-power groups born in a KKK bar in Georgia is marking its first birthday this month. Composed of multiple extremist groups, the Nationalist Front had its anniversary Saturday.

Similarly, six Klan organizations from around the country announced a consolidation last month.

The common goal, as these alliances see it, is protecting the white race at a time when the Census Bureau projects whites will be a minority within three decades.

Watchdog groups that track hate organizations aren’t impressed. They say the Nationalist Front now lists 11 member groups, about half the number it had when it was formed.

“These things never last,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the hate-monitoring Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Beirich said that while white supremacists have been emboldened by President Donald Trump’s election, such groups have been trying on and off for decades to merge, generally to appear larger than they really are.

But leaders say there’s a difference this time: A spokesman for the Nationalist Front, Matthew Heimbach, said U.S. nationalists are trying to follow the example of far-right European groups that have learned to work together rather than bicker over ideology, theology and organizational structure.

U.S. nationalist groups have cooperated on projects such as video presentations and propaganda strategies over the last year, Heimbach said, and they worked together to support white nationalist Richard Spencer when he spoke at Auburn University earlier this month.

Originally called the Aryan National Alliance, the Nationalist Front renamed itself and dropped its use of the swastika in an attempt to broaden its appeal.

Some robe-wearing KKK members who were initially part of the Nationalist Front dropped out, and some Klan groups are now consolidating to build membership and power.

The American Alliance of Klans formed during a meeting in rural Florida in March. More Klan groups have joined since, leaders say.

Tom Larson of Delaware, imperial wizard of the East Coast Knights of the KKK, a part of the new alliance, said: “We want to see people stand up and make this country great again, like Trump is saying. We’re tired of seeing white people lose everything.”

None of these groups will provide membership numbers, but it’s safe to say none is huge. About 100 people have registered to attend a Nationalist Front gathering this weekend in Pikeville, Kentucky, Heimbach said.

Photos from the meeting where the Klan alliance was formed showed about two dozen people in KKK robes and black uniforms giving the Nazi salute, but organizers said that was only leaders and does not represent total membership.

Both the Nationalist Front and the Alliance of Klans are but shadow of the United Klans of America, an Alabama-based group that claimed membership in the thousands in the 1960s and was blamed for the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four black girls. It was disbanded in 1987 after the Klan murder of a black man resulted in criminal convictions and a lawsuit that bankrupted the group.

The SPLC’s Beirich said she is less worried about new supremacist alliances than free-standing extremist entities like The Daily Stormer, which she describes as an anti-Semitic, misogynistic, racist website that entered the real world last year by forming “book clubs” that hold local meetings.

Beirich said a single hate-based website can reach millions.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ivanka Trump on Tuesday said that she doesn’t like suggestions that she is her father’s “accomplice” because the “intonation” isn’t “productive.”

Asked by NBC News’ Hallie Jackson to respond to headlines questioning whether she will exert a moderating influence on her father’s agenda or be his “loyal accomplice,” Trump expressed her distaste for the word in an interview for TODAY.

“Well, I don’t like the intonation of that, which, you know, assumes that, I think, you know, I don’t like the word accomplice, because, you know, in this context, I don’t know that that’s productive,” she said.

Trump said that her father “curates ideas and he likes to hear from people with divergent viewpoints.”

“That’s not always true in politics,” she said. “That’s actually seldom true.”

Earlier in April, Trump took issue with critics who say she is “complicit” in her father’s presidency and agenda.

“If being complicit is wanting to, is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit,” she said, coming up with a new definition of the word to apply to herself.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even Supreme Court justices forget to turn off their cellphones.

A high court argument on Tuesday was interrupted by the familiar sound of a ring chime, and Justice Stephen Breyer was the culprit.

A mildly embarrassed Breyer quickly appeared to reach down to turn it off as a majority of his colleagues on the bench broke into smiles. Justice Samuel Alito struggled to suppress a laugh.

Cellphones and other electronic devices are strictly forbidden in the ornate courtroom — a rule that includes observers and lawyers arguing before the court, but apparently not the justices themselves.

Breyer and seatmate Justices Clarence Thomas shared a quick laugh about the incident. But it didn’t fluster lawyer Neal Katyal, who was in the middle of answering a question.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday pledged to “confront anti-Semitism,” professing a firm stance on a subject that his administration has repeatedly stumbled over in its early months.

“This is my pledge to you. We will confront anti-Semitism,” Trump said in remarks at the U.S. Capitol as part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance. “We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness and we will act.”

Trump said that as President he “will always stand with the Jewish people.”

“I will always stand with our great friend and partner the state of Israel,” he said.

Trump specifically cited the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, a statistic his administration omitted from its statement in January on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. Millions more innocent people were imprisoned and executed by the Nazis,” Trump said. “We are here today to remember and to bear witness, to make sure that humanity never, ever forgets.”

He said that anti-Semitism “continues all around the world.”

“We’ve seen anti-Semitism on university campuses, in the public square and in threats against Jewish citizens,” Trump said.

He said those who deny the Holocaust happened are “filled with such hate, total hate.”

“Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil and we’ll never be silent. We just won’t,” Trump said. “We will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again.”

The White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day was just one example of its haphazard response to anti-Semitism, not helped by the fact that prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer praised the statement as “especially Trumpian” and lauded its “de-Judification” of the Holocaust.

Trump in February told a Jewish reporter to “sit down” for asking questions about his administration’s response to recent waves of anti-Semitic acts, and said that he finds charges of anti-Semitism “repulsive.”

“I am the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Trump claimed.

Jewish community leaders in March met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions after at least the fourth wave of threats made against Jewish organizations since January.

And in April, Trump’s top official spokesman Sean Spicer faced backlash when he said that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” Those remarks were striking given that Hitler killed millions of Jews, including German citizens, many in gas chambers.

In a clarification issued just minutes later, Spicer claimed that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people,” and appeared to coin the phrase “Holocaust centers” for what most call concentration camps.

Spicer subsequently issued another three clarifications and said the next day that he “screwed up.”

“I made a mistake,” he said. “I think I’ve let the President down.”

The Anti-Defamation League offered later that week to hold a Holocaust education training for Spicer “and anyone at the White House who may need to learn more about the Holocaust.”

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