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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) denied Friday evening that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had meetings or discussions with foreign officials "concerning any type of interference" with the 2016 election.

The denial comes in response to a Washington Post report that the Russian ambassador to the U.S. told Russian officials that he and Sessions engaged in campaign and policy-related conversations during the period Sessions served as an adviser to Trump's campaign.

The report, published by the Post on Friday, does not accuse Sessions of discussing interference, as the DOJ release states, but reports that "he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow" with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The Post cites "current and former U.S. officials" familiar with the intercepted communications of Russian government officials.

In March, responding to an earlier Washington Post article that publicly disclosed his encounters with Kislyak, the attorney general said that he "never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign." The DOJ portrayed these meetings as a regular activity for a U.S. senator on the Armed Services Committee.

The DOJ’s statement on Friday, and the refutation that Sessions spoke of "interference," mirrors testimony Sessions gave before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June. In that testimony, he also said that meetings and conversations "with any Russians" or foreign officials were not about "interference with any campaign or election."

Questions of Sessions honesty regarding his interactions with Russia stem from his January confirmation hearing. There he was questioned by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., regarding what he would do as the head of the DOJ if he discovered "evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government" during the campaign.

Sessions did not directly answer the question, instead saying that he wasn't aware of such activities, and that he, personally, never made contact with representatives of the country.

"I didn't have... communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it," said Sessions.

Giving misleading information regarding the nature of conversations with Kislyak led to the resignation of Michael Flynn, who stepped down as national security adviser in February after denying he spoke with the ambassador. Flynn's stance was repeated publicly by Vice President Mike Pence before the truth became public.

Friday's revelations about the subject of Sessions' discussions with Kislyak come following an interview by the New York Times with Trump Wednesday, in which he admitted regret over nominating Sessions to be attorney general after his recusal from matters related to the election.

Committees in both the House and Senate, as well as a special counsel appointed by Sessions' deputy, are investigating Russian meddling in the election and any potential links to or collusion with the Trump campaign.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Prominent Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci has accepted the position of White House communications director offered to him by President Donald Trump.

Scaramucci is replacing Mike Dubke, who resigned in May only three months after being hired.

Axios first reported the planned hiring of Scaramucci.

In a statement Friday evening, Trump said, “Anthony is a person I have great respect for, and he will be an important addition to this Administration. He has been a great supporter and will now help implement key aspects of our agenda while leading the communications team. We have accomplished so much, and we are being given credit for so little. The good news is the people get it, even if the media doesn’t.”

Scaramucci said in his own statement, “President Trump has accomplished an incredible amount in a short period of time, and I am proud to join his Administration as he continues to deliver for the American people.”

Scaramucci will officially begin his role on Aug. 15, according to the White House. He will report directly to the president.

Senior members of the White House staff, including press secretary Sean Spicer, were unaware that Scaramucci was being considered for the post, even as Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump were meeting with Scaramucci at the White House Thursday for over an hour to discuss the job.

Scaramucci, 53, is a major Republican donor and was a member of the president's transition team.

Scaramucci has also been vocal about his support of the president's embattled son Donald Trump Jr., tweeting earlier this month, "[Donald Trump Jr.] is a virtuous and honorable man. Virtue means the courage to act with integrity. Don does that everyday. #stopwitchunt"

In January, Scaramucci sold an asset-management business he founded, SkyBridge Capital, as it appeared at the time he would be joining the Trump administration.

The president had said he intended to appoint Scaramucci as director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs, but administration officials said soon afterward that Scaramucci would not assume that role and they would seek another position for him. A key issue was that the sale of SkyBridge Capital to a division of a Chinese conglomerate had not yet been completed, meaning it would take months for Scaramucci to be cleared of potential ethics conflicts.

Scaramucci -- who attended Harvard Law School and Tufts University -- made news in June when CNN accepted the resignations of three journalists involved in a retracted story about a supposed investigation into a pre-inaugural meeting between Scaramucci and the head of a Russian investment fund. CNN immediately apologized to Scaramucci. CNN said the story didn't meet its editorial standards and was posted without going through the expected checks and balances for a story of such sensitivity.

The Long Island, New York, native is a frequent guest on Fox News, and previously hosted "Wall Street Week" on the Fox Business Network.

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William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort have both agreed to cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee in regards to its Russia probe, and will provide documents "and be interviewed... prior to a public hearing," according to statement from the office of committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.

Representatives for both Trump Jr. and Manafort confirmed the agreement with ABC News.

The decision comes a day after senators threatened to subpoena the pair in pursuit of their investigation into Russian election interference. Both Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had expressed confidence on Thursday in achieving cooperation with the president's son and former campaign chair.

“I’m not concerned, because if they don’t they will be subpoenaed," said Feinstein.

On Wednesday, the committee invited the men -- who have come under scrutiny for their attendance at a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which Trump Jr. believed they would receive incriminating information about Hillary Clinton -- to appear at a hearing next week and turn over documents related to their contacts with Russian nationals. They will not appear at Wednesday's session in light of the agreement, according to an aide to Feinstein.

Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, a research firm hired by Trump political opponents to investigate the GOP nominee's Russia ties, was also invited to next week's hearing, but declined, according to the statement from Grassley's office.

"A subpoena has been issued to compel his attendance," the statement said.

"Simpson's attorney has asserted that his client will invoke First and Fifth Amendment rights in response to the subpoena," continued the statement.

While Trump and Manafort will be cooperating with the committee, the statement adds that the panel "reserve[s] the right" to issue subpoenas for each in the future.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sean Spicer is feeling "relieved" in the wake of his resignation as the White House press secretary, he told ABC News Friday afternoon.

When asked how he's feeling, he said: "How do I look like I'm feeling? Relieved."

The reason for his departure?

"Organizationally, they need to get a fresh start," he told ABC News' Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega.

Spicer, 45, confirmed that President Donald Trump asked him to stay on.

It's no secret in the White House that Spicer’s departure was in the works. He said a new vision brought on to the communications team solidified his decision to leave.

Spicer said that his departure allows White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, whose role was announced this morning, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who will be taking over as press secretary, to "have a clean slate."

The former presidential spokesman reiterated the viewpoint in an interview with Fox News Friday, expressing that additions to the staff could've created confusion.

"I just thought it was in the best interest of our communications department, of our press organization to not have too many cooks in the kitchen," he said.

Spicer would not comment on his next steps or any formal plans to ABC News.

"I look forward to spending a lot of time with my family," Spicer said.

Trump expected to name Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director

Spicer initially confirmed his departure on Twitter over an hour after the news broke, writing, "It's been an honor & a privilege to serve @POTUS @realDonaldTrump & this amazing country. I will continue my service through August."

It's been an honor & a privilege to serve @POTUS @realDonaldTrump & this amazing country. I will continue my service through August

— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) July 21, 2017

Sanders read a statement from Trump at the press briefing Friday afternoon.

"I am grateful for Sean's work on behalf of my administration and the American people. I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities. Just look at his great television ratings," Trump said in the statement.

Spicer has spent much less time in the briefing room in recent weeks, with Sanders handling more of the daily briefings.

Spicer did brief the press off camera on Monday of this week, and that was his first time doing so in three weeks.

Spicer worked as the communications director for the Republican National Committee before being named as Trump's press secretary during the transition.

His tenure got off to a rocky start when he made his first appearance in the White House briefing room the day after Trump took office and read a statement to the press about the size of the crowd at the inauguration.

The resignation comes the day after the Trump administration marked its first six months in office.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama's national security advisor, met Friday with the Senate Intelligence Committee for a private interview as part of the panel's investigation into Russian election interference.

“Ambassador Rice met voluntarily with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today as part of the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election," Rice's spokesperson Erin Pelton said in a statement on Friday. "Ambassador Rice appreciates the Committee’s efforts to examine Russia’s efforts to interfere, which violated one of the core foundations of American democracy. She was pleased to cooperate with the investigation given its extraordinary national significance.”

Rice is among several former Obama administration officials who have appeared before Capitol Hill investigators looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Jeh Johnson, the former homeland security secretary under Obama, has appeared before both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. John Podesta, who served as counselor to Obama and, more recently, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, was interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee last month.

Republicans have raised concerns that Rice and other Obama administration officials improperly unmasked names in classified foreign intelligence reports -- something Rice has strenuously denied.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will also interview Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and a top White House adviser, on Monday behind closed doors.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- "Hack politician.”

“I don’t like the way he talks about women.”

No, these weren’t the musings of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders about President Donald Trump -– they were remarks about Trump when he was a candidate from Anthony Scaramucci, his newly minted communications director.

Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and now staunch Trump defender, was tapped Friday to replace Trump’s former communications director Mike Dubke, who served only three months in the job.

But in 2015, during an appearance on Fox Business, Scaramucci lashed out at Trump in response to remarks from the then-candidate about hedge-funders.

“He’s a hack politician,” he said. “He’s probably going to make Elizabeth Warren his vice-presidential nominee.”

Scaramucci called the remarks from Trump “divisive” and implored the Republican candidate and fellow New Yorker, “You’ve gotta cut it out now and stop all this crazy rhetoric.”

“I don’t like the way he talks about women,” Scaramucci, a Republican donor, added. “I don’t like the way he talks about our friend Megyn Kelly.”

Trump and Kelly, formerly of Fox News, had a very public spat during the campaign, with Trump infamously saying during a primary debate: “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

Trump and Kelly later reconciled.

"This nonsense is gonna end," Scaramucci said of Trump's White House run. "And I predict it will end before Thanksgiving."

During a White House briefing Friday, Scaramucci apologized for the comments.

“One of the biggest mistakes that I made because I was an unexperienced person in the world of politics, I was supporting the other candidate," Scaramucci said. "I should have never said that about him.

"So if the president is listening, I personally apologize for the 50th time for saying that. Here's a wonderful thing about the news media that was three minutes of my life, you've never forgotten it, he's never forgotten it.”

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Huckabee Sanders was named White House press secretary Friday, hours after Sean Spicer resigned from the position.

The promotion for Sanders, who was previously principal deputy press secretary, was announced at the afternoon's press briefing by new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci himself was offered and accepted his position earlier in the day Friday.

Sanders has regularly conducted briefings during the first six months of President Donald Trump's term, most frequently over the past month as the White House moved the conferences mostly off camera and Spicer faced questions over the possibility of his role changing.

The new press secretary is the daughter of former Arkansas governor and two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and grew up with a fascination for politics.

“I always say that when most kids are 7 or 8 years old out jumping rope, she was sitting at the kitchen table listening to [political commentators] analyze poll results,” her father told Fox News in May.

Sanders has worked a number of political campaigns, including her father’s failed 2008 presidential bid, John Boozman’s Senate bid in her home state of Arkansas in 2010, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s failed 2012 presidential bid.

She worked for her father’s second presidential bid in the 2016 election before joining Trump’s campaign after her father dropped out. 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.

Her husband, Republican strategist Bryan Sanders, posted a selfie of him and his wife at the inauguration, writing that he was proud of his "amazing wife."

So proud of my amazing wife @SarahHuckabee who starts her new job as Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary today pic.twitter.com/kYcTCyUllt

— Bryan Sanders (@sanders_bryan) January 20, 2017

The couple married in 2010 and have three children, including one to whom she gave a special shout-out at a press briefing.

“In addition to all of the big news happening at the White House today, it is also my daughter Scarlet’s fifth birthday. And since I'm here and you guys are, I get to wish Scarlet a happy birthday. And with that, I think her first birthday wish would probably be that you guys are incredibly nice,” she said at the May 10 briefing.

Sanders started playing a more public role in May when Spicer was fulfilling his naval reserve duties. She has since been giving the majority of the recent daily briefings, and there has been a shift from having those conducted in front of live TV cameras; they are now mostly required to only be audio recorded and not played live.

For her part, she is reportedly getting rave reviews from the president.

“The president loves Sarah. He thinks she's doing a phenomenal job and I agree with him,” Scaramucci said at Friday’s briefing.


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The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's legal team is disputing reports that the president or others in the White House are discussing the prospect of using presidential pardons.

The Washington Post reported Friday morning that Trump was asking people on his team about the extent of his ability as president to pardon people in relation to the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign.

"Pardons are not being discussed and are not on the table,” Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s legal team, told ABC News.

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dibrova/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is shaking up his outside legal team that is charged primarily with responding to the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

John Dowd, who joined the legal team in mid-June, is replacing Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, as lead attorney representing the president, Dowd confirmed to ABC News.

The newest lawyer in the group, Ty Cobb, will take the lead in managing the team's external response to the Russia probe.

Mark Corallo, who was spokesman for Trump's legal team, resigned Thursday.

Dowd emphasized that even though he is moving into another role as the team's leader, the group of lawyers serving as the president's outside counsel is a close-knit team.

"We don't decide anything without talking to one another," Dowd said.

Dowd is a longtime friend of Cobb, whom Trump hired as White House special counsel the same week it was revealed that Donald Trump. Jr. had a meeting with a Russian lawyer in hopes of attaining opposition research on Hillary Clinton.

Kasowitz will remain on Trump's legal team and continue to represent Trump but in a lesser role, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told ABC News Thursday night.

Jay Sekulow, the other attorney on the team who has served as its public face, remains on board.

"Our task from the start was to stand up a team externally and internally to handle this for the president with our guidance, input, and assistance," a source in Kasowitz' law firm who has knowledge of the situation told ABC News.

"We got Sekulow to do the media appearances, Dowd to be the D.C. criminal lawyer, and Ty [Cobb] to handle the White House. And, most important, we got that team up and running with the president's confidence, which took a period or introduction and transition," the source said.

The source added, "Now we will let them do their jobs with our input and guidance to them and the president. Ty [Cobb] has the lead internally and given his very longstanding relationship with Dowd, will interact with him directly."

Trump’s frustration with the Russia probe was evident in an interview he had this week with The New York Times in which the president said that the special counsel leading the investigation, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, would be crossing a line if he started looking into the Trump family's personal finances, specifically those unrelated to Russia.

“I think that’s a violation,” Trump said in the interview. "This is about Russia!"

Trump did not explicitly say he would fire Mueller if such a situation arose, telling the Times that he "can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen." But the president added that if Mueller did investigate, he would find that Trump's finances are "extremely good."

Mueller was authorized in May to lead the Justice Department probe into "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the [Trump campaign]," according to the order naming him special counsel. He may also look into "any matters that … may arise directly from the investigation," which could potentially include an inquiry into Trump's finances.

He is further granted "additional jurisdiction beyond that specified in his ... original jurisdiction," "or to investigate new matters that come to light" if the attorney general -- or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in this case, given Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal -- determines "whether to include the additional matters."

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Ralph Freso/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The day after Sen. John McCain announced that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the Arizona Republican's wife took to Instagram and shared a series of "Throwback Thursday" photos featuring her husband of 37 years.

Cindy McCain on Wednesday posted a photo from her wedding day, writing, "Thank all of you for the wonderful thoughts. @senjohnmccain is doing well. We as a family will face the next hurdle together. One thing I do know is he is the toughest person I know. He is my hero and I love him with all my heart."

Then on Thursday, the McCain matriarch dipped again into photo archives for a trio of "throwback" photos.

"One of my favorite family photos. An oldie but a goody! @senjohnmccain @meghanmccain," she captioned an undated photo of the McCain family, with John McCain decked out in blue jeans, a plaid flannel shirt and a baseball cap.

Another photo posted was of the senator and daughter Meghan McCain, now 32, at her graduation at New York City's Columbia University.

"So many years ago. @meghanmccain @senjohnmccain at her Columbia University graduation," Cindy McCain wrote.

The third photo posted was of Cindy and John McCain standing in front of a Christmas tree.

"Ok one more," she captioned the photo. "@senjohnmccain with me at our first Christmas as a married couple."

A statement from the Mayo Clinic, released Wednesday at the request of McCain, revealed his condition.

"On Friday, July 14, Sen. John McCain underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot from above his left eye at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix," reads the statement. "Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot. Scanning done since the procedure (a minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision) shows that the tissue of concern was completely resected by imaging criteria."

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Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is threatening to issue subpoenas to compel Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. to testify before Congress if they do not cooperate with the panel’s ongoing investigation and appear for a public hearing next week.

“If they don’t voluntarily come, they will be subpoenaed,” Grassley told reporters Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, the panel formally invited both men to appear before the committee next Wednesday for a hearing on 2016 presidential election interference. Committee investigators also requested a litany of documents from both men related to campaign contacts with Russian officials.

Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, and Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, are still reviewing the Judiciary Committee's requests.

“Am I concerned? No,” said Dianne Feinstein, D-California, the committee’s top Democrat. “I’m not concerned because if they don’t they will be subpoenaed.”

Both men have come under increased scrutiny for a controversial meeting they had with a Russian lawyer in June of 2016 at Trump Tower.

Through an intermediary, Donald Trump Jr. set up a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” who had offered "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton]," according to emails Trump Jr. released from a conversations with Rob Goldstone, the publicist who offered to set up the meeting.

“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. wrote to Goldstone.

Trump Jr. invited Manafort and brother-in-law Jared Kushner, now a senior White House adviser, to meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer. Kushner is set to appear for an interview behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee next week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has also invited Glenn Simpson, a political operative and founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, to appear for the hearing next week. Simpson’s firm was reportedly associated with a pro-Russian lobbying campaign in Washington and has also been connected to the dossier of unverified allegations against Trump collected by his political opponents during the presidential campaign.

Grassley has written to the Justice Department with concerns that Fusion GPS may have violated U.S. lobbying laws.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The White House did not refute comments made by President Donald Trump about special counsel Robert Mueller in a candid and wide-ranging interview Wednesday, reiterating Trump's claim that the investigation should not analyze Trump family finances outside the scope of the Russia probe.

"The point he's trying to make is that the clear purpose of the Russia investigation is to review Russia's meddling in the election and that that should be the focus of the investigation, nothing beyond that," said principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at Thursday's White House Press briefing in one of her many responses to questions about Trump’s interview with three New York Times reporters in the Oval Office Wednesday.

Sanders added that Trump "has no intention" of pursuing Mueller's firing, even as Bloomberg reported Thursday that the special counsel is including business dealings in his review.

Warning to Mueller

In the interview with the Times, Trump said if former FBI Director Mueller started investigating his family's personal finances, specifically those unrelated to Russia, it would cross a line. One day later, the Bloomberg report said Mueller was doing just that.

“I think that’s a violation,” Trump told the Times Wednesday. "This is about Russia."

He wouldn’t go so far as to say he would fire Mueller over the matter, telling the Times that he "can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen," but adding that if Mueller did investigate, the special counsel would find that Trump's finances are "extremely good."

Mueller was authorized in May to lead the probe into "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the [Trump campaign]," according to the order naming him as special counsel. He may also look into "any matters that … may arise directly from the investigation," which could potentially include an inquiry into Trump's finances.

He is further granted "additional jurisdiction beyond that specified in his ... original jurisdiction," "or to investigate new matters that come to light" if the attorney general -- or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in this case, given Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal -- determines "whether to include the additional matters."

Regret about Sessions

Trump told the Times that he would not have nominated Sessions to be attorney general if he had known that he was going to recuse himself on the Russia probe. The president lamented that he ended up with a “second man, who’s a deputy,” referring to Rosenstein.

"Who is he?" asked Trump of the man he nominated in February for the Justice Department's No. 2 role.

On Sessions, Trump asked: “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president."

On Thursday morning, Sessions responded to questions about whether he would remain in his position, given the president's comments.

“I have the honor of serving as attorney general, it's something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself," said Sessions. "We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate."

'Pleasantries' with Russian President Vladimir Putin

The president addressed his originally undisclosed G-20 dinner conversation with Putin, portraying it as a routine conversation. Trump told the Times that when he sat down to chat with Putin at the dinner attended by G-20 leaders and their spouses, it was because he wanted to say hello to his wife, Melania Trump, who was sitting next to Putin.

“She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is," said President Trump. "So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else,”

Trump was originally seated next to first lady of Japan Akie Abe, but claimed that she spoke no English -- “like, not ‘hello,’” Trump said in the interview. Trump's claim about Abe’s English proficiency was later called into question when a video surfaced showing her delivering a 15-minute keynote address in English at an event in 2014.

The president did concede that at least part of the conversation with Putin strayed from “pleasantries.” He and Putin spoke about "Russian adoption," Trump said, the same topic the president's son Donald Trump Jr. originally claimed to have spoken about with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at the June 2016 meeting that has come under scrutiny for the revelation that Trump Jr. believed he was attending in order to receive incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.

Arabella Kushner lightens the mood

During the interview -- which also included an attempt by Trump to discredit former FBI Director James Comey’s June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee as well as discussion about the ongoing Republican efforts at health care reform -- two members of Trump's family made cameo appearances.

Ivanka Trump, with daughter Arabella Kushner in tow, entered the Oval Office and temporarily halted the conversation.

“His testimony is loaded up with lies, OK? But people didn’t — we had a couple people that said — Hi baby, how are you?” said Trump, pausing the discussion about Comey to greet his granddaughter. “She spoke with President Xi [Jinping of China],” Trump told the room.

"Honey? Can you say a few words in Chinese? Say, like, 'I love you, Grandpa,'" Trump said.

“Wo ai ni, Grandpa,” his granddaughter responded.

Trump described Arabella as “great,” “amazing,” and “unbelievable” before she left the room and the conversation reverted back to the stock market and then Russia.

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US Department of Justice(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's scathing rebuke of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a recent interview is just the most recent public display of his displeasure with his pick to head the Department of Justice.

Trump's latest comments about Sessions' recusal from any Justice Department investigations related to Russian interference in the 2016 election show that Trump is still frustrated with Sessions' decision to step away from that particular duty.

Despite previously offering to resign so soon in his tenure, which Trump rejected, Sessions remained defiant Thursday, saying he plans to remain U.S. attorney general "as long as that is appropriate."

Here is a timeline of the ongoing relationship between Trump and Sessions and the developments that have contributed to its breakdown:

Feb. 28, 2016 -- Sessions endorses Trump

Sessions formally endorsed Trump's candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination days ahead of Super Tuesday, becoming the first sitting senator to do so. Trump's outsider bid continued to build momentum in the weeks leading up to the endorsement as the real estate mogul captured primary and caucus victories in three of the first four contests.

“I told Donald Trump, this isn’t a campaign, this is a movement,” Sessions said in a speech in Alabama announcing the endorsement.

Mar. 3, 2016 -- Sessions named chair of Trump's national security advisory council

Trump appointed Sessions to an official position on his campaign team, naming the Alabama senator the head of his national security advisory council.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to recommend and facilitate discussions among exceptional and experienced American military and diplomatic leaders to share insight and advice with Donald Trump, regardless of their political views," Sessions said in a release announcing the appointment.

April 27, 2016 -- Sessions and Russian ambassador attend Trump speech

In a moment that would later be heavily scrutinized, Sessions attended a foreign policy address given by Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Also in attendance -- Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. This year, as Kislyak's interactions with members of the administration -- including Sessions and national security adviser Michael Flynn -- became public, the White House pushed back on suggestions Kislyak met with Trump at the speech.

"To state they met or that a meeting took place is disingenuous and absurd," a senior White House official said in March 2017.

July 18, 2016, and Sept. 8, 2016 -- Sessions meets with Kislyak

Sessions met with Kislyak on at least two occasions last year. The first came during an event at the Republican National Convention hosted by the Heritage Foundation where the Russian ambassador was among a small group of diplomats with whom the Alabama senator spoke. The second was a meeting in Sessions' Washington, D.C., office that was also attended by staff members.

Though the Department of Justice would later categorize the meetings as routine, given Sessions' responsibilities as a senator, the encounters would play a role in Sessions' recusal as attorney general from all investigations related to Russian interference in the presidential election.

Nov. 18. 2016 -- Trump nominates Sessions to be attorney general

To the displeasure of some Democrats who questioned Sessions' record on civil rights and failed 1986 nomination to serve as a U.S. district court judge, Trump tapped Sessions to serve as his attorney general.

Jan. 10, 2017 -- Confirmation hearing comments

Sessions was questioned by Sen. Al Franken, D-Min., about what he would do as attorney general if evidence emerged that members of the Trump campaign communicated with Russia.

"Sen. Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities," Sessions said. "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have -- did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it."

Mar. 2, 2017 -- Recusal from campaign-related investigations

After Sessions' meetings with Kislyak became public, he maintained that he did not answer Franken dishonestly because the discussions came in his capacity as a senator and not as a representative of the campaign.

Trump himself later said in a statement that Sessions "could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional."

As pressure built, however, Sessions announced that he would not participate in any ongoing or future inquiries into matters related to the presidential election.

"Let me be clear: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign," Sessions told reporters. "And the idea that I was part of a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries to the Russian government are false."

Earlier in the day, Trump said he had "total" confidence in Sessions and didn't believe the attorney general should recuse himself. On March 3, Trump reiterated his earlier sentiments about Sessions' intentions and said that the "narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win."

June 5, 2017 -- Travel ban frustration

Trump's frustration over his stalled plan to limit travel and immigration from a number of Middle Eastern and African countries boiled over as he unleashed a series of tweets seemingly blaming the Justice Department -- charged with defending the ban in court -- with the revised order's "watering down."

June 6, 2017 -- Sources say Sessions recently offered to resign

ABC News learns that Sessions had recently offered to resign as Trump continued to express frustration with the attorney general's decision to recuse himself from the election-tampering investigation.

During the day's White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer, in response to questioning on whether Trump had confidence in Sessions, said, "I have not had that discussion with [President Trump]."

June 13, 2017 -- Sessions testifies in front of Senate committee

Sessions testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and issued a sweeping denial of any personal involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

"I have never met with, or had any conversation with, any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States," Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.”

Trump, apparently, was pleased with his performance. Principal deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president "wasn’t able to watch much of [Sessions' testimony] ... but what he did see, what he heard, he thought that Attorney General Sessions did a very good job, and in particular, was very strong on the point that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.”

July 19, 2017 -- Trump slams Sessions in interview

Trump had a sit-down interview with The New York Times, during which he launched into a blistering rebuke of Sessions and his decision to recuse himself from anything relating to any presidential campaigns, including, most notably, the 2016 campaign.

"Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else," Trump said in the interview.

When asked whether Sessions gave the president a "heads up" before the recusal, Trump said: "Zero."

"So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy," Trump said, referring to Rod Rosenstein.

July 20, 2017 -- Sessions responds, says he's staying

Asked Thursday for his reaction to Trump's comments, Sessions maintained that he will remain at his position "as long as that is appropriate."

"We in this Department of Justice will continue every single day to work hard to serve the national interest, and we wholeheartedly join in the priorities of President Trump," he said at a news conference today.

"I have the honor of serving as Attorney General, it's something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself,” he added. “We love this job, we love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.”

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The process of wrangling 50 Republican votes both for the Senate's proposed replacement health care plan as well as a straight repeal of Obamacare has so far proved impossible for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and President Donald Trump.

Part of the trouble on healthcare stems from the factions within the Republican caucus of 52 senators, which provides the GOP's razor-thin margin in the chamber. The balancing act comes from the ideological splits within the Republican caucus in the Senate, as at least 10 of the 52 current Republicans are occasionally viewed as moderates on certain issues, while the remaining lawmakers are conservative of varying stripes.

An earlier version of the Senate bill was stymied after at least nine senators came out against it. The bill was adjusted to accommodate concerns, but at least four Republican senators said they would not vote in favor of it. Then after that, three moderate senators said that they wouldn't vote in favor of the procedural motion to bring a repeal vote to the floor and set the deadline for a replacement plan for two years.

John Hudak, a political scientist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told ABC News that further tweaks to the replacement plan are not likely to help pull together a group of 50 of the 52 Republicans on the issue.

"If you move more to the middle, you lose people on the right," Hudak said.

"There's seemingly no combination where you get 50 votes in the middle of the conference where you only lose one person on either side of the party ... you can't move it where you only lose two people on one end," he said.

The 50-vote threshold factors in a tie-breaking vote from the vice president and comes under Senate rules that allow the majority to bypass the filibuster.

The only option Hudak sees as a mathematical possibility would be to focus on Democrats, but it "would be an all-out assault on Senate Republicans by Republicans."

"There probably are 50 votes in the Senate but you'd need 40 Democrats. You'd probably find five to 10 Republicans that could go for a fix of Obamacare ... but the political costs for McConnell are too high for him to enjoy the policy benefits," Hudak said.

And while Trump has been having both small and larger groups of senators over to the White House for coalition-building meals, Hudak doesn't think that will help.

"Mitch McConnell is 100 times more talented than the president when it comes to legislative coalition-building, so if Mitch McConnell can't do, Donald Trump will never be able to do it," Hudak said.

If there is a group that Trump may have more sway with, it's conservatives, says Hans Noel, an associate professor at Georgetown University.

"Even though he is not himself very conservative, most of his voters identify as conservative. Conservative elites and commentators don’t like him, but voters do," Noel said.

"They are also the ones who are most concerned about crossing Trump, because it is their voters who supported Trump and who might support a primary challenge. So conservatives are more likely to go along with him. Moderates are more likely to be from districts where Trump is not as popular, and are less likely to be worried about crossing his voters," he said.

But all of the Senate conservatives are currently on board with - or at least have not come out against - the latest version of the Republican Senate health care plan, meaning the only direction McConnell and Trump can turn to try to secure 50 votes is to the center of the party.

And for those moderates who oppose the current version of their plan, the possibilities of primary challenges is not unfounded: the Senate Conservatives Fund, a grassroots group that has a history of supporting primary challengers, sent out a release on Tuesday saying that they are seeking challengers for any "Obamacare Republicans" who vote against a repeal.

Trump himself didn't shy away from the suggestion of encouraging challengers for people who don't get in line, joking with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who was seated next to him at the lunch. Heller opposed the original Senate health care bill, siding with his centrist Republican governor Brian Sandoval over concerns for Nevadans who benefited from the state's acceptance of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. He has not indicated how he would vote to advance the new GOP plan.

"This was the one we were worried about, you weren't there," he said, motioning to Heller. "You're going to be. Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn't he?"

Trump added: "Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you're fine with Obamacare."

Supporters of his efforts during the health care reform process, which include his former rival Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, dismiss the comments.

"Listen, the president has his own way of communicating," Cruz said after the lunch meeting.

Hudak thinks such veiled threats aren't helpful.

"The public side of what the president has been doing has just been a total disaster. His tweeting or his suggestions that he'll [support] primary [challengers against] members of his own party ... he's not making any friends," Hudak said.

Burning those bridges, or at least charring them, may be a business tactic that is not helpful for Trump to carry over from his business empire and transfer into Washington, Noel said.

"I think a lot of the problem is simply that Trump isn’t very experienced with the kind of negotiations that are needed to pass a bill. Even if you believe he’s good at making deals in real estate, legislation is something entirely different. You can’t walk away from a bad deal and go looking somewhere else. You always have to deal with the same legislators," Noel told ABC News.

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Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the most recent version of the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare would cut the deficit by $420 billion over the next decade -- although 15 million people would lose their health insurance by 2018.

The estimate indicated that 22 million less people will be insured 10 years from now than would be insured under current law.

The CBO posted its latest analysis early Thursday afternoon after the Senate Budget Committee posted the GOP’s latest tweaks to its health care plan.

Even before the score was posted on Thursday, Democrats mocked Republicans for having "a new plan every day."

"We have now the plan-of-the-day that's put in front of us," Rep. Richard Neal, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said today. "I don't know how CBO has time to do anything else but score plans on a daily basis."

On Wednesday, the CBO projected that the GOP's "repeal-only" measure would cut the deficit by $473 billion over 10 years, but would result in an estimated 32 million more uninsured Americans by 2026, including 17 million more in 2018 alone.

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